By Jason Carlson
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world and its influence is far reaching. Today there are close to one billion Hindus in the world with most of them being found in Hinduism’s mother country of India. However, in recent years Hinduism’s influence has spread far beyond India and the Hindu worldview is now widely embraced by many people in Western Europe and America.
The basic philosophy of Hinduism is what is known as monism and pantheism. Monism is the belief that all is one and everything is spiritually interconnected. Pantheism is the belief that all is god and god is an impersonal universal force. So, in the Hindu worldview for example, the stars are god, the moon is god, the clouds are god, the trees are god, the rivers are god, the animals are god, the dirt is god, you are god, I am god and all of these things are one, equally connected to the impersonal universe that Hinduism calls god.
Now, think about this worldview for a moment: If everything is god and everything is one, what does this do to the value of human life? For example, if the pigs are god, the worms are god, the dirt is god, and you are god, what do you become equal with? The obvious answer is that you are equal to the pigs, the worms, and the dirt. As Hinduism says, all is god and all is one.
Now, instead of this philosophy raising the level of nature to the level of men and women, what has historically happened in the Hindu religion is that humanity often ends up being devalued to the lowest levels of nature. This is one of the major reasons why the nation of India has historically experienced such devastating poverty. The spiritual worldview of the majority of the people in that country does not provide a foundation for viewing men and women as special and unique amongst the rest of creation. Therefore, there is then no spiritual basis for attempting to elevate the status of men and women in this world.
What you find as you travel around the world is that the majority of the world’s problems are not simply economical or technological. Rather, the majority of the world’s problems are basic spiritual problems, based on what a person thinks and believes about God. You see, what a person thinks and believes about God will affect every area of their life. What a person thinks about God will determine their value for human life, their basis for morality, and even their standard of living.
This is one of the primary reasons why Christianity is so unique. As opposed to Hinduism, Christianity declares that men and women are created in the very image of God, unique amongst all of creation. And because of this truth, men and women are inherently valuable and of great worth to God. No other worldview comes close to providing this kind of basis for valuing human life.