Human goals are many, not all of them commensurable, and in perpetual rivalry with one another.
To my students
At least since the first petals of the counterculture bloomed across Europe and the United States in the 1960s, it has been fashionable to affirm that all religions are beautiful and all are true.
Far more powerful is the reminder that any genuine belief in what we call God should humble us, remind us that, if there really is a god or goddess worthy of the name, He, She or It must surely know more than we do about the things that matter most. This much, at least, is heard across the great religions.
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, dizzying scientific and technological advancements, interconnected globalized economies, and even the so-called New Atheists have done nothing to change one thing: our world remains furiously religious. For good and for evil, religion is the single greatest influence in the world. We accept it as self-evident that competing economic systems (capitalist or communist) or clashing political parties (Republican or Democratic) propose very different solutions to our planet's problems. So why do we pretend that the world's religious traditions are different paths to the same God? We blur the sharp distinctions between religions at our peril, argues religion scholar Stephen Prothero, and it is time to replace naive hopes of interreligious unity with a deeper knowledge of religious differences.
To claim that all religions are the same is to misunderstand that each attempts to solve a different human problem. For example:
--Islam: the problem is pride / the solution is submission
--Christianity: the problem is sin / the solution is salvation
--Confucianism: the problem is chaos / the solution is social order
--Buddhism: the problem is suffering / the solution is awakening
--Judaism: the problem is exile / the solution is return to God
Prothero reveals each of these traditions on its own terms to create an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to better understand the big questions human beings have asked for millennia--and the disparate paths we are taking to answer them today. A bold polemical response to a generation of misguided scholarship, God is Not One creates a new context for understanding religion in the twenty-first century and disproves the assumptions most of us make about the way the world's religions work. [adapted from jacket]
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Argues that the differences between the world's religions are far greater than previously acknowledged, and presents cautionary advice against underestimating these differences.