TED Conversations

Al Smith

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What do religions all have in common?

Today's internet driven, knowledge seeking person has seen the rapid evolution of religious philosophies from around the world. From a past of rare encounters with foreign thoughts, comes a whirlwind of new ideas and everyone's version of "the ultimate truth." So what do these truths all have in common?


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  • Sep 10 2011: Haha Kareem. Thank you for that completely useless comment. Save your proselytizing for when it is requested. This discussion is about the relationship between religious philosophies, not the arrogation of the truth of our existence and the existence/function of a particular god. There is no god; I can say that with as much certainty as you can say that Allah exists...as Hitchens would say, you have not been privy to any source of information of which I am ignorant, so based on the evidence that exists you have no right to assert that.

    Anyway back to the point. I love the Huxley quotation that you provided on perrenial philosophy. I think that is a great summary of certain religious philosophies, certainly the more prominent ones. There are some religious philosophies that may not fall so neatly into that model of religious ideology, such as buddhism, but overall I think it is a very useful way to think of religion.

    One thing I will add is that most religions make unfounded assertions that require logical leaps (what some people call faith) to have validity. In this sense, religious philosophies undermine themselves by being unable to sufficiently support their claims. Empirical evidence, as it has been understood by us (and yes I admit that our ability to understand the universe is hampered by our limited perceptual abilities, and that we could observe something that seemed truly miraculous and inexplicable...but that wouldn't mean that it was supernatural or evidence of the divine), leads us to different conclusions, and I am more inclined to trust constantly updated modern theories and scientific philosophies that consider new scales of existence that we are now able to perceive (objects that are very, very small and very, very large), than a few outdated philosophies based on limited information that are resistant to change.

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