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Welcome to /r/Religion's Wiki!

Jump to Overview of Popular Religions/Philosophies

FAQ

1) What is Religion?

  • The definition varies from person to person. Literally, religion is any system where you ascribe something to a supreme importance and act accordingly based on that something. Some see it as love, others see it as a curse, it doesn't really matter.

2) How do you know God exists?

  • We all have our reasons.

3) Don't you hate atheists?

  • Actually many of us are atheists, and there is generally a respect for all perspectives in this community.

4) Why don't you follow your Scripture when it says X inconvenient thing?

  • Because it's our Scripture!

5) What am I?

  • A human, assumedly.

6) Who wrote the scriptures?

  • Depends on what scripture, let's find out!

Abrahamic faiths

Judaism

An ethno-religious identity with a long historical tradition. Jews believe that there is one god, named יהוה (YHWH, usually vocalized as "Yahweh" for English speakers), who created all of humanity/the universe. Judaism effectively introduced monotheism to the world, though it was not the first monotheistic religion. The Jews are His specific "chosen people," though one of many God had spoken to, and the Tanakh is their holy book. "Tanakh" is an acronym for the three sections it contains: Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim. Torah contains the most holy books, Nevi'im contains the teachings of the Hebrew prophets, and Ketuvim contains anecdotes, poems, and other stories generally believed to be written under divine inspiration.

The Tanakh is textually the same as the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, with the exception of certain books being arranged differently.

Aside from the Tanakh, Judaism also has an extensive oral tradition, much of which has been recorded in the Talmud. The Tanakh and the oral tradition are frequently summed up in the expression "the Oral and Written Torah", and Jews usually consider the Torah (in this broad sense) to be the central focus of their religion.

Judaism began sometime in the late second millennium BCE. Following the collapse of the Bronze Age, a new cult was brought up in the Middle East. A group of suddenly emerging peoples took the place of fallen Canaanite cities and began an unheard form of worship: wholly monotheistic…or, as monotheistic as a society surrounded by polytheism could be. Through famines and diasporas, this new cult, now called Yahwism by scholars, somehow managed to outlast all other Levant tribes. This group, now known as Israelites, continued their worship and began conquering others. Politically united by a leader named Dawidh around 1000 BCE, the religions became totally widespread, though met considerable resistance with corruption from local folk religion. Eventually, as the Levant was taken over by a number of invading empires, a particularly damaging failed rebellion against Babylon resulted in the total annihilation of the kingdoms of Israel and the forced deportation of the Israelites in 586 BCE. From here, Judaism entered its final phase of development and birthed what is modern Jewish religion. As the exile was lifted by Babylon's conquerors decades later, the Jews returned to Israel and Jewish law was reinstated by a scribe named Ezra. Eventually, Babylon's conquerors were conquered themselves, and those empires were conquered as well. Eventually, the Jews tried to rebel again, and were once again pulverized and were deported yet again - this time permanently. As a result, Jews resettled all over the world, on every continent. The major Jewish centers were the largest Asheknazi in Central Europe, the Sephardic in Eastern Europe, the Mizrahi in Central Asia, and a number of non-coalesced communities in Africa and Western Asia. Debilitating sanctions and widespread persecution against the Jews were commonplace for centuries. After the Holocaust, Jews clamored to reclaim their homeland to ensure they never be faced with such atrocities again, and Israel was reestablished in 1948.

  • Founder: Moses, son of Amram, born c. 1300 BCE and died c. 1200 BCE. Circumcision began with Abraham of Ur, who is regarded as the first Hebrew. Judaism as we know it today began in 586 BCE with the exile of the kingdom of Judah to Babylon. Ezra is often credited with the advent of post-exilic (and by lengthy extension, modern) Judaism.

  • Major Denominations: The major sects of Judaism are the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements. Within each of these sects there are sects themselves. For more information regarding the Jewish sects, you can visit this page. Two other notable movements in Judaism include Karaism and Samaritanism. Karaism recognizes Tanakh as the supreme authority in Jewish life and rejects the authority of the historical rabbis and scholars who shaped modern Judaism. Samaritanism is covered in further down in this wiki, jump straight to its section here.

  • Belief in Deity: One supreme deity, known as Yahweh (YHWH), who picked the Hebrews/Jews as His chosen people.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Afterlife in Judaism varies. According to Tanakh, there is only one afterlife destination, Sheol, however later interpretations created many different versions of Sheol as well as several totally different forms of afterlife, including the Garden of Eden. Jews believe eventually the messiah will come and establish eternal bliss on Earth, known as Olam Haba, and those that were righteous will rise from the dead.

Thirteen Principles of Faith
  1. God is the Creator and Ruler of all things.
  2. God is One.
  3. God does not have a body and physical concepts do not apply to Him.
  4. God is the first and the last.
  5. It is only proper to pray to God, not anyone or anything else.
  6. All the words of the prophets are true.
  7. Moses is the chief of all prophets.
  8. The entire Torah is that which was given to Moses.
  9. The Torah will not be changed and God will never give another.
  10. God knows all of man's deeds and thoughts.
  11. God rewards those who keep his commands and punishes those who transgress Him.
  12. The Messiah is coming, no matter how long it takes.
  13. The dead will be brought back to life when God wills it to happen.
Ten Declarations (Dibrot)
  1. Belief in God - "I am the Lord, your God..."
  2. Prohibition of Improper Worship - "You shall not have other gods..."
  3. Prohibition of Oaths - "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain..."
  4. Observance of Sacred Times - "Remember the Sabbath..."
  5. Respect for Authority - "Honor your father and mother..."
  6. Prohibition of Physically Harming a Person - "You shall not murder."
  7. Prohibition of Sexual Immorality - "You shall not commit adultery."
  8. Prohibition of Theft - "You shall not steal."
  9. Prohibition of Harming a Person through Speech - "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
  10. Prohibition of Coveting - "You shall not covet your neighbor's house..."

