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For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

As an uncountable noun, religion is a "way of living" or the set of customs or rituals that follows from such beliefs.

For more information, see the Wiktionary article:

It is notoriously difficult to define what does and does not constitute a religion, due to the sheer variety of human religious beliefs and practices. Taoism and Confucianism, for instance, are sometimes described as philosophies rather than religions.



Many religions are subdivided into sects or denominations, resulting in a huge number of labels for the religious to choose from. The major world religions are typically, however, divided into three large groups:

  1. Abrahamic religions
  2. Dharmic religions
  3. Taoic religions

Largest world religions

According to data collected by, the religious traditions with the most "adherents" around the world (including traditions outside of the three major divisions listed above) are:[1]

  1. Christianity: 2.1 billion
  2. Islam: 1.3 billion
  3. Non-religious, including secular, agnostic and atheist: 1.1 billion
  4. Hinduism: 900 million
  5. Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
  6. Buddhism: 376 million
  7. "primal-indigenous", including various tribal/ethnic religions and animism: 300 million
  8. African traditional and diasporic: 100 million
  9. Sikhism: 23 million
  10. Juche: 19 million
  11. Spiritism: 15 million
  12. Judaism: 14 million
  13. Baha'i: 7 million
  14. Jainism: 4.2 million
  15. Shinto: 4 million
  16. Cao Dai: 4 million
  17. Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
  18. Tenrikyo: 2 million
  19. Neo-Paganism: 1 million
  20. Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
  21. Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
  22. Scientology: 500 thousand

Major approaches to religion

Note that statements below about "God" can also generally be made about "gods".

Lack of (belief in / certainty about / support for) religion

  • Ignosticism — statements about God are ill-defined or meaningless
  • Agnosticism — lack of knowledge about God
  • Atheism — lack of belief in God; belief in the nonexistence of God
  • Antitheism — opposition to belief in God; belief in God seen as harmful
  • Humanism — supports reason and ethics; rejects superstition and the supernatural; humans have to solve their own problems

Forms of deism

  • Deism — God created the universe but is not presently active in it; typically rejects miracles and other supernatural events
  • Pandeism — the universe is God
  • Panendeism — the universe is part of God
  • Polydeism — multiple gods created the universe and are not presently active in it

Forms of theism

  • Theism — belief in one or more gods who are generally active in the universe and in human lives

Number of gods

  • Nontheism — no gods; encompasses atheism and agnosticism, but also religions having no gods (e.g., many Eastern religions)
  • Monotheism — belief in one god
  • Monolatrism — worship of one god among many, the others of whom are not worthy of worship
  • Henotheism — worship of one god among many, some of whom may also be worthy of worship
  • Kathenotheism — worship of "one god at a time" from among many
  • Duotheism — two complementary (often male and female) gods
  • Polytheism — worship of many gods

Number of aspects of a single god

Nature of God

  • Dystheism — God is partly or wholly evil
  • Pantheism — God is the universe
  • Panentheism — God is "immanent" in the universe but transcends it
  • Transtheism — One or more gods are "immanent" in the universe but transcend it
  • Transcendentalism — God transcends the physical universe and/or human understanding

Other ways of understanding/knowing God or the divine/spiritual

  • Acosmism — the observable world is an illusion
  • Animism — unification of matter and spirit; all material things have souls or spirits
  • Esotericism — knowledge of the divine is available to only a few enlightened individuals
  • Gnosticism — knowledge of God; more specifically, a diverse religious tradition in the first few centuries A.D. which stressed knowledge of the divine origins of the universe and human beings
  • Mysticism — stresses experience of the divine or "ultimate reality"
  • Natural theology — approach to knowledge of God stressing reason and rejecting the supernatural
  • New Age — diverse religious movement beginning in the late 20th century involving "an eclectic and individual approach to spiritual exploration" (Wikipedia:New Age)
  • Omnitheism — all religions have some appreciation of the inherent spirituality of existence; stresses reconciliation of different religious traditions and of religions with scientific understanding
  • Spiritualism — religious movement popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries centered around the possibility of contacting spirits of the dead
  • Theology — "reasoned discourse" concerning religion, spirituality and god(s)
  • Theosophy — a purported "body of truth" that forms the basis of all religions

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