Do the differences among various religious belief systems outweigh the commonalities?

The study of various world religions and religious movements, along with the accompanying belief systems, cultural practices, and social phenomena that arise from religion, brings up an important set of questions for philosophical consideration. For this final assignment, write a “position paper,” which is a particular style of argumentative essay, of somewhere between 1600 and 2000 words that addresses the question and related considerations listed below. [Here is a link to a detailed article, including an example, that explains how to write a position paper. Also, please be sure to review the grading rubric for this assignment to ensure that your paper fulfills all evaluation criteria to the best of your ability. Here is a pdf of the rubric: Position Paper Rubric; you may also view the rubric on the assignment submission page.]

Here is your controlling question:
A consideration of the history of world civilization as well as current world events suggests that there exists a chasm, a very wide gap, which must be crossed in order for interreligious communication to take place. In your view, given that the different historical backgrounds and cultural settings of people around the world entail that at least some sort of gap or divide does indeed exist, should there be an effort to bridge this to allow for interreligious communication? Is closing this gap even possible?
• What are some specific elements that create the gap?
• What are some of the reasons that may be advanced in favor of interreligious communication and understanding?
• What are some of the commonalities among religious belief systems that might form a basis for communication? Do the differences among various religious belief systems outweigh the commonalities?
• Should the cultural diversity stemming from such differences be valued and maintained, or should attempts be made to overcome or even erase some of the differences that make interreligious communication difficult?
Here are the specific guidelines for writing the paper:
1. Write a position paper of @ 1600-2000 words in response to the controlling question and related considerations listed above. A position paper is one in which you take a stand on a particular issue or question that you identify in your introductory paragraph, and your thesis statement [included in your introductory paragraph] asserts your position clearly and concisely.
2. In the body of the paper, support the position you take in your thesis; support may be in the form of facts (historical, political, aesthetic, sociological, psychological, etc.), statistics, expert opinion and argumentation, personal experience, logical deliberation, and so on.
3. It is a good idea to bring in specific examples of religious beliefs and attitudes and refer to particular historical or current events to illustrate your supporting points or premises.
4. Additionally, in a separate section of the paper, first present, and then respond to, at least one other possible position in response to these questions. Typically, this will be a position in opposition to yours, but it may simply be an alternative view that does not necessarily oppose your view. It should, however, be a view that you reject in favor of the position you have asserted in your thesis. Be sure to answer any objections or counterclaims to your view that you raise in this section. If you have no response to an important objection, you may need to change your original position.
5. Finally, summarize the argument(s) you have made in support of your thesis and re-state the thesis in an expanded form in your concluding paragraph.
6. Two essential components of this paper are (a) demonstration of your attainment of the Course Learning Outcomes that are relevant to your argument(s); and (b) the incorporation of any relevant philosophical insights you have gained from the assigned readings and other learning materials you have studied throughout the course.
7. Cite at least three credible sources outside the course text and include at least two citations from different sections of the course text, Living Religions (9e) by Mary Pat Fisher. Your sources should be from credible and academically respectable sources. Please note that Wikipedia is not acceptable as one of the three required sources. Use Wikipedia for basic information and as a starting point for more advanced research and a guide to other reliable sources. You may use MLA, APA, or CMS documentation style and formatting guidelines. Choose whichever style best suits your purposes, but note that philosophy papers generally use MLA or CMS.
8. Approach the assignment in a spirit of critical inquiry, which implies a receptive, reasonable, discerning frame of mind that is open to considering different perspectives. A concern for accuracy, precision, and truthfulness is assumed.

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