Human beings are naturally curious. Consequently, universal questions concerning the origin of man and his purpose on this earth are raised, such as the questions of life, death, evil and suffering (Lovat, McGrath, Fletcher and Follers, 2000). Questions such as these have plagued mankind for centuries, perhaps since the very beginnings of the human race. The need for meaning in life eventually led to religion, a response to the human search for ultimate meaning and purpose (Lovat, et al., 2000).
There are many forms of religion. The major world religions can be classified into two categories, Semitic and Indian. Semitic religions include Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, where Judaism is said to be ˜the trunk of a tree,' while Christianity and Islam are ˜two huge branches' (Lovat, et al., 2000). Two examples of Indian religions are Buddhism and Hinduism.
Religions aim to answer ˜Life's Big Questions,' each one answering in a different way. To determine the effectiveness of their responses to some ˜Big Questions,' each response must be considered individually. In this text, the teachings of each major world religion's response to the questions of life, death, evil and suffering will be considered.
In Judaism it is believed that all people are descended from one person. Consequently, taking a life is viewed as killing the entire world and saving a life is viewed as saving it. Hence, it is not surprising that life is treasured beyond nearly all else. There are 613 commandments in the Jewish faith, and of these, only the laws against murder, adultery, idolatry and incest are so vital that they cannot be dishonoured to preserve a life. Life is seen as a gift from God. The Torah, the whole of the laws given to the Israelites, outlines God's rules for daily life, which Jews must follow. More recently compiled works by Rabbis interpret the laws to how they apply to modern day living (Judaism: Background, Basic Beliefs and