The only real difference is that one reveals consciousness. Those who have faith in God will take this further to say that it was a divine consciousness that created the universe and all that emerged or evolved from it. So reality is consciousness, not Materialism.
Appearances can be deceptive. Keith Ward writes as much in his new book on "Why there almost certainly IS a God". It is a response to a famous Scientist, Atheist and Materialist, Richard Dawkins.
Sitting beside a river in Thailand I had plenty of time to sit and stare or stand and look at the sky above. The river and the sky, both. I swam across the river and gazed back from the opposite side and where I had been musing on things.
I considered the latest book by Pope Benedict XVI about Jesus of Nazareth. There was one sentence in particular that lept off the page and stood full square before my conscience.
That God can be truly worshipped only through right conduct. These words have left a deep impression.
I returned from my swim to walk up some wooden steps. I sat down in a deck chair of sorts and picked up another book. This was the Oxford book of Saints. A collection of biographies on hundreds of those who have been canonised by The Vatican since Jesus of Nazareth was crucified for claiming to be the Son of God.
Some Saints are said to have had the ability in their lifetime to read men's hearts. I wonder if anyone claims the same ability today? Other Saints are said to have performed miracles. There are even some claims made of levitation. Indeed, the Saint of Astronauts is Joseph of Copertino - The Flying Friar - who is said to have moved through the air on at least seventy reported occasions.
But it was the cases of an incorrupted body that most captured my attention. Saints:
St Andrew Bobola
Catherine de Vigri of Bologna
Are all examples of reported instances of people finding an incorrupted body after death.
During the Spanish revolution of the 1930's the Left sort to challenge religious ideas by killing hundreds of Nuns, Monks and Priests which were subsequently left in public squares to rot.
It was hoped to convince people that Christianity or at least those who are in some kind of religious or Christian authority are nothing special. But these Monks and Nuns had not yet become Saints. So they decayed in front of political ambition.
I imagine the Spanish Left of this time considered the religious scheme of things as some form of competition for the hearts and minds of the people. Once politics has overcome Faith in God it is all the easier to manipulate a secularized people bereft of religion.
The river and the sky. Both change ceaselessly. The rain falls from the sky and becomes the river. The water evaporates and becoimes the cloud in the sky. A never ending natural cycle of rebirth.
A Thai friend once told me that many believe that the Soul or Spirit is, after death and three days, made known to those most loved. Indeed, her Mother heard the voice of her brother -aged 26 years -calling out to her three days after died from a gun shot wound..
Did not Jesus talk about his spirit being resurrected after three days? I think He did.
Some cultures and religions recognise the spiritual solitude of the desert, some the peace of the ever changing river and others, the vast emtiness of the sky.
All are connected and belong to a divine consciousness we call God.