Religion is a complex aggregate concept that includes particular mythology, a system of dogmas, cult and ritual actions, socialized religious institutions, and specific forms of relationship between believers and a religious organization. For each religion, all these moments have their specific semantic content, history of origin and further existence, and unique refraction each time through an ethnic, national, class, and individual-personal prism. The concrete study of all these semantic and organizational features in the formation of religions and their historical varieties answers specific philosophical questions of theology and the social functions of religion in various historical conditions.
The Central Ideas
As a religion, Christianity is based on several assumptions. The first is the idea of the sinfulness of the entire human race, which is infected with the original sin of Eve and Adam. The basic ideas of Christianity contain the idea of salvation necessary for everyone, as well as the redemption of all humanity before the Heavenly Father (Myers & Noebel, 2015). According to the preachers of this faith, people embarked on this path due to the voluntary self-sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ, who was the Son of God and a messenger who combined both human and divine nature.
Islam is one of the world religions that adhere to monotheism, faith in one God. As for Christians, Islam is much more than a religion for its adherents. Islam reflects a way of life, the basis of family and legal relations, and a set of traditions and customs (Myers & Noebel, 2015). The vast majority of Muslims are Sunnis. Sunnis adhere to their accepted set of hadiths, religious practices, and rules of conduct for a Muslim in all life situations, calling this set the Sunnah. This is not just a custom but a vital principle on the basis of which the whole life of a person who professes Islam is built. The Pillars of Islam:
- reading the shahada;
- five obligatory prayers a day, performed in Arabic with observance of a strictly defined rite;
- observance of fasts during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims are obliged to abstain from any food and drink from sunrise to sunset;
- pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a Muslim’s life;
- donations to the needy and the necessities of the community
The main difference between religions lies in understanding God’s essence. From Christianity’s point of view, God’s nature lies in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Islam, Allah is represented in one Person, and his nature is incomprehensible to human awareness (Myers & Noebel, 2015). Jesus Christ is not recognized as God in Islam but is considered one of the greatest prophets. Muslims also agree with many points of the New Testament Scripture, for example, about the possibility of the immaculate conception of Mary, but ideology does not allow equating a person with Allah.
Islam is characterized by the absence of a clear distinction between the secular and spiritual spheres. In pursuance of this principle, the sharia, the canonical Muslim law regulating believers’ behavior, was formed from the prescriptions and prohibitions contained in the Koran (Myers & Noebel, 2015). Christian philosophy is a kind of school of reflection, the practice of asking questions in which subjects are conceptualized on the border of inner experience and the outside world. Philosophy makes it possible to explicate the internal issues of the church to the outside world, to speak in a generally meaningful language.
Unlike Christianity, in Islam, a person’s entire life is strictly regulated, disassembled to the smallest detail. Hypocrisy, adultery, and slander are condemned in both religions; modesty, generosity, and love for others are equally welcome.
The Islamic view of the theory of evolution is ambiguous. There is no consensus on how man arose and how life appeared. The question of the relationship between the Christian faith and evolutionary biology is one of the most controversial in modern religious thought. Many believers criticize the proponents of theistic evolution adhering to scientific creationism.
Their practical implementation is quite far from the theoretical foundations. In turn, the theoretical foundations of Christianity and psychology are incomparable. There are various currents that are aimed at synthesizing these phenomena, but contradictions arise (Myers & Noebel, 2015). This situation can be traced with Islam since this religious trend has similar features.
In the moral sphere, Christianity brought with it a view of the individual as a being endowed with freedom, reason, a sense of responsibility, and the ability to love. Muslim canons regulate the most diverse aspects of life and, as social regulators, significantly influence the peculiarities of psychology and behavior of adherents of Islam, acquiring a stable character in the individual and public consciousness.
Sharia is a guide of faith and moral ideals to specific goals, forms, and codes, accurate and viable, accessible to everyone (Myers & Noebel, 2015). Christianity does not serve as a basis for regulating the life of society as a law, unlike Islam. However, there is a set of moral rules that must be observed by believers.
In Christian political philosophy, Christians examine their position in society, come to actual concepts, and act correctly for the sake of public order. Islamism is an ideology, and practical activity focused on the creation of a state based on Islamic norms prescribed in Sharia.
The socio-economic system of Islam differs from other systems, which do not consider the fact that people will not be able to achieve complete contentment if their spiritual needs are not met. Based on Christianity, the liberal economy (as well as any economy based on private property) is unfair.
Historical tradition plays a decisive role in Christianity. Christianity, since its inception, has been turning to history, relying on the evidence of faith in relation to events that occurred in the past. In this case, both worldviews define their central position in historical development.
