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 religion groups, 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, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.
refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices similar to animism
that claim the ability to diagnose and cure human suffering and, in some societies, the ability to cause suffering. This is believed to be accomplished by traversing the axis mundi
and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits
. Shamans have been credited with the ability to control the weather, divination
, the interpretation of dreams, astral projection
, and traveling to upper and lower worlds. Shamanistic traditions have existed throughout the world since prehistoric times.
Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits that affect the lives of the living. In contrast to animism and animatism, which any and usually all members of a society practice, shamanism requires specialized knowledge or abilities. It could be said that shamans are the experts employed by animists or animist communities. Shamans are not, however, often organized into full-time ritual or spiritual associations, as are priests.
Selected religious figure or deity
, transliterated Kong Fuzi
, lit. "Master Kong,
" but most frequently referred to as Kongzi
, traditionally September 28
– 479 BC
) was a famous Chinese
thinker and social philosopher
, whose teachings and philosophy
have deeply influenced East Asian
life and thought.
His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism or Daoism during the Han Dynasty. Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism. It was introduced to Europe by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as "Confucius".
Did you know...
- ...that the word, Christian, only appears three times in the Bible?
- ...that Krishna (pictured) literally means "black" or "dark one" in Sanskrit?
- ...that the Qur'an is believed by Muslims and traditional Islamic scholars to have remained unchanged since its revelation?
(), also known in English as the Records of Ancient Matters
, is the oldest surviving historical book recounting events of ancient earth in the Japanese language
. A document claiming to be an older work, the Kujiki
(which the Kojiki
dates to AD 620), also exists, but its authenticity is questionable.
The Kojiki was presented by ? no Yasumaro to Emperor Temmu in CE 680, based upon the events which had been memorized from the previous book, the Kujiki, and by those who held the stories which had been passed down over generations, as well as stories which had been memorized by Hieda no Are in 712. Despite the fact that many note a difference in some precepts of the Kojiki and similar Chinese stories, it is thought that these may have been stories which had traveled and become known in areas of Japan and China. Nevertheless, the idea that the Kojiki mimics deities descending from China to Japan, is incorrect due to the fact that the Kojiki is a story detailing the creation of deities, and throughout Chamberlain's translation in 1882, the area in which the events were said to have unfolded is not explained, and is thought to occur upon the "island" or land-mass created by Izanami and Izanagi.