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There is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.[1][2] It may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, prophesies, ethics, or organizations, that relate humanity to the supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual. Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine,[3] sacred things,[4] faith,[5] a supernatural being or supernatural beings[6] or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life".[7] Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.[8] There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide,[9] but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religions, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism
Buddhism
or forms of folk religion.[10] The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.[11] The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion
Theories of religion
offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion.

Contents

1 Concept and etymology 2 Definition

2.1 Modern western 2.2 Classical

3 Aspects

3.1 Beliefs

3.1.1 Mythology 3.1.2 Worldview

3.2 Practices 3.3 Social organisation

4 Academic study

4.1 Theories

4.1.1 Origins and development 4.1.2 Cultural system 4.1.3 Social constructionism 4.1.4 Cognitive science

4.2 Comparativism

5 Classification

5.1 Morphological Classification 5.2 Demographical Classification 5.3 Geographical Classification

5.3.1 Abrahamic

5.3.1.1 Judaism 5.3.1.2 Christianity 5.3.1.3 Islam 5.3.1.4 Other

5.3.2 East Asian

5.3.2.1 Taoism
Taoism
and Confucianism 5.3.2.2 Chinese folk religion

5.3.3 Indian

5.3.3.1 Hinduism 5.3.3.2 Jainism 5.3.3.3 Buddhism 5.3.3.4 Sikhism

5.3.4 Indigenous and folk 5.3.5 Traditional African 5.3.6 Iranian

5.3.6.1 Zoroastrianism

5.3.7 New

6 Related aspects

6.1 Law 6.2 Science 6.3 Morality 6.4 Politics 6.5 Economics 6.6 Health 6.7 Violence

6.7.1 Animal sacrifice

6.8 Superstition 6.9 Secularism
Secularism
and atheism

6.9.1 Secularisation 6.9.2 Agnosticism
Agnosticism
and atheism

6.10 Interfaith
Interfaith
cooperation

7 Criticism 8 See also 9 Notes 10 References 11 Sources 12 Further reading 13 External links

Concept and etymology Religion
Religion
(from O.Fr. religion religious community, from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods",[12] "obligation, the bond between man and the gods"[13]) is derived from the Latin
Latin
religiō, the ultimate origins of which are obscure. One possible interpretation traced to Cicero, connects lego read, i.e. re (again) with lego in the sense of choose, go over again or consider carefully. The definition of religio by Cicero
Cicero
is cultum deorum, "the proper performance of rites in veneration of the gods."[14] Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur
Tom Harpur
and Joseph Campbell favor the derivation from ligare bind, connect, probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or to reconnect, which was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation given by Lactantius
Lactantius
in Divinae institutiones, IV, 28.[15][16] The medieval usage alternates with order in designating bonded communities like those of monastic orders: "we hear of the 'religion' of the Golden Fleece, of a knight 'of the religion of Avys'".[17] In the ancient and medieval world, the etymological Latin
Latin
root religio was understood as an individual virtue of worship, never as doctrine, practice, or actual source of knowledge.[18] Furthermore, religio referred to broad social obligations to family, neighbors, rulers, and even towards God.[19] When religio came into English around the 1200s as religion, it took the meaning of "life bound by monastic vows".[19] The compartmentalized concept of religion, where religious things were separated from worldly things, was not used before the 1500s.[19] The concept of religion was first used in the 1500s to distinguish the domain of the church and the domain of civil authorities.[19] The concept of religion was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries,[20][21] 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.[2][19] For example, there is no precise equivalent of religion in Hebrew, and Judaism
Judaism
does not distinguish clearly between religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities.[22] One of its central concepts is halakha, meaning the walk or path sometimes translated as law, which guides religious practice and belief and many aspects of daily life.[23] 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 worship well into the medieval period.[2] 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.[2] Even in the 1st century CE, Josephus had used the Greek term ioudaismos, which some translate as Judaism
Judaism
today, even though he used it as an ethnic term, not one linked to modern abstract concepts of religion as a set of beliefs.[2] The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
word dharma, sometimes translated as religion, also means law. Throughout classical 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
Buddha
law, but these later became independent sources of power.[24][25] The modern concept of religion, as an abstraction that entails distinct sets of beliefs or doctrines, is a recent invention in the English language since such usage began with texts from the 17th century due to the splitting of Christendom during the Protestant Reformation and globalization in the age of exploration which involved contact with numerous foreign cultures with non-European languages.[18][26] Some argue that regardless of its definition, it is not appropriate to apply the term religion to non-Western cultures.[27][28] Others argue that using religion on non-western cultures distorts what people do and believe.[29] It was in the 19th century that the terms Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and World Religions first emerged.[18][30][19] No one self-identified as a Hindu
Hindu
or Buddhist or other similar identities before the 1800s.[19] 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 Western idea.[30][31] According to the philologist Max Müller
Max Müller
in the 19th century, the root of the English word religion, the Latin
Latin
religio, was originally used to mean only reverence for God
God
or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety (which Cicero
Cicero
further derived to mean diligence).[32][33] Max Müller
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.[34] Definition Main article: Definition of religion Scholars have failed to agree on a definition of religion. There are however two general definition systems: the sociological/functional and the phenomenological/philosophical.[35][36][37][38][39] Modern western Religion
Religion
is a modern Western concept.[28] Parallel concepts are not found in many current and past cultures; there is no equivalent term for religion in many languages.[19][2] Scholars have found it difficult to develop a consistent definition, with some giving up on the possibility of a definition.[40][41] Others argue that regardless of its definition, it is not appropriate to apply it to non-Western cultures.[27][28] An increasing number of scholars have expressed reservations about ever defining the essence of religion.[42] They observe that the way we use the concept today 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).[43] The MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religions states:

