Don't all major religions basically worship the same god?
No. Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and Mormonism do not worship the same god. Although Buddhism and Taoism are considerd godless religions, they do adhere to a higher power. Although Hinduism contains thousands of demigods, there was originally a single, all-powerful deity that ruled them all. Only Judaism and Christianity worship the same god, or God, although Christianity is a branch that believes in a three-part deity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Mormonism is a byproduct of Christianity which redefines the God of Christianity and makes Him an evolved mortal. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all stem from the beliefs of a single man, Abraham, except that Islam originated through the lineage of Abraham's son Ishmael and Judaism originated through the lineage of Abraham's son Isaac. The god of the Islamic faith, Allah, is believed by Muslims to be the same God of the Bible, however, it was originally one of hundreds of tribal demigods, which happened to be the god of the family of a man named Muhammad, the founder of Islam centuries after Judaism. The Bahá'í faith does claim that all monotheistic religons believe in the same god, but through different means based on the needs of their times. However, it dismisses the discrepancies between these religions which prevent them from being compatible. Following is a breakdown of the "god" of these religions in order of the number of adherents.
|Belief System||Deity||Origin/Originator||Divine Qualities||Relationship with Mankind|
|Christianity||Father, Son, and Holy Spirit||Israel, 30 CE|
|The God of Judaism (Yahweh) has a son (Jesus), who is co-creator of all that is seen and unseen. Jesus is the visible manifestation of the invisible God and the Holy Spirit is the spirit of Yahewh that indwells those who accept Jesus as their personal savior and mediator with God. These three entities are considered three separate personages of Yahweh.||Yahweh sent his Son, Jesus, to Earth as a man to lead the way for all mankind back to God through fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Yahweh desires to have a personal and loving relationship with people and allowed his Son to be killed as a sacrifice based on his own laws, that those who accept Jesus will be forgiven of their tresspasses against God.|
|Islam||Allah ("the deity" or "the God")||Mecca, Saudia Arabia, 622 CE|
|There are ninety nine names for Allah describing his attributes, such as Al Malik (The Sovereign King), Al Quddus (The Most Holy), Al Aziz (The Self Sufficient), Al Khaaliq (The Creator), Al Alim (The Omnicient), Al Basir (The All Seeing), AL Khabir (The All Aware), Al 'Azim (The Infinite), Al Wasi' (The All Encompassing), Al Majid (The All Glorious), Al Ba'ith (The Raiser of the Dead), Al Haq (The Truth), Al Muhsi (The Numberer of All), Al Mubdi (The Originator of All), Al Hayy (The Ever Living), Al Qayyum (The Self Subsisting Sustainer of All), Al Waahid (The One), Al Samad (The Everlasting), Al Muta'al (The Self Exalted), Malik al Mulk (The Owner of All Sovereignty). Basically, he is considered the creator of the universe and all life, one and incomparable, not begotten and does not beget, and judge of all mankind.||To all who call upon Allah alone and proclaim Muhammad as his prophet, he is a merciful guardian, compassionate helper, protecting friend, giver of life, avenging judge, and pardoner of sins. To those who do not fear or follow him, he is Al Mumit (The Destroyer).|
|Hinduism||Brahman (Cosmic Principle or Universal Self)||India, 1500 BCE|
(No specific founder, rather a synthesis of belief systems of ancient Asia.)
|Brahman is infinite, pervasive, unchanging, absolute, genderless, and difficult to grasp because there are innumberable forms and manifestations, all of which are worshipped with equal respect. Brahman as an individual deity may be derived from a combination of three individual gods and their qualities: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer, known collectively as the Trimurti. Depending on the branch of Hinduism, Brahman my be personal or impersonal, but exists in all living beings and unites everyone spiritually into the ultimate reality. Brahman is less of a deification and more of a state of divine being attainable by all.||Individuals may worship which gods they choose, each representing a particular virtue or force of nature, or a combination thereof. There are 33 core deities -- devas (male) and devis (female) -- and over 300 million minor deities, all representing various aspects of Brahman.|
|Agnosticism||Unknown||Greece, 5th century BCE (philosophical skepticism)|
"Agnosticism" was coined by Darwinian biologist T.H. Huxley in 1869.
