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Religion is a
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...
-
cultural system A cultural system is the interaction of different elements in culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, la ...
of designated
behaviors Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling differences) is the Action (philosophy), actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or Arti ...
and practices,
morals Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intention Intention is a mind, mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought. Def ...

morals
,
belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconsci ...

belief
s,
worldview upright=1.8, Religious practices will tie closely to a religion's worldview. A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thoug ...

worldview
s, texts, sanctified places,
prophecies A prophecy is a message that is claimed by a prophet In religion, a prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divinity, divine being and is said to speak on behalf of that being, serving as an intermediary with humanit ...
,
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field of ethics, al ...
, or
organizations An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has ...
, that relates humanity to
supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such beings, including , , , , and . Th ...

supernatural
, transcendental, and
spiritual
spiritual
elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...

divine
, ,
faith Faith, derived from ''fides'' and ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a , thing, or In the context of , one can define faith as " in or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on ...

faith
,Tillich, P. (1957) ''Dynamics of faith''. Harper Perennial; (p. 1). a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include
ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized, ...

ritual
s,
sermon A sermon is an or by a (who is usually a member of ). Sermons address a , , or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law, or behavior within both past and present contexts. Elements of the sermon often include exposition, , and ...

sermon
s, commemoration or veneration (of
deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entities, such as angel An angel is a supernatural ...
and/or
saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of Q-D-Š, holiness, likeness, or closeness to God. However, the use of the term ''saint'' depends on the context and Christian denomination, denominatio ...

saint
s),
sacrifice Sacrifice is the offering of material possessions or the lives of animals or humans to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.mer ...

sacrifice
s,
festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or Muslim holidays, eid. A festiva ...

festival
s,
feasts A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or Muslim holidays, eid. A festival ...

feasts
,
trance Trance is a state of semi-consciousness in which a person is not self-aware and is either altogether unresponsive to external stimuli (but nevertheless capable of pursuing and realizing an aim) or is selectively responsive in following the dir ...

trance
s,
initiation Initiation is a rite of passage marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in ...

initiation
s, , matrimonial services,
meditation Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one's attention in the present moment without evaluation,Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Interventio ...

meditation
,
prayer Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or a deified an ...

prayer
,
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
,
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use ...

art
,
dance Dance is a performing art art form, form consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement has aesthetic and often symbolism (arts), symbolic value. Dance can be categorized and described by its ...

dance
,
public service A public service is a service Service may refer to: Activities :''(See the Religion section for religious activities)'' * Administrative service, a required part of the workload of university faculty * Civil service The civil service is a co ...

public service
, or other aspects of human
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
. Religions have sacred histories and
narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelled non-fiction) is any document A document is a written Writing is a medium of human communication Comm ...

narrative
s, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and
symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meanin ...
and
holy places Sacred site, sacred ground, sacred space, holy ground, or holy place refers to a location which is deemed to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity A deity or god is a sup ...
, that aim mostly to give a . Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that may also attempt to explain the
origin of life In evolutionary biology, abiogenesis, or informally the origin of life (OoL),Compare: is the natural process by which life has arisen from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. While the details of this process are still unkn ...
, the
universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...
, and other phenomena. Traditionally,
faith Faith, derived from ''fides'' and ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a , thing, or In the context of , one can define faith as " in or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on ...

faith
, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of
religious belief A belief is an attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can be either truth value, true or fals ...
s.Faith and Reason
by James Swindal, in the ''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy''.
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide. About 84% of the world's population is affiliated with
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
,
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
,
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
,
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
, or some form of
folk religion In religious studies Religious studies, also known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religion, religious beliefs, behaviors Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and Bri ...
. The
religiously unaffiliated Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ethics in religion, ...

religiously unaffiliated
demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion,
atheists Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that the ...

atheists
, and
agnostics Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divinity, divine or the supernatural is unknown or Uncertainty, unknowable. (page 56 in 1967 edition) Another definition provided is the view that "human reason is incapable of providing ...

agnostics
. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs. The
study of religion Religious studies, also known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religion, religious beliefs, behaviors Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling di ...
comprises a wide variety of academic disciplines, including
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ...
,
comparative religion Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices, themes and impacts (including migration) of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religi ...
and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the
ontological Ontology is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Ph ...
foundations of religious
being In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, la ...

being
and
belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconsci ...

belief
.


Concept and etymology

''Religion'' comes from Old French and Anglo Norman (1200s AD) and means respect for sense of right, moral obligation, sanctity, what is sacred, reverence for the gods. It is ultimately derived from the Latin word ''''. According to
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
, ''religio'' comes from ''relegere'': ''re'' (again) + ' (read) where ''lego'' is in the sense of "go over", "choose", or "consider carefully". However, some modern scholars such as
Tom Harpur Thomas William Harpur (1929–2017), known as Tom Harpur, was a Canadian biblical scholar, columnist, and broadcaster. An ordained Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practi ...
and
Joseph Campbell Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. ...
have argued that ''religio'' is derived from ': ''re'' (again) + ' (bind or connect), which was made prominent by , following the interpretation given by
Lactantius Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325) was an early Christian author who became an advisor to Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his Christian religious policy in its initial stages of emergence, and a tutor to his son Crisp ...

Lactantius
in ''Divinae institutiones'', IV, 28. The medieval usage alternates with ''order'' in designating bonded communities like those of
monastic orders Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods ...
: "we hear of the 'religion' of the
Golden Fleece#REDIRECT Golden Fleece n red-figure calyx krater, c. 340–330 BC In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece ( el, Χρυσόμαλλο δέρας, ''Chrysómallo déras'') is the wool, fleece of the golden-woolled,, ''Khrusómallos''. winged Sheep, ...
, of a knight 'of the religion of Avys'".


"Religio"

In classic antiquity, 'religio' broadly meant conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation, or duty to anything. In the ancient and medieval world, the etymological Latin root ''religio'' was understood as an individual virtue of worship in mundane contexts; never as doctrine, practice, or actual source of knowledge. In general, ''religio'' referred to broad social obligations towards anything including family, neighbors, rulers, and even towards God. ''Religio'' was most often used by the ancient Romans not in the context of a relation towards gods, but as a range of general emotions such as hesitation, caution, anxiety, fear; feelings of being bound, restricted, inhibited; which arose from heightened attention in any mundane context. The term was also closely related to other terms like ''scrupulus'' which meant "very precisely" and some Roman authors related the term ''superstitio'', which meant too much fear or anxiety or shame, to ''religio'' at times. When ''religio'' came into English around the 1200s as religion, it took the meaning of "life bound by monastic vows" or monastic orders. The compartmentalized concept of religion, where religious things were separated from worldly things, was not used before the 1500s. The concept of religion was first used in the 1500s to distinguish the domain of the church and the domain of civil authorities. Julius Caesar used ''religio'' to mean "obligation of an oath" when discussing captured soldiers making an oath to their captors. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder used the term ''religio'' on elephants in that they venerate the sun and the moon.
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
used ''religio'' as being related to ''cultum deorum'' (worship of the gods).


"Threskeia"

In the ancient Greece, the Greek term ''threskeia'' (θρησκεία) was loosely translated into Latin as ''religio'' in late antiquity. ''Threskeia'' was sparsely used in classical Greece but became more frequently used in the writings of Josephus in the first century CE. It was used in mundane contexts and could mean multiple things from respectful fear to excessive or harmfully distracting practices of others; to cultic practices. It was often contrasted with the Greek word ''deisidaimonia'' which meant too much fear.


Religion and religions

The modern concept of religion, as an abstraction that entails distinct sets of beliefs or doctrines, is a recent invention in the English language. Such usage began with texts from the 17th century due to events such as the splitting of
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian state A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the ...
during the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity File:Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg, 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the larges ...
and globalization in the age of exploration, which involved contact with numerous foreign cultures with non-European languages. Some argue that regardless of its definition, it is not appropriate to apply the term religion to non-Western cultures. Others argue that using religion on non-Western cultures distorts what people do and believe. The concept of religion was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries, despite the fact that ancient sacred texts like the Bible, the Quran, and others did not have a word or even a concept of religion in the original languages and neither did the people or the cultures in which these sacred texts were written. For example, there is no precise equivalent of religion in Hebrew, and
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
does not distinguish clearly between religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities. One of its central concepts is ''
halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific ...
'', meaning the walk or path sometimes translated as law, which guides religious practice and belief and many aspects of daily life. Even though the beliefs and traditions of Judaism are found in the ancient world, ancient Jews saw Jewish identity as being about an ethnic or national identity and did not entail a compulsory belief system or regulated rituals. In the 1st century CE Josephus had used the Greek term ''ioudaismos'' (Judaism) as an ethnic term and was not linked to modern abstract concepts of religion or a set of beliefs. The very concept of "Judaism" was invented by the Christian Church. and it was in the 19th century that Jews began to see their ancestral culture as a religion analogous to Christianity. The Greek word ''threskeia'', which was used by Greek writers such as Herodotus and Josephus, is found in the New Testament. ''Threskeia'' is sometimes translated as "religion" in today's translations, however, the term was understood as generic "worship" well into the medieval period. In the Quran, the Arabic word '' din'' is often translated as religion in modern translations, but up to the mid-1600s translators expressed ''din'' as "law". The
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
word
dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
, sometimes translated as religion, also means law. Throughout classical
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia cov ...