A Logical Defense
In modern society, the view of opposition to religious and scientific worldviews has become widespread. However, this point of view is based on a misunderstanding of the foundations of modern science and the history of its origin. In fact, Christian theologians had a very respectful attitude to science because the knowledge of the world contributes to the knowledge of God. For that reason, I find Christian worldview more compelling. It is Christianity that contains those provisions that science recognizes as unprovable self-evident axioms: the existence of laws of nature, the mathematical nature of these laws, the knowability of the world, the existence of the world, the ordering of the Universe, the uniformity of space. For many decades, atheist scientists, inspired by the successes of science, were practically convinced that science proved that there is no God or, in other words, that all natural phenomena can be explained without resorting to the hypothesis of God.
However, in the 20th century, discoveries are being made that once again make us think about the justice of Christianity. The theory of the origin of the Universe as a result of the Big Bang is most often mentioned in this plan. Indeed, at all times, it was considered evident that nothing can arise from nothing, and therefore the Universe is eternal. Christianity stubbornly maintained that the Universe has a beginning. Moreover, only in the middle of the 20th century did science recognize that the Universe has a beginning, and it arose from a singularity, a false vacuum, that is, in fact, from non-existence.
Thus, the belief about the opposition between science and Christianity can arise only with a superficial understanding of both science and Christianity. A deeper insight into the foundations of scientific knowledge, into Christian theology, acquaintance with the history of the emergence of a new scientific natural science, and the history of Christianity allows people to understand the fundamental closeness of scientific and Christian teachings (Myers & Noebel, 2015). The meaning of human cognition consists not only in satisfying the natural interest in truth but correspondingly in freeing a person from the ignorance that hinders ontological and moral improvement.
Therefore, all attempts to present the Christian doctrine, at least to some extent contrary to any knowledge, including scientific, are due to ignorance of the basics of this doctrine. Thus, the Christian faith has never opposed itself to knowledge, firstly, because the denial of knowledge contradicts the essence of the human person as the image and likeness of the Lord, and secondly because the development of the Christian doctrine itself inevitably requires recourse to various intellectual resources, including scientific ones.
In the process of dialogue between Christian theology and other worldview positions, religious and secular, philosophy plays a central role due to its universal conceptual language and unlimited thematic potential. All worldview teachings, whether religious or secular, inevitably formalize the presentation of their positions in philosophical terms and appeal to philosophical arguments (Myers & Noebel, 2015). Unlike scientific knowledge, which does not pretend to solve the ultimate questions of existence and build a universal picture of the world. Philosophy is engaged explicitly in clarifying these issues and often builds all-encompassing worldview systems.
First of all, the dialogue should be based on the principles of equality of religions in society, recognition by both sides of the closeness of the main aspects of the creeds and ethical values of the two religions, the commonality of historical destinies and interests of their followers, and a large-scale explanation of this position among Muslims and Christians. Ethno-confessional problems are a delicate sphere closely intertwined with politics and social psychology. Not every state leader is accessible by the level of their political and general culture, education, and moral qualities. Outside of dialogue, it is impossible to educate politicians who can master such a delicate matter and conduct business in such a way that political interference in the sphere of ethno-confessional relations is exclusively positive.
However, understanding that these religions have several similar features can improve the state of pluralism in society. It is rightly noted that dialogue is a process of balancing between unity and separateness. Doomsday and the Last Judgment are the fundamental concepts of both religions, representing humanity’s decline. However, while preserving the values of one’s denomination, identity, and unique features, one must be ready to form common values and meanings. After all, Christianity and Islam have common spiritual roots, which should help harmonize the relationship without abandoning their values and imposing them on others.
The history of interaction between Islam and Christianity is a long way, but only today favorable socio-political conditions have developed for a full-fledged dialogue of religions on vital issues that states cannot cope with. In the absence of an established civil society, religious organizations could take responsibility for improving the moral climate in society, harmonizing ethno-confessional relations.
There are a lot of common features in all monotheistic, polytheistic, and theistic religions, which is proof of their unity. Only some general provisions were touched upon in order to demonstrate the unity of the spiritual experience of humanity. If one moves backward through the historical process, into the depths of centuries, it will be possible to discover more and more identical similarities. Having carried out a history check of the antiquity of religious knowledge and the logical correspondence of new religious concepts, it will be possible to move on to a single ancient religion, which was once professed by all humanity.
However, it is worth noting that Christianity and Islam are, for the most part, quite different worldviews. This is reflected in the fact that Islam has become the basis of society in many Muslim societies and countries. Christianity continues to occupy the position of philosophy and ideology, which exercises an indirect influence on the state of people’s lives. On the other hand, realizing that there are several points of contact, a dialogue becomes possible. It should allow these worldviews to influence the transformation of society through constant interaction equally.
Myers, J., & Noebel, D. (2015). Understanding the times: A survey of competing worldview (5th ed.)