Religion is usually defined as a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that generally relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements;[1] however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.[2][3]

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine,[4] sacred things,[5] faith,[6] a supernatural being or supernatural beings[7] or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life".[8] Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities and/or saints), 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 may also attempt to explain the origin of life, the universe, and other phenomena. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.[9]

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide.[10] About 84% of the world's population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or some form of folk religion.[11] The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. But many[which?] of the religiously unaffiliated still have various[which?] religious beliefs.[12] A portion of the population mostly located in Africa and Asia are members of New religious movements.[13]

The study of religion comprises a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, philosophy of religion, 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.[14]

  1. ^ "Religion – Definition of Religion by Merriam-Webster". Archived from the original on 12 March 2021. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  2. ^ Morreall, John; Sonn, Tamara (2013). "Myth 1: All Societies Have Religions". 50 Great Myths of Religion. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 12–17. ISBN 978-0-470-67350-8.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Nongbri was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ James 1902, p. 31.
  5. ^ Durkheim 1915.
  6. ^ Tillich, P. (1957) Dynamics of faith. Harper Perennial; (p. 1).
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference vergote was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ James, Paul & Mandaville, Peter (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 2: Globalizing Religions. London: Sage Publications. Archived from the original on 25 December 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  9. ^ Swindal, James (April 2010). "Faith and Reason". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Archived from the original on 31 January 2022. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  10. ^ African Studies Association; University of Michigan (2005). History in Africa. Vol. 32. p. 119.
  11. ^ "The Global Religious Landscape". 18 December 2012. Archived from the original on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Religiously Unaffiliated". The Global Religious Landscape. Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life. 18 December 2012. Archived from the original on 30 July 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  13. ^ Eileen Barker, 1999, "New Religious Movements: their incidence and significance", New Religious Movements: challenge and response, Bryan Wilson and Jamie Cresswell editors, Routledge ISBN 0-415-20050-4
  14. ^ James, Paul (2018). "What Does It Mean Ontologically to Be Religious?". In Stephen Ames; Ian Barns; John Hinkson; Paul James; Gordon Preece; Geoff Sharp (eds.). Religion in a Secular Age: The Struggle for Meaning in an Abstracted World. Arena Publications. pp. 56–100. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 23 August 2018.

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