South Asia
, the study of law consisted of concepts such as penance through piety and ceremonial as well as practical traditions. Medieval Japan at first had a similar union between imperial law and universal or Buddha law, but these later became independent sources of power. Though traditions, sacred texts, and practices have existed throughout time, most cultures did not align with Western conceptions of religion since they did not separate everyday life from the sacred. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the terms Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and
world religions World religions is a category used in the study of religion to demarcate the five—and in some cases more—largest and most internationally widespread religious movements. Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Mono ...
first entered the English language. Native Americans were also thought of as not having religions and also had no word for religion in their languages either. No one self-identified as a Hindu or Buddhist or other similar terms before the 1800s. "Hindu" has historically been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for people indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. Throughout its long history, Japan had no concept of religion since there was no corresponding Japanese word, nor anything close to its meaning, but when American warships appeared off the coast of Japan in 1853 and forced the Japanese government to sign treaties demanding, among other things, freedom of religion, the country had to contend with this idea. According to the
philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and writing, written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Philology is more commonly d ...
Max Müller Friedrich Max Müller (; 6 December 1823 – 28 October 1900) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizen ...

Max Müller
in the 19th century, the root of the English word religion, the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''
religio The Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, i ...
'', was originally used to mean only reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things,
piety Piety is a virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin ''vir'', "man" ...

piety
(which
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
further derived to mean diligence).
Max Müller Friedrich Max Müller (; 6 December 1823 – 28 October 1900) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizen ...

Max Müller
characterized many other cultures around the world, including Egypt, Persia, and India, as having a similar power structure at this point in history. What is called ancient religion today, they would have only called law.


Definition

Scholars have failed to agree on a definition of religion. There are, however, two general definition systems: the sociological/functional and the phenomenological/philosophical.


Modern Western

The concept of religion originated in the
modern era Human history, or world history, is the narrative of humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, ...
in the
West 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet-based directions are conventionally defined. A co ...
. Parallel concepts are not found in many current and past cultures; there is no equivalent term for religion in many languages. Scholars have found it difficult to develop a consistent definition, with some giving up on the possibility of a definition. Others argue that regardless of its definition, it is not appropriate to apply it to non-Western cultures. An increasing number of scholars have expressed reservations about ever defining the essence of religion. They observe that the way the concept today is used is a particularly modern construct that would not have been understood through much of history and in many cultures outside the West (or even in the West until after the
Peace of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
). The MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religions states: The anthropologist
Clifford Geertz Clifford James Geertz (; August 23, 1926 – October 30, 2006) was an American anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, s ...
defined religion as a Alluding perhaps to Tylor's "deeper motive", Geertz remarked that The theologian
Antoine Vergote Antoine Vergote (8 December 1921 – 10 October 2013), also known as Antoon Vergote, was a Belgian Roman Catholic Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th cent ...
took the term supernatural simply to mean whatever transcends the powers of nature or human agency. He also emphasized the cultural reality of religion, which he defined as
Peter MandavillePeter Mandaville is an American academic and former government official. Biography From 2015-16 he was Senior Advisor in thSecretary of State's Office of Religion & Global Affairsat the U.S. Department of State. His previous government work has ...
and Paul James intended to get away from the modernist dualisms or dichotomous understandings of immanence/transcendence, spirituality/materialism, and sacredness/secularity. They define religion as According to the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religions, there is an experiential aspect to religion which can be found in almost every culture:


Classical

Friedrich Schleiermacher Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (; November 21, 1768 – February 12, 1834) was a German Reformed Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major ...
in the late 18th century defined religion as ''das schlechthinnige Abhängigkeitsgefühl'', commonly translated as "the feeling of absolute dependence". His contemporary
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For cit ...
disagreed thoroughly, defining religion as "the Divine Spirit becoming conscious of Himself through the finite spirit."
Edward Burnett Tylor Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (2 October 18322 January 1917) was an English anthropologist, the founder of cultural anthropology. Tylor's ideas typify 19th-century cultural evolutionism. In his works ''Primitive Culture'' (1871) and ''Anthropolo ...

Edward Burnett Tylor
defined religion in 1871 as "the belief in spiritual beings".Tylor, E.B. (1871)
Primitive Culture: Researches Into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom. Vol. 1
'. London: John Murray; (p. 424).
He argued that narrowing the definition to mean the belief in a supreme deity or judgment after death or
idolatry Idolatry is the worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition of a god. An act of worship may be performed i ...
and so on, would exclude many peoples from the category of religious, and thus "has the fault of identifying religion rather with particular developments than with the deeper motive which underlies them". He also argued that the belief in spiritual beings exists in all known societies. In his book '' The Varieties of Religious Experience'', the psychologist
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citi ...
defined religion as "the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine". By the term divine James meant "any object that is god''like'', whether it be a concrete deity or not" to which the individual feels impelled to respond with solemnity and gravity. The sociologist
Émile Durkheim David Émile Durkheim ( or ; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline of sociology and, with Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a Ge ...

Émile Durkheim
, in his seminal book ''
The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life ''The Elementary Forms of Religious Life'' (french: Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse), published by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim David Émile Durkheim ( or ; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. ...
'', defined religion as a "unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things". By sacred things he meant things "set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them". are not, however, limited to gods or spirits.That is how, according to Durkheim, Buddhism is a religion. "In default of gods, Buddhism admits the existence of sacred things, namely, the
four noble truths In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditi ...
and the practices derived from them"
On the contrary, a sacred thing can be "a rock, a tree, a spring, a pebble, a piece of wood, a house, in a word, anything can be sacred". Religious beliefs, myths, dogmas and legends are the representations that express the nature of these sacred things, and the virtues and powers which are attributed to them. Echoes of James' and Durkheim's definitions are to be found in the writings of, for example, Frederick Ferré who defined religion as "one's way of valuing most comprehensively and intensively". Similarly, for the theologian
Paul Tillich Paul Johannes Tillich (August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965) was a German-American Christian existentialist philosopher and Lutheran Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a ...
, faith is "the state of being ultimately concerned", which "is itself religion. Religion is the substance, the ground, and the depth of man's spiritual life." When religion is seen in terms of sacred, divine, intensive valuing, or ultimate concern, then it is possible to understand why scientific findings and philosophical criticisms (e.g., those made by
Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is a British evolutionary biologist Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology that studies the evolutionary processes ( natural selection, common descent, speciation) that produced the Biodiver ...

Richard Dawkins
) do not necessarily disturb its adherents.


Aspects


Beliefs

Traditionally,
faith Faith, derived from ''fides'' and ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a , thing, or In the context of , one can define faith as " in or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on ...

faith
, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs. The interplay between faith and reason, and their use as perceived support for religious beliefs, have been a subject of interest to philosophers and theologians. The origin of religious belief as such is an open question, with possible explanations including awareness of individual death, a sense of community, and dreams.


Mythology

The word ''myth'' has several meanings. # A traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon; # A person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence; or # A metaphor for the spiritual potentiality in the human being. Ancient
polytheistic Polytheism is the worship of or belief in multiple deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatura ...
religions, such as those of
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geogr ...
,
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
, and
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
, are usually categorized under the heading of
mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...

mythology
. Religions of pre-industrial peoples, or
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
s in development, are similarly called myths in the
anthropology of religion Anthropology of religion is the study of religion in relation to other social institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior." Institutions can refer to social mechanism, mechani ...
. The term myth can be used pejoratively by both religious and non-religious people. By defining another person's religious stories and beliefs as mythology, one implies that they are less real or true than one's own religious stories and beliefs.
Joseph Campbell Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience. ...
remarked, "Mythology is often thought of as ''other people's'' religions, and religion can be defined as mis-interpreted mythology." In sociology, however, the term myth has a non-pejorative meaning. There, myth is defined as a story that is important for the group whether or not it is objectively or provably true. Examples include the
resurrection Resurrection or anastasis is the concept of coming back to life after death. In a number of religions, a Dying-and-rising deity, dying-and-rising god is a deity which dies and resurrects. Reincarnation is a similar process hypothesized by ot ...

resurrection
of their real-life founder
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
, which, to Christians, explains the means by which they are freed from sin, is symbolic of the power of life over death, and is also said to be a historical event. But from a mythological outlook, whether or not the event actually occurred is unimportant. Instead, the
symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), m ...

symbol
ism of the death of an old life and the start of a new life is what is most significant. Religious believers may or may not accept such symbolic interpretations.


