Question regarding the world religions

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The World Religions

Huston Smith's book on The World Religions provides an in-depth analysis of the major religions in the world. In his book, Smith does not create a comparative exploration of the major religions. Rather, the author describes each religion separately and rarely engages in comparing one religion to another. This book presents an objective summary of these seven religions: Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism and Confucianism. While discussing each religion, Smith shades light into the distinct cultural contexts under which the religious beliefs came into existence. Throughout the book, the author utilizes a simple-to-understand language coupled with an organized structure comprising of clear headings and sub-headings. Succeeding sections of this paper contain a brief summary of the book's main contents followed by a critical evaluation and personal reflection on the book's main points.

Throughout the book, the author made concerted efforts in describing the position of God as seen through the eyes of the seven major religions. Apparently, the major world religions have unique convictions about God. At the beginning of the book, it emerged that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Hindus believe in the existence of multiple gods and goddesses. However, Islam, Judaism and Christianity are monotheistic religions. These three religions believe that there is only one Supreme Being, the creator of the universe. On the other hand, Buddhism shies away from the concept of God. Buddhism is all about a man named Buddha, commonly referred to as the "Awakened One" (Smith, 1991). Lastly, the religions of Taoism and Confucianism are more preoccupied with the practical aspects of human life rather than spiritual aspects (Smith, 1991). Taoism and Confucianism are not entirely non-theistic; these two religions only make oblique reference to the concept of God. From the book, it emerged that each of the world's major religions has distinct perceptions on the idea of God.

Besides elaborating the concept of God in each religion, the author also delves deep into illuminating the main principles that characterize each of the world's major religions, especially the intended purpose of the religions in a man's life. Buddhism advocates for sound morality, wisdom and meditation. Also, Buddhism upholds the Golden Rule. Hinduism accepts that man inherently pursues pleasure, and recommends that man should indulge in pleasure, provided that the indulgence does not harm others (Smith, 1991). Confucianism advocates for social order and encourages believers to engage in mediation and character development so as to guard themselves against the influence of bad behaviors like greed and brutality. Islam, Judaism and Christianity are all Abrahamic religions and each religion advocate for unconditional belief in one Supreme Being. In the three Abrahamic religions, God loves the believers and punishes the non-believers, thus, believers are instructed to lead virtuous lives so as to be spared from their God's wrath (Smith, 1991). Taoism advocates for naturalness and moderation, and it is correct to say that there is a profound sense of humility in Taoism. Taoism discourages believers from engaging in extravagant and pompous ordeals in their lives.


Smith, H. (1991). The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions. Pittsburg: HarperCollins Publishers.

Book summary: Smith, Huston. The World's Religions.

Summarize briefly and succinctly the main points of the text (600 words), integrating what you have learned from the reading with the relevant materials in lectures, class discussions and reading assignments.

Reference no: EM131056008


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