The very attempt to define religion, to find some distinctive or possibly unique essence or set of qualities that distinguish the religious from the remainder of human life, is primarily a Western concern. The attempt is a natural consequence of the Western speculative, intellectualistic, and scientific disposition. It is also the product of the dominant Western religious mode, what is called the Judeo-Christian climate or, more accurately, the theistic inheritance from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The theistic form of belief in this tradition, even when downgraded culturally, is formative of the dichotomous Western view of religion. That is, the basic structure of theism is essentially a distinction between a transcendent deity and all else, between the creator and his creation, between God
God
and man.[44]

The anthropologist Clifford Geertz
Clifford Geertz
defined religion as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic."[45]

Alluding perhaps to Tylor's "deeper motive", Geertz remarked that

[…] we have very little idea of how, in empirical terms, this particular miracle is accomplished. We just know that it is done, annually, weekly, daily, for some people almost hourly; and we have an enormous ethnographic literature to demonstrate it.[46]

The theologian Antoine Vergote 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

[…] the entirety of the linguistic expressions, emotions and, actions and signs that refer to a supernatural being or supernatural beings.[6]

Peter Mandaville 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

[…] a relatively-bounded system of beliefs, symbols and practices that addresses the nature of existence, and in which communion with others and Otherness is lived as if it both takes in and spiritually transcends socially-grounded ontologies of time, space, embodiment and knowing.[7]

According to the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religions, there is an experiential aspect to religion which can be found in almost every culture:

[…] almost every known culture [has] a depth dimension in cultural experiences […] toward some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life. When more or less distinct patterns of behavior are built around this depth dimension in a culture, this structure constitutes religion in its historically recognizable form. Religion
Religion
is the organization of life around the depth dimensions of experience—varied in form, completeness, and clarity in accordance with the environing culture.[47]

Classical

Budazhap Shiretorov (Будажап Цыреторов), the head shaman of the religious community Altan Serge (Алтан Сэргэ) in Buryatia.

Friedrich Schleiermacher
Friedrich Schleiermacher
in the late 18th century defined religion as das schlechthinnige Abhängigkeitsgefühl, commonly translated as "the feeling of absolute dependence".[48] His contemporary Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
disagreed thoroughly, defining religion as "the Divine Spirit
Spirit
becoming conscious of Himself through the finite spirit."[49] Edward Burnett Tylor
Edward Burnett Tylor
defined religion in 1871 as "the belief in spiritual beings".[50] He argued that narrowing the definition to mean the belief in a supreme deity or judgment after death or idolatry 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
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".[3] By the term divine James meant "any object that is godlike, whether it be a concrete deity or not"[51] to which the individual feels impelled to respond with solemnity and gravity.[52] The sociologist Émile Durkheim, in his seminal book The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, defined religion as a "unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things".[4] 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". Sacred
Sacred
things are not, however, limited to gods or spirits.[note 1] 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".[53] 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.[54] 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".[55] Similarly, for the theologian Paul Tillich, faith is "the state of being ultimately concerned",[5] which "is itself religion. Religion
Religion
is the substance, the ground, and the depth of man's spiritual life."[56] 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) do not necessarily disturb its adherents.[57] Aspects Beliefs Main article: Religious beliefs Traditionally, 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.[8] Mythology Main article: 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.[58]

Ancient polytheistic religions, such as those of Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia, are usually categorized under the heading of mythology. Religions of pre-industrial peoples, or cultures in development, are similarly called myths in the anthropology of religion. 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 Campbell
remarked, " Mythology
Mythology
is often thought of as other people's religions, and religion can be defined as mis-interpreted mythology."[59] 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.[60] Examples include the resurrection of their real-life founder 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 symbolism 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. Worldview Religions have sacred histories, narratives, and mythologies which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim to explain the meaning of life, the origin of life, or the Universe.[citation needed] Practices Main articles: Religious behaviour and Cult
Cult
(religious practice) The practices of a religion may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of a deity, gods, or goddesses), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.[61] Social organisation Religions have a societal basis, either as a living tradition which is carried by lay participants, or with an organized clergy, and a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership. Academic study Main articles: Religious studies
Religious studies
and Classifications of religious movements A number of disciplines study the phenomenon of religion: theology, comparative religion, history of religion, evolutionary origin of religions, anthropology of religion, psychology of religion (including neuroscience of religion and evolutionary psychology of religion), law and religion, and sociology of religion. Daniel L. Pals mentions eight classical theories of religion, focusing on various aspects of religion: animism and magic, by E.B. Tylor and J.G. Frazer; the psycho-analytic approach of Sigmund Freud; and further Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Mircea Eliade, E.E. Evans-Pritchard, and Clifford Geertz.[62] Michael Stausberg gives an overview of contemporary theories of religion, including cognitive and biological approaches.[63] Theories Main article: Theories of religion Sociological and anthropological theories of religion generally attempt to explain the origin and function of religion.[64] These theories define what they present as universal characteristics of religious belief and practice. Origins and development

The Yazılıkaya
Yazılıkaya
sanctuary in Turkey, with the twelve gods of the underworld