Practices

The practices of a religion may include
ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized, ...

ritual
s,
sermon A sermon is an or by a (who is usually a member of ). Sermons address a , , or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law, or behavior within both past and present contexts. Elements of the sermon often include exposition, , and ...

sermon
s, commemoration or veneration of a
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion), or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleto ...

deity
(god or
goddess A goddess is a female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ovum, ova (egg cells). Barring rare medical conditions, most female mammals, including female humans, have two X chromo ...

goddess
),
sacrifice Sacrifice is the offering of material possessions or the lives of animals or humans to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.mer ...

sacrifice
s,
festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or Muslim holidays, eid. A festiva ...

festival
s,
feasts A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or Muslim holidays, eid. A festival ...

feasts
,
trance Trance is a state of semi-consciousness in which a person is not self-aware and is either altogether unresponsive to external stimuli (but nevertheless capable of pursuing and realizing an aim) or is selectively responsive in following the dir ...

trance
s,
initiation Initiation is a rite of passage marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in ...

initiation
s, , matrimonial services,
meditation Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one's attention in the present moment without evaluation,Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Interventio ...

meditation
,
prayer Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or a deified an ...

prayer
,
religious music Religious music (also sacred music) is a type of music that is performed or composed for religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no schola ...
,
religious art Religious art is artistic imagery using religious inspiration and motifs and is often intended to uplift the mind to the spiritual. Sacred art involves the ritual and cultic practices and practical and operative aspects of the path of the spiritu ...
,
sacred dance Sacred dance is the use of dance in religious Ceremony, ceremonies and rituals, present in most religions throughout history and prehistory. Its connection with the human body and fertility has caused it to be forbidden by some religions; for exam ...
,
public service A public service is a service Service may refer to: Activities :''(See the Religion section for religious activities)'' * Administrative service, a required part of the workload of university faculty * Civil service The civil service is a co ...

public service
, or other aspects of human culture.Oxford Dictionaries
mythology, retrieved 9 September 2012


Social organisation

Religions have a societal basis, either as a living tradition which is carried by lay participants, or with an organized
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's s and practices. Some of the terms used for ind ...
, and a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership.


Academic study

A number of disciplines study the phenomenon of religion:
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ...
,
comparative religion Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices, themes and impacts (including migration) of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religi ...
,
history of religion The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, ...
,
evolutionary origin of religions The evolutionary origin of religions and religious behavior is a field of study related to evolutionary psychology, the origin of language The origin of language (spoken and signed, as well as language related technological systems such as ...
,
anthropology of religion Anthropology of religion is the study of religion in relation to other social institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior." Institutions can refer to social mechanism, mechani ...
,
psychology of religion Psychology of religion consists of the application of psychological methods ''Psychological Methods'' is a Peer review, peer-reviewed academic journal published by the American Psychological Association. It was established in 1996 and covers "the ...
(including neuroscience of religion and
evolutionary psychology of religion The evolutionary psychology of religion is the study of religious belief using evolutionary psychology principles. It is one approach to the psychology of religion. As with all other organs and organ functions, the brain A brain is an organ ( ...
),
law and religionLaw and religion is the interdisciplinary study of relationships between law, especially public law, and religion. Vogue Magazine reports that during the late 1900, a new law and religion approach emerged that progressively built its own contribution ...
, and
sociology of religion Sociology of religion is the study of the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes ...
. Daniel L. Pals mentions eight classical theories of religion, focusing on various aspects of religion:
animism Animism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...

animism
and
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from miscapitalization {{R unprintworthy ..., a contemporary magical practic ...
, by and J.G. Frazer; the approach of
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine M ...

Sigmund Freud
; and further
Émile Durkheim David Émile Durkheim ( or ; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline of sociology and, with Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a Ge ...

Émile Durkheim
,
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
,
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
,
Mircea Eliade Mircea Eliade (; – April 22, 1986) was a Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern ...
, E.E. Evans-Pritchard, and
Clifford Geertz Clifford James Geertz (; August 23, 1926 – October 30, 2006) was an American anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, s ...
. Michael Stausberg gives an overview of contemporary theories of religion, including
cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual function Intellectual functioning refers to the "general men ...
and biological approaches.


Theories

Sociological Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerl ...
and
anthropological Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, l ...
theories of religion generally attempt to explain the
origin Origin(s) or The Origin may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Comics and manga * Origin (comics), ''Origin'' (comics), a Wolverine comic book mini-series published by Marvel Comics in 2002 * The Origin (Buffy comic), ''The Origin'' (Bu ...
and function of religion. These theories define what they present as universal characteristics of
religious belief A belief is an attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can be either truth value, true or fals ...
and practice.


Origins and development

The origin of religion is uncertain. There are a number of theories regarding the subsequent origins of religious practices. According to
anthropologists An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology and philosophical anthropology study the nor ...
John Monaghan and Peter Just, "Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs. Charismatic individuals have emerged at many times and places in the world. It seems that the key to long-term success—and many movements come and go with little long-term effect—has relatively little to do with the prophets, who appear with surprising regularity, but more to do with the development of a group of supporters who are able to institutionalize the movement." The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
s and
cosmology Cosmology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group. In many places, religion has been associated with public institutions such as
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

education
,
hospital A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment with specialized Medical Science, health science and Allied Healthcare, auxiliary healthcare staff and medical equipment. The best-known type of hospital is the general hospit ...

hospital
s, the
family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same Politic ...

family
,
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
, and
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

political
hierarchies. Anthropologists John Monoghan and Peter Just state that, "it seems apparent that one thing religion or belief helps us do is deal with problems of human life that are significant, persistent, and intolerable. One important way in which religious beliefs accomplish this is by providing a set of ideas about how and why the world is put together that allows people to accommodate anxieties and deal with misfortune."


Cultural system

While religion is difficult to define, one standard model of religion, used in
religious studies Religious studies, also known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there ...
courses, was proposed by
Clifford Geertz Clifford James Geertz (; August 23, 1926 – October 30, 2006) was an American anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, s ...
, who simply called it a "cultural system". A critique of Geertz's model by
Talal Asad Talal Asad (born 1932) is a Saudi-born British cultural anthropologist at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Asad has made important theoretical contributions to postcolonialism, Christianity, Islam, and ritual studies and ...
categorized religion as "an
anthropological Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, l ...
category". Richard Niebuhr's (1894–1962) five-fold classification of the relationship between Christ and culture, however, indicates that religion and culture can be seen as two separate systems, though not without some interplay.


Social constructionism

One modern academic theory of religion,
social constructionism Social constructionism is a theory of knowledge Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Episte ...
, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all practice and
worship Worship is an act of usually directed towards a . For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition of a God. An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated . Such a ...

worship
follows a model similar to the
Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family ...

Abrahamic religions
as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings.Vergote, Antoine, ''Religion, belief and unbelief: a psychological study'', Leuven University Press, 1997, p. 89 Among the main proponents of this theory of religion are Daniel Dubuisson, Timothy Fitzgerald, Talal Asad, and Jason Ānanda Josephson. The social constructionists argue that religion is a modern concept that developed from Christianity and was then applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures.