|Philosophically, although there may possibly exist a single godlike entity that is ultimately responsible for everything physical, it is beyond our realm of understanding and perception and therefore unknowable. Unlike atheists, who solemnly believe there is no god based on a clear lack of scientific evidence, agnostics believe god cannot be proven or disproven, and therefore may exist beyond man's comprehension.||Indeterminate.|
|Buddhism||None||Nepal, India, 523 BCE|
|There is no creator god because there was no beginning to the universe. Belief in god is born of fear. The search for an external god is a waste of time and effort -- one can find answers only by looking inward. Fate is determined by the universal law of causation (karma). One has only to submit to eternal cosmic law and order (dharma). All sentient beings regardless of origin are subject to a perpetual sequence of death and rebirth, a cycle of suffering ended only by self attainment to nirvana -- a cessation of the self. Buddhists, or awakened ones, do not typically worship a singular, divine entity, although some venerate Hindu Devas (divine beings) and Yakshas (nature spirits). Most meditate on or pray to a particular Buddha, such as Gautama.||One can attain a state of godhood and peace by one's own efforts and adherence to prescribed practices of moral virtues and right living.|
|Sikhism||Ik Onkar (One Supreme Reality)||Punjab, India, circa 1500 CE|
Guru Nanak Dev
|Also known as Akaal Purkh (beyond time and space) and Nirankar (without form), the all-pervading spirit Ik Onkar is eternal, supreme, immortal, self-existent, creator of life, king of all kings, and dispenser of justice.||Akal (Timeless One) seeks spiritual reunification with mankind through the instruction of spiritual teachers (Gurus), to include avoidence of temporal illusions and worldly attractions (Maya), eradication of egotism through meditation on the Divine Word (Naam), seeking truth, serving humanity, and devotional singing.|
|Judaism||YHWH ("I AM")||Israel, circa 1800 BCE|
|YHWH (Yahweh) declares that that there is no other God but himself and that all other gods are false. He is creator of all things seen and unseen. He is a personal God who provides righteous laws and speaks to his people either directly or indirectly. He is spirit and no living man has ever seen him face to face, although certain figures throughout history have seen a likeness of Him in various forms. Elohim in the Hebrew is a general term for God, generally substituted for the unspeakable name of YHWY, which is used to describe various aspects of God, such as El Shaddai (God Almighty), El Elyon (God Most High), El Elohe Israel (God of Israel), El Roi (God Who Sees), and El Olam (The Everlasting God).||YHWH chose a certain tribe of people, the Israelites, as his own to make an example to the rest of the world how those who follow him are to conduct themselves and to show his compassion and mercy on them when they don't. He is a jealous God who longs for a dedicated relationship with his people.|
|Bahá'í||Bahá (All Glorious)||Persia (Iran), 1844 CE|
Based on the teachings of Báb and his interpretation of Shia Islam.
