In God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter(HarperOne, 2010, $26.99 hardcover, 400 pp.), Stephen Prothero argues against the assertion that all religions are simply paths to the same God. The book systematically breaks down eight religions—Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoruba religion, Judaism, and Taoism—to show that at their core, each includes a four-part approach to the human condition: a problem, a solution to this problem, a technique for moving toward the solution, and finally an exemplar who charts the path from the problem to the solution. When religions are deconstructed in this way, Prothero argues, the differences between them are undeniable—Buddhists are not seeking salvation any more than Christians hope to achieve nirvana. Underlying the sometimes dry and academic tone of the book is a deep sense of urgency: Prothero cautions that it is not only naive to suggest that all religions are the same, it is dangerous. “To reckon with the world as it is,” writes Prothero, “we need religious literacy.” His book takes us one step further in that elusive pursuit.
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