Cognitive science

Cognitive science of religion is the study of religious thought and behavior from the perspective of the cognitive and evolutionary sciences. The field employs methods and theories from a very broad range of disciplines, including:
cognitive psychology Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of mental process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intelle ...
,
evolutionary psychology Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach in the social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchang ...
,
cognitive anthropology Cognitive anthropology is an approach within cultural anthropology and biological anthropology in which scholars seek to explain patterns of shared knowledge, cultural innovation, and transmission over time and space using the methods and theories ...
,
artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concept Concepts are defined as abstra ...

artificial intelligence
,
cognitive neuroscience Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowle ...
,
neurobiology Neuroscience is the science, scientific study of the nervous system. It is a Multidisciplinary approach, multidisciplinary science that combines physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, developmental biology, cytology, computer science and Mathe ...
,
zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the Animal, animal kingdom, including the anatomy, structure, embryology, evolution, Biological class ...
, and
ethology Ethology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is ...
. Scholars in this field seek to explain how human minds acquire, generate, and transmit religious thoughts, practices, and schemas by means of ordinary cognitive capacities. Hallucinations and delusions related to religious content occurs in about 60% of people with
schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a mental disorder A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may b ...

schizophrenia
. While this number varies across cultures, this had led to theories about a number of influential religious phenomenon and possible relation to psychotic disorders. A number of prophetic experiences are consistent with psychotic symptoms, although retrospective diagnoses are practically impossible. Schizophrenic episodes are also experienced by people who do not have belief in gods. Religious content is also common in
temporal lobe epilepsy Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is a chronic disorder of the nervous system In Biology, biology, the nervous system is a Complex system, highly complex part of an animal that coordinates its Behavior, actions and Sense, sensory information by ...
, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Atheistic content is also found to be common with temporal lobe epilepsy.


Comparativism

Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices of the world's religions. In general, the comparative study of religion yields a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophical concerns of religion such as
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...

ethics
,
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysics
, and the nature and form of
salvation Salvation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in re ...

salvation
. Studying such material is meant to give one a richer and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the
sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity; is considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspires awe or Reverence (emotion), reverence among believers. The property is often as ...

sacred
,
numinous Numinous () is a term derived from the Latin ''numen'', meaning "arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring."Collins English Dictionary -7th ed. - 2005 The term was given its present sense by the German theologian and ph ...
, and
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...

divine
. In the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification of the main world religions includes
Middle Eastern religions Three major religious groups (i.e. the two largest religions in the world: Christianity and Islam, plus Judaism) originated in the Middle East. Smaller minority religions, such as the Baháʼí Faith, Druze, Alawites, Manichaeism, Sabianism, Bábism ...
(including
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
and
Iranian religions Iranian religions are religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different r ...
),
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
,
East Asian religions In the study of comparative religion Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices, themes and impacts (including migration) of the world's religions. I ...
, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions, and classical Hellenistic religions.Charles Joseph Adams, ''Classification of religions: geographical'', Encyclopædia Britannica
/ref>


Classification

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the academic practice of
comparative religion Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices, themes and impacts (including migration) of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religi ...
divided religious belief into philosophically defined categories called world religions. Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: #
world religions World religions is a category used in the study of religion to demarcate the five—and in some cases more—largest and most internationally widespread religious movements. Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Mono ...
, a term which refers to transcultural, international religions; #
indigenous religions Indigenous religions is a category used in the study of religion Religious studies, also known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religion, religious beliefs, behaviors Behavior (American English) or ...
, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and #
new religious movements A new religious movement (NRM), also known as a new religion or an alternative spirituality, is a religious Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is conside ...
, which refers to recently developed religions. Some recent scholarship has argued that not all types of religion are necessarily separated by mutually exclusive philosophies, and furthermore that the utility of ascribing a practice to a certain philosophy, or even calling a given practice religious, rather than cultural, political, or social in nature, is limited.Brian Kemble Pennington ''Was Hinduism Invented?'' New York: Oxford University Press US, 2005. The current state of psychological study about the nature of religiousness suggests that it is better to refer to religion as a largely invariant phenomenon that should be distinguished from cultural norms (i.e. religions).


Morphological classification

Some scholars classify religions as either '' universal religions'' that seek worldwide acceptance and actively look for new converts, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Jainism, while ''
ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...
s'' are identified with a particular ethnic group and do not seek converts. Others reject the distinction, pointing out that all religious practices, whatever their philosophical origin, are ethnic because they come from a particular culture.


Demographical classification

The five largest religious groups by world population, estimated to account for 5.8 billion people and 84% of the population, are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism (with the relative numbers for Buddhism and Hinduism dependent on the extent of
syncretism Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs and various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy, Lis ...
) and traditional folk religion. A global poll in 2012 surveyed 57 countries and reported that 59% of the world's population identified as religious, 23% as , 13% as convinced
atheists Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that the ...

atheists
, and also a 9% decrease in identification as religious when compared to the 2005 average from 39 countries. A follow-up poll in 2015 found that 63% of the globe identified as religious, 22% as not religious, and 11% as convinced atheists. On average, women are more religious than men. Some people follow multiple religions or multiple religious principles at the same time, regardless of whether or not the religious principles they follow traditionally allow for
syncretism Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs and various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy, Lis ...
. A 2017
Pew A pew () is a long bench (furniture), bench seat or enclosed box, used for seating Member (local church), members of a Local church, congregation or choir in a Church (building), church, synagogue or sometimes a courtroom. Overview The first ...

Pew
projection suggests that Islam will overtake Christianity as the plurality religion by 2075. Unaffiliated populations are projected to drop, even when taking disaffiliation rates into account, due to differences in birth rates.


Specific religions


Abrahamic

Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family ...

Abrahamic religions
are
monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousn ...
religions which believe they descend from
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
.


Judaism

Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
is the oldest Abrahamic religion, originating in the people of ancient Israel and Judea. The
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
is its foundational text, and is part of the larger text known as the
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, ...
or
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
. It is supplemented by oral tradition, set down in written form in later texts such as the
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...

Midrash
and the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
. Judaism includes a wide corpus of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from
Rabbinic Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century Common era, CE, after the codification of ...
, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
on
Mount Sinai Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its ...
in the form of both the
Written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, groups through the use of sufficien ...

Written
and
Oral Torah According to Rabbinic Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century Common era, C ...
; historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups. The
Jewish people Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2International Organization for Standardization, ISO 259 is a series of international standards for the romanization of Hebrew, romanization of Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew characters into Latin alphabet, La ...
were scattered after the destruction of the
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the ...
in 70 CE. Today there are about 13 million Jews, about 40 per cent living in Israel and 40 per cent in the United States. The largest
Jewish religious movements Jewish religious movements, sometimes called "denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu denominations ** Schools of Buddhism, B ...
are
Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, ...
(
Haredi Judaism Haredi Judaism ( he, יהדות חֲרֵדִית ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'' in English; plural ''Haredim'' or ''Charedim'') consists of groups within which are characterized by their strict adherence to ' (Jewish law) and traditions, in oppo ...

Haredi Judaism
and
Modern Orthodox Judaism Modern Orthodox Judaism (also Modern Orthodox or Modern Orthodoxy) is a movement within Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary . , it is chiefly defined by regarding the , both ...
),
Conservative Judaism Conservative Judaism (known as Masorti Judaism outside North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict ...
and
Reform Judaism Reform Judaism (also known as Liberal Judaism or Progressive Judaism) is a major Jewish denomination Jewish religious movements, sometimes called "Religious denomination, denominations", include different groups which have developed among Jews ...
.


Christianity

Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
is based on the life and teachings of
Jesus of Nazareth Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...
(1st century) as presented in the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
. The Christian faith is essentially faith in Jesus as the
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, the Major religious groups, world's largest ...

Christ
, the
Son of God Historically, many rulers have assumed titles such as the son of God, the son of a God or the son of heaven. The term "son of God" is used in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical ...
, and as Savior and Lord. Almost all Christians believe in the
Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Trinity
, which teaches the unity of
Father A father is the male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot sexual reproduction, reproduce sex ...

Father
,
Son A son is a male Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproduction ...
(Jesus Christ), and
Holy Spirit In Abrahamic religions, the Holy Spirit is an aspect or agent of God in Abrahamic religions, God, by means of which God communicates with people or acts on them. In Judaism, it refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the ...