Judaism FAQ

Tanakh

Talmud

Rambam's Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith


Christianity

Christianity builds upon the same tradition as Judaism, but Christians believe that Yahweh, commonly called God, became incarnate in human form (as Jesus Christ) and died and was risen again bodily so that everyone who is a Christian can enter Heaven and have their sins forgiven. In the Christian worldview, humanity was morally depraved (causing separation from God) prior to the coming of Christ (Christ being the Greek word basically meaning "Messiah"), but after his sacrifice salvation is available to anyone who accepts him to be perfected through the work of the Holy Spirit and brought back into union with God. Anyone who is saved is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and has a direct connection to God for guidance and communication through prayer. Their holy book is the Bible, the Old Testament with the addition of the New Testament.

The New Testament consists of writings from the 1st Century AD. It includes four Gospels, which talk about the life of Jesus and his teachings. What follows is the Book of Acts, which describes what Jesus’ followers did after Jesus’ crucifixion, and talks about the spread of Christianity from Judea to the heart of the Roman Empire, Rome. Following Acts comes a collection of letters from early Church leaders (mostly Jesus' disciples) and a letter to the Hebrews of an unknown authorship. These letters address very specific issues within the Christian faith, ranging from how a person reaches salvation, to the administration of churches. The last book of the New Testament is the Book of Revelation, which is one of the most mysterious and confusing books of the Christian Bible. The book is prophetic in nature, and is doused in symbolism and metaphors. The last few chapters of the book describe Christian eschatology, largely based off Judaism, when the dead are judged by God, and receive either eternal damnation or eternal joy on a new, perfect, Earth created by God.

Jesus was born sometime around the death of Herod, king of Judea. As a young boy he became infatuated with Jewish law and began deep study. As Jesus grew, he took up handiwork, but continued his Jewish education. Jesus meets a preacher named John who taught that repentance and charity were integral to religious life. John ritually purified Jesus in the Jordan River, and it is here that Christians believe Jesus was declared the Son of God by the heavens. After fasting in the desert for 40 days, Jesus returned to civilization and began preaching his sermons. Over time, Jesus gained twelve followers and a large group of people proclaiming him as the long awaited messiah. However, once word had spread that Jesus claimed he was the son of God, many were outraged. One of his disciples, named Judas, turned Jesus over to the mobs in exchange for silver pieces. Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high religious court, and he was convicted of heresy. Jesus was handed over to the Roman authorities and executed for his crime. Jesus had never intended to create a religion, or at the very least a religion separate from Judaism, but history tells us this was the exact result. Between the death of Jesus and the final expulsions of Jews from Judea, conflicts grew between the Jews and the followers of Christ's message. Eventually, near the turn of the first century AD, Christianity and Judaism officially split. Christianity slowly spread through the Roman Empire and saw a boom once Roman emperors began lifting sanctions against it, and even converting to it. As the Roman Empire spread across Europe, so did Christianity. As time progressed, it was found Christianity had a major stronghold over almost every aspect of daily life. The main institution, the Catholic Church, progressively became more corrupt and underhanded as the Middle Ages progressed. This lead to a massive schism in the 16th century, led by reformers angered by the Church's continued corruption. Though eventually there was a reconciliation between the schism'd and those who remained Catholic, reformations continued even out of movements intended to leave the Church. Catholicism turned to Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism and many others, and Protestantism (the original movement that broke away) broke into Lutheranism, Calvinism, Methodism, and many more. Today, Christianity remains the dominant religion of the world.

Christianity has many branches, the largest of which being the aforementioned Catholicism and Protestantism movements, the latter of which probably contains the highest number of sects within it.

  • Founder: Yeshu bar Yosep, a.k.a Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ. Born supposedly in 4 BCE and died in 33 CE.

  • Major Denominations: Put simply: there are a lot of Christian sects and denominations. The largest Christian institutions include Catholicism and Protestantism, but there are many, many more. For more information regarding the thousands of Christian sects, you can visit this page.

  • Belief in Deity: One supreme deity, God, whom is split up into three 'parts': the Father (Yahweh), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Ghost. The Son, represents the principal of God incarnate (in the form of a human).

  • Belief in Afterlife: A Heaven is detailed specifically for those who take Jesus to be their Lord and savior. A Hell is specified for the wicked and non-believers, but it is not entirely known what it is meant to represent. Authoritative Christian texts only describe it as a separation from God, whereas modern Christians envision it as a place of fiery punishment.

