Religion is a set of common beliefs and practices pertaining to the supernatural (and its relationship to humanity and the cosmos), which are often codified into prayer, ritual, scriptures, and religious law. These beliefs and practices are typically defined in light of a shared canonical vocabulary of venerable traditions, writings, history, and mythology.
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.
The world’s principal religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups, although this is by no means a uniform practice. This theory began in the 18th century with the goal of recognizing the relative levels of civility in societies.
There are different ways of categorization of world religions.
♥ Religions can be categorized by how many deities they worship. Monotheistic religions accept only one deity (predominantly referred to as God), polytheistic religions accept multiple deities. Henotheistic religions accept one supreme deity without denying other deities, considering them as aspects of the same divine principle; and nontheistic religions deny any supreme eternal creator deity but accept a pantheon of deities which live, die and may be reborn like any other being.
♥ 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.
♥ Religious traditions fall into super-groups in comparative religion, arranged by historical origin and mutual influence.
- Middle Eastern religions originated in the Middle East; namely Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and Iranic religions (Zoroastrianism, Yazdanism and historical traditions of Gnosticism, Mandaeism, Manichaeism). religions and traditions related to, and descended from them (Bábísm and the Bahá’í Faith).
- Indian religions originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, and religions and traditions related to, and descended from them. Also called Dharmic religions that have idea of Dharma.
- East Asian religions originated in East Asia, also known as Taoic religions; namely Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion, Shintoism, Cheondoism, Caodaism, and East Asian Buddhism, and religions and traditions related to, and descended from them.
- Indigenous tribal religions, formerly found on every continent, but now marginalized by the major organized faiths. Despite this, they often persist as undercurrents of Ethnic religion, Folk religion, Paganism, Animism, Totemism, and Shamanism. This category includes African traditional religions, African diasporic religions, Asian Shamanism, Native American religions, Mesoamerican Religion, Aztec Religion, Inuit Religion, Austronesian and Australian Aboriginal traditions and arguably Chinese folk religion (overlaps with Far Eastern religions).
- New religious movements, a heterogeneous group of religious faiths emerging since the nineteenth century, often syncretizing, re-interpreting or reviving aspects of older traditions (Wicca, New Age, Neopaganism, Hellenism, Hindu derived religions, Entheogenic religions, transcendentalism, polytheistic reconstructionism, and Satanism), some inspired by science-fiction (UFO religions, Scientology, Cult). Irreligion and New Thought.
- Historical religions of the ancient world shared many of the same patterns with each other even though the cultures may never have had any contact with each other. Such as Prehistoric religion, Ancient Egyptian Religion, Ancient Mesopotamian religion, Brahmanism, Religion in pre-Islamic Arabia, Inca mythology, ancient Greece and Rome and their Hellenistic descendants.
Atheism refers in its broadest sense to a denial of theism (the belief in the existence of a single deity or deities). Atheism has many shades and types. Some atheists strongly deny the existence of God (or any form of deity) and attack theistic claims.