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

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
Big Think Edge
  • Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
  • Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
  • Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less