Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Faith Speaks Volumes

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Faith Speaks Volumes

Article excerpt

Faith speaks volumes
How much do the great religions and beliefs have in common?

                  Who is God?        How were we      What is prayer
                                     created?         for?

Christianity 2.1  There is one God,  The Book of      It involves
billion 2,000     who consists of    Genesis records  praising God,
years old Based   three "persons":   that God         surrendering to
in the west,      the Father, the    created the      His will and
Africa, South     Son (Jesus, the    earth and the    recognising the
America and       Messiah promised   universe from    need for His
increasingly in   in the Old         nothing in six   forgiveness.
Asia              Testament) and     days and six     For Catholics,
                  the Holy Spirit.   nights.          it also
                                                      involves
                                                      petitioning the
                                                      Virgin Mary or
                                                      particular
                                                      saints for
                                                      intercession.

Islam 1.6         There is only one  Allah created    Muslims
billion Revealed  God, Allah. Allah  the universe in  communicate
to Muhammad in    has no shape,      six days,        with Allah
610AD Based in    form or sex, and   although "day"   through five
the Middle East,  human beings are   is widely        assigned daily
Asia, North and   forbidden to       regarded as an   prayers and by
Sahelian Africa   create images of   undefined        reciting verses
                  the deity. The     period.          from the Quran.
                  Quran opens:       Creation is an   Men and women
                  "There is no God   ongoing process  worship
                  but God and        with every new   separately.
                  Muhammad is His    birth and
                  messenger."        development.

Hinduism 900      The eternal God,   Brahman is the   Images of the
million 3,000     Brahman, appears   eternal origin,  gods are
years old Based   in human beings    the cause and    worshipped at
in India          as Atman, or the   foundation of    home or in the
                  soul. He has       all existence.   temple. Worship
                  three main                          is individual
                  manifestations:                     rather than
                  Brahma, who                         communal, and
                  created the                         consists of
                  universe, Vishnu,                   offering water,
                  who preserves it,                   fruit, flowers
                  and Shiva, who                      or incense to
                  destroys it.                        the deity.

Buddhism 376      Buddhism focuses   The world is     Prayer and
million Founded   on personal        timeless, but    meditation are
2,500 years ago   spiritual          undergoes        intended to
by Siddhartha     development and    constant         awaken
Gautama Based in  the attainment of  change. The      strength,
south Asia        deep insight into  mind and the     wisdom and
                  the nature of      five sensory     compassion in
                  life, rather than  organs create    ourselves
                  a relationship     the world for    rather than to
                  between humanity   each human       petition
                  and God. No        being.           another being.
                  belief in a
                  creator God.

Sikhism 23        There is only one  Guru Nanak's     Sikhism
million A         God, who is the    message is "Ik   condemns
monotheistic      same for all       Onkar": we are   rituals such as
faith founded     religions. … 
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