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Madia Bestman

Religions of the Globe

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Professor De George

12 December 2017


Final Paper”             

                       When philosopher
Huston Smith states that, “religions are distinct… But beyond these
differences, the same goal beckons.” (Smith, The World’s Religions), he
brings the idea that all religions, no matter the origination or beliefs, all
have the same objective. This outlook on the world’s religions is one I
completely agree with. Especially when Smith uses the analogy of hikers climbing a mountain. Each hiker (who each represent
a religion) takes a unique route to the top. While they are climbing the
mountain, they cannot necessarily see one another. They may not even be aware
that those in the other climbing parties are also ascending the mountain.
They think they are alone as they make their ascent. Yet when they reach the
peak, the climbers are surprised to find one another. He compares this to the
journey that all religious groups find themselves on. Each group is indeed reaching
for the same mountain top, through their practices they all portray one main
goal they wish to accomplish. To make themselves and the world as pure as
possible to not only make their current life peaceful and happy, but to also leave
the earth on a positive note spiritually. However, history demonstrates that
the journey to the mountain top isn’t quite easy, many religions if not all
faced times of difficulty that strongly impacted their cultures today. With the
power of faith no matter what religion each “hiker” was able to overcome each
obstacle encountered in order to reach the mountain top.

While taking
Religions of the Globe this semester I’ve observed the pattern that various
religions experienced an instance of a split between within ones faith, social
reforms, and the battle to regain independence.  In the seventeenth century, the British
invaded India and established the British East India Company. As a result, the
Hindu religion was stripped from several practices that had been established
for centuries and was forced to abide by Hindu reformer’s new polices. This
includes using transforming the use and practice of the Caste System that was a
vital part of the Hindu tradition. (Odyssey). Another impact the British rule
had on Hindu culture was that women gained a voice to obtain equality between
genders, however in Islam religion women was considered property, owned by her
father, husband, or elder brother. Lastly, in 1857 the British Empire forced
Hindu and Muslim soldiers to use a combination of beef and pork fat to grease
rifles, in traditional Hindu culture this was considered to be defiling which
caused them team up with one another and rebel against the British. Christianity
was exposed to India and were treated as simply another caste, the same way
Muslims were in large parts of India. However, when Christianity was
encountered in conjunction with the political power of the British and modern
scientific knowledge, it had to be taken as a more serious challenge. (Religions).

Islam developed at
the right time in history for expansion, Muslim armies conquered Egypt, Syria,
Palestine, Persia and across North Africa and Spain. Later Islam spread
throughout the Middle East, India, China, and Central and Southeast Asian.
Islam was successful with its expansion because Islam recognizes no national
barriers and doesn’t discriminate among races. Hinduism and Islam may have religious
and cultural differences, but they managed to live side by side for over one
thousand years. Hinduism’s basic theology did not change in light of its
contacts with Islam, however Indian society adopted many of the element of
Muslim culture. Art, architecture, sciences, and clothing styles of the Muslim
world influenced Hindu society, also many Muslims adopted the caste system as a
mode of social organization. This demonstrates that despite the religious and
political differences Hinduism and Islam have converged in important ways. A
feature of religion in African countries today is that the majority of the
people on the continent practice some form of Islam and Christianity, there
remain strong traditions of ancestor vernation, sacrificial rituals, and other
aspects of religious devotion that originate in one or more African religions.
Islam first came to Africa due to a group of Muslims avoiding persecution this occurred
during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. As a result, Islam became a major
force in Africa in the early seventh century and displaced Christianity in many
regions until after the 1950s when the Christianity had its peak of growth on
the continent. However, for centuries its been difficult for African religions,
the European colonies worked to break up traditional tribal units and enforce
other forms of authority and eventually after World War I Africa was divided
into over forty nations. African life significantly changed after the pressures
of modernization, urbanization, and the rapid increase in population. (Religions)

Buddhism and
Christianity are have become major religions throughout history, they both
influenced the values and attitudes of people all over the world. Both religions
share an objective of generosity, forgiveness, personal tolerance, compassion, perseverance,
and helping others. In order to achieve social transformation and peace
Buddhists believe that focusing on ones path to enlightenment, practicing
kindness towards others, and that in serving yourself you serve other. However,
Christians believe you serve others in order to serve yourself and having a
relationship with God the world will be at peace. They also have similar views
regarding suffering and that everyone will go through it but its how you
overcome it. For example, the Buddha came to understand both the plight of
humankind and the way to move beyond the eternal cycle of birth, karma, death
and rebirth. The Four Noble Truths were founded from the core of Buddhist
teaching which are: to live is to experience suffering, suffering comes from
desire and attachment, the way to eliminate suffering is to eliminate desire,
and this is possible if one follows the Eightfold Path (Diffen). Christians
gain knowledge about dealing with suffering through the crucifixion and the
life of Jesus Christ. This demonstrates that suffering is not only inevitable,
but it also has a significant meaning to remember that Jesus also suffered,
these are trails given by God to grow faith in him in times of hardship.

           Stephen Prothero, in God is Not
One argues: “”This sentiment, however well-intentioned, is neither
accurate nor ethically responsible… we know in our bones that the world’s
religions are different from one another.  … We pretend these differences
are trivial because it makes us feel safer, or more moral. But pretending the
world’s religions are the same does not make our world safer. Like all forms of
ignorance, it makes our world more dangerous. What we need on this furiously
religious planet is a realistic view of where religious rivals clash and where
they can cooperate.” I disagree with Prothero, even though many religions
differ from each other culturally they all still have the same objective and
this has to do with ethical behavior and moral virtue. I believe that the various
world religions each hope to get to the same mountaintop because they make certain particular assertions about the soul, the
afterlife, the nature of existence, and the purpose of life. Throughout history
many religions have influence each other despite their cultural differences.  Essentially all religions say the same thing,
the mountaintop represents the path followers of religions take, and if they
are successful of fulfilling their duties as a follower they will reach the




Work Cited

Brennan, Cal. “How British Colonization
Affected Hinduism.” The Odyssey Online, Odyssey, 28 Aug. 2017,


“Buddhism vs Christianity.” Buddhism vs Christianity – Difference and Comparison | Diffen,


Hopfe, Louis M, and Mark
R Woodward. Religions of the Globe. 13th ed., Pearson, 2014.




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