In “All Religions Are the Same…” (except Where They’re Not), John Stackhouse takes on the fallacy that all religions, at heart, are basically the same and of equal value.

What needs to be argued and not just asserted is that each of the major religions really does reduce down to moralism or mysticism without a loss to its essential character. And, in my view, most religions do not so reduce. Devotional (bhakti) Hinduism (the most popular form of Hinduism) doesn’t; Mahayana Buddhism (the most popular form of Buddhism) doesn’t;  Judaism doesn’t; and Christianity and Islam, the most popular religions in the world, certainly don’t. (I recognize that there are moralistic and mystical varieties of each of the Abrahamic religions, but the majority of believers and of those religions’ formal traditions do not, I maintain, reduce to mere moralism or mysticism.)

[A]s politically useful and personally pleasant a belief as it would be—that all religions are basically the same—I continue to aver what most of the religions of the world actually do say: They’re not basically the same and one does have to choose.

We’ll have to keep investigating and thinking about what Map of Reality (which is what religions and all other forms of life-philosophy purport to offer) is the best one. We don’t have to conclude that all religions are wrong except one. More than one map can depict at least some of the territory at least somewhat correctly. But we can’t blithely suggest that they’re all equally, or even fundamentally, right, either. That would have to be shown, and I haven’t seen a good argument yet for that (unlikely) hypothesis.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Edit
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