Comparison of Religions in India

This site allows you to do a side-by-side comparison of religions, up to three selected religions at a time. As far as I can tell, it provides a neutral, generalized, fact-based comparison of religions, plus a description of their different aspects. Particularly important (in my opinion) are deity, purpose, the human problem, suffering, and salvation. I will note, however, that the site does not really address what I see as the Christian view of suffering.

However, here are some concrete aspects of various religions that are mutually exclusive -- meaning it is impossible that these very different concepts can both/all be true at the same time. For example:

  • The belief in many gods (Hinduism), one god (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism), or no god (atheism, some Buddhist sects) cannot all be right, because they're saying very different things.
  • The belief in a god you sacrifice to (many religions) to appease or to avoid bad events, or a god who sacrifices himself for you are polar opposites and, thus, express a very different character.
  • Attitudes toward suffering: Do you earn suffering due to sins in this life or a past one? Is suffering an illusion and so without meaning? Or is it real, at least sometimes due to other people's sins or choices, and something a compassionate God came to ease for you and ultimately save you from? (My concern in this regard is that (1) The first approach can be used to justify mistreatment or the inferior status of others, (2) The second glosses over sufferers' very real hurts -- should a father watching his children starve treat it as an illusion to distance himself from, or a young girl who has been intimately abused? And, (3) Biblically, I see Jesus taking the third approach. He came to earth as one fully human [yet still fully God] in order to enter into our suffering Himself. He grieved for us, healed us, and showed us a love beyond understanding.)
  • The belief in how salvation or nirvana is ultimately achieved. Most religions could be said to rely on human works to achieve that ultimate freedom, whether in one lifetime or many. But if you've ever attempted to act perfectly even for one day (in mind, heart, intention, and action), you know how completely impossible that is. Christianity alone relies on the grace of God based on the self-sacrifice of Jesus -- a gift freely given that must be freely received. It cannot be bought, sold, or coerced. Over time, this salvation changes how one behaves, if it is a genuine change of heart, but it is not directly based on one's works. (In Christianity, the works are evidence of salvation, but not the basis of it.)

There are many other differences that lead me to believe that religions are not all basically the same, but these are the key differences that a comparison of religions reveals, in my opinion.

Another aspect to consider is this: Regardless of whether a particular facet of one religion or another is attractive or comforting to me as I look at this comparison of religions, do I really believe it to be true, based on a combination of faith and the evidence? I can sincerely wish something to be true, with all the good intentions in the world, but that doesn't make it so. We must approach our faith deliberately and honestly.

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