Are Some Religions More Compassionate Than Others?

Why do we have some people who are very religious who look at the world and other people in very compassionate ways and we have other people who are very religious and they look at the world in very negative ways?

Do certain types of religions foster different kinds of beliefs? It really depends a lot on the individual who is participating in that religion and what ideas in that context they hold onto.  If we look at the Christian tradition or the Muslim tradition or the Jewish tradition there are lots of people who are enormously compassionate and loving and wanting to help other people.  There are also people who are very hateful and very angered at people who don't agree with them or who don't see things the same way that they do. 


On the other hand, Buddhist and Hindu practices tend to be directed a little bit more on the notion of connectedness and interconnectedness and oneness.  They also can foster tremendous senses of compassion and love for other people, but sometimes they also go awry. 

So that's actually one of the big questions that I don't think we have the true answer to yet, which is why do we have some people who are very religious who look at the world and other people in very compassionate ways and we have other people who are very religious and they look at the world in very negative ways.  We don't fully know if it's just the doctrine that people are holding onto, or whether its the neural connections in their brain initially that lead them down a path of being more angry or being more loving.  

So this to me is a very important area for us to study going forward to try to better understand how all of the different traditions have an impact on the ways in which people believe, in the ways in which they think, and in terms of being compassionate.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

Sponsored
  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.