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What Is Religion

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What Is Religion

Post by Agrimony on Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:44 am

Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.

Definitions Of Religion
There are numerous definitions of religion and only a few are stated here. The typical dictionary definition of religion refers to a "belief in, or the worship of, a god or gods" or the "service and worship of God or the supernatural". However, writers and scholars have expanded upon the "belief in god" definitions as insufficient to capture the diversity of religious thought and experience.

Edward Burnett Tylor defined religion as "the belief in spiritual beings". He argued, back in 1871, 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.

The anthropologist 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. 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". The theologian Antoine Vergote 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"; he took the term "supernatural" simply to mean whatever transcends the powers of nature or human agency. Read More Definitions

Major Religious Groups
The list of still-active religious movements given here is an attempt to summarize the most important regional and philosophical influences on local communities, but it is by no means a complete description of every religious community, nor does it explain the most important elements of individual religiousness.
The five largest religious groups by world population, estimated to account for 5 billion people, are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism (with the relative numbers for Buddhism and Hinduism dependent on the extent of syncretism) and Chinese folk religion.
Five largest religions:
Christianity            -         2.0 billion 33%
Islam                    -         1.2 billion 19.6%
Hinduism                -         811 million 13.4%
Chinese folk religion  -        385 million 6.4%
Buddhism               -         360 million 5.9%

Timeline Of Religion
The earliest evidence of religious ideas dates back several hundred thousand years to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic periods. Archeologists refer to apparent intentional burials of early homo sapiens from as early as 300,000 years ago as evidence of religious ideas. Other evidence of religious ideas include symbolic artifacts from Middle Stone Age sites in Africa. However, the interpretation of early paleolithic artifacts, with regard to how they relate to religious ideas, remains controversial. Archeological evidence from more recent periods is less controversial. A number of artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic (50,000-13,000) are generally interpreted by scientists as representing religious ideas. Examples of Upper Paleolithic remains associated with religious beliefs include the lion man, the Venus figurines, cave paintings from Chauvet Cave and the elaborate ritual burial from Sungir.

In the 19th century, various theories were proposed regarding the origin of religion, supplanting the earlier claims of Christianity of urreligion. Early theorists Edward Burnett Tylor and Herbert Spencer proposed the concept of animism, while archaeologist John Lubbock used the term "fetishism". Meanwhile, religious scholar Max Müller theorized that religion began in hedonism and folklorist Wilhelm Mannhardt suggested that religion began in "naturalism", by which he meant mythological explanation of natural events. All of these theories have since been widely criticized; there is no broad consensus regarding the origin of religion.

Paganism
Paganism is a broad group of indigenous and historical polytheistic religious traditions primarily those of cultures known to the classical world.

Paganism is the ancestral religion of the whole of humanity. This ancient religious outlook remains active throughout much of the world today, both in complex civilisations such as Japan and India, and in less complex tribal societies world-wide. It was the outlook of the European religions of classical antiquity – Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome – as well as of their “barbarian” neighbours on the northern fringes, and its European form is re-emerging into explicit awareness in the modern West as the articulation of urgent contemporary religious priorities.

Polytheism: Pluralism and Diversity
The many deities of Paganism are a recognition of the diversity of Nature. Some Pagans see the goddesses and gods as a community of individuals much like the diverse human community in this world. Others, such as followers of Isis and Osiris from ancient times onwards, and Wiccan-based Pagans in the modern world, see all the goddesses as one Great Goddess, and all the gods as one Great God, whose harmonious interaction is the secret of the universe. Yet others think there is a supreme divine principle, that “both wants and does not want to be called Zeus”, as Heraclitus wrote in the fifth century BCE, or which is the Great Goddess Mother of All Things, as Isis was to the first century CE novelist Apuleius and the Great Goddess is to many Western Pagans nowadays. Yet others, such as the Emperor Julian, the great restorer of Paganism in Christian antiquity, and many Hindu mystics nowadays, believe in an abstract Supreme Principle, the origin and source of all things. But even these last Pagans recognise that other spiritual beings, although perhaps one in essence with a greater being, are themselves divine, and are not false or partial divinities. Pagans who worship the One are described as henotheists, believers in a supreme divine principle, rather than monotheists, believers in one true deity beside which all other deities are false. Read More About Paganism

Agrimony
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