Holy Spirit
as three persons in one Godhead. Most Christians can describe their faith with the
Nicene Creed The original Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) was first adopted at the First Council of Nicaea, which opened on 19 June 325.''Readings in the History of Christian Theology'' by William Ca ...
. As the religion of
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
in the first millennium and of
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
during the time of colonization, Christianity has been propagated throughout the world via missionary work. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.3 billion followers as of 2015. The main divisions of Christianity are, according to the number of adherents: * The
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
, led by the
Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...
and the bishops worldwide in communion with him, is a
communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also called the Holy Communion or Lord's Supper), the Christian rite involving the eating of bread and drinking of wine, reenacting the Last Supper **Communion (chant), the Gregorian chant that acc ...
of 24 Churches ''
sui iuris ''Sui iuris'', also spelled as ''sui juris'' ( or ), is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, know ...
'', including the
Latin Church , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , alt = Façade of the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran , caption = Archbasilica of Saint Joh ...
and 23
Eastern Catholic churches The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches, are twenty-three Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christi ...
, such as the
Maronite The Maronites ( ar, الموارنة; syr, ܡܖ̈ܘܢܝܐ) are an ethnoreligious Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christ ...
Catholic Church. *
Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity comprises Christianity, Christian traditions and Christian denomination, church families that originally developed during Classical antiquity, classical and late antiquity in Western Asia, Northeast Africa, Eastern Europe, ...
, which include
Eastern Orthodoxy The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a Communion (Christ ...
,
Oriental Orthodoxy The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings ...
, and the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an church of the , based ...
. *
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose comin ...
, separated from the Catholic Church in the 16th-century
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity File:Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg, 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the larges ...
and is split into thousands of
denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu denominations ** Schools of Buddhism, Buddhist denomination * Denomination (currency) * Denomination ( ...
. Major branches of Protestantism include
Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...
,
Baptists Baptists form a major branch of Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Cath ...
,
Calvinism Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Refor ...
,
Lutheranism Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of that identifies with the teachings of and was founded by , a 16th-century German monk and whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Catholic church launched the . The reaction of t ...
, and
Methodism Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu d ...
, though each of these contain many different denominations or groups. There are also smaller groups, including: *
Restorationism Restorationism (or Christian primitivism) is the belief that Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachi ...
, the belief that Christianity should be restored (as opposed to reformed) along the lines of what is known about the apostolic early church. *
Latter-day Saint movement The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, ...
, founded by
Joseph Smith Joseph Smith Jr. (December 23, 1805June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism Mormonism is the religious tradition and theology of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationism, Restorationist Christian ...
in the late 1820s. *
Jehovah's Witnesses Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian Millenarianism (also millenarism), from Latin ''mīllēnārius'' "containing a thousand", is the belief by a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious ...
, founded in the late 1870s by
Charles Taze Russell Charles Taze Russell (February 16, 1852 – October 31, 1916), or Pastor Russell, was an American Christian restorationist minister from Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States and the co ...

Charles Taze Russell
.


Islam

Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
is a
monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousn ...
religion based on the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious t ...

Quran
, one of the holy books considered by Muslims to be
revealed Reveal or Revealed may refer to: People * Reveal (rapper) (born 1983), member of the British hip hop group Poisonous Poets * James L. Reveal (1941–2015), American botanist Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * House of Night#Revealed, ''R ...
by
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...
, and on the of the
Islamic prophet Prophets in Islam ( ar, الأنبياء في الإسلام, translit=al-ʾAnbiyāʾ fī al-ʾIslām) are individuals in Islam who are believed to spread God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, c ...
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
, a major political and religious figure of the 7th century CE. Islam is based on the unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the
Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, be ...

Abrahamic
prophets of Judaism, Christianity and other Abrahamic religions before
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
. It is the most widely practiced religion of
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
,
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
,
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...

Western Asia
, and
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area ...

Central Asia
, while Muslim-majority countries also exist in parts of
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia cov ...

South Asia
,
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
, and
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to th ...

Southeast Europe
. There are also several
Islamic republic An Islamic republic can be considered a sovereign state in the form of a republic that is officially ruled by Islamic laws, contrasted to Islamic monarchy. As a name or title, three current states are Islamic republics: Iran, Mauritania and Paki ...
s, including
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
,
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
,
Mauritania Mauritania (; ar, موريتانيا, ', french: Mauritanie; Berber languages, Berber: ''Agawej'' or ''Cengit''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: ''Moritani''; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Gànnaar''; Soninke language, Soninke: ''Murutaane''), officially ...

Mauritania
, and
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
. *
Sunni Islam Sunni Islam () is by far the largest branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, ...
is the largest denomination within Islam and follows the Qur'an, the ahadith (ar: plural of Hadith) which record the
sunnah In Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first ...
, whilst placing emphasis on the
sahabah Companions of the Prophet ( ar, اَلصَّحَابَةُ; ''aṣ-ṣaḥāba'' meaning "the companions", from the verb meaning "accompany", "keep company with", "associate with") were the disciples and followers of Muhammad Muhammad ib ...
. *
Shia Islam Shia Islam or Shi'ism is the second largest branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanis ...
is the second largest denomination of Islam and its adherents believe that
Ali Ali ibn Abi Talib ( ar, عَلِيّ ٱبْن أَبِي طَالِب, ; 13 September 601 – 29 January 661) was a cousin, son-in-law and companion of the Prophets and messengers in Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in Islam, Muhammad, who ru ...

Ali
succeeded Muhammad and further places emphasis on Muhammad's family. * There are also Muslim revivalist movements such as Muwahhidism and
Salafism The Salafi movement, also called the Salafist movement, ''Salafiyyah'' and Salafism, is a reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. The use of the word in this way emerges i ...
. Other denominations of Islam include
Nation of Islam The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a religious and political organization which was founded in the United States by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930. A Black nationalism, black nationalist organization, the NOI focuses its attention on the African dia ...
,
Ibadi The Ibadi movement (also called Ibāḍiyya ( ar, الإباضية, al-Ibāḍiyyah) and Ibadism), is a Islamic schools and branches, school of Islam. It exists in Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and East Africa. Ibadi Islam traces the origins of ...
,
Sufism Sufism ( ar, ٱلصُّوفِيَّة), also known as Tasawwuf (), is in , "characterized ... y particularvalues, ritual practices, doctrines and institutions". It is variously defined as "Islamic mysticism",Martin Lings, ''What is Sufism? ...

Sufism
,
Quranism Quranism Brown, ''Rethinking tradition in modern Islamic thought'', 1996: p.38-42 or Quraniyya ( ar, القرآنية; ''al-Qur'āniyya;'' also known as Quranic Islam) is a branch of Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in ...
,
Mahdavia Mahdavia ( ar, مهدوي ''mahdawi'') or Mahdavism, known as Zikri in Pakistan, is a Mahdiist Muslim sect founded by Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri in India in the late 15th century. Syed Muhammad declared himself to be Imam Mahdi at the holy city o ...
, and
non-denominational Muslims Non-denominational Muslims () are Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God) is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic monotheistic religion tea ...
.
Wahhabism Wahhabism ( ar, الوهابية, lit=Wahhabism, translit=al-Wahhābiyyah) is a term used to refer to the Islamic revival, Islamic revivalist and Islamic fundamentalism, fundamentalist movement within Sunni Islam which is associated with the H ...
is the dominant Muslim
schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy, List of academic disciplines, discipline, belief, social movement, Schools of economic ...
in the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
.


Other

Whilst Judaism, Christianity and Islam are commonly seen as the only three Abrahamic faiths, there are smaller and newer traditions which lay claim to the designation as well. For example, the
Baháʼí Faith The Baháʼí Faith (; fa , بهائی ') is a new religion teaching the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. Established by Baháʼu'lláh Baháʼu'lláh (12 November 1817 – 29 May 1892) was a Persian ...
is a
new religious movement A new religious movement (NRM), also known as a new religion or an alternative spirituality, is a religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is ...
that has links to the major Abrahamic religions as well as other religions (e.g. of Eastern philosophy). Founded in 19th-century Iran, it teaches the unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as additional prophets (Buddha, Mahavira), including its founder . It is an offshoot of
Bábism The Bábi Faith ( fa, بابیه, ''Babiyye'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion which professes that there is one incorporeal, unknown, and incomprehensible GodEdward Granville Browne, Browne, E.G.]''Kitab-i ...
. One of its divisions is the Orthodox Baháʼí Faith. Even smaller regional Abrahamic groups also exist, including Samaritanism (primarily in Israel and the West Bank), the Rastafari movement (primarily in Jamaica), and Druze (primarily in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel). The Druze faith originally developed out of Isma'ilism, and it has sometimes been considered an Islamic schools and branches, Islamic school by some Islamic authorities, but Druze themselves do not identify as Muslims. Mandaeism, also known as Sabianism, is a Gnosticism, Gnostic,
monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousn ...
and
ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...
. Its adherents, the Mandaeans, consider John the Baptist to be their chief prophet. Mandaeans are the last surving Gnostics from antiquity.


East Asian

East Asian religions (also known as Far Eastern religions or Taoic religions) consist of several religions of East Asia which make use of the concept of Tao (in Chinese) or Dō (in Japanese or Korean). They include:


Taoism and Confucianism

* Taoism and Confucianism, as well as Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese religion influenced by Chinese thought.


