Religious Religion

Hands folded in prayer a position. It is common among Christians.

What is religion?

Well it's a little complicated. Let's start by looking at a few common definitions.

The definition of religion

re·li·gion /rəˈlijən/
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
synonyms: faith, belief, divinity, worship, creed, teaching, doctrine, theology — "ideas about the relationship between science and religion" Oxford

Here's what Dictionary.com tells us:

  • A set of beliefs relating to the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  • A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices, that have been generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.
  • The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
  • The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith
  • Something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

Religion is everywhere, and has been most of recent history. If you look back thousands of years, you'll find all sorts of belief systems and ideologies. There are estimated to me over 4,000 religions in the world. Out of all of those, and over half of people just believe in one; they are called monotheists.

Nobody has been able to prove the existence of one, or many gods. However, this hasn't stopped us from believing in one. As a matter of fact, in 2012, 84 percent of Earth's people, or roughly 6.9 billion, identify with a religion. According to a 2012 study issue by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “The Global Religious Landscape”, 84 percent of Earth's people (roughly 6.9 billion) identify with a religion. Most of the world follows an Abrahamic faith: Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. The Dharmic religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikihism still hold a large number of followers.

Organized religions shape much of our lives, from culture to societal structures like laws. This isn't new either, it's been this way for thousands of years. Yet, religion has been a the culprit for many of the world's worst tragedies. Wars (the Crusades), scandals, injustices, and hypocrisies, are all too familiar for those who study religions.

But religion can also take responsibility for many positive things, such as the immense amount of charitable work: schools, hospitals, feeding and sheltering the homeless, and much more. Futhermore, religion can instill positive transformation in some people. It can provide comfort in times of great, and it can support you to find meaning.

Religions of the world

List of religions ordered by number of followers

ReligionEstimated identities
Christianity2.4 billion33%
Islam1.8 billion24%
Hinduism1.15 billion15%
Buddhism521 million7%
Chinese traditional religion394 million5.5%
Ethnic religions excluding some in separate categories300 million4.19%
African traditional religions100 million1.40%
Sikhism~20 million> 1%
Juche (North Korea) 🙄~20 million> 1%
Spiritism~15 million> 1%
Judaism14 million> 1%
Bahai7 million> 1%
Jainism4.2 million> 1%
Shinto4 million> 1%
Cao Dai4 million> 1%
Zoroastrianism2.6 million> 1%
Tenrikyo2 million> 1%
Neo-Paganism1 million> 1%
Unitarian-Universalism800,000> 1%

Interesting facts about world religions

  • Mormons cannot drink tea, coffee, or alcohol. But soda is fine, apparently.[2]
  • The world's largest religion is Christianity. Next is Islam, followed by Hinduism.[3]
  • The global average number of children per woman (children/woman) is 2.4. Muslims have the highest fertility rate of all religious group averaging 2.9 children/woman. Second, Christians at 2.6 children/woman. The fertility rates of Jewish and Hindu are 2.3 each. The rest are not able to sustain their populations.[4]
  • A few faiths actually insist that their followers do not accept medical treatment. Christians scientists, for example, have a tendency to reject standard medical treatment. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even allowed to accept medical treatment, and cannot undergo blood transfusions.
Sources:
  1. Pew Forum: The Religious Landscape
  2. McDannell, Colleen. "Religions of the United States in Practice." Volume
  3. Infoplease. "Top Ten Organized Religions of the World." The Top Ten. Accessed February 25, 2015.
  4. Pew Research Center, April 5, 2017, "The Changing Global Religious Landscape"