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RandomMrdan's avatar

Is there a wrong religion to worship?

Asked by RandomMrdan (7436points) July 30th, 2008

I’m not much of a religious person, however my mothers side of the family is…strong christian faith. I don’t do a lot of research on religion. One thing I hear often from Christians, is that Buddha, and Ala are false idols, and for worshiping false idols you would go to hell for it. However a friend of mine who is Buddhist told me that there have been many buddhas and that even Jesus Christ could have been a buddha (he said one who shares enlightenment is considered a buddha?) Not sure. It seems to me that maybe my mother’s side of the family is just too narrow minded?

Maybe some input from Christians, and also some Buddhists. I just find it hard to believe that someone could really go to hell for worshiping a religion that he/she was brought up to worship and had little say in the matter.

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26 Answers

Hobbes's avatar

I think your last sentence says it all. If your family was brought up in the Middle East, they’d be Muslim. If they were brought up in the right part of Tibet, they’d be Buddhist. If they were brought up in ancient Sweden, they’d be worshipping Thor and Odin, and be making sacrifices to Apollo if they came from Ancient Greece.

mrjadkins's avatar

My opinion on this is no.

Everyone has the same right to worship or not worship whatever they wish. Different religions believe they worship their one true god or gods. Different belief systems declare false gods and the problems of other religions.

There are some beliefs out there that are amazing what people worship. I remember religions of people worshiping Tupperwear for some reason. Who is to say one religion is less or more crazy than another? People put faith in all sorts of things. I don’t think it can be said that one religion or non-religious is better than any other. We are all just people. Who of us is better than any other person?

RandomMrdan's avatar

so if…no religion is to be wrong in a sense…would it be fair to say you don’t have to worship but just believe?

augustlan's avatar

As long as your religion (or lack of) doesn’t harm anyone else, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

PupnTaco's avatar

If you like to read, may I recommend “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”? I think you’d find it interesting.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ Dave I’ll have to check that out.

I guess I am just irritated by anyone who will declare their religion right, and others wrong, when I know that someone else of another religion can never be swayed to believe the same way that person believes. To me it seems arrogant and ignorant to think so many people are wrong, and only your religion is right.

aaronou's avatar

The specific descriptions of Heaven/Hell are not even necessarily a direct derivative from Scripture. It is true that popular American Christianity preaches “hell, fire, and brimstone” in the sense that they speak as if the core theme of Christianity is going to Heaven or saving oneself from Hell. However, there are a number of traditions within Christianity that could not disagree more. First, they would point out that the core of Christianity is love and service (in fact, this is how they define partaking of “salvation”). In addition, they would say that each person is judged by the light they have. In other words, one is rquired and responsible to live by what is “written on their hearts” or their conscience. This is discussed in Romans 2. Thus, one would not necessarily be condemned for being brought up in a different religious tradition, so long as they lived by whatever truth they had. Along with this, there have been many who have speculated a universal salvation, even some of the very earliest church fathers like Origen. They then would define Hell, not as a physical place of eternal torture, but as a state of mind, as a place of utter despair and helplessness, or even a mindset of being one’s own god (C.S. Lewis book A Great Divorce is about this). Thus, Hell would be something that God might even use in order to redeem some, as it would be someone experiencing “hell on earth” and make them vulnerable to desiring change. These believers in universal salvation believe that God will ultimately rescue everyone. All this to say, not all Christians are going to speak of Hell as a definitive reality, and therefore, not all would condemn all rpeople of all religions. I know a number of Christians who would even see Ghandi as a “man of God” and a true hero.

Perhaps some of this helps. You asked for some Christian input, and I have a background in theology (Masters), so perhaps this is of some use.

susanc's avatar

What Hobbes said.

“would it be fair to say you don’t have to worship but just believe?”
I don’t think that would be exactly fair. I don’t think (personally) that we can require other people to believe. Yet (personally) I think life’s better for people who develop at least a sense, and hopefully can recognize it and strengthen it, of boundless gratitude for
whatever put us here. I would call that a form of “worship”.

cheebdragon's avatar

my great grandma use to tell people that they had the wrong religion… was pretty funny because she was so blunt about it.

wildflower's avatar

Yes. Many.

MacBean's avatar

You said: “I just find it hard to believe that someone could really go to hell for worshiping a religion that he/she was brought up to worship and had little say in the matter.”

I agree with this. I think IF there is a god/God/gods, they’re probably not going to punish people for worshipping “wrong” when that’s how they were raised. Or, honestly, even if they did research and chose the “wrong” religion. And if they do? Well, then they’re just a big ecclesiastical jerk and I’m glad I wasn’t worshipping them anyway!

kevbo's avatar

Another great read for perspective on world religions is The World’s Religions by Huston Smith. In it, he describes the major world religions and gives you a sense of how they agree and disagree with each other. You mention that a Buddhist would consider Christ one of many Buddhas. Likewise, Hinduism and perhaps even Islam make room for Christ as a great prophet. Among Christian religions, I believe Catholicism is the only religion that says “You must believe x, y or z,” and those orders come down from the Pope. Protestant faiths were created “in protest” to that idea and instead afford the individual the freedom to interpret his own faith and beliefs via the Word of God (the Bible). So your family (assuming they are of a Protestant faith), may have their beliefs along with a bunch of others that make up their flavor of Christian religion, but the tradition of Protestantism is that every “man” can pursue his own personal and individual relationship with God vis a vis the Bible.