|Bahá is the same god for all religions, including Islam, Judaism, and even Buddhism. He reveals himself as different manifestations to different civilizations throughout various parts of history (dispensations). All the qualities attributed to the god of all monotheistic world religions are those of Bahá, who is beyond the comprehension of man.||Inaccessible to mankind, but whose teachings are avilable via divine messengers known as Manifestations of God (including Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and Krishna). One can come closer to Bahá through prayer and adherence to his or her own religion, along with acceptance of all other religions and unity with of all mankind.|
|Taoism/Daoism||Yu-huang (Jade Emperor)||China, 4th century BCE|
Laozi (or Lao-Tzu, "Old Master")
|Yu-huang rules all and distributes justice to all. All other entities answer to him, including the Three Pure Ones -- manifestations of the Tao and origin of all living creatures: T'ien-kuan (ruler of heaven who grants hapiness), Ti-kuan (ruler of earth who grants remission of sins), Shui-kuan (ruler of water who averts evil). There are a myriad of demigods, such as Shang-yuan (ruler of winter and spring), Hsia-yuan (ruler of winter), and Chung-yuan (ruler of summer), many of whom were people of renown who rose to immortality as celestial masters through their adherence to Taoist practices. However, although these gods may be worshiped or venerated, there is no omnipotent creator god. Rather, the universe springs from the Tao ("The Way"), which is the foundation and substance of everything that exists, and the Tao guides all things unto itself.||Salvation is a non-issue, as there is nothing to be saved from. Early Taoist beliefs were of physical longevity into immortality and continued physical existence in other parts of the universe, brought about by perfect unity with the natural world. If not, then one returns to the Tao from wence they came.|
|Confucianism||Tian (Lord)||China, 520 BCE|
Confucius (Kong Qiu)
|Tian is a term used for the celestial cosmos, or heaven, however, it is derived from the ancient Chinese supreme god Shàngdì ("Lord on High"). It is a god in the sense of a primal cosmic force, similar to the Tao, from which energies emanate in the form of dieties (shén), which may be worshiped as personal gods along with ancestors.||Confucianism is more concerned with peaceful living and societal harmony than with the afterlife, so religious belief systems such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Islam are embraced. People should live life in dedication to good social relations rather than with the goal of rewards in the hereafter. Ancestral reverence and worship (filial piety) is considered an essential part in sustaining an ethical and dedicated society.|
|Jainism||None||India, 570 BCE|
Mahavira, the final Tirthankara (spiritual teacher)
|Similar to Buddhism, there is no god in the sense of a creator of all things. The universe has always existed, sustains itself, and will never cease to exist. There are godlike entities which may be celebrated and venerated, which consist primarily of the 24 Tirthankaras -- victorious teachers of the dharma who have conquered samsara over a period of millions of years. Since Mahavira, there have been innumerable souls (jiva) that have achieved their own state of godhood.||Tirthankara establish the ideal of perfection for Jainist monks to attain by following strict ascetic lifestyles.|
|Shintoism||Kami (spiritual essence)||Japan, circa 600 CE|
Founder is unknown - Shinto is derived from ancient Japanese mythology.
|Kami is a spiritual energy that exists in all things and from which all living beings emerge. Kami instills awe and wonder in and of itself, drawing people to worhip it in all of nature. Therefore, any object which possesses unusual degrees of kami, animate or inanimate, is considered a god and enshrined for public worship. These myriad of shinto gods are called yaoyorozu no kami ("eight million kami"). Of these, a few have risen in human form in ancient times to become immortalized as deities, including the first among them, Amenominakanushi ("Heavenly Ancestral God of the Originating Heart of the Universe") and the most venerated, Amaterasu (sun goddess).||Shinto rites are practiced for personal, family and community kami, wherein the participants show appreciation and reverence for kami.|
|Zoroastrianism||Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord)||Persia, 5th century BCE|
|Ahura Mazda is considered the father of truth and is universal, transcendent, eternal, compassionate, omniscient, omnipotent, unfathomable, and creator of all. From Ahura Mazda came a series of divine sparks, or virtues, manifested as Holy Immortals. He also conceived opposing spirits, or energies -- the Bounteous Spirit and the Destructive Spirit -- which have been in diametrical opposition for all time, but are essential for all life. ||Through the teachings of Ahura Mazda's prophet, Zoroaster, one may follow a path of truth and righteousness and become close to the creator. The basic creed is, "good thoughts, good words, good deeds." In the battle against the Destructive Spirit (Angra Mainyu), those who choose good will utlimately help Ahura Mazda to defeat evil.|
|Mormonism||The Godhead||Upstate New York, 1820s CE|
|God (Elohim or Jehovah of the Old Testament) is a mortal man evolved from pure, refined matter through adherence to a system of laws and ordinances, living on another planet and ruling Earth.||Through the atonemendt of Christ, participation in various ordinances, and complete obedience, men and women can progress to become like God and live in a higher realm, or celestial kingdom. Elohim is married to a celestial wife from whom come the spirits of all mankind through sexual intercourse. These spiritual offspring mature in heaven, then enter the bodies of earthly babies where they grow, learn by mortal experience and, if they also adhere to Elohim's system of laws and ordinances, eventually progress to their own state of godhood on their own planet.|
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work."
