About Religions

Religion SymbolRELIGIONS are thinking systems seeking to define and organise human relationships to god(s) and the universe. Since earliest times, humans have endeavoured to order their lives and the world into spiritual patterns. Religions outline ethical conduct and theorise about the nature of existence. They consider the possibility of an eternal soul and hypothesise on life after death. More than 95% of the global population subscribes to one of the ten major religions. Including folk believes and fringe sects, about 4000 different faith systems exist. Generally, individuals’ religious beliefs establish early in life, and most people do not easily change their religion or are interested in alternative views. Frequently members of one religion are indifferent or hostile to belief systems that appear incompatible with their own. Such attitudes have led to innumerable conflicts and bloody hostilities in history, some ongoing. A significant part of human thinking energy pivots on religious speculation. Yet clearly today, despite the great effort over such a long time, global peace and harmony are fleeting. 

Christianity Symbol
Judaism Symbol
Islam Symbol
Hindu Symbol
Yin Yang Symbol
Philosophical Timeline Symbol
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As one of the three Abrahamic religions, Christianity features a single, omnipotent God who divides into a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This God has created the world at a specific point in time. Life is linear, starting with birth and finishes with death. There is one life only. At the end of time, souls and bodies are raised and judged by God. Christianity is an exclusive religion. It does not accept any other god(s) but their own.

Christianity Failings

In its two-thousand-year history, Christian beliefs of one kind or other have been instrumental in numerous wars, destruction, suppression of the rights of individuals, moral corruption, and so on. The central message of love and peace has failed to take root anywhere in the world, nor has it significantly impacted the Christians’ minds to make them more open-minded, inclusive, and tolerant.

Inquisition Catholic Torture
Jesus is my saviour


As in the other Abrahamic religions, a single, all-knowing creator God guides all human existence. His name (YHWH) is too holy to be spoken aloud. God created the world according to the Book of Genesis. He revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life following scriptures and rabbinic traditions. A single life runs linearly from birth to death. The soul is immortal and ultimately will face the ‘Day of Judgment. One day a Messiah will come and commence a period of world peace.

12 Tribes of Judaism

Judaism Failings

There are long-standing conflicts between the branches of Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Most branches of Judaism consider Jews to be the “chosen people” because they have a unique role to “preserve God’s revelations.” Kosher slaughter has historically attracted criticism from non-Jews as allegedly being inhumane. Hostilities between Israel and its various neighboring countries are ongoing. The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s most lasting bloody conflicts. It is hard to imagine how Judaism can ultimately bring unity and peace to the world.

Orthodox Jew with chicken
Israeli–Palestinian conflict


The Arabic word ‘Islam’ in the religious context means ‘submission to the will of God. There is a single, all-powerful God who is merciful, just, omnipotent. He speaks to humans through prophets. He creates, guides, and directs all things. As with the other two Abrahamic religions, life is linear, starting with birth and finishes with death. Individuals have to face the ‘Day of Judgment. Islam is an exclusive religion. It does not accept the possibility of any other god(s) of any kind.

Islamic Philosophy
Islamic Art

Islamic Failings

From the earliest times, Muslim states have waged warfare. There is the concept of ‘jihad,’ which makes the religious struggle a duty. Numerous conquest wars, as well as armed anti-colonial military campaigns, were waged as jihads. The two main sects within Islam, Sunni, and Shia, agree on most of Islam’s fundamental beliefs and practices but are bitterly divided by a specific ideology. Islamic thinking is unlikely to change to become inclusive and tolerant of divergent ideas.

Crusade Christianity
Jihad Islam


Central to Hinduism is a single, omnipotent godhead that divides into many articulations, the central ones being Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The world and the universe cycle through periods of creation and destruction. There is no beginning, no end, no time to measure; these rhythms are endless. An eternal soul is reborn millions of times in many forms. Ultimately, depending on conduct, the soul merges with the Universal Soul: Nirvana. Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion with over 1.2 billion followers.

Varadaraja Perumal temple

Hinduism Failings

Hinduism is a relatively tolerant religion. Geographical spread, invasion, colonizing other countries, and forceful conversion were not the primary focus. Hindu kings never initiated missions to spread the faith in different regions, except for some minor instances. The peaceful and tolerant nature of Hinduism changed primarily with the Muslim Invasion in the 7th century. Christian missionaries and British colonial rule added to the complexities. Historical records of religious violence are extensive for medieval India. Hate-fuelled conflicts between Muslims and Hindus are a common occurrence today.

Islamic Hindu conflict


Taoism (Daoism) is more of a philosophical and spiritual tradition than a religion. The Tao (way, path) is the source, pattern, and substance of everything that exists. There is no personal god(s)—life and phenomena created from the opposing forces of yin and yang. Time is undefined; existence is cyclic. The focus is on simplicity, patience, compassion, and harmony. Respecting the laws of Tao will generate a life of positive impact on the world.

Lao Tzu, reported author of the Tao Te Ching, founder of philosophical Taoism.

Taoism Limitation

Taoism connects to the sage Lao Tzu, the legendary author of the principal book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, around 500 BCE. The book guides behavior and spiritual ways of living in harmony with the Way. Taoism intertwines with Chinese folk religion, Chinese alchemy, and Chinese medicine. Hierarchies of deities are regarded as incarnations of pure manifestations of the Tao. They are considered ‘immortals.’ Taoism presents one of the human mind’s most imaginative and intelligent expressions. It is all-inclusive, non-judgmental, and an excellent guide to living a life of harmony. However, Taoism is essentially fatalistic and does not offer a viable escape from the human condition.

Taoist temple in China
I Ching Symbol

Timeline of the Ten Great Religious Thought Systems

Eastern Tradition

Eastern Tradition

The emphasis is on finding insight from within the human spirit. Seeking release from the endless cycle of rebirth. Mystical acceptance of the spiritual nature of all things.

Western Tradition

Western Tradition

The emphasis is on the prophetic revelation of a single godhead, outside of the human spirit. An eternal soul seeks redemption and transformation from this material, sinful world by following prescribed scriptures.