Are All Religions the Same?

Published by DonDavidson on

Aren’t Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism basically the same?


And not just because Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”[1]

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, known as the “Buddha,” which means one who is “awakened” or “enlightened.” One of the most fundamental differences between Christianity and Buddhism, in its original form as explained by the Buddha, is that Buddhism lacks any belief in an eternal soul. So the Buddha did not believe in eternal life. His sole concern was to eliminate suffering in this life, and he believed the way to do this was to eliminate the craving for the impermanent things of this life, including both possessions and people. Other differences include Buddhism’s lack of belief in a personal God, its belief that the universe is subject to the law of karma, and its belief in samsara, or “cyclic existence.” (These four differences also generally apply to Hinduism, out of which Buddhism grew.)

Islam, on the other hand, has a very strong belief in a personal God and in eternal life, but the similarities end there. In Christianity the way to eternal life is through God’s grace, which he gives as a free gift to those who love and trust him. In Islam, the way to eternal life is through the “five pillars”: the declaration of faith (shahada), prayer (salah), alms-giving (zakat), fasting (sawm) and pilgrimage (hajj). The shahada is simply this: “There is no God but God (Allah), and Muhammad is His Messenger.” So in Islam, God’s favor is something that a person must earn. Islam’s holy book, the Qur’ân, often speaks of God’s mercy, but always as something that must be earned or deserved as a result of proper behavior, not as a free gift from God.

By the way, the Qur’ân retells a number of stories from the Old Testament, particularly from the book of Genesis, but in the retelling it gets a lot of the details wrong. (I discussed one of those retold stories in a blog entry a few years ago.)[2]

People who believe Islam and Buddhism are essentially the same as Christianity have almost certainly never studied or seriously compared these religions.  The differences are very real, as I discuss in Chapters 8 and 9 of my book, Beyond Blind Faith (copyright, 2017, 2019).

If you would like more information about any of my books, including descriptions, a list of contents, and excerpts from each book, you can click here or click on “Don’s Books” at the top of this web page.

[1]. John 14:6

[2]. These errors probably resulted from the fact that Muhammad was illiterate and therefore relied upon stories he heard from Jews and Christians whom he met when he was leading caravans for his wife, Khadija.


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