Professor of Religion Points Out That "God is Not One"
The religions of the world have similar ethical teachings (e.g. "Do not murder") which leads some people to believe they are basically the same. But ethical teachings do not form the core essence of what differentiates one religion from another. It is the answers to life’s fundamental questions that separates them. These questions include: What is the ultimate reality? What is the problem with the world? What happens after we die? No two religions answer these questions the same way.
Dr. Stephen Prothero, professor of religion at Boston University, explains that the world’s religions are not the same in his book, God is Not One.
According to Mohandas Gandhi, “Belief in one God is the cornerstone of all religions,”… When it comes to divinity, however, one is not the religions’ only number. Many Buddhists believe in no god, and many Hindus believe in thousands. Moreover, the characters of these gods differ wildly. Is God a warrior like Hinduism’s Kali or a mild-mannered wanderer like Christianity’s Jesus? Is God personal, or impersonal? Male, or female (or both)? Or beyond description altogether?
Prothero also agrees that the different religions have similar ethical teachings but he points out that these teachings are only part of what each religion values.
To be sure, the world’s religious traditions do share many ethical precepts. No religion tells you it is okay to have sex with your mother or to murder your brother. The Golden Rule can be found not only in the Christian Bible and the Jewish Talmud but also in Confucian and Hindu books. No religion, however, sees ethics alone as its reason for being.
Stephen R. Prothero, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, Reprint ed. (New York: HarperOne, 2011), 1–2.