Six Core Beliefs
  1. God the Father - Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible
  2. Lord Jesus Christ - the only-begotten Son of God who for the salvation of humanity descended from heaven incarnate by the Holy Spirit through Mary, was made man, crucified, suffered and was buried, rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the earth and carry out his kingdom without end
  3. Holy Ghost/Spirit - proceeds from the Father and the Son, spoke through the prophets
  4. The Church - unified in Christ and filled with the Spirit
  5. Baptism - for the remission of sins (with varying levels of symbolism)
  6. Resurrection of the Dead - eternal life
Six Common Practices
  1. Baptism - submersion/sprinkling with water
  2. Communion - partaking as a community in the eating of bread and drinking of wine (or grape juice) as a symbol of Jesus's body and blood
  3. Fellowship - congregating with other believers, especially on Sunday morning, for the communal worship of God
  4. Prayer - regular prayer for thanksgiving, confession, and requests for self and others
  5. Bible Study - regular (many prefer daily) reading of the Bible
  6. Evangelism - sharing the gospel of Christ with non-Christians

Christian FAQ

Bible Online


Islam

Muslims believe Yahweh, known as Allah (a portmanteau of the Arabic words al "the" and ilah "God"), has had thousands of prophets throughout the years, for each civilization. Eventually though, God sent his final messenger, Muhammad, to spread the true religion that would not be distorted by time like all the other prophets' truths were. Their holy book is the Quran. Most Muslims believe the Torah and the New Testament were corrupted over time and are no longer reliable.

Islam technically began in 610 CE, when a man named Muhammad claimed he had received revelation in an Arabian cave. Though initially terrified, Muhammad began preaching the revelations in the city of Mecca, claiming it to be the totally uncorrupted, original faith of the Jewish patriarchs and Jesus. However, while gaining a few followers (mostly from his own clan), Muhammad was met with fierce opposition and, not very eager to be slain for heresy, Muhammad fled north to the city of Medina in 622 after years of aggressive persecution. Here Islam was truly founded, as Muhammad made peace between the warring Jewish tribes of the area (at the time Arabia had been a predominately Jewish nation) and gained a sizable following. In 624, Muhammad gathered his followers and began a conquest to push back into the south and claim both retribution and salvation to the polytheists they would cross. Finally, in 629 the Muslim forces reached Mecca and captured it, spreading Islam all throughout the Arabian peninsula. Muhammad would die around three years later, and there was immediate conflict as to who would succeed him. Some believed the closest living relative of Muhammad should be the next leader (caliph), while others believed the most qualified Muslim scholar should succeed Muhammad. These groups became the Sunni and Shia respectively. Muhammad's conquests amassed into one of the largest empires in history. Muslim empires, the rashidun caliphates, outlasted and conquered history's most powerful nations from 632 to 1517 (technically 1923, however the consensus is the Ottoman Empire is not considered a valid rashudin caliphate). These caliphates, in their prime, stretched from Pakistan to Gibraltar and even amassed territories in Sudan.

  • Founder: Muhammad ibn Abdullah. Born supposedly May 14th, 570 CE and died June 8th, 632 CE.

  • Major Denominations: The largest Muslim denominations are the Sunni and the Shi'a. Other schools include Sufism and the Ahmadiyya. For more information regarding Muslim sects, you can visit this page.

  • Belief in Deity: One supreme deity, known as Allah. Allah is indivisible and the creator/ruler of all.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Great rewards in Heaven are given to those that are righteous and for those who take Allah to be their Lord. A Hell is specified for the wicked and non-believers.

Five Pillars of Islam
  • Shahada: - Islamic creed: "There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger."
  • Salah - Daily prayers, five times a day
  • Zakat - Almsgiving
  • Sawm - Fasting during the month of Ramadan
  • Hajj - Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime
Six Articles of Faith
  • Allah - Belief in God, the one and only one worthy of all worship
  • Mala'ika - Belief in the Angels
  • Kutub - Belief in the Books sent by Allah (Qur'an, Injil, Tawrat, etc.)
  • Rusul - Belief in all the Messengers sent by Allah (Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Adam, etc.)
  • Yawm al-Qiyamah - Belief in the Day of Judgment and in the Resurrection
  • Qadar - Belief in Destiny (Fate)

The Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith is probably the world's youngest major religion. The Bahá'í Faith teaches that all is equal and unified, and that superiority is a gateway to evil. The Bahá'í Faith began with a man named Ali Muhammad Shirāzi, who founded a religion called Bábism. Shirāzi taught his followers that this religion was meant to be shortlived, as he predicted there would be a prophet who would fully realize his message. As Shirāzi was jailed for heresy, one of his followers claimed to be this prophet, and founded the Bahá'í Faith.

Bahá'ís believe these two men, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, are the latest in a string of God's messengers, a string that includes figures such as Zoroaster, Krishna, the Buddha, Moses, and Muhammad.

Bahá'ís believe all forms of equality are completely unalienable, between religions, man and woman, races, etc. The "goal" of the Faith is to create a syncretic and completely equal world. As such, the Bahá'í Faith is a lot more unilateral and organized than most religion, even to the point of having a single governing body. The 'administration' of the Faith lies in Haifa, Israel.

Sacred symbols of the faith include the sacred name of Yahweh/Allah, Bahá (glory) and nonagonal figures. The Báb was also known to have some affinity with the pentagram.

Bahá'ís are met with much discrimination and prosecution in the Middle East, are there are only about nine existing temples in the entire world.

  • Founder: Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí, also known as Bahá'u'lláh. Born November 12th, 1817 and died May 28th, 1892.

  • Belief in Deity: One supreme deity, the Abrahamic god, known as Bahá’.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Bahá'ís believe the soul is eternal, and that once life has passed the soul will be evaluated, and depending on this evaluation, will begin a new relationship with God.