Most of these belief systems recognize a basic deficiency in mankind resulting in immorality or unethical behavior. Call it evil, corruption, or sinfulness, it prevents us from attaining our ultimate potential and can have dire consequences. Asian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism believe it to be a lack of awareness, leading to a hindrance in spiritual or cosmic fulfillment. Western religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam consider this a state of selfishness and disobedience to the decrees of a divine creator, resulting in judgment and punishment in an afterlife, when the immortal soul separates from the temporal, physical body. In all but one of these systems, the responsibility to make things right rests soley on the individual. Only Christianity states that people do not have the capacity to make this correction, regardless of free will. All have sinned and fallen short of God's commands, but God has provided a way to be reconciled and returned to right standing with Him. Most of these systems are incompatible with one another, however similar or rooted in common origins, claiming to be the only right way to perfection. The Bahá'í faith, much like those who do not believe in any religion, erroneously espouses a commonality with the world's major religions and claims that they all worship and serve the same "God." Unlike the ignorance of the irreligious, to do this it must falsely reinterpret the teachings of these religions. Jesus Christ said that the only way to God was through himself and warned of false teachers to come after him. This alienated himself and his followers from all other belief systems.
|Belief System||Path to Salvation|
|Christianity||By believing and confessing that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died as a final sacrifice for the sins of the believer (everybody), one may be forgiven of trespasses against God and resurrected from the dead to a new spiritual body in heaven. According to the New Testament, there will be a future resurrection of all people from the dead much like that prophesied in the Old Testament, then books will be opend in heaven reporting everyone's deeds and a book called the Book of Life will be opened. Those whose names are found in this book will live for eternity with God, while those whose names are not listed will be expelled to a place of fire and torment reserved for Satan and the fallen angels, typically referred to as the Lake of Fire. Note: Some refer to this as hell, but as bad as hell may seem as a place for the wicked, the Book of Revelation speaks of hell itself being thrown into the Lake of Fire.|
|Islam||To all who call upon Allah alone and proclaim Muhammad as his prophet, there is life after death at the final resurrection, which is also a day of judgment by Allah upon all who have lived upon the face of the earth. The Book of Deeds will be read and all will be judged according to every deed. Those who are deemed worthy will spend eternity in paradise (Jannah), while the remainder will be sentenced to an eternity in Jahannam, where they will be punished with everlasting fire and shame. Allah will also have mercy on any non-Muslim who believes in the Qur'an. Note: Islam recognizes Jesus (Isa) as a prophet of Allah, although not the son of Allah nor the savior of mankind. Isa will return from heaven in the end times to help defeat the false messiah, or Antichrist (Masih ad-Dajjal), then rule on earth for forty years before being buried next to Muhammad - the first among the resurrected.|
|Hinduism||After death, each individual's soul (atman) spends time in either heaven or hell, depending on their level of karma (good deeds lead to good karma, while bad deeds lead to bad karma). They may also be reincarnated as an animal or insect on earth. Once the merits of karma have ended, the soul is then reborn in physical human form on earth. Final liberation (moksha) from the perpetual cycle of life, death and rebirth (samsara) and the attainment of oneness and total bliss with Brahman comes through complete realization of self-knowledge.|
|Agnosticism||Peace comes through acceptance of one's insignificant place in the universe. There is no afterlife, so contributing to the welfare of humanity (humanitarianism) leads to an improvement of life for future generations and fulfillment in one own's fleeting existence. This can be fostered through scientific advances, altruism, philanthropy, social reforms, promotion of human rights, abolition of discrimination, and emergency aid, to name a few. Although these are means of religious contribution as well, some may argue that mankind's survival in a godless world is just as dependent upon social Darwinism as evolutionary survival of the fittest.|
