definition: par•a•digm (pār'ə-dīm', -dĭm')

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this blog is four-fold:
to recognize that every person functions within a basic paradigm, which affects how all information is processed;
(2) to understand the paradigms of others;
(3) to discuss, in particular, paradigms which are related to science, religion, and philosophy.

(4) to reveal the paradigm shifts in my own life, a process that has completely changed the direction and purpose of my existence.

The purpose of this blog is NOT to convince anyone that their paradigms or beliefs are correct or incorrect. I am hoping for an honest dialog, but the discussions must remain respectful of others, even if there is profound disagreement. If any comments are not respectful, they will be removed.
(Revised 1/13/09)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comparison of 11 Different Religions - Part 1

There is an organization called the "Alliance of Religions and Conservation" (or ARC), which describes itself as "a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices."
Their goal is to "help the religions link with key environmental organisations – creating powerful alliances between faith communities and conservation groups. ARC was founded in 1995 by HRH Prince Philip. [They]... work with 11 major faiths through the key traditions within each faith."

Because this organization is secular, without a bias for or against any particular faiths, I thought it was a good source of information for this blog. I will summarize what they say about the 11 major religions of the world: Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shintoism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism. The following paragraphs are from the ARC web site. The page link for each religion is below the description.



Beginnings of the Baha’i faith

The Baha’i faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), is regarded by Baha’is as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.The central theme of Baha’u’llah’s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Baha’u’llah said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.

The Spread of Baha’i

The Baha’i Faith grew out of Islam, but is entirely independent of its parent religion. It first appeared in Persia, then spread to neighbouring Muslim lands in the Ottoman and Russian Empires and to northern India. Though some early followers were of Jewish, Christian, or Zoroastrian background, the vast majority had been followers of Islam. The forerunner of the Baha’i faith was an Iranian named Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, known as the ‘Bab’. The title Bab means ‘gate’ and originated among early Shi’a Muslims as a name for the spokesmen of the 12th Imam following the Prophet Muhammed. In 1844 the Bab taught that he was the gate through which a Promised One would soon appear as messenger from God. To Islamic clergy the Bab and his followers were heretics, because they believed in the coming of further prophets. They were persecuted, and the Bab was executed in 1850. His follower Baha’u’llah was exiled to Baghdad, where he proclaimed himself as the expected messenger of God in 1863. From there he was removed eventually to Acre, in present-day Israel, arriving as a prisoner in 1868. He remained here under house arrest until his death in in 1892. His teachings had already spread beyond the Middle East, and his shrine in Bahja is today the focal point of the Baha’i world community.


Beginnings of Buddhism

Buddhism was founded around 550 BC by Siddhartha Gautama, born in North India as a Hindu prince. When he was still a young man he abandoned his palace and went alone to the forest in search of an end to suffering. For six years he practiced penance and meditation, before achieving enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. The Buddha, or Enlightened One, as he came to be known, dedicated the remainder of his life – he lived to be 80 – to travelling the Ganges plains teaching the path to enlightenment to whomever would listen. By the time he left this world he had gathered a large following of monks, nuns and householders, organised into communities called Sanghas.

The Dhammapada

His teachings were memorised by his disciples and passed down orally. In 80 BC they were written down in the collection of texts now known as the Pali cannon. The best known record of his teachings is a short collection of his sayings called the Dhammapada.

The Spread of Buddhism

Buddhism spread far beyond India to countries throughout Asia, particularly Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. Altogether there are about 500 million Buddhists today.



Beginnings of Christianity


Christianity takes its name from the Greek word ‘Christ’, meaning Anointed One, whom Christians believe was Jesus, the son of God. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem and grew up as a Jewish boy. At about the age of 30 he began three years of travelling and teaching. He taught a new way of drawing upon the Jewish tradition. He called this way the Kingdom of God. He gathered followers and aroused the opposition of the Roman authorities who suspected him of planning a rebellion and had him executed.

The spread of Christianity

After his crucifixion Jesus appeared to his disciples and told them to go out into the world and preach that we are all loved by God and are called to love those around us in response. [See below for an editorial note by Soul-and-Substance] By around 60 AD Christianity had spread west and north to many parts of the Roman Empire. In 300 AD Armenia became the first officially Christian country. At the same time Christianity also spread east through the Persian Empire as far as China. Since the 16th century European missionaries established Christianity in every continent.

Diverse traditions

Today there are about 2 billion Christians in the world divided mainly among three main traditions: the Orthodox churches in Russia and Eastern Europe, the Protestant churches mainly in Europe and North America, and the Roman Catholic church which is spread everywhere. Besides these are many independent traditions in different parts of the world.

Editorial note by Soul-and-Substance: There are two doctrines omitted here, that are central to all mainstream Christian denominations. (1) the belief in a triune God (the Trinity), wherein Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father are three and one, simultaneously--a single God; (2) the belief that the primary reason that Jesus (as God) came to earth was to die as a substitution for the death penalty that would be assessed on each individual, because of sin.


FishHawk said...

A wonderful project. Please continue.

SoulandSubstance said...

Thank you. Several more will be forthcoming shortly.