Portal:Religion
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Portal:Religion
For a topic outline on this subject, see Outline of religion

Introduction

Symbols of various religions of the world.

Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or 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, sacred things, faith, 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 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.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religions, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. 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.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion.

Selected article

The relationship between weak/strong and implicit/explicit atheism. Strong atheism is always explicit, and implicit atheism is always weak.
Atheism is the disbelief in the existence of any deities. It is commonly defined as the denial of theism, amounting to the positive assertion that deities do not exist, or as the deliberate rejection of theism. However, others--including most atheistic philosophers and groups--define atheism as the simple absence of belief in deities (cf. nontheism), thereby designating many agnostics, and people who have never heard of gods, such as newborn children, as atheists as well. In recent years, some atheists have adopted the terms strong and weak atheism to clarify whether they consider their stance one of positive belief (strong atheism) or the mere absence of belief (weak atheism).

Many self-described atheists share common skeptical concerns regarding supernatural claims, citing a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Other rationales for atheism range from the philosophical to the social to the historical. Additionally, although atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism, naturalism, and materialism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors that all atheists adhere to.

Selected picture

Made by the artist Raja Ravi Varma. Shows the Goddess Gayatri.
Credit: Raja Ravi Varma

Gayatri is a poetic form used in the sacred texts of Hinduism. It also is one mantra in particular, attributed to Vishwamitra, and a goddess as its personification, a representation of the Parabrahman.

Selected religious figure or deity

Zeus
Zeus (in Greek: nominative Zeús, genitive Díos), is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky and thunder, in Greek mythology. His symbols are the thunderbolt, bull, eagle and the oak.

The son of Cronus and Rhea, he was the youngest of his siblings. He was married to Hera in most traditions, although at the oracle of Dodona his consort was Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. Accordingly, he is known for his erotic escapades, including one pederastic relationship, with Ganymede. His trysts resulted in many famous offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera he is usually said to have sired Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.

Did you know...

  • ...that the Akilam is the longest Ballad form of literary work in the world?

Selected quote

the Chinese character dao (tao) in Taoism
During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming. We may even dream of interpreting a dream. Only on waking do we know it was a dream. Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream.

Selected scripture

Rigveda manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century
The Rigveda (Sanskrit: ?gveda, a tatpurusha compound of ?c "praise, verse" and veda "knowledge") is an ancient Indian religious book, that is a collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns dedicated to Rigvedic deities. It is counted among the four Hindu sacred texts (shruti) known as the Vedas. Geographical and ethnological passages in the Rigveda provide evidence that the Rigveda was composed between 1700-1100 BCE (the early Vedic period) in the Punjab (Sapta Sindhu) region of the Indian subcontinent. The Rig Veda is the oldest of all known religious books, and the oldest book in Vedic Sanskrit or any Indo-European language. The composition of the Rigveda is conventionally dated to before 1500 BCE. Some writers have traced astronomical references in the Rigveda dating it to as early as 4000 BC, a date well within the late Mehrgarh culture.

There are astounding similarities between the locations and characters in RigVeda, Avestan (Old Iranian language texts) and the Mittani civilization. For example, Rigvedic characters like Indra, Varuna, Mitra, Vrtra, and the Ashwins also occur in the Avestan texts and the Mittani civilization. Moreover, the Andronovo civilization which has been found to be the site of the earliest chariot culture (around 2500BC) is thought to have been the home of the RigVedic Aryans.

Today, this text is revered by Hindus around the world, primarily in India and Nepal. Its verses are recited at prayers, religious functions and other auspicious occasions.

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