Folk religions

* Chinese folk religion: the indigenous religions of the Han Chinese, or, by metonymy, of all the populations of the Chinese cultural sphere. It includes the syncretism of Confucianism, Taoism and
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
, Wuism, as well as many new religious movements such as Chen Tao (True Way Cult), Chen Tao, Falun Gong and Yiguandao. * Other folk and new religions of East Asia and
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
such as Korean shamanism, Chondogyo, and Jeung San Do in Korea; indigenous Philippine folk religions in the Philippines; Shinto, Shugendo, Ryukyuan religion, and Japanese new religions in Japan; Satsana Phi in Laos; Cao Đài, Hòa Hảo, and Vietnamese folk religion in Vietnam.


Indian religions

Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
are practiced or were founded in the Indian subcontinent. They are sometimes classified as the ''dharmic religions'', as they all feature
dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
, the specific law of reality and duties expected according to the religion.


Hinduism

*
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
is also called ''Vaidika Dharma'', the ''
dharma Dharma (; sa, धर्म, dharma, ; pi, dhamma, italic=yes; ta, aṟam, italic=yes) is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the s ...
'' of the Vedas. It is a synecdoche describing the similar philosophies of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Hindu denominations, related groups practiced or founded in the Indian subcontinent. Concepts most of them share in common include karma, caste, reincarnation, mantras, yantras, and darśana.Hinduism is variously defined as a religion, set of religious beliefs and practices, religious tradition etc. For a discussion on the topic, see: "Establishing the boundaries" in Gavin Flood (2003), pp. 1–17. René Guénon in his'' Introduction to the Study of the Hindu doctrines'' (1921 ed.), Sophia Perennis, , proposes a definition of the term religion and a discussion of its relevance (or lack of) to Hindu doctrines (part II, chapter 4, p. 58). Hinduism is one of the most ancient of still-active religions, with origins perhaps as far back as prehistoric times. Hinduism is not a monolithic religion but a religious category containing dozens of separate philosophies amalgamated as Sanātana Dharma, which is the name by which Hinduism has been known throughout history by its followers.


Jainism

* Jainism, taught primarily by Rishabhanatha (the founder of ahimsa) is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence, truth and anekantavada for all forms of living beings in this universe; which helps them to eliminate all the Karma in Jainism, Karmas, and hence to attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death (Saṃsāra (Jainism), saṃsāra), that is, achieving Moksha (Jainism), nirvana. Jains are found mostly in India. According to Dundas, outside of the Jain tradition, historians date the Mahavira as about contemporaneous with the Buddha in the 5th-century BCE, and accordingly the historical Parshvanatha, based on the c. 250-year gap, is placed in 8th or 7th century BCE. ** Digambara Jainism (or sky-clad) is mainly practiced in South India. Their holy books are Pravachanasara and Samayasara written by their Prophets Kundakunda and Amritchandra as their Jain Agamas (Digambara), original canon is lost. ** Shwetambara Jainism (or white-clad) is mainly practiced in Western India. Their holy books are Jain Agamas (Śvētāmbara), Jain Agamas, written by their Prophet Sthulibhadra.


Buddhism

*
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
was founded by Gautama Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama in the 5th century BCE. Buddhists generally agree that Gotama aimed to help Sentient beings (Buddhism), sentient beings end their dukkha, suffering (dukkha) by understanding the dharma, true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth (Saṃsāra (Buddhism), saṃsāra), that is, achieving Nirvana (Buddhism), nirvana. **Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced mainly in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia alongside folk religion, shares some characteristics of Indian religions. It is based in a large collection of texts called the Pali Canon. ** Mahayana Buddhism (or the Great Vehicle) under which are a multitude of doctrines that became prominent Buddhism in China, in China and are still relevant Buddhism in Vietnam, in Vietnam, Buddhism in Korea, Korea, Buddhism in Japan, Japan and to a lesser extent Buddhism in the West, in Europe and the United States. Mahayana Buddhism includes such disparate teachings as Zen, Pure Land Buddhism, Pure Land, and Soka Gakkai. ** Vajrayana Buddhism first appeared in India in the 3rd century CE. It is currently most prominent in the Himalaya regions and extends across all of Asia (cf. Mikkyō). ** Two notable new Buddhist sects are Hòa Hảo and the Navayana (Dalit Buddhist movement), which were developed separately in the 20th century.


Sikhism

* Sikhism is a panentheistic religion founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh gurus in 15th-century Punjab region, Punjab. It is the Major religious groups, fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million Sikhs. Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a ''Sant-Sipāhī''—a saint-soldier, have control over one's internal Five Thieves, vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib. The principal beliefs of Sikhi are faith in ''Waheguru''—represented by the phrase ''ik Onkar, ik ōaṅkār'', meaning one God, who prevails in everything, along with a praxis (process), praxis in which the Sikh is enjoined to engage in social reform through the pursuit of justice for all human beings.


Indigenous and folk

Indigenous religions or ethnic religion, folk religions refers to a broad category of traditional religions that can be characterised by shamanism,
animism Animism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...

animism
and ancestor worship, where traditional means "indigenous, that which is aboriginal or foundational, handed down from generation to generation…". These are religions that are closely associated with a particular group of people, ethnicity or tribe; they often have no formal creeds or sacred texts.Pew Research Center (2012
The Global Religious Landscape. A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Major Religious Groups as of 2010
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Some faiths are syncretic, fusing diverse religious beliefs and practices. * Australian Aboriginal mythology, Australian Aboriginal religions. * Folk religions of the Americas: Native American religions Folk religions are often omitted as a category in surveys even in countries where they are widely practiced, e.g. in China.


Traditional African

Traditional African religion, African traditional religion encompasses the traditional religious beliefs of people in Africa. In West Africa, these religions include the Akan religion, Dahomey mythology, Dahomey (Fon) mythology, Efik mythology, Odinani, Serer religion, Serer religion (A ƭat Roog), and Yoruba religion, while Bushongo mythology, Mbuti mythology, Mbuti (Pygmy) mythology, Lugbara mythology, Dinka religion, and Lotuko mythology come from central Africa. Southern African traditions include Akamba mythology, Masai mythology, Malagasy mythology, San religion, Lozi mythology, Tumbuka mythology, and Zulu mythology. Bantu mythology is found throughout central, southeast, and southern Africa. In north Africa, these traditions include traditional Berber religion, Berber and ancient Egyptian religion, ancient Egyptian. There are also notable African diasporic religions practiced in the Americas, such as Santeria, Candomble, Haitian Vodun, Vodun, Lucumi religion, Lucumi, Umbanda, and Macumba.


Iranian

Iranian religions Iranian religions are religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different r ...
are ancient religions whose roots predate the Islamization of Greater Iran. Nowadays these religions are practiced only by minorities.
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
is based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster in the 6th century BCE. Zoroastrians worship the Creator deity, creator Ahura Mazda. In Zoroastrianism, good and evil have distinct sources, with evil trying to destroy the creation of Mazda, and good trying to sustain it. Religion in Kurdistan, Kurdish religions include the traditional beliefs of the Yazidi, Alevi, and Ahl-e Haqq. Sometimes these are labeled Yazdânism.


New religious movements

* The
Baháʼí Faith The Baháʼí Faith (; fa , بهائی ') is a new religion teaching the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. Established by Baháʼu'lláh Baháʼu'lláh (12 November 1817 – 29 May 1892) was a Persian ...
teaches the unity of all religious philosophies. * Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, established in Vietnam in 1926. * Eckankar is a pantheistic religion with the purpose of making God an everyday reality in one's life. * Epicureanism is a Hellenistic philosophy that is considered by many of its practitioners as a type of (sometimes non-theistic) religious identity. It has its own scriptures, a monthly "feast of reason" on the Twentieth, and considers friendship to be holy. * Hindu reform movements, such as Ayyavazhi, Swaminarayan Faith and Ananda Marga, are examples of new religious movements within Indian religions. * Japanese new religions ''(shinshukyo)'' is a general category for a wide variety of religious movements founded in Japan since the 19th century. These movements share almost nothing in common except the place of their founding. The largest religious movements centered in Japan include Soka Gakkai, Tenrikyo, and Seicho-No-Ie among hundreds of smaller groups. *
Jehovah's Witnesses Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian Millenarianism (also millenarism), from Latin ''mīllēnārius'' "containing a thousand", is the belief by a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious ...
, a Nontrinitarianism, non-trinitarian Christian Reformist movement sometimes described as millenarian. * Neo-Druidism is a religion promoting harmony with nature, and drawing on the practices of the druids. * There are various Neopagan movements that attempt to reconstruct or revive ancient pagan practices. These include Heathenry (new religious movement), Heathenry, Hellenism (religion), Hellenism, and Kemeticism. * Noahidism is a monotheistic ideology based on the Seven Laws of Noah, and on their traditional interpretations within Rabbinic Judaism. * Some forms of parody religion or fiction-based religion like Jediism, Pastafarianism, Dudeism, "Tolkien religion", and others often develop their own writings, traditions, and cultural expressions, and end up behaving like traditional religions. * Satanism is a broad category of religions that, for example, worship Satan as a deity (Theistic Satanism) or use Satan as a symbol of carnality and earthly values (LaVeyan Satanism and The Satanic Temple). * Scientology teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature. Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counseling known as Auditing (Scientology), auditing, in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience and understand painful or traumatic events and decisions in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects. * UFO Religions in which extraterrestrial entities are an element of belief, such as Raëlism, Aetherius Society, and Marshall Vian Summers's ''New Message from God'' * Unitarian Universalism is a religion characterized by support for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and has no accepted creed or
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ...
. * Wicca is a neo-pagan religion first popularised in 1954 by British civil servant Gerald Gardner (Wiccan), Gerald Gardner, involving the worship of a God and Goddess.