The origin of religion is uncertain. There are a number of theories regarding the subsequent origins of religious practices. According to anthropologists 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."[65] 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 laws and cosmology 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, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies.[66] 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."[66] Cultural system While religion is difficult to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who simply called it a "cultural system".[67] A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category".[68] Richard Niebuhr's (1894–1962) five-fold classification of the relationship between Christ
Christ
and culture, however, indicates that religion and culture can be seen as two separate systems, though not without some interplay.[69] Social constructionism Main article: Social constructionism One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings.[70] 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
Christianity
and was then applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures. Cognitive science Main article: Cognitive science of religion 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, evolutionary psychology, cognitive anthropology, artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience, neurobiology, zoology, and ethology. 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. While this number varies across cultures, this had led to theories about a number of influental religious phenomenon and possible relation to psychotic disorders. A number of prophetic experiences are consistent with psychotic symptoms, although retrospective diagnoses are practically impossible.[71][72][73] Schizophrenic episodes are also experienced by people who do not have belief in gods.[74] Religious content is also common in temporal lobe epilepsy, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.[75][76] Atheistic content is also found to be common with temporal lobe epilepsy.[77] Comparativism Main article: Comparative religion Comparative religion
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, metaphysics, and the nature and form of salvation. Studying such material is meant to give one a richer and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual and divine.[78] In the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification[79] of the main world religions includes Middle Eastern religions (including Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and Iranian religions), Indian religions, East Asian religions, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions, and classical Hellenistic religions.[79] Classification Main article: History of religions

A map of major denominations and religions of the world

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the academic practice of comparative religion divided religious belief into philosophically defined categories called world religions. Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories:

world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths.[80]

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.[81][82][83] 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).[84] Morphological Classification Some scholars classify religions as either universal religions that seek worldwide acceptance and actively look for new converts, or ethnic religions that are identified with a particular ethnic group and do not seek converts.[85] Others reject the distinction, pointing out that all religious practices, whatever their philosophical origin, are ethnic because they come from a particular culture.[86][87][88] Demographical Classification Main articles: Major religious groups
Major religious groups
and List of religious populations 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
Hinduism
(with the relative numbers for Buddhism
Buddhism
and Hinduism
Hinduism
dependent on the extent of syncretism) and traditional folk religion.

Five largest religions 2010 (billion)[10] 2010 (%) 2000 (billion)[89][90] 2000 (%) Demographics

Christianity 2.2 32% 2.0 33% Christianity
Christianity
by country

Islam 1.6 23% 1.2 19.6% Islam
Islam
by country

Hinduism 1.0 15% 0.811 13.4% Hinduism
Hinduism
by country

Buddhism 0.5 7% 0.360 5.9% Buddhism
Buddhism
by country

Folk religion 0.4 6% 0.385 6.4%

Total 5.8 84% 4.8 78.3%

A global poll in 2012 surveyed 57 countries and reported that 59% of the world's population identified as religious, 23% as not religious, 13% as convinced atheists, and also a 9% decrease in identification as religious when compared to the 2005 average from 39 countries.[91] A follow up poll in 2015 found that 63% of the globe identified as religious, 22% as not religious, and 11% as convinced atheists.[92] On average, women are more religious than men.[93] 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.[94][95][96] Geographical Classification Abrahamic

The patriarch Abraham
Abraham
(by József Molnár)

Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
are monotheistic religions which believe they descend from Abraham. Judaism

The Torah
Torah
is the primary sacred text of Judaism.

Judaism
Judaism
is the oldest Abrahamic religion, originating in the people of ancient Israel and Judea. The Torah
Torah
is its foundational text, and is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh
Tanakh
or Hebrew Bible. It is supplemented by oral tradition, set down in written form in later texts such as the Midrash
Midrash
and the Talmud. Judaism
Judaism
includes a wide corpus of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. Within Judaism
Judaism
there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God
God
revealed his laws and commandments to Moses
Moses
on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah; historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups. The Jewish people
Jewish people
were scattered after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
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.[97] The largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism
Judaism
(Haredi Judaism
Judaism
and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism
Judaism
and Reform Judaism. Christianity

Jesus
Jesus
is the central figure of Christianity.

Christianity
Christianity
is based on the life and teachings of Jesus
Jesus
of Nazareth (1st century) as presented in the New Testament. The Christian faith is essentially faith in Jesus
Jesus
as the Christ, the Son of God, and as Savior and Lord. Almost all Christians
Christians
believe in the Trinity, which teaches the unity of Father, Son ( Jesus
Jesus
Christ), and Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
as three persons in one Godhead. Most Christians
Christians
can describe their faith with the Nicene Creed. As the religion of Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
in the first millennium and of Western Europe
Western Europe
during the time of colonization, Christianity
Christianity
has been propagated throughout the world. The main divisions of Christianity
Christianity
are, according to the number of adherents:

The Catholic Church, led by the Bishop of Rome
Bishop of Rome
and the bishops worldwide in communion with him, is a communion of 24 Churches sui iuris, including the Latin
Latin
Church and 23 Eastern Catholic churches, such as the Maronite
Maronite
Catholic Church. Eastern Christianity, which include Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Church of the East. Protestantism, separated from the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
and is split into thousands of denominations. Major branches of Protestantism
Protestantism
include Anglicanism, Baptists, Calvinism, Lutheranism, and Methodism, though each of these contain many different denominations or groups.

There are also smaller groups, including:

Restorationism, the belief that Christianity
Christianity
should be restored (as opposed to reformed) along the lines of what is known about the apostolic early church. Latter Day Saint movement, founded by Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith
in the late 1820s. Jehovah's Witnesses, founded in the late 1870s by Charles Taze Russell.