|Buddhism||One can attain a state of godhood and peace by one's own efforts and adherence to prescribed practices of moral virtues and right living. Like Hinduism, Buddhists believe in samsara -- a perpetual cycle of life, death and rebirth -- along with karma (the merits of one's virtues or immoralities). Unlike Hinduism, this does not involve the soul (anatman), but reincarnation of an impermanent consciousness to another body. Human attachment causes suffering, which prolongs samsara. Once the individual realizes that nothing is permanent and is able to detach from everything, including themselves, thus embracing the universal self, then they have achieved nirvana, or complete emptiness.|
|Sikhism||Akal (Timeless One) seeks spiritual reunification with mankind through the teachings of spiritual teachers (Gurus), to include avoidence of temporal illusions and worldly attractions (Maya), eradication of egotism through meditation on the Divine Word (Naam), seeking truth, serving humanity, and devotional singing.|
|Judaism||Salvation comes through the Jews by living according to their laws and traditions, which included a ritual of sacrificing animals in place of the offending party. The penalty of sin was death, so a sinner could offer a certain livestock that was free of blemish in their place to be slaughtered upon the altar of the temple in Jerusalem. Historically, the teachers of God's laws (Pharisees), along with the oral traditions (Mishnah) and prophecies in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), promoted the resurrection of the physical bodies of all people, to be judged by God for past deeds, and either rewarded with eternal life on earth or punished with a final death, the time of which to only be determined by God. Some Jewish sects, like those of the ancient Sadducees, believed that their souls eternally rested with their forefathers in Sheol, a dark underworld for the righteous and unrighteous alike.|
|Bahá'í||Through following the teachings of the prophets of the primary world religions, along with whatever is conducive to personal spiritual growth, we may become unified together with God and be delivered from depravity, despair, and social destruction. There is no heaven or hell and no original sin -- redemption comes only by social and religious tolerance. Note: Bahá'u'lláh taught that Christ's death somehow infused creation with spiritual energy and that being "born again" simply means coming to know God spiritually via any one of his messengers.|
|Taoism/Daoism||Longevity and ecstasy may be achieved through Wu wei, an attitude of inaction motivated by a lack of desire to interfere in human affairs, like the yielding nature of water. This may be obtained by a life of simplicity, selflessness, moderation, compassion, humility, meditation, and self-understanding. The goal is to enjoy life and be in harmony with the universe by becoming perfectly aligned with the natural world (cosmos). Death is merely a counterpart to life, a transformation from one form of energy to another, and part of the cycle of the Tao.|
|Confucianism||Man must become one with nature and the cosmic heaven by performing acts of charity, moral conduct, rites and rituals, loyalty, parental respect, and by practicing virtue.|
|Jainism||Through an ascetic life lived in devotion to certain fundamental principles, including non-violence, manifold truth, non-attachment to worldly attachments, not stealing, celibacy, vegetarianism, fasting, and meditation, one may achieve liberation (moksha) from rebirth and suffering to achieve omniscience and eternal bliss in the summit of the universe. That is, of course, after being reincarnated 8,400,000 times.|
|Shintoism||Shintoism is less of a religion and more of a civic way of life for those who practice it. Life after death is not a central focus and the spirits of the living simply continue to exist after the body dies. Therefore, many Japanese are Buddhists, from which they derive their own sense of fulfillment and self realization.|
|Zoroastrianism||All souls must travel a path to heaven or hell and cross a bridge of judgment by Ahura Mazda for their thoughts, words and deeds. Everyone is part of a great cosmic battle between the Bounteous Spirit and the Destructive Spirit. At the end of time, when evil is ultimately defeated, all souls will be reunited with their bodies on an earthly paradise.|
|Mormonism||In order for humans to be saved -- that is, to attain to their own individual state of exalted godhood -- they must become Mormons and follow Mormon doctrine, laws, and rituals. Ascended Mormon males will inherit their own planet with their eternal spouses and produce spiritual offspring in order to glorify God and further his work in a celestial kingdom (third heaven). Humans who believe in God but fail to follow the Mormon path will one day stand before Joseph Smith, Jesus (the firstborn of God's spiritual offspring), and God to be judged, most of whom will serve God as eternal spirits in a terrestrial (earthly) kingdom. Those who reject God outright will be allowed to tarry as spirits in the telestial kingdom (lowest level of heaven, not hell) for a thousand years, after which they will be ressurrected to immortality and sent to the terrestrial kingdom.|
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."