Related aspects


Law

The study of law and religion is a relatively new field, with several thousand scholars involved in law schools, and academic departments including political science, religion, and history since 1980. Scholars in the field are not only focused on strictly legal issues about religious freedom or non-establishment, but also study religions as they are qualified through judicial discourses or legal understanding of religious phenomena. Exponents look at canon law, natural law, and state law, often in a comparative perspective. Specialists have explored themes in Western history regarding Christianity and justice and mercy, rule and equity, and discipline and love. Common topics of interest include marriage and the family and human rights. Outside of Christianity, scholars have looked at law and religion links in the Muslim Middle East and pagan Rome. Studies have focused on secularization. In particular, the issue of wearing religious symbols in public, such as headscarves that are banned in French schools, have received scholarly attention in the context of human rights and feminism.


Science

Science acknowledges reason and empirical evidence; and religions include revelation,
faith Faith, derived from ''fides'' and ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a , thing, or In the context of , one can define faith as " in or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on ...

faith
and sacredness whilst also acknowledging Philosophy of religion, philosophical and metaphysical explanations with regard to the study of the universe. Both science and religion are not monolithic, timeless, or static because both are complex social and cultural endeavors that have changed through time across languages and cultures. The concepts of science and religion are a recent invention: the term religion emerged in the 17th century in the midst of colonization and globalization and the Protestant Reformation. The term science emerged in the 19th century out of natural philosophy in the midst of attempts to narrowly define those who studied nature (natural science), and the phrase religion and science emerged in the 19th century due to the reification of both concepts. It was in the 19th century that the terms Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism first emerged. In the ancient and medieval world, the etymological Latin roots of both science (''scientia'') and religion (''religio'') were understood as inner qualities of the individual or virtues, never as doctrines, practices, or actual sources of knowledge. In general the scientific method gains knowledge by testing hypotheses to develop theories through elucidation of facts or evaluation by experiments and thus only answers physical cosmology, cosmological questions about the universe that can be observed and measured. It develops theory, theories of the world which best fit physically observed evidence. All scientific knowledge is subject to later refinement, or even rejection, in the face of additional evidence. Scientific theories that have an overwhelming preponderance of favorable evidence are often treated as ''de facto'' verities in general parlance, such as the theories of general relativity and natural selection to explain respectively the mechanisms of gravity and evolution. Religion does not have a method per se partly because religions emerge through time from diverse cultures and it is an attempt to find meaning in the world, and to explain humanity's place in it and relationship to it and to any posited entities. In terms of Christian theology and ultimate truths, people rely on reason, experience, scripture, and tradition to test and gauge what they experience and what they should believe. Furthermore, religious models, understanding, and metaphors are also revisable, as are scientific models. Regarding religion and science, Albert Einstein states (1940): "For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action; it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts…Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determine the goals, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up."


Morality

Many religions have value frameworks regarding personal behavior meant to guide adherents in determining between right and wrong. These include the Jainism#Core beliefs, Triple Jems of Jainism, Judaism, Judaism's Halacha, Islam, Islam's Sharia, Catholicism, Catholicism's Canon law (Catholic Church), Canon Law, Buddhism, Buddhism's Eightfold Path, and Theological Aspects of the Avesta, Zoroastrianism's good thoughts, good words, and good deeds concept, among others. Religion and morality are not synonymous. While it is "an almost automatic assumption." in Christianity, morality can have a Secular morality, secular basis. The study of religion and morality can be contentious due to ethnocentric views on morality, failure to distinguish between in group and out group altruism, and inconsistent definitions of religiosity.


Politics


Impact

Religion has had a significant impact on the political system in many countries. Notably, most Muslim-majority countries adopt various aspects of sharia, the Islamic law. Some countries even define themselves in religious terms, such as Iran, The Islamic Republic of Iran. The sharia thus affects up to 23% of the global population, or 1.57 billion people who are Muslim world, Muslims. However, religion also affects political decisions in many western countries. For instance, in the United States, 51% of voters would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who did not believe in God, and only 6% more likely. Christians make up 92% of members of the US Congress, compared with 71% of the general public (as of 2014). At the same time, while 23% of U.S. adults are religiously unaffiliated, only one member of Congress (Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona), or 0.2% of that body, claims no religious affiliation. In most European countries, however, religion has a much smaller influence on politics although it used to be much more important. For instance, same-sex marriage and abortion were illegal in many European countries until recently, following Christian (usually Catholicism, Catholic) doctrine. Several List of atheists in politics and law, European leaders are atheists (e.g. France's former president François Hollande, Francois Hollande or Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras). In Asia, the role of religion differs widely between countries. For instance, India is still one of the most religious countries and religion still has a strong impact on politics, given that Hindu nationalists have been targeting minorities like the Muslims and the Christians, who historically belonged to the lower castes. By contrast, countries such as Religion in China, China or Religion in Japan, Japan are largely secular and thus religion has a much smaller impact on politics.


Secularism

Secularization is the transformation of the politics of a society from close identification with a particular religion's values and institutions toward nonreligious values and secular institutions. The purpose of this is frequently modernization or protection of the populations religious diversity.


Economics

One study has found there is a negative correlation between self-defined religiosity and the wealth of nations. In other words, the richer a nation is, the less likely its inhabitants to call themselves religious, whatever this word means to them (Many people identify themselves as part of a religion (not irreligion) but do not self-identify as religious). Sociologist and political economist
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
has argued that Protestant Christian countries are wealthier because of their Protestant work ethic. According to a study from 2015, Christians hold the largest amount of wealth (55% of the total world wealth), followed by Muslims (5.8%), Hindus (3.3%) and Jews (1.1%). According to the same study it was found that adherents under the classification Irreligion or other religions hold about 34.8% of the total global wealth (while making up only about 20% of the world population, see section on classification).


Health

Mayo Clinic researchers examined the association between religious involvement and spirituality, and physical health, mental health, health-related quality of life, and other health outcomes. The authors reported that: "Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide." The authors of a subsequent study concluded that the influence of religion on health is largely beneficial, based on a review of related literature. According to academic James W. Jones, several studies have discovered "positive correlations between religious belief and practice and mental and physical health and longevity." An analysis of data from the 1998 US General Social Survey, whilst broadly confirming that religious activity was associated with better health and well-being, also suggested that the role of different dimensions of spirituality/religiosity in health is rather more complicated. The results suggested "that it may not be appropriate to generalize findings about the relationship between spirituality/religiosity and health from one form of spirituality/religiosity to another, across denominations, or to assume effects are uniform for men and women.


Violence

Critics like Hector Avalos Regina Schwartz, Christopher Hitchens and
Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is a British evolutionary biologist Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology that studies the evolutionary processes ( natural selection, common descent, speciation) that produced the Biodiver ...

Richard Dawkins
have argued that religions are inherently violent and harmful to society by using violence to promote their goals, in ways that are endorsed and exploited by their leaders. Anthropologist Jack David Eller asserts that religion is not inherently violent, arguing "religion and violence are clearly compatible, but they are not identical." He asserts that "violence is neither essential to nor exclusive to religion" and that "virtually every form of religious violence has its nonreligious corollary."


Animal sacrifice

Done by some (but not all) religions, animal sacrifice is the
ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized, ...

ritual
killing and offering of an animal to appease or maintain favour with a
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion), or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleto ...

deity
. It has been banned in India.


