1. Religion & Spirituality

Religion 101: Religion, Theism, and Faith

Index

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• Related Religion Links
• Religion 101
• Theism 101
• Defining Religion
• Types of Belief Systems
• Types of Religion
• World Religions
• Religion in the World

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What is religion? What are some varieties of religions? What is theism, and what are some of the varieties of that? Atheists aren't theists, but they can be religious - understanding what theism and religion are is key to understanding why that is true.

Semantics isn't exactly a glorious pursuit, but it does have its uses and certainly also its value. Presented here is a resource I've not been able to find anywhere else on the internet: a comprehensive but easy to understand look at the many different types of theism and spiritual belief which lie behind human religions.


Defining Religion
Religion is very difficult to define - it seems that everyone has a different idea of what it is. Most people will simply look in the dictionary or use something else equally simplistic. Although that might be fine for everyday conversations, it isn't sufficient for the sort of discussions that appear on this site. Religion is a human creation, and as such can vary as widely as human imagination allows.

Highlights:
•  Religion: The Problem of Definition
•  Types of Definitions
•  Definitions in Reference Works


Types of Religion
Defining religion must take into account the fact that there are several different types of religion in the world. They are all similar enough to come together in the category called religion, but they are also different enough that exploring these sub-categories is helpful in understanding religious beliefs and religious phenomena. Types of religions covered here include: Nature Religions, Tribal Religions, Salvation Religions, Prophetic Religions, Revealed Religions, Mystical Religions, and Sacramental Religions.

Highlights:
•  Nature Religions
•  Revealed Religions
•  Salvation Religions


Philosophy of Religion
Sometimes confused with theology, the Philosophy of Religion is the philosophical study of religious beliefs, religious doctrines, religious arguments and religious history. The line between theology and the philosophy of religion isn't always sharp because they share so much in common, but the primary difference is that theology tends to be apologetical in nature, committed to the defense of particular religious positions, whereas Philosophy of Religion is committed to the investigation of religion itself, rather than the truth of any particular religion.

Highlights:
•  What is the Philosophy of Religion?
•  What is God?
•  Religion Around the World


Topics in the Philosophy of Religion
One of the more entertaining aspects of the philosophy of religion is to examine how religion influences modern culture and how culture in turn influences religion. Religion in film, religion in books, economic analyses of religion - these are all a part of religious philosophy.

Highlights:
•  The Matrix, Religion, and Philosophy
•  Technology & Religion
•  Karl Marx & Religion
•  Why Does Religion Exist?


Types of Belief Systems
Religion is a belief system, but not all belief systems are religions. Understanding the difference between religious and similar, but non-religious belief systems will help you to better grasp just what a religion is and why. What's the difference between religion and philosophy? Is spirituality a type of religious belief? Is there a distinction between religion and theism or between religion and superstition?

Highlights:
•  Religion vs. Superstition
•  Religion vs. The Paranormal
•  Religion vs. Theism


Varieties of Theism
Understanding atheism requires some understanding of theism. Learning about what types of theism exist, how people define their gods, and why people become theists will enable you to get a better grasp of how and why people can become atheists. There may not be any one path to atheism which all atheists follow, just as there is no one path to theism which all theists follow; nevertheless, there are enough commonalities to justify discussion and study.

Highlights:
•  What is Theism?
•  Varieties of Theism
•  Is Theism Irrational?


Religion, Ritual, and Holidays
Holidays are seasonal rituals which can serve to regulate and structure life. Rituals can be important because they are often important means of social communication. We cannot, after all, observe relationships - what we observe is people's behavior towards one another. Very often, that behavior takes place in the context of "ritual" acts - behaviors which may not have obvious functional utility but which do nevertheless reinforce the ways people relate to one another.

Highlights:
•  What Are Holidays?
•  Groundhog's Day
•  Easter


Organization of Religion
There are a number of different ways in which religion can be organized or structured. Different types of religious systems generally rely upon different organizational structures - as a matter of fact, particular types of organizations can reveal quite a lot about the basic values and beliefs that a religion has.

Highlights:
•  Sects vs. Churches
•  What is a "Cult"?
•  Why do pepole join "cults"?


Major Religious Faiths
These special FAQs will provide you with a wealth of information dealing with some of the world's major religious faiths. You can read about religious history, major religious figures, religious disputes & violence, and important religious doctrines.

Highlights:
•  What is Christianity?
•  What is Islam?
•  What is Sikhism?

Further Reading About Religion

Every week there are new book reviews to be found here on this site. Many of the books reviewed deal with religion - discussions about religion generally, about religion in the United States, or about major reilgious faiths like Christianity or Islam. If you're interested in some recent books dealing with religion and religious beliefs, perhaps some of these reviews will help.

Recently Reviewed Books on Religion
Every week there are new book reviews to be found here on this site. Many of the books reviewed deal with religion - discussions about religion generally, about religion in the United States, or about major reilgious faiths like Christianity or Islam. If you're interested in some recent books dealing with religion and religious beliefs, perhaps some of these reviews will help.

Arguing About God & Religion
Does God exist? If so, what type of God exists and what does God want? Are any religions valid? If so, which one(s) and why? These are the sorts of questions debated by visitors to this site - learn more about these questions, the terms involved, and how the debates proceed.



Glossary: Religion & Philosophy
This extensive glossary provides detailed information on philosophical and religious concepts, from abandonment to Zeno of Elea! (over 2400 entries total)

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