For my ice breaker in college courses, I've chose to learn about the world's religions. In the 6 week condensed summer course we've covered 6 of the worlds major religions thus far, with Islam still to come. It's been a great way to take my mind of being outside and riding my bike or climbing. Here's a little bit about what I've learned.

Hinduism was born to the Vedas in 1500-800 B.C.E. They believed in creation, order, destruction, and reincarnation, a repetitive process. The caste system was a part of their religion and if you were born in a certain caste there was no way out of it in you lifetime, once a Shudra (follower, lowest caste, least amount of accomplishment) always a Shudra (at least for this lifetime). Hopefully you get things right and reincarnate into a higher caste.
Then Buddha came along and said that Hindus had it wrong with the caste system. Perhaps because, born Siddhartha (a prince), his theory of enlightenment being attainable by all was accepted. The caste system didn't sit well with Buddha. Buddha was one of the only religious figures that wasn't shunned for his views that went in contrast to previous belief systems.
Confucianism became official policy during the Han Dynasty (200 B.C.E) after Confucius died. Confucius thought he was transmitting information, nothing new.The master said,He who by reanimating the Old,Can gain knowledge of the new,Is fit to be a teacher.
Taoism uses the yin yang symbol in resemblance of creating, but not possessing. They like to go with the flow, have no expectations, control, or obligations.
Judaism was the first monotheistic religion (they believed in one God and one God only). Yahweh (God) had absolute goodness, ultimate power, and complete loyalty. Abraham (one of the chosen people) gave birth to two sons. The first was carried by Abraham's servant because Sarah, his wife wasn't able to have kids. His first son was named Ishmael and was sent away with his servant mother after Sarah conceived her first child named Isaac. Ishmael started Islam.
Jesus was a Jew. He came at a time when Judaism was dogmatic, similar to Buddha and Hinduism. He performed miracles and was born from a virgin. Jesus was a "God-man" kind of like a super hero. He taught love in the form of compassion, tolerance, acceptance, generosity, forgiveness, and helpfulness.