Islam

Muslims
Muslims
circumambulating the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam

Islam
Islam
is based on the Quran, one of the holy books considered by Muslims
Muslims
to be revealed by God, and on the teachings (hadith) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a major political and religious figure of the 7th century CE. Islam
Islam
is based on the unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the Abrahamic prophets of Judaism, Christianity
Christianity
and other Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
before Muhammad. It is the most widely practiced religion of Southeast Asia, North Africa, Western Asia, and Central Asia, while Muslim-majority countries also exist in parts of South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Europe. There are also several Islamic republics, including Iran, Pakistan, Mauritania, and Afghanistan.

Sunni Islam
Islam
is the largest denomination within Islam
Islam
and follows the Quran, the hadiths which record the sunnah, whilst placing emphasis on the sahabah. Shia Islam
Islam
is the second largest denomination of Islam
Islam
and its adherents believe that Ali
Ali
succeeded Muhammad
Muhammad
and further places emphasis on Muhammad's family. Ahmadiyya
Ahmadiyya
adherents believe that the awaited Imam Mahdi
Mahdi
and the Promised Messiah
Messiah
has arrived, believed to be Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
by Ahmadis. There are also Muslim
Muslim
revivalist movements such as Muwahhidism and Salafism.

Other denominations of Islam
Islam
include Nation of Islam, Ibadi, Sufism, Quranism, Mahdavia, and non-denominational Muslims. Wahhabism
Wahhabism
is the dominant Muslim
Muslim
schools of thought in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Other The Bahá'í Faith
Faith
is an Abrahamic religion founded in 19th century Iran
Iran
and since then has spread worldwide. It teaches unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Islam
as well as additional prophets including its founder Bahá'u'lláh. One of its divisions is the Orthodox Bahá'í Faith. Smaller regional Abrahamic groups also exist, including Samaritanism (primarily in Israel and the West Bank), the Rastafari
Rastafari
movement (primarily in Jamaica), and Druze
Druze
(primarily in Syria and Lebanon). East Asian Main article: East Asian religions East Asian religions
East Asian religions
(also known as Far Eastern religions or Taoic religions) consist of several religions of East Asia
East Asia
which make use of the concept of Tao (in Chinese) or Dō (in Japanese or Korean). They include: Taoism
Taoism
and Confucianism

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

Chinese folk religion

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
Taoism
and Buddhism, Wuism, as well as many new religious movements such as Chen Tao, Falun Gong
Falun Gong
and Yiguandao. Other folk and new religions of East Asia
East Asia
and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
such as Korean shamanism, Chondogyo, and Jeung San Do
Jeung San Do
in Korea; Shinto, Shugendo, Ryukyuan religion, and Japanese new religions
Japanese new religions
in Japan; Satsana Phi
Satsana Phi
in Laos; Cao Đài, Hòa Hảo, and Vietnamese folk religion in Vietnam.

Indian

Hindu
Hindu
statue of Lord Rama
Lord Rama
in Kalaram Temple
Temple
(India)

The Buddha, in a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
manuscript, Nālandā, Bihar, India

Indian religions
Indian religions
are practiced or were founded in the Indian subcontinent. They are sometimes classified as the dharmic religions, as they all feature dharma, the specific law of reality and duties expected according to the religion.[98] Hinduism

Hinduism
Hinduism
is a synecdoche describing the similar philosophies of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and related groups practiced or founded in the Indian subcontinent. Concepts most of them share in common include karma, caste, reincarnation, mantras, yantras, and darśana.[note 2] Hinduism
Hinduism
is one of the most ancient of still-active religions,[99][100] with origins perhaps as far back as prehistoric times.[101] Hinduism
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
Hinduism
has been known throughout history by its followers.

Jainism

Jainism, taught primarily by Rishabhanatha
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 Karmas
Karmas
,and hence to attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death (nirvana). Jains are found mostly in India. According to Dundas, outside of the Jain tradition, historians date the Mahavira
Mahavira
as about contemporaneous with the Buddha
Buddha
in the 5th-century BC, and accordingly the historical Parshvanatha, based on the c. 250-year gap, is placed in 8th or 7th century BC.[102]

Buddhism

Buddhism
Buddhism
was founded by Siddhattha Gotama in the 6th century BCE. Buddhists generally agree that Gotama aimed to help sentient beings end their suffering (dukkha) by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra), that is, achieving nirvana.

Theravada
Theravada
Buddhism, which is practiced mainly in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
and Southeast Asia
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
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
(or the Great Vehicle) under which are a multitude of doctrines that became prominent in China and are still relevant in Vietnam, Korea, Japan and to a lesser extent in Europe and the United States. Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
includes such disparate teachings as Zen, Pure Land, and Soka Gakkai. Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
first appeared in India
India
in the 3rd century CE.[103] It is currently most prominent in the Himalaya regions[104] and extends across all of Asia[105] (cf. Mikkyō). Two notable new Buddhist sects are Hòa Hảo
Hòa Hảo
and the Navayana
Navayana
(Dalit Buddhist movement), which were developed separately in the 20th century.

Fresco of Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak
at Goindwal Sahib
Goindwal Sahib
Gurdwara

Sikhism

Sikhism
Sikhism
is a panentheistic religion founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh gurus
Sikh gurus
in 15th century Punjab. It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million Sikhs.[106][107] Sikhs are expected to embody the qualities of a Sant-Sipāhī – a saint-soldier, have control over one's internal 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 ōaṅkār, meaning one God, who prevails in everything, along with a praxis in which the Sikh
Sikh
is enjoined to engage in social reform through the pursuit of justice for all human beings.