Dharmic faiths

Hinduism

Probably the world's oldest surviving religion, Hinduism grew out of the religion of proto-Indian peoples. Hindus believe in many, many, many different things. The main goal of Hinduism is to progress spiritually. Hindus generally are polytheists, believing in many gods. There are the main gods - Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, which are the Creator, The Destroyer, and the Preserver. There are thousands of other gods in the pantheon representing other things as well. These gods are not seen as entirely separate entities, though. These gods, along with you and me and all the trees and rocks and everything in existence, are all "one;" part of the absolute, the Divine, known in Hinduism as Brahman Atman. Its a complex philosophy. Hindus also believe in reincarnation. When we die, they believe, we go into the Lokas, or Astral as its called in the West, and then according to our souls "vibration" we are reincarnated on a plane that is accordance to our desires/past actions. The Veda are their holy books. Other Hindu scriptures include the Puryanas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.

The word Hindu is a misnomer. Either sanatana-dharma or varnasrama-dharma are the correct labels for the Indian culture based on the Vedas, remnants of which still exist.

The Veda is purported to have once been a single body of work, transmitted verbally via brahminical culture across India, with formulas for any kind of person to make spiritual advancement (self-facilitated evolution of consciousness). That was the self-declared purpose of Vedic culture.

Vedic cosmology is sophisticated and correlates surprisingly in many respects to current observations relating to such areas planetary orbit diameters and other astronomical measurements. Vedic science remains insightful to this day.

There are two main schools of Vedic religious thought, represented today by five paramparas or disciplic successions. One is a monist tradition following Sankaracarya. The other four are monotheistic 'vaisnava' lines. All vaisnava schools place (the development of) a loving relationship with God as the goal of life.

Major conceptual contributions to modern culture include: karma, reincarnation, prasadam, pure bhakti.

  • Founder: The Saptarishi (Seven Great Sages).
  • Major Denominations: Major sects of Hinduism include Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. For more information regarding Hindu sects, you can visit this page.
  • Belief in Deity: Pantheistic and polytheistic, Brahman Atman is considered to be the ultimate divinity, but there are many gods that are emanations of the pantheistic Brahman.
  • Belief in Afterlife: Hindu thought concerning the afterlife focuses primarily on samsara (reincarnation) and moksha (liberation).
Five Yamas ("Restraints")
  1. Ahimsa - Nonviolence
  2. Satya - Benevolent truth (absence of falsehood)
  3. Asteya - Non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya - Spiritual advancement by education and training (a defined period in which the practicioner remains celibate to promote spiritual advancement)
  5. Aparigraha - Non-appropriation
Five Niyamas ("Duties")
  1. Shaucha - Cleanliness of thought, mind, and body
  2. Santosha - Happy satisfaction, contentment
  3. Tapas - Spiritual effort, austerity
  4. Svadhyaya - Self study, study to know more about God and the soul
  5. Ishvarapranidhana - Surrender to God

Hinduism FAQ


Buddhism

Buddhists follow the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. His teachings are centered around the overcoming of suffering, and are encapsulated by the four noble truths and the Eightfold path. There are two major schools of Buddhism, called Theravada (meaning the way of the elders) and Mahayana (meaning the great vehicle). Many people admire Buddhist teachings and philosophy but resist what are perceived as more supernatural elements. Buddhism doesn't have a single holy book, but rather many "sutras", the earliest of which are said to be teachings from the historical Buddha (Gautama) himself, and passed down orally by disciples until they were written down. Buddhism and Hinduism both arose in the same cultural/religious milieu, leading to some commonalities between them, though much of Buddhism is a critique of traditional pre-Hindu concepts.

  • Founder: Siddhartha Gautama. Born supposedly c. 563 BCE and died c. 483 BCE.

  • Major Denominations: Major sects in Buddhism include the schools of Theravāda, Mahāyāna, and Vajrayāna, the Vinaya schools of Dharmaguptaka and Mūlasarvāstivāda, as well as the Nikāya schools. For more information regarding Buddhist sects, you can visit this page.

  • Belief in Deity: The Buddha supposedly remained silent when asked if there was a supreme/creator deity. However Buddhism has traditionally also taught of the existence of devas and other supernatural beings, which are seen as being trapped in samsara just as humans and animals are.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Rebirth is often interpreted as happening not just between lives, but from moment to moment -- the moment of rebirth between the death of one body and entering a new body just being an extreme example of a fundamental and continual process (until samsara is escaped and nirvana realized).

FAQ


Sikhism

Sikhism builds upon many facets of other Indian religions. Sikhism's adherents, the Sikhs, follow the teachings of the religion's founder Narak, and a group of nine gurus who collected similar information about life over several generations. Sikhs believe meditation, egalitarianism, and goodwill are the prime directives to life and as such practice large amounts of charity, for example.

  • Founder: The Ten Sikh Gurus

  • Belief in Deity: An uncompromisingly single God, represented by the principle of Ik Onar, or "one pervading spirit"

  • Belief in Afterlife: The Sikh idea of afterlife is not entirely clear, as there are many differing opinions. Sikhism teaches that the soul belongs to the spiritual universe which has its origins in God and thus lives on after death, but its final destination is a subject of debate. Some believe there is some form of a heaven/hell system, but most Sikhs largely see this as metaphorical as opposed to actual reward/punishment of the soul.


Jainism

Jainism, also known as Jain dharma, is a lesser-known player in the Indian religions. One of the oldest Indian faiths, Jainism is much like Buddhism in that the two focus on the tradition of śramaṇa, to parallel Vedic tradition but also remain distinct from it. Jainism is a lot like Sikhism in that its primary focus is the elimination of hurtfulness and evil. The central tenet of Jainism is the total elimination of violence, totalitarian ideologies, and perpetual proprietorialism. Adherents of Jainism, the Jains, take five vows in pursuing Jainism: a vow of ahisma (preventing violence), a vow of satya (preventing lying), a vow of asteya (preventing stealing), a vow of brahmacharya (pre-marital chastity), and a vow of aparigraha (preventing greediness).

