All books are the same. They have bindings and pages. But that doesn't mean there's no difference between A Tale of Two Cities and Where the Wild Things Are and Harry Potter; it just means there are certain things that qualify an object as a "book".
All religions are the same. You find out what can be known about the big picture of life, the universe, and everything, and about being a good person within it. Most people I've known underestimate the differences among the various religions, often to an amazing degree. "All religions are the same" is a mantra generally spoken by those who do not know much about any of them, much like "All books are the same" is not something you would hear from someone who spent any amount of time reading. We have book and movie critics attuned to the fine differences in kind and quality in their field of expertise; it's a shame we (or the media folks) take books and movies so much more seriously than religion.
Recently I saw the results of a study where various people had been asked various questions about religion and scored on the results. The write-up I saw was analyzing which groups did better than others on questions about world religions or about Judaism and Christianity. But the two things that struck me most about the results were these:
- Most of the scores for all groups were failing scores; it was just varying degrees of dismal
- Many of the questions were superficial, for example "Name that holiday"
I'd like to conduct a brief survey of my own here. I'll post it separately so people don't have to read this introduction unless they happen to want to. But it will focus not on the names of holidays or the names of theologians, but on the original teachings of the original founder / hero of the faith. I'll focus on major world religions with a recognizable human founder and focus on one question: What do we, as people of our day and culture, actually know about the founders of the major world religions?