Indigenous and folk

Incense
Incense
burner in China

Indigenous religions
Indigenous religions
or folk religions refers to a broad category of traditional religions that can be characterised by shamanism, animism and ancestor worship, where traditional means "indigenous, that which is aboriginal or foundational, handed down from generation to generation…".[108] 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.[109] Some faiths are syncretic, fusing diverse religious beliefs and practices.[110]

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.[109] Traditional African

Shango, the Orisha (god) of fire, lightning, and thunder, in the Yoruba religion, depicted on horseback

Main article: Traditional African religion Further information: African diasporic religions African traditional religion encompasses the traditional religious beliefs of people in Africa. In north Africa, these religions have included traditional Berber religion, ancient Egyptian religion, and Waaq. West African religions include Akan religion, Dahomey (Fon) mythology, Efik mythology, Odinani
Odinani
of the Igbo people, Serer religion, and Yoruba religion, while Bushongo 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
Bantu mythology
is found throughout central, southeast, and southern Africa. There are also notable African diasporic religions
African diasporic religions
practiced in the Americas, such as Santeria, Candomble, Vodun, Lucumi, Umbanda, and Macumba. Iranian

Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
Fire Temple

Iranian religions are ancient religions whose roots predate the Islamization
Islamization
of Greater Iran. Nowadays these religions are practiced only by minorities. Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
is based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster
Zoroaster
in the 6th century BCE. Zoroastrians worship the creator Ahura Mazda. In Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
good and evil have distinct sources, with evil trying to destroy the creation of Mazda, and good trying to sustain it. Mandaeism
Mandaeism
is a monotheistic religion with a strongly dualistic worldview. Mandaeans are sometime labeled as the Last Gnostics. Kurdish religions include the traditional beliefs of the Yazidi, Alevi, and Ahl-e Haqq. Sometimes these are labeled Yazdânism. New Main article: New religious movement

Shinshūkyō 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
Seicho-No-Ie
among hundreds of smaller groups. Cao Đài
Cao Đài
is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, established in Vietnam
Vietnam
in 1926. Raëlism
Raëlism
is a new religious movement founded in 1974 teaching that humans were created by aliens. It is numerically the world's largest UFO religion. Hindu
Hindu
reform movements, such as Ayyavazhi, Swaminarayan Faith
Faith
and Ananda Marga, are examples of new religious movements within Indian religions. 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. Noahidism
Noahidism
is a monotheistic ideology based on the Seven Laws of Noah, and on their traditional interpretations within Rabbinic Judaism. Scientology
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, 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. Eckankar
Eckankar
is a pantheistic religion with the purpose of making God
God
an everyday reality in one's life. Wicca
Wicca
is a neo-pagan religion first popularised in 1954 by British civil servant Gerald Gardner, involving the worship of a God
God
and Goddess. Druidry is a religion promoting harmony with nature, and drawing on the practices of the druids. There are various Neopagan
Neopagan
movements that attempt to reconstruct or revive ancient pagan practices. These include Heathenry, Hellenism, and Kemeticism. Satanism
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).