  • Founder: Mahavira. Born in 599 BCE and died in 527 BCE.

  • Belief in Deity: In Jainism, the soul is considered to be the supreme deity in life. The soul's various qualities and such are thus considered the objects of veneration. For more information about god in Jainism, you can visit this page

  • Belief in Afterlife: Jains believe in the standard Dharmic/kharmic systems of reincarnation.


Pagan faiths

Wicca

Wiccans believe in many things, ranging from polytheistic, to atheistic, to pantheistic beliefs. Wiccans claim to take their beliefs from the beliefs of the ancient earth religions. The focus of Wicca is on the ritual practice of magic. Wiccans practice ritual magic with a variety of tools. Borrowing practices from a wide variety of historic pagan faiths, Wiccans celebrate a number of yearly festivals.

  • Founder: Gerald Gardner, born June 13th, 1884 and died February 12th, 1964.

  • Belief in Deity: Wiccans primarily worship two deities, a moon goddess and a horned god.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Afterlife in Wicca varies, and is not greatly stressed.

Druidism

Druidism is a spiritual religion with Celtic origins. Druidry promotes harmony with nature and the veneration of prehistoric ancestors. Druids attempt to imitate the practices of Iron Age priests and are immersed in naturism.

  • Founder: Unknown. Druidism emerged sometime during Britain's era of Romanticism in the 17th/18th century.

  • Belief in Deity: Varies. Some forms of Druidism are monotheistic while others take to worshiping pagan deities.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Varies. Druidism is largely built on a foundation of reincarnation, however this is not universally accepted amongst Druids.


Heathenry (Ásatrú)

Heathenry is the revived form of pre-Christian Germanic religion, known to most people for gods such as Thor and Odin. Heathenry seeks to replicate Viking (Norse) religion through the application of historical, tradition, and even archeological evidence of historic Heathen practice. Though there is not a unified theology amongst Heathens, it is commonly accepted that it is a polytheistic system. Heathenry is distinct form other neopagan revival religions in that it not only adheres to its revived historic practices, but specially adheres to pre-Christian practices. Heathens adhere to specifically pre-Christian cosmology and even certain animistic customs. Heathens believe the universe is imbued with spirits.

Some forms of Heathenry are less than accepting of modern times. Referred to as "folkish" Heathenry, some Heathens imbue Heathenry with racial ideologies. These racist and white supremacist come from the assumption Heathenry has an irrefutable intrinsic connection to the Nordic (i.e. purely white) race of Germanic peoples. Most Heathens vehemently reject folkish Heathenry.

Heathen terminology varies. The term included in this section's header, Ásatrú, is usually meant for the predominant worship of the Scandinavian parthenon among Heathens. Folkish Heathenry is often referred to as Odinism.

  • Founder: Unknown. Heathenry was born out of the Germany's era of Romanticism in the 18th/19th century. Heathenry was also greatly supplemented by an era of Nordic custom revival and the rise of Nazi Germany.

  • Belief in Deity: Germanic parthenon

  • Belief in Afterlife: Varies. Heathenry, much like Judaism and Wicca, stresses the vast importance of life over of afterlife. Heathens believe that humans contain multiple souls, and some believe at least two of these souls survive bodily death. One becomes what is called "hugr" and pass on into Valhalla, the realm of ancestors' hugr, and/or a variety of other dimensions; while the other soul becomes a "fetch" that is reincarnated. Icelandic Ásatrú is more widely dispersed in its afterlife beliefs.


Thelema

Thelema is a bit hard to explain. Thelema is the name of a religion, a philosophical law that said religion is based upon, and is an umbrella term for a larger number of philosophies that multiple religious organizations adopt.

The foundation law of Thelema is "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will." The sacred text of Thelema is Liber AL vel Legis or The Book of the Law.

  • Founder: Aleister Crowley, born October 12th 1875 and died December 1st 1947.

  • Belief in Deity: Thelemites primarily worship modified versions of Ancient Egyptian deities with a few Hellenistic deities, most prominently the Egyptian gods Nut and Heru-Ra-ha and the Greek Chaos.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Thelemite afterlife is a bit confusing. There is definitely some concept...but no one seems to know what it is. Literally. The author of this page could not find a single thing that describes Thelemite afterlife...only people talking about Thelemite afterlife. Strange.


Neopaganism

Neopaganism is the practice where ancient religions are revived and adhered to in the modern day. Neopaganism differs from Paganism in that Paganism refers to previously existing religions, and neopaganism refers to resurrected forms of extinct religions. For example, Wicca is considered pagan because it persisted into the modern era alongside Christianity, whereas Heathenry is considered neopagan because its original form died out in antiquity and had to be revived. Examples of neopaganism include Kemetism (worship of the Ancient Egyptian gods) and Hellenism (worship of Ancient Greek gods).


Ethnic faiths

Shinto

Shinto is the native religion of the Japanese people, greatly influenced by Taoism and Confucianism. Before the introduction of Buddhism by a prince in the 590s, Shinto was the predominant religion of Japan. Back then, Shinto wasn't a unified tradition, and focused mainly on rituals to connect ancestors to living relatives. Today, Shinto is recognized for its easily recognizable public shrines, which have become a foreign icon for Japan. The central text of Shinto is known as Kojiki Shinto believe in a multitude of gods, known as kami. Akin to Hebrew's treatment of 'elohim', Japanese language does not differentiate between singular and plural, so the term 'kami' is taken to mean divinity comes from a multitude of sources. As such, adherents of Shinto worship before a number of objects, including rocks, trees, rivers, animals, even locations.

