This article contains information about the diversity of world religions, movements, and philosophies. In general terms, not touching upon definitions, this article ONLY reflects the thoughts of its author and is in no way intended to offend the feelings of believers of different religions, denominations, spiritual beliefs, or philosophies.
Religion: what it is and what is usually included in this concept.
Religion is a system of beliefs, practices, and moral values related to notions of the supernatural, divine, or sacred. Religion can include belief in God or gods, spirits, angels, demons, ancestors, or other supernatural beings. The main aspects of religion are beliefs, rituals, moral principles, communal aspects, and spiritual practices.
Religions vary in their forms of belief, practices, and organization, but usually have common features:
- Teachings about supernatural powers, deity, or absolute reality that influence human life and the world as a whole.
- Myths and stories that explain the origin of the world, human nature, the past, and the future.
- Moral and ethical codes that guide human behavior and determine their duties and responsibilities to deity, society, and themselves.
- Rituals and ceremonies that reinforce and express beliefs and values, as well as facilitate communication with deity or supernatural forces.
- A community of believers who gather together for worship, education, support, and fellowship.
- Spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, fasting, pilgrimage, etc. that promote spiritual development and communication with deity or supernatural forces.
Religions play an important role in the lives of many people, providing meaning, comfort, hope, and community. They can also influence culture, society, politics, and art. At the same time, religious ideas and