Sociological classifications of religious movements
Sociological classifications of religious movements
suggest that within any given religious group, a community can resemble various types of structures, including churches, denominations, sects, cults, and institutions. Related aspects Law Main article: Law
Law
and religion 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.[111] 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.[112][113] Specialists have explored themes in western history regarding Christianity
Christianity
and justice and mercy, rule and equity, and discipline and love.[114] Common topics of interest include marriage and the family[115] and human rights.[116] Outside of Christianity, scholars have looked at law and religion links in the Muslim
Muslim
Middle East[117] and pagan Rome.[118] Studies have focused on secularization.[119][120] 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.[121] Science Main articles: Faith
Faith
and rationality, Relationship between religion and science, and Epistemology Science
Science
acknowledges reason, empiricism, and evidence; and religions include revelation, faith and sacredness whilst also acknowledging 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.[122] 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.[18][2] 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),[18][123][124] and the phrase religion and science emerged in the 19th century due to the reification of both concepts.[18] It was in the 19th century that the terms Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism
Confucianism
first emerged.[18] In the ancient and medieval world, the etymological Latin
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.[18] 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 cosmological questions about the universe that can be observed and measured. It develops 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
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.[125] Regarding religion and science, Albert Einstein
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." [126] Morality Main article: Morality and religion Many religions have value frameworks regarding personal behavior meant to guide adherents in determining between right and wrong. These include the Triple Jems of Jainism, Judaism's Halacha, Islam's Sharia, Catholicism's Canon Law, Buddhism's Eightfold Path, and Zoroastrianism's good thoughts, good words, and good deeds concept, among others.[127] Religion
Religion
and morality are not synonymous. Morality does not necessarily depend upon religion although this is "an almost automatic assumption."[128] According to The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics, religion and morality "are to be defined differently and have no definitional connections with each other. Conceptually and in principle, morality and a religious value system are two distinct kinds of value systems or action guides."[129] The study of religion and morality is contentious due to conceptual differences between the two topics. Ethnocentric views on morality, failure to distinguish between ingroup and outgroup altruism, and inconsistent definitions of religiosity all contribute to conflicting views.[130][131] According to Hobson and Inzlitcht, membership of a religious group can accentuate biases in behavior toward in group versus out group members, which may explain the lower number of interracial friends and greater approval of torture among church members. While behavior towards in group members may be prosocial, out group derogation may lead to antisocial behavior.[132] According to Noreenzayan and Shariff, sociological studies on prosociality with respect to religion sometimes rely on self-reports which may or may not be accurate if there are prosocial expectations at stake.[133] Peer ratings can be biased by stereotypes, and indications of a persons lack of religoous affiliation are sufficient to bias reporting. The motivation of altruism can differ between groups, with a major factor contributing to religious altruism being the desire to appear altruistic.[134] According to Hall et al.'s study on racism which was based on mostly white Christians
Christians
in the United States; religious humanitarianism is largely directed at in-group members. Greater religious identification, greater extrinsic religiosity and greater religious fundamentalism were associated with racial prejudice. However, greater intrinsic religiosity and greater quest were negatively related to racism, a relation that reflected racial tolerance.[135] According to global research done by Gallup on people from 145 countries, adherents of all the major world religions who attended religious services in the past week have higher rates of generosity such as donating money, volunteering, and helping a stranger than do their coreligionists who did not attend services (non-attenders). Even for people who were nonreligious, those who said they attended religious services in the past week exhibited more generous behaviors.[136] Another global study by Gallup on people from 140 countries showed that highly religious people are more likely to help others in terms of donating money, volunteering, and helping strangers despite them having, on average, lower incomes than those who are less religious or nonreligious.[137] One study by Saslow et al. on pro-social sentiments showed that non-religious people were more inclined to show generosity in random acts of kindness, such as lending their possessions and offering a seat on a crowded bus or train. Religious people were less inclined when it came to seeing how much compassion motivated participants to be charitable in other ways, such as in giving money or food to a homeless person and to non-believers.[138] Dacety et al. conducted a study on altruistic behavior in children across multiple nations by using a game with stickers. There was a negative association between religion and altruism, although the parents usually reported altruism was associated with religious upbringing.[139] A study by Harvard University
Harvard University
professor Robert Putnam
Robert Putnam
found that religious people are more charitable than their irreligious counterparts.[140][141] The study reported that forty percent of worship service attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly as opposed to 15% of Americans who never attend services.[140] Moreover, religious individuals are more likely than non-religious individuals to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%).[140] Other research has shown similar correlations between religiosity and giving.[142] Religious belief
Religious belief
was found in one study to be the strongest predictor of charitable giving.[143][144][145][146][147] One study found that average charitable giving in 2000 by religious individuals ($2,210) was over three times that of secular individuals ($642). Giving to non-religious charities by religious individuals was $88 higher. Religious individuals are also more likely to volunteer time, donate blood, and give back money when accidentally given too much change.[145] A 2007 study by The Barna Group found that active-faith individuals (those who had attended a church service in the past week) reported that they had given on average $1,500 in 2006, while no-faith individuals reported that they had given on average $200. Active-faith adults claimed to give twice as much to non-church-related charities as no-faith individuals claimed to give. They were also more likely to report that they were registered to vote, that they volunteered, that they personally helped someone who was homeless, and to describe themselves as active in the community.[148] Some scientific studies show that the degree of religiosity is generally found to be associated with higher ethical attitudes[149][150][151][152] — for example, surveys suggesting a positive connection between faith and altruism.[153] Survey research suggests that believers do tend to hold different views than non-believers on a variety of social, ethical and moral questions. According to a 2003 survey conducted in the United States
United States
by The Barna Group, those who described themselves as believers were less likely than those describing themselves as atheists or agnostics to consider the following behaviors morally acceptable: cohabitating with someone of the opposite sex outside of marriage, enjoying sexual fantasies, having an abortion, sexual relationships outside of marriage, gambling, looking at pictures of nudity or explicit sexual behavior, getting drunk, and having a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex.[154] Politics Religion
Religion
has 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 The Islamic Republic of Iran. The sharia thus affects up to 23% of the global population, or 1.57 billion people who are 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.[155] Christians
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.[156] In most European countries, however, religion has a much smaller influence on politics[157] 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 Catholic) doctrine. Several European leaders are atheists (e.g. France’s former president Francois Hollande or Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras). In Asia, the role of religion differs widely between countries. For instance, India
India
is still one of the most religious countries and religion still has a strong impact on politics, given that Hindu
Hindu
nationalists have been targeting minorities like the Muslims
Muslims
and the Christians, who historically belonged to the lower castes.[158] By contrast, countries such as China or Japan are largely secular and thus religion has a much smaller impact on politics. Economics

Average income correlates negatively with (self-defined) religiosity.[91]

Main article: Economics of religion Further information: Religion and business and Wealth and religion One study has found there is a negative correlation between self-defined religiosity and the wealth of nations.[159] 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).[159] Sociologist and political economist Max Weber
Max Weber
has argued that Protestant Christian countries are wealthier because of their Protestant work ethic.[160] According to a study from 2015, Christians
Christians
hold the largest amount of wealth (55% of the total world wealth), followed by Muslims
Muslims
(5.8%), Hindus
Hindus
(3.3%) and Jewish
Jewish
(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.[161] Health Main article: Impacts of religion on health Mayo Clinic
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."[162] The authors of a subsequent study concluded that the influence of religion on health is largely beneficial, based on a review of related literature.[163] According to academic James W. Jones, several studies have discovered "positive correlations between religious belief and practice and mental and physical health and longevity." [164] 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.[165] Violence Main article: Religious violence See also: Islam
Islam
and violence, Christianity
Christianity
and violence, and Judaism and violence

United Airlines Flight 175
United Airlines Flight 175
hits the South Tower during the September 11 attacks of 2001 in New York City. The September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks
(also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Critics like Hector Avalos[166] Regina Schwartz,[167] Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins
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.[168][page needed][169][page needed] 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."[170][171] Animal sacrifice Done by some (but not all) religions, animal sacrifice is the ritual killing and offering of an animal to appease or maintain favour with a deity. It has been banned in India.[172] Superstition Further information: Superstition, Magical thinking, and Magic and religion Superstition
Superstition
has been described as the incorrect establishment of cause and effect or a false conception of causation.[173] Religion
Religion
is more complex and is mostly composed of social institutions and morality. But some religions may include superstitions or make use of magical thinking. Adherents of one religion sometimes think of other religions as superstition.[174][175] Some atheists, deists, and skeptics regard religious belief as 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.[176] Ancient greek
Ancient greek
historian Polybius
Polybius
described superstition in Ancient Rome as an instrumentum regni, an instrument of maintaining the cohesion of the Empire.[177] The Roman Catholic Church
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
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) Secularism
Secularism
and atheism

Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
established secular rule over Punjab in the early 19th century.

Secularisation Main articles: Secularism, Secularization, and Irreligion Secularization
Secularization
is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward nonreligious values and secular institutions. The term secularization is also used in the context of the lifting of the monastic restrictions from a member of the clergy.[178] Agnosticism
Agnosticism
and atheism Main articles: Atheism, Agnosticism, Antireligion, and Humanism See also: Criticism
Criticism
of 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 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
Interfaith
cooperation Main article: Interfaith
Interfaith
dialogue Because religion continues to be recognized in Western thought as a universal impulse[citation needed], many religious practitioners[who?] have aimed to band together in interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and religious peacebuilding. The first major dialogue was the Parliament of the World's Religions at the 1893 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
Jewish
reconciliation representing a complete reverse in the attitudes of many Christian communities towards Jews.[citation needed] Recent interfaith initiatives include A Common Word, launched in 2007 and focused on bringing Muslim
Muslim
and Christian leaders together,[179] the "C1 World Dialogue",[180] the Common Ground initiative between Islam
Islam
and Buddhism,[181] and a United Nations
United Nations
sponsored "World Interfaith
Interfaith
Harmony Week".[182][183] Criticism Main article: Criticism
Criticism
of religion Criticism of religion
Criticism of religion
is criticism of the ideas, the truth, or the practice of religion, including its political and social implications.[184] Every exclusive religion on Earth that promotes exclusive truth claims necessarily denigrates the truth claims of other religions.[185] See also

Religion
Religion
portal Spirituality
Spirituality
portal

Cosmogony Index of religion-related articles Life stance List of foods with religious symbolism List of religious texts Nontheistic religions Outline of religion Parody religions Philosophy
Philosophy
of religion Priest Religion
Religion
and happiness Religion
Religion
and peacebuilding Religions by country Religious conversion Social conditioning Socialization Temple Theocracy Timeline of religion Why is there something rather than nothing?

Notes

^ That is how, according to Durkheim, Buddhism
Buddhism
is a religion. "In default of gods, Buddhism
Buddhism
admits the existence of sacred things, namely, the four noble truths and the practices derived from them"Durkheim 1915 ^ Hinduism
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
René Guénon
in his Introduction to the Study of the Hindu
Hindu
doctrines (1921 ed.), Sophia Perennis, ISBN 0-900588-74-8, proposes a definition of the term religion and a discussion of its relevance (or lack of) to Hindu
Hindu
doctrines (part II, chapter 4, p. 58).

References

^ Morreall, John; Sonn, Tamara (2013). "Myth 1: All Societies Have Religions". 50 Great Myths of Religion. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 12–17. ISBN 9780470673508.  ^ a b c d e f g Nongbri, Brent (2013). Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. Yale University Press. ISBN 030015416X.  ^ a b James 1902, p. 31. ^ a b Durkheim 1915. ^ a b Tillich, P. (1957) Dynamics of faith. Harper Perennial; (p. 1). ^ a b Vergote, A. (1996) Religion, Belief and Unbelief. A Psychological Study, Leuven University Press. (p. 16) ^ a b James, Paul & Mandaville, Peter (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 2: Globalizing Religions. London: Sage Publications.  ^ a b Faith
Faith
and Reason
Reason
by James Swindal, in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. ^ Association, African Studies; Michigan, University of (2005). History in Africa (Volume 32 ed.). p. 119.  ^ a b "The Global Religious Landscape". Retrieved 18 December 2012.  ^ "Religiously Unaffiliated". The Global Religious Landscape. Pew Research Center: Religion
Religion
& Public Life. 18 December 2012.  ^ Harper, Douglas. "religion". Online Etymology Dictionary.  ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary ^ Cicero, De natura deorum II, 28. ^ In The Pagan
Pagan
Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. Toronto. Thomas Allen, 2004. ISBN 0-88762-145-7 ^ In The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers, ed. Betty Sue Flowers, New York, Anchor Books, 1991. ISBN 0-385-41886-8 ^ Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919) 1924:75. ^ a b c d e f g h Harrison, Peter (2015). The Territories of Science and Religion. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 022618448X.  ^ a b c d e f g h Morreall, John; Sonn, Tamara (2013). 50 Great Myths about Religions. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 12–17. ISBN 9780470673508.  ^ Nongbri, Brent (2013). Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. Yale University Press. p. 152. ISBN 030015416X. Although the Greeks, Romans, Mesopotamians, and many other peoples have long histories, the stories of their respective religions are of recent pedigree. The formation of ancient religions as objects of study coincided with the formation of religion itself as a concept of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  ^ Harrison, Peter (1990). 'Religion' and the Religions in the English Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0521892937. That there exist in the world such entities as 'the religions' is an uncontroversial claim...However, it was not always so. The concepts 'religion' and 'the religions', as we presently understand them, emerged quite late in Western thought, during the Enlightenment. Between them, these two notions provided a new framework for classifying particular aspects of human life.  ^ Hershel Edelheit, Abraham
Abraham
J. Edelheit, History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary, p. 3, citing Solomon Zeitlin, The Jews. Race, Nation, or Religion? (Philadelphia: Dropsie College Press, 1936). ^ Whiteford, Linda M.; Trotter II, Robert T. (2008). Ethics
Ethics
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However, on the other side of the ledger, religious people are also "better neighbors" than their secular counterparts. No matter the civic activity, being more religious means being more involved. Take, for example, volunteer work. Compared with people who never attend worship services, those who attend weekly are more likely to volunteer in religious activities (no surprise there), but also for secular causes. The differences between religious and secular Americans can be dramatic. Forty percent of worship-attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly, compared with 15% of Americans who never attend services. Frequent-attenders are also more likely than the never-attenders to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%). The same is true for philanthropic giving; religious Americans give more money to secular causes than do secular Americans. And the list goes on, as it is true for good deeds such as helping someone find a job, donating blood, and spending time with someone who is feeling blue. Furthermore, the religious edge holds up for organized forms of community involvement: membership in organizations, working to solve community problems, attending local meetings, voting in local elections, and working for social or political reform. On this last point, it is not just that religious people are advocating for right-leaning causes, although many are. Religious liberals are actually more likely to be community activists than are religious conservatives.  ^ Brooks, Arthur. "Religious Faith
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Religion
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Saint Augustine; The Confessions of Saint Augustine (John K. Ryan translator); Image (1960), ISBN 0-385-02955-1. 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), ISBN 0-14-044558-7. 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
United States
Constitution

Secondary

Barzilai, Gad; Law
Law
and Religion; The International
International
Library of Essays in Law
Law
and Society; Ashgate (2007), ISBN 978-0-7546-2494-3 Borg, J. (November 2003), "The Serotonin System and Spiritual Experiences", American Journal of Psychiatry, 160 (11): 1965–1969, doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.11.1965, PMID 14594742  Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5.  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), ISBN 0-672-60191-5. Dow, James W. (2007), A Scientific Definition of Religion Dundas, Paul (2002) [1992], The Jains (Second ed.), Routledge, ISBN 0-415-26605-X  Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); Our Oriental Heritage; MJF Books (1997), ISBN 1-56731-012-5. Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); Caesar and Christ; MJF Books (1994), ISBN 1-56731-014-1 Durant, Will (& Ariel (uncredited)); The Age of Faith; Simon & Schuster (1980), ISBN 0-671-01200-2. Durkheim, Emile (1915). The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. London: George Allen & Unwin.  Geertz, Clifford (1993). " Religion
Religion
as a cultural system". The interpretation of cultures: selected essays, Geertz, Clifford. London: Fontana Press. pp. 87–125.  Marija Gimbutas
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) ISBN 0-385-26520-4, vol. II (1994) ISBN 0-385-42093-5, W. W. Norton, vol. III (2002) ISBN 0-393-05184-6. Haisch, Bernard The God
God
Theory: Universes, Zero-point Fields, and What's Behind It All—discussion of science vs. religion (Preface), Red Wheel/Weiser, 2006, ISBN 1-57863-374-5 James, William (1902). The Varieties of Religious Experience. A Study in Human Nature. Longmans, Green, and Co.  Khanbaghi, A., The Fire, the Star and the Cross: Minority Religions in Medieval and Early Modern Iran
Iran
(IB Tauris; 2006) 268 pages. Social, political and cultural history of religious minorities in Iran, c. 226–1722 AD. King, Winston, Religion
Religion
[First Edition]. In: Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. Vol. 11. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference US, 2005. pp. 7692–7701. Korotayev, Andrey, World Religions and Social Evolution
Evolution
of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-cultural Perspective, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7734-6310-0. Lynn, Richard; Harvey, John; Nyborg, Helmuth (2009). "Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations". Intelligence. 37: 11–15. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2008.03.004. Retrieved 25 May 2015.  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
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. ISBN 0-8425-2350-2 Pals, Daniel L. (2006), Eight Theories of Religion, Oxford University Press  Ramsay, Michael, Abp. Beyond Religion? Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement Publications, (cop. 1964). Saler, Benson; "Conceptualizing Religion: Immanent Anthropologists, Transcendent Natives, and Unbounded Categories" (1990), ISBN 1-57181-219-9 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. ISBN 0-8356-0587-6 Segal, Robert A (2005). " Theories of Religion". In Hinnells, John R. The Routledge
Routledge
Companion to the Study of Religion. London; New York: Routledge. pp. 49–60.  Smith, Wilfred Cantwell (1962), The Meaning and End of Religion Stausberg, Michael (2009), Contemporary Theories of religion, Routledge  Wallace, Anthony F. C. 1966. Religion: An Anthropological View. New York: Random House. (pp. 62–66) The World Almanac (annual), World Almanac Books, ISBN 0-88687-964-7. The World Almanac (for numbers of adherents of various religions), 2005

Further reading

James, Paul & Mandaville, Peter (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 2: Globalizing Religions. London: Sage Publications.  Noss, John B.; Man's Religions, 6th ed.; Macmillan Publishing Co. (1980). N.B.: The first ed. appeared in 1949, ISBN 0-02-388430-4. Lang, Andrew.; The Making of Religion,(1898)

External links

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– Introduction to the methods and scholars of the academic study of religion A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy
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