Superstition

Greek and Roman pagans, who saw their relations with the gods in political and social terms, scorned the man who constantly trembled with fear at the thought of the gods (''deisidaimonia''), as a slave might fear a cruel and capricious master. The Romans called such fear of the gods ''superstitio''. Ancient Greek historian Polybius described superstition in ancient Rome as an ''instrumentum regni'', an instrument of maintaining the cohesion of the Roman Empire, Empire. Superstition has been described as the non-rational establishment of cause and effect. Religion is more complex and is often composed of social institutions and has a moral aspect. Some religions may include superstitions or make use of magical thinking. Adherents of one religion sometimes think of other religions as superstition. Some atheists, deists, and skeptics regard religious belief as superstition. The Roman Catholic Church considers superstition to be sinful in the sense that it denotes a lack of trust in the divine providence of God and, as such, is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that superstition "in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion" (para. #2110). "Superstition," it says, "is a deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand is to fall into superstition. Cf. Matthew 23:16–22" (para. #2111)


Agnosticism and atheism

The terms atheist (lack of belief in any gods) and agnostic (belief in the unknowability of the existence of gods), though specifically contrary to theistic (e.g. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim) religious teachings, do not by definition mean the opposite of religious. There are religions (including Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism), in fact, that classify some of their followers as agnostic, atheistic, or nontheism, nontheistic. The true opposite of religious is the word irreligious. Irreligion describes an absence of any religion; antireligion describes an active opposition or aversion toward religions in general.


Interfaith cooperation

Because religion continues to be recognized in Western thought as a universal impulse, many religious practitioners have aimed to band together in interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and Religion and peacebuilding, religious peacebuilding. The first major dialogue was the Parliament of the World's Religions at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago World's Fair, which affirmed universal values and recognition of the diversity of practices among different cultures. The 20th century has been especially fruitful in use of interfaith dialogue as a means of solving ethnic, political, or even religious conflict, with Christian–Jewish reconciliation representing a complete reverse in the attitudes of many Christian communities towards Jews. Recent interfaith initiatives include A Common Word, launched in 2007 and focused on bringing Muslim and Christian leaders together, the "C1 World Dialogue", the Common Ground initiative between Islam and Buddhism, and a United Nations sponsored "World Interfaith Harmony Week".


Culture

Culture and religion have usually been seen as closely related.
Paul Tillich Paul Johannes Tillich (August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965) was a German-American Christian existentialist philosopher and Lutheran Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a ...
looked at religion as the soul of culture and culture as the form or framework of religion. In his own words:
Religion as ultimate concern is the meaning-giving substance of culture, and culture is the totality of forms in which the basic concern of religion expresses itself. In abbreviation: religion is the substance of culture, culture is the form of religion. Such a consideration definitely prevents the establishment of a dualism of religion and culture. Every religious act, not only in organized religion, but also in the most intimate movement of the soul, is culturally formed.
Ernst Troeltsch, similarly, looked at culture as the soil of religion and thought that, therefore, transplanting a religion from its original culture to a foreign culture would actually kill it in the same manner that transplanting a plant from its natural soil to an alien soil would kill it. However, there have been many attempts in the modern pluralistic situation to distinguish culture from religion. Domenic Marbaniang has argued that elements grounded on beliefs of a metaphysical nature (religious) are distinct from elements grounded on nature and the natural (cultural). For instance, language (with its grammar) is a cultural element while sacralization of language in which a particular religious scripture is written is more often a religious practice. The same applies to music and the arts.


Criticism

Criticism of religion is criticism of the ideas, the truth, or the practice of religion, including its political and social implications.


See also

* Cosmogony * Index of religion-related articles * Life stance * List of foods with religious symbolism * List of religion-related awards * List of religious texts * Nontheistic religions * Outline of religion * Parody religions * Ethics in religion * Philosophy of religion * Priest * Religion and happiness * Religion and peacebuilding * Religions by country * Religious conversion * Religious discrimination * Social conditioning * Socialization * Temple * Theocracy * Theology of religions * Timeline of religion * Problem of why there is anything at all, Why is there something rather than nothing? * Museum_of_the_History_of_Religion, The State Museum of the History of Religion


Notes


References


Sources


Primary

* Saint Augustine; ''The Confessions of Saint Augustine'' (John K. Ryan translator); Image (1960), . * Lao Tzu; ''Tao Te Ching'' (Victor H. Mair translator); Bantam (1998). * ''The Holy Bible'', King James Version; New American Library (1974). * ''The Koran''; Penguin (2000), . * ''The Origin of Live & Death'', African Creation Myths; Heinemann (1966). * ''Poems of Heaven and Hell from Ancient Mesopotamia''; Penguin (1971). * ''Selected Work'' Marcus Tullius Cicero * United States Constitution


Secondary

* Barzilai, Gad; ''Law and Religion''; The International Library of Essays in Law and Society; Ashgate (2007), * * * Yves Coppens, ''Origines de l'homme – De la matière à la conscience'', De Vive Voix, Paris, 2010 * Yves Coppens, ''La preistoria dell'uomo'', Jaca Book, Milano, 2011 * Descartes, René; ''Meditations on First Philosophy''; Bobbs-Merril (1960), . * Dow, James W. (2007),
A Scientific Definition of Religion
' * * Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); ''Our Oriental Heritage''; MJF Books (1997), . * Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); ''Caesar and Christ''; MJF Books (1994), * Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); ''The Age of Faith''; Simon & Schuster (1980), . * * * Marija Gimbutas 1989. ''The Language of the Goddess''. Thames and Hudson New York * Gonick, Larry; ''The Cartoon History of the Universe''; Doubleday, vol. 1 (1978) , vol. II (1994) , W.W. Norton, vol. III (2002) . * Haisch, Bernard ''The God Theory: Universes, Zero-point Fields, and What's Behind It All''—discussion of science vs. religion
Preface
, Red Wheel/Weiser, 2006, * * Khanbaghi, A., ''The Fire, the Star and the Cross: Minority Religions in Medieval and Early Modern Iran'' (IB Tauris; 2006) 268 pages. Social, political and cultural history of religious minorities in Iran, c. 226–1722 AD. * King, Winston, ''Religion'' [First Edition]. In: ''Encyclopedia of Religion''. Ed. Lindsay Jones. Vol. 11. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference US, 2005. pp. 7692–7701. * Andrey Korotayev, Korotayev, Andrey, ''World Religions and Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-cultural Perspective'', Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2004, . * * McKinnon, Andrew M. (2002)
"Sociological Definitions, Language Games and the 'Essence' of Religion"
Method & theory in the study of religion, vol 14, no. 1, pp. 61–83. * Marx, Karl; "Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right", ''Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher'', (1844). * * Palmer, Spencer J., ''et al''. ''Religions of the World: a Latter-day Saint [Mormon] View''. 2nd general ed., tev. and enl. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1997. xv, 294 p., ill. * * Ramsay, Michael, ''Abp.'' ''Beyond Religion?'' Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement Publications, (cop. 1964). * Saler, Benson; "Conceptualizing Religion: Immanent Anthropologists, Transcendent Natives, and Unbounded Categories" (1990), * Schuon, Frithjof. ''The Transcendent Unity of Religions'', in series, ''Quest Books.'' 2nd Quest ... rev. ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993, cop. 1984. xxxiv, 173 p. * * Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Smith, Wilfred Cantwell (1962), ''The Meaning and End of Religion'' * * Anthony F. C. Wallace, Wallace, Anthony F.C. 1966. ''Religion: An Anthropological View''. New York: Random House. (pp. 62–66) * ''The World Almanac'' (annual), World Almanac Books, . * ''The World Almanac'' (for numbers of adherents of various religions), 2005


Further reading

* * Noss, John B.; ''Man's Religions'', 6th ed.; Macmillan Publishing Co. (1980). ''N.B''.: The first ed. appeared in 1949, . * Ronald F. Inglehart, Inglehart, Ronald F., "Giving Up on God: The Global Decline of Religion", ''Foreign Affairs'', vol. 99, no. 5 (September / October 2020), pp. 110–118. * Lang, Andrew; ''The Making of Religion'', (1898)


External links


Religion Statistics
from ''UCB Libraries GovPubs'' * * by Adherents.com August 2005
IACSR – International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion


– Introduction to the methods and scholars of the academic study of religion

– Marx's original reference to religion as the ''opium of the people''.
The Complexity of Religion and the Definition of "Religion" in International Law
Harvard Human Rights Journal article from the President and Fellows of Harvard College (2003)
Sociology of Religion Resources

Video: 5 Religions spreading across the world
{{Authority control, TDVIA=din Religion, Culture Main topic articles