If one takes the time to learn and read more about ALL of the different world religions, it will become apparent that they have more in common than not because most were built upon the foundations of previous religions.
A simple example is that Christianity grew out of Judaism (remember that Jesus was a Hebrew, not a Christian; Christianity didn’t truly coalesce until 300 years after his death), and Islam grew out of Christianity.
The Hebrews were very much influenced by the Egyptians until their exodus, and the Egyptian pantheon of gods and goddesses is very similar to those of the Greeks and Romans who came later. Even earlier we find the first written forms of religion created by the Sumerians, who influenced the cultures of Akkadia and Babylonia, as well as the Hurrians and Hitites.
Interestingly, some stories in Sumerian religion appear similar to stories in other Middle-Eastern religions. For example, the biblical account of Noah’s flood myth resembles some aspects of the Sumerian deluge myth. The Judaic underworld of Sheol is very similar in description with the Sumerian and Babylonian Kigal. In fact, many similarities exist between the Sumerian and Akkadian “proverbs” and the later Hebrew proverbs, many of which are featured in the Book of Proverbs.
Asian religions experienced similar growths and developments; i.e., Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism) of China and Korea influenced Shinto of Japan, while Buddhism affected all these religions, and Islam influenced the Jains, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, and Hindus.
With all of this melding and blending, it seems to me that religious hate and intolerance shouldn’t exist, and that each religious perspective contains the same kernels of truth. In fact, most religions have at their heart “The Golden Rule”:
- Christianity: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:1
- Confucianism: “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.” Analects 12:2
- Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5,1
- Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Mahabharata 5,1517
Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Sunnah
- Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. ” Talmud, Shabbat 3id
- Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien
- Zoroastrianism: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.” Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5
- Neo-Paganism: “An it harm none, do what ye will.” Wiccan Rede, the key moral system in the neo-pagan practice of Wicca and other related pagan- and witchcraft-based spiritual faiths
The more I learn, the more it confuses the heck out of me why there is so much religious and spiritual intolerance and hate.