If I’m wrong in this thinking, I welcome correction. This is what I learned via the book mentioned above.

shrubbery's avatar

Kevbo, we use that book as a resource in my pre-tertiary Religion & Philosophy class instead of the prescribed text book. It is rather wonderful.

PupnTaco's avatar

I second the Huston Smith book, too. Very easy read and a great overview.

rockstar's avatar

The Bible does address the issue of how to live in heaven. Matthew 4:8–10 and John 14:6 are two verses that deal with this. Man was separated from God and banished from the presence of God due to his sin(Adam and Eve). Jesus therefore declares that the reconciliation and redemption to God are achieved only through him. Jesus emphasizes this by the adjectives THE way, THE truth, THE life(John 14:6). Romans 5:11 also states this. Read 2 Cor. 5:19 also. Here is some more on that subject. Heaven and hell are real places. Heaven was created for the people that accept God as their saviour and hell was originally created for Satan and his demons, but when man sinned(just as Satan did) hell became a punishment for they that reject Christ as our redeemer. More on this. As far as people that grow up worship another god. I have thought about that many times and after talking it over and reading different scriptures and various books. I honestly believe God gives everyone a chance to believe in him through many various ways.

I have not read that the above book, but I will definitely have to check it out. Another good book on this subeject is Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias, which compares Christianity with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

willbrawn's avatar

I am very much into my faith. And something that I hold onto and don’t judge others of is there faith. We live in a country where there is freedom of religion. I believe that if that person is indeed a good person and following there faith they will be ok.

delirium's avatar

An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
“No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.”
“Then why,” asked the Inuit earnestly, “did you tell me?”

-Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

btko's avatar

I really like that Inuit story Delirium! Made me smile.

I was talking about this with someone the other day. I think a lot of the feelings of “wrong religion” aren’t meant to be hurtful, but more a feeling of concern for the person with the “wrong” religion.

I’m just thinking how, say I followed a particular faith… I would be safe to assume that I am right in doing so. I wouldn’t follow it if I didn’t think it was wrong. So, if I am “right” in my following of said faith… that would have to make other faiths wrong (in my mind).

I’m just exploring how some people come to think of some religions being wrong.

Harp's avatar

In religious matters, everyone has an ultimate authority to whom he appeals all questions of truth. For many, that authority is the text of a book; for others, it’s a living religious authority figure; for some, it’s cultural tradition; for some, it’s their intuition.

So when a person is presented with some unfamiliar point of view, he will whup out his own preferred measure of truth and see how the new idea rates by that standard. The answer to RandomMrdan’s question will depend largely on which measure of truth one carries around.

Buddhists reject the idea that any outside authority, whether books or wise men or celestial beings or buddhas are reliable measures of truth. They regard all doctrine, even the words of the Buddha, as falling short of the truth. From their point of view everyone, without exception, has the innate ability to experience the truth for himself.

delirium's avatar

And that is one of the reasons I respect Buddhism so very much.

mrjadkins's avatar

I guess going back to the original question, I think I would have a problem with people worshipping something they created themselves or something man-made like Tupperwear. I would think the concept of worship is to give praise to something different – separate from mankind – the concept of holiness. Tupperwear is not holy to me.

I also can see where this idea could lead: people thinking that the concept of God is man-made as well. But God isn’t manufactured in an assembly line.

My opinionated answer: it is wrong to worship or to give religious significance to things found in a Dollar Store.

delirium's avatar

I think that god is man made. It doesn’t mean that faith isn’t a good thing to many many people. He wasn’t created in an assembly line, but in the curiosity of the human mind. (That curiosity is, IMHOP, the most wonderful thing about humanity.)

aaronou's avatar

Well, if we are asking if there are any “religions” that would be wrong to worship, it is conceivable to say that there have been a number of cults over the years that were quite dangerous and life-threatening (i.e. Jim Jones). I think most of us would agree that there is some sort of line that needs to be drawn when we come across groups that pose a threat of this degree. Religious freedom and tolerance seem to be necessary components of society, but even these virtues must be limited when the practice of them allows for a greater vice to occur. I guess we should, as the Greeks say, have “nothing in excess”.

TomAikins's avatar

Yes. All of them. I don’t consider Buddhism to be a religion, however. It’s much more of a philosophy.

Hobbes's avatar

That depends on what sort of Buddhism you’re talking about. Any religion, when stripped of its dogma and metaphysical claims can be said to be a “philosophy”. Buddhism’s easy to do that with because it doesn’t have much of those things to begin with, but many forms of it are quite religious, complete with specific beliefs about the afterlife and supernatural powers.

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