Most religions mandate sets of religious rules. In theistic religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, these are often presented as divinely ordained. But different religions have different sets of rules, which would imply that only one set of rules can possibly be of divine origin.

How have religious philosophers typically handled this problem? Is it more common to assert that one religion must be correct and the others wrong, to argue that all can be correct, or simply to ignore this as a non-issue?

closed as primarily opinion-based by virmaior, Swami Vishwananda, Gordon, Jordan S, wolf-revo-cats Nov 8 '17 at 17:41

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this seems to be a history question. There's an SE for that. (There's a potentially related philosophy question about what makes something an authority but the focus here seems elsewhere at least to me). – virmaior Nov 8 '17 at 5:40
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    Watch your tone, please. He rightfully points out that the questions "who came up with the rules" and "how did these texts gain religious authority" are indeed subject of historical consideration. If you cannot cope with criticism but with answering aggressively, we'll have trouble at some point. To add another critical point: A thorough answer will probably be book-length. I suggest narrowing the scope down to one or two specific religions. – Philip Klöcking Nov 8 '17 at 7:21
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    This site asks for objective answers, i.e. in theory, there would have to be a source for the originator(s) (in Christianity alone, it's been more than 20 people, iirc) and a (sourced!) story on how it evolved. For every single religion, at least for the big five. You cannot just state things or cherry-pick aspects of a question here. – Philip Klöcking Nov 8 '17 at 7:53
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    @AbsoluteIdiot. God defines what is good and bad. There are many religions because people feel the need to worship God, but, rather than following the rules that God has given, they set out to create their own. – user3017 Nov 8 '17 at 9:17
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    Please take a moment to realise that there is an actual human being on the other side of the screen, who is busy with lots of things but somehow finds time and enthusiasm to answer questions of people he doesn't know. "Just answer the question" kind of the demands or asking a three-line question about which entire books have been written without making the effort to do a basic literature survey do not help these people to find enthusiasm to answer the question, to say the least. – Keelan Nov 8 '17 at 11:31

If (from a religious perspective) god supposedly created all the religious rules,

Not all religions subscribe to this. Buddhism for example doesn't really talk about who created the rules, and instead arrives at the rules empirically (See the 4 noble truths).

then why does every religion follow different rules?

Different religions have different answers to this. Christianity, for example, views its own rules as an update of the previous rules laid out in Jewish scripture.

Orthodox Sunni Islam, on the other hand, maintains that the rules of all the great monotheisms were the same, since they share the same divine origin, but that human authors corrupted past scriptures (i.e. the Torah and the New Testament) and that Islamic scripture is, among other things, a correction of those errors that restored the original rules for humanity.

In both cases, the tradition acknowledges different sets of rules, but considers only one set of rules to be correct, and provides an explanation for why that is the case.

Is this a strong argument against the idea that religious rules are divine in origin?

No it isn't. Some religious and philosophical traditions don't see any problem in the diversity of religious rules and rituals. In Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita states (I forgot the exact verse - I will need to look for it): God (Or The Truth - depending on the translation) is one, but the paths to Him are many.

Similarly some schools of Sufi Islam consider that there are many paths to God, Islam is just one of them. See Attar's "The Conference of The Birds" or several of Rumi's poems - again I need time to dig up the relevant verses.

More recently, Aldous Huxley (who was himself an atheist) develops this idea by presenting examples from the various religious traditions of the world in his book "The Perennial Philosophy". He argues that all (or most religious traditions) are just variations on a set of basic truths that is called the perennial philosophy.

  • Nice answer. I wish more religious folk would read texts like Attar''s 'Conference' and Huxley's book and peer deeper into what religion is actually saying. – PeterJ Nov 23 '17 at 12:56