Religion and spirituality is evident in the nature of mankind. Many, if not all, persons and communities has the sense of deity and morality. However, there are many religious groups and beliefs around the world. Some of these are renowned, while some are not. In the Eastern societies, some widely accepted and observed religions include Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. In the Western societies, however, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are prominent. As a moral being, a person cannot accept or rather take part of a particular religion without conscious consideration. Holding on to a certain belief simply because of culture or family preferences is definitely void of meaning and firmness. For this reason, it is important that one should have a sound understanding of that which he/she takes part of. Otherwise, his/her belief is nothing but a “blind” faith, and is irrational and mystical. In order to determine the truthfulness of these religions or beliefs, it is necessary to study carefully their foundational beliefs. This paper discusses the comparison and contrast of the Cosmologic beliefs of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Judaism (often referred to as “Abrahamic” religion).
One foundational aspect of these religious beliefs needed to be considered is in regards to cosmology, which is the study of origin. According to Buddhism, the beginning of the entire phenomenal existence of the universe is incalculable. Lord Buddha, whom they refer to as the one who was given supernormal vision of the extent of the universe, suggests that the material universe consists of an infinite world systems that are scattered through boundless space, and that these things come to existence and pass away through time that has no beginning and end (Karuna, UrbanDharma.org). This period, which they claim to be with incalculable length, is referred to as “kalpha” or “maha-kalpa”. This kalpa is divided into four periods, which are so long that each period cannot be measured even in terms of thousands of years (Karuna, UrbanDharma.org). Each time a kalpa ends another one comes into being, and the processes within the four periods are repeated. This belief reflects the Darwinian’s theory of evolution. It holds that everything came into existence spontaneously without any cause or anyone to make that cause. Nevertheless, the theory of evolution has long been refuted by many. Even in the realms of science, the idea of spontaneity is not accurate and credible. In the past, some scientists believed that microorganism in broths and other liquid specimen spontaneously come into existence, and then grows into maggots. However, through clear presentation of research studies, especially of Pasteur and Koch, it is already agreed upon that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation. The material world we live in attests to this idea of “cause-and-effect”. No results will happen without a cause. Even in any person’s practical affairs in life, he/she is the source of his/her will and actions. Without that source, no activity will be carried out. Moreover, the very fact that there is a ‘first period’ refutes their claim that the material world has no beginning. If we are to say that time is infinitely incalculable, there then should be no specific reference to it – such as ‘first’ and ‘second’ periods. Further, the said developments within each period of this kalpa do not adhere to what is evident in nature. Buddhist cosmology holds that in the third period lies the differentiation of the human sexes, which leads to the development of family groups. However, if each period of a kalpa ranges for more thousands of years, then it can be assumed that human beings during the earlier periods of the kapla lived for thousands of years without procreation – which they claim as non-existing until the third period. Such concept is far from being believable. Lastly, the fourth and last period is said to be the development of the material world. However, science itself affirms that this material world is not heading to development. Instead, nature is getting worse because of technology, pollution, and more. Hence, Buddhism’s concept of [spontaneous] cosmology is clearly lacks credibility and rationality.
Taoism/Daoism, on the one hand, is also not silent in the aspect of cosmology. It agrees that if things have to exist, there has to be a beginning. Understanding Taoism’s cosmology begins with the question, “Who created me?” Taoist teachings assert that such question is biased to ‘self’, and should never be put into consideration. However, if one should ask that question to another person, that other individual (the recipient of the question) will also perceive the question in the same way, “Who created me?” Now Taoist teaching also tries to show the credibility of their concept through scientific arguments. It agrees that every part of a human being consists of individual parts, including cell tissues, DNA, etc. We are left with one answer: the parents. However, the parents and even the forefathers are also bound to that same question given earlier. So the question of who created the parents of the parents of the parents will definitely come to a specific point of beginning – which has to be the source of this creation. Taoists view this as being “trapped” in a circular logic, and that the next safest answer is, “God created us all”. However, they choose to be off the hook with that one, and raises up the same question on who created this “God” (Mason, Taoist Cosmology). It is like going back to the original question. For this reason, Taoism teaches that the material world is cyclical in itself. Since there is this cyclical growth in the universe, Taoists claim that the origin is the Way itself. The source of creation is the Way by which creation was created. However, such argument is also lacking of meaning, for we will be left with another question, “Who created this Way?” Indeed, even in building a house, there is this “way” to build it. Nevertheless, there has to be a builder or else the house will never be built and the “way” to build it will never be developed at all. Thus, there always has to be a beginning point with a “Thing” or “Being” that is superior to all things in this material world. Unlike the created things, this has to be powerful and self-existent, and such nature could only belong to God. Further, as aforementioned, the questions “Who created me” and “Who created God” is claimed to be self-biased. Thus, such consideration is left out. However, the concept of the Dao or “The Way” is also in a self-biased manner like the previous considerations. Such concept is also conceived in the human mind of a certain person, thus making it self-biased as well. All concepts, thoughts, and principles – such as the idea of aliens (though it is also far from being believable) – are developed and understood by the self.
Confucianism, on the one hand, seems silent in this matter. Being an ethical system of philosophy, Confucianism simply points to the three “ultimates” (sanji) – which includes Heaven, Earth, and Humans. It merely refers to the harmony of creation, rather than its origin.
Unlike the three Eastern religions, Jews believes in the ultimate beginning of all things – God. The Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, already affirms the reality of God. Genesis tells that God, who is self-existent and has no beginning, created all things in the universe – powerfully, accurately, uniquely, and orderly. The beginning of the material world is initiated by the One who is supreme above this world. It is like a painting that came into being through the work of its painter. This belief in Judaism and Christianity makes sense, for it says that everything has a start and there is Someone who started it. It conforms to the standard concept of cause-and-effect, which is clearly evident even in today’s environment.
The concept of cosmology for any religion does not only reveal the credibility of their cosmological position/interpretation, but also reflects the credibility of the religion as a whole. If the structural/foundational beliefs of a religion or even an organization (such as a church) are not consistent and credible, then it is certain that such religion/organization is not genuine as well. The reality of God in Judaism/Christianity makes sense. Every event in the material world, including disasters, is explained with God being the One who is in control of all things, and the One who has a plan with His creation – instead of the idea of spontaneity. Indeed, even Taoists may argue that, along with other religious beliefs, such idea is also conceived merely by the self or the human mind. Nevertheless, what matters is whether one’s belief is based on a rational and credible source (such as the Bible) and is consistent with the reality of nature or not.
Karuna, Tri Ratna Priya. “Buddhist Cosmology.” UrbanDharma.org. Kusala Bhikshu, n.d. Web. 23 March 2014. <http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma2/budcosmo.html>
Mason, Bill. “Taoist Cosmology.” Taoism.net. Derek Lin, n.d. Web. 23 March 2014. <http://www.taoism.net/articles/mason/cosmo.htm>
Rainey, Lee Dian. Confucius and Confucianism: The Essentials. United Kingdom, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2010. Print.
Robinson, George. Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008. Ebook.
Stoddart, James. An Illustrated Outline of Buddhism: The Essentials of Buddhist Spirituality. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, Inc., 2013. Print.