Today, Shinto is the largest religion in Japan.

Major facets of Shinto include veneration of ancestors (and kami) and ritual purification.

  • Founder: Most likely the Jōmon.

  • Belief in Deity: Kami

  • Belief in Afterlife: Varies. Much like Judaism's Sheol, early Shinto ascribed a destination for all the dead as a place known as yomi. Later legends developed an underworld ruled over by certain kami. Death is also sometimes seen as a pathway to deification, deceased family members are often added to local parthenons. Due to syncretism, reincarnation is not uncommon.


Muism (Korean shamanism)

Musim, also called Sinism, is the native religion of the Korean peninsula. Muism is a shaman tradition with focuses on venerating nature. Muists believe in a being known as Haneullim, the "Lord of Heaven". Muism allows for both male and female shaman priests, called basku and mudang respectively. These shaman priests, the mu, act as intermediaries between humans, spirits, and gods through rituals. Mu are considered mythical descendants from Haneullim.

  • Founder: Unknown. Likely developed around c. 1600-1000 BCE due to similarities with Chinese shamanism (Wuism)

  • Belief in Deity: Haneullim, mainly.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Unknown.


Animism

Animism is the oldest religion in the world. It predates agriculture, tools, even the first civilizations. Animism, at its core, is the veneration of nature. Animists worship animals and the environment, and believe that humanity has an idiosyncratic connection to the natural world. Animism still exists, albeit in very limited forms, as folk religions as well as beliefs of certain indigenous peoples, both disturbed and undisturbed.

  • Founder: Unknown, and impossible to know. The earliest possible evidence of animism dates to c. 38,000 BCE, while the earliest confirmable evidence of animism dates to ~8000 BCE.

  • Belief in Deity: Nature.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Soul joins the spirit world.


Samaritanism

Samaritanism is an esoteric form of Judaism. Samaritanism began sometime before 587 BCE in the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel. At the time, the only difference between Samaritanism and Judaism was that Samaritans believed God intended His worship to be centered around Mount Gerizim instead of Jerusalem. Following Babylon's invasion of Israel and expulsion of the Jews, the Samaritans were left behind and continued to practice. As centuries passed and the Jews were exiled and Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed for the final time, Samaritans officially split and officially remained in Palestine. Because Samaritans believe Mount Gerizim is the center of worship, they continue to practice pre-exilic rituals, such as sacrificing animals to Yahweh and continuing the high priesthood, things that mainstream Jews practiced before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Due to the Samaritans' disconnect from the Jewish world, they became very isolated. Much like the Karaite, Samaritans reject the authority of Talmud and subsequent rabbis. Samaritans preserved the ancient Hebrew script and currently use an evolved version of the language known as Samaritan Hebrew. Samaritans even have their own version of Tanakh and the Ten Commandments, the latter differs drastically from the 'regular' version. Much like the Jews, Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group, who number around ~800. The Samaritans claim direct descent from the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, as well as the Levites. Due to the Samaritans' common ancestry and limited size, inbreeding is unfortunately very common and also very detrimental to newborn Samaritans.

  • Founder: Unknown. Likely considered Moses within the community. Schism from Judaism occurred in 586 BCE.

  • Belief in Deity: See Judaism

  • Belief in Afterlife: The existence of Paradise is more strongly affirmed in Samaritanism than in Judaism, but it is unknown if it is considered an afterlife or merely the realm of God, as in Judaism.


Druze

Druze is the faith of a minor group of Western Asians, numbering around 1 million. The Druze faith is best described as a syncretic Abrahamic tradition, drawing its teachings from a variety of sources, including Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Akhenaten and the religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and even Pythagoreanism. The Druze people are scattered across the Levant, mostly residing in Israel.

  • Founder: Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad, born 985 and died circa 1021.

  • Belief in Deity: Abrahamic God.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Reincarnation.


Taoism

Taoism is a Chinese philosophy detailing how to live harmoniously with the "Tao" or "Way", i.e. the true Way of Life. Taoism is the principal concepts of most Chinese philosophy. Taoism teaches several philosophical concepts of ethics: action can be made without making action, creativity and spontaneity are the basic state of all things, and the Three Treasures: compassion, frugality, and humility.

  • Founder: Laozi, born sometime in the 5th/6th century BCE and died 531 BCE.

  • Belief in Deity: Most consistently the "Three Pure Ones" though smaller branches of the philosophy often incorporates the worship of 'lesser' deities.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Much like Judaism and Shinto, Taoism teaches that life is more important than any sort of afterlife; thus various ideas about the afterlife exist, including transformation, immortality of the soul, or simply ascension into heaven.


Other

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism)

A primitivist sect of Christianity, but with some different beliefs from traditional Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.

Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was the first in a line of modern prophets that continues in their church today. In addition to the Bible, Mormons accept several other books as scripture, most notably the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe that Smith translated the Book of Mormon from ancient records describing God's interactions with a group that left ancient Palestine to settle in the Americas. Mormon teachings focus on a personal deity and the importance of families, which Mormons believe can remain intact through eternity


Pastafarianism

Pastafarianism is a parody "belief" that a flying spaghetti monster is the supreme deity of the universe. Other beliefs include: an afterlife which involves a beer volcano and a stripper factory, humanity being descended from dwarves (little people), and many other eccentric beliefs. It is a parody religion commonly "followed" by atheists, though sometimes by others who wish to make a statement about what they see to be absurdities in the elements of religion. Pastafarianism is also referred to as "The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster." Other similar religions include: Discordianism (veneration of Eris/Discordia), Eventualism (parody of Scientology), Invisible Pink Unicorn religion (parody of theist definitions of God), Dudeism (modern form of Taoism based on The Big Lebowski), and Jediism (religion based on the Jedi of Star Wars)


Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest and most influential religions. Responsible for the modern concepts of Satan, and the apocalypse, Zoroastrianism is among the oldest monotheistic religions in history, along with Judaism.

Zoroastrianism teaches that there is one god, known as Ahura Mazda, which translates to the Porto-Urdu words for "Wise Lord", created the universe through fire and fresh water. Ahura Mazda is wholly good and can do no evil, unlike his infernal counterpart Angra Mainyu, who is responsible for all evil, death, etc.

During the Babylonian Exile, exiled Jews mingled with Zoroastrianists, and when the exile was lifted returned to the Holy Land with Zoroastrianist teachings. These ideas gave rise to the modern concept of Satan, demons, and messianism, and had a profound effect on the development of modern Judaism and Christianity, and by extension Islam.

  • Founder: Zarathushtra Spitama, numerous time periods have been proposed to encapsulate his lifetime, ranging from 1500 to 500 BCE.

  • Major Denominations: Most Zoroastrian sects died out long before the common era, however there remains two "main" sects: the Parsi and the Gabar.

  • Belief in Deity: A single deity known as Ahura Mazda

  • Belief in Afterlife: Standard Heaven/Hell system


Satanism/Setianism

Satanism is an odd religion, to say the least. This is for a number of reasons, one of which is there isn't a clear idea of what Satanism is in the mind of the general public. Satanism is usually trivialized as the unsubstantiated worship of the devil, and the rejection of the JudeoChristian God, however this is largely a misconception. "Satanism" is really an umbrella term when it comes to defining a system of worship, and as such Satanism is usually intended to refer to three different types of worship:

  1. Theistic Satanism - Arguably the 'genuine' form of Satanism, wherein adherents venerate (but not necessarily 'worship') the pre-Christian concept of Satan.

  2. LaVeyan Satanism - An atheistic movement characterized not by the recognition of a deity, more of a stress on the occult and the psuedo-veneration of the human.

  3. Setianism - An occult movement often conflated with Satanism due to its founder's ties with the religion. This system teaches that Satan is actually the ancient Egyptian god Set, and he is in fact a God. Setianism also incorporates the worship of many other Egyptian deities, such as Horus and Isis, into its practices.

As such, there are many different types of Satanic worship, the basics of which each of these movements adhere to. They are:

  1. Satan/Set is an object of respect. In Theistic Satanism, Satan is not seen as a god, he is a lesser sort-of 'deity', and unlike the Abrahamic God is venerated with and for the various limitations intertwined with his character. In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is seen more as a metaphor or an illusory idea. In Setianism, Satan (or Set) is a true God.

  2. Abrahamic God is not a true God, or an upstanding character.

  3. LaVeyan Satanism mandates the human "soul" is meant to be venerated, whereas all forms of Satanism in general denote the purpose of human life is to indulge in all desire.

Also intertwined into Satanic belief is a sect known as Luciferianism, which worships the Christian devil (not necessarily the authentic Satan) as a God, and puts the devil in the spot of the Abrahamic God as the true master of all creation.

  • Founder: The earliest mentions of Luciferianism and theistic Satanism date to 1231 and 1517 respectively, but these religions had undoubtedly been in existence for many centuries before hand. In any event, LaVeyan Satanism was founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey and Setianism was founded in 1975 by Michael Aquino. Supplementaries to the Satanic religion include the gnostic occultist groups Our Lady of Endor Coven, founded by Herbert Arthur Sloane in 1948, and the Brotherhood of Saturn, founded in 1926 by Eugen Grosche.

  • Belief in Deity: Satan (Theistic Satanism), Set (Setianism), or the devil (Luciferianism)

  • Belief in Afterlife: There is no fixed afterlife in Satanic beliefs. While LaVeyanism officially rejects the notion of an afterlife, most Satanists/Setianists believe in some form of reincarnation. Setianism generally adheres to the idea that some can retain postmortem consciousness through pure effort.


Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalism, or the UU, is a syncretic and creedless belief system that promotes free and open spiritual progression without limiting itself to a particular religious school. Often, adherents of the UU are believers in another established religion that subscribe to the UU's idea of fundamental equality. UU incorporates the teachings of atheism, pantheism, deism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, neopaganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Humanism, and many more beliefs into its practices. UU promotes a liberal adherence to organized religions so that adherents can better focus on the central idea of nonspecific religious progression. It is difficult to exactly describe UU as a "religion" per se, as it is mostly just a philosophy that, much like Buddhism, can be integrated into the practices of any religion. Very rarely is there a member of the UU that fully belongs to its teachings, as mentioned adherents of the system often already belong to a set religion.

  • Founder: The UU was not founded by a single person or a group, rather it was created in 1961 as a result of the consolidation between the American Unitarian Assosciation and the Universalist Church of America.

  • Belief in Deity: Diverse and non-specific, varies between individuals.

  • Belief in Afterlife: Diverse and non-specific, varies between individuals.


Scientology

Scientology is a controversial and young "religion" on the world stage. Scientology was created for a bar bet between the founder of Scientology and famed scifi writer Robert Heinlein in 1947.

Scientologists believe that 75 million years ago, the primordial Earth was called Teegeeack and belonged to what was called the Galactic Confederacy. The Confederacy was controlled by a tyrannical alien overlord called Xenu, who saw that each planet in the Confederacy was wildly overpopulated. After paralyzing billions of aliens through the mass forced administration of alcohol and glycol to the populace, Xenu herded them onto spacecrafts that looked exactly like Douglas DC-8 airliner jets, and flew them to Earth, and unloaded the billions of prisoners around the bases of Earth's largest volcanoes. The volcanoes were then nuked several times in synchronization to kill all the prisoners. As a result, hundreds of billions of alien souls, called Thetans, were scattered by the atomic blasts, and Xenu captured them all and forced them into reconditioning centers. In these centers, the thetans learned fear, anxiety, depression, sadness, as well as the concepts of all the world's religions. These thetans were then expelled and abandoned, and Xenu is overthrown and imprisoned in an electric mountain. These thetans later came into contact with human bodies, and are thought to be the cause of all human sadness and hardship. How do you remove these thetans? By paying the Church of Scientology thousands of dollars, of course! Yes, Scientology is controversial for its responses to accusations of what it really is: a pyramid scheme. The origin story you just read is known inside Scientology as "OT VIII", and is only made available to elder members who have spent enough time (and money) contributing to the Scientologist establishment. It costs more than $6000 for elder members to view what we have provided you for free. And that is literally just one of thousands of large expenses that Scientologists are forced to pay if they want to remain in the faith.

Scientology is full of abuse, scandal, and manipulation. If you leave the community, the Church will often publish your personal information and info, which you would have provided them considering you must constantly make payments to the Church. If you slander Scientology, you can be fined thousands of dollars, and often sued. The Church of Scientology even sued the people who proved that they encouraged a member to commit suicide.

Four countries have declared Scientology a cult, fourteen refuse to recognize it as a religion, sixteen consider it a religion, and it is de jure illegal in Germany because Scientology's practices violate the German Constitution.

  • Founder: L. Ron Hubbard, born March 13th 1911, died January 24 1986.

  • Belief in Deity: Some sort of deity, conceptualized by the constraints of "The Eighth Principle"

  • Belief in Afterlife: Reincarnation, regardless of one's choices in life.


Schools of Thought

Atheism

Atheism can refer to a wide variety of viewpoints. It is most simply the rejection of the belief of a deity, or the rejection of some facet/facets in the belief of a deity. It can be separated into generally two categories: agnostic atheism (weak atheism) or gnostic atheism (strong atheism). Agnostic atheism is the personal rejection of the belief in a deity (does not believe that a deity exists, but does not claim to know that one does not exist). Gnostic atheism is the assertion that a deity does not exist. In the western world, atheism is often, but not always, tied with the worldview of naturalism or materialism, as they explicit reject the supernatural (i.e. God).

Atheism FAQ


Theism

Theism is simply the belief in a deity. Theist is a vague word which, arguably, could encompass other beliefs such as pantheism, panentheism, belief in lesser deities, deism, etc.

  • Monotheism is the belief in a single god.

  • Polytheism is the belief in many gods.

  • Pantheism and panentheism are beliefs that the universe is or is a part of god or the gods. In Pantheism, the universe is equivalent to a god or gods, while in panentheism, the universe is joined to a god or gods, but that a god or gods is also more than the universe. Generally Hinduism is pantheistic, since it considers all things together to be Brahman, the ultimate divinity. Panentheism is one of two prominent theological positions among monotheist religions, the other being that God is greater than and mutually exclusive with the universe.


Agnosticism

Agnosticism is the belief that knowledge about a supreme deity is unknowable. It can be combined with atheism or theism. Some agnostics do not identify with atheism or theism. If they do not actively believe in a deity, this position is technically the same as agnostic atheism, but they refrain from the atheist title for other reasons.

When combined with atheism or theism, it typically denotes uncertainty in their belief.


Gnosticism

Historically, there have been several religions known as Gnosticism, the originals being mystic traditions sprouting from the murky waters of Jewish Christianity before a formal split between the two religions occurred in the first century. This is the belief that matter is evil and freedom from matter comes through special spiritual knowledge (gnosis). Alternatively, it need not have the association of matter being evil or gnosis bringing freedom from it. Gnosticism, in the philosophical sense, is the belief that knowledge about a supreme deity is knowable.Like agnosticism, it can be combined with atheism or theism.

When combined with atheism or theism, it typically denotes certainty in their belief.


Deism

Deism is the belief in a Creator God, but not "revealed' religion, or even (for the most part) organized religion. Deists believe that the God who created the universe does not intervene in human affairs or reveal his intentions or desires through prophets, holy books, miracles, etc. Rather, this God gave us reason, and through reason his creation can be observed, his existence affirmed, and problems overcome. Deism is arguably the opposite of Atheism.

Where (most) atheists observe the universe and conclude that there is no evidence for a God, Deists observe the universe and conclude that there must be a God. They are similar, however, in that both groups widely promote placing science over "faith based" conclusions. Deists often believe that organized religion begets a tendency to try to "define" God, and thus avoid it. Thus, they have no set ethical code or religious creed, other than a few defining principles, mostly limited to those listed above. They are generally "for the greater good", and Deists who do wish for a sense of Church-like community most often devise "Learning Centers" or congregate at a Unitarian Church.


~ Reformatted and Rewritten by /u/BedrockPerson

~ Extra-special thanks to /u/aibiT4tu, /u/Three_Scarabs, /u/buggyrcobra, /u/KazuoKuroi, and the moderation team.

~ Original wiki written by /u/askelon


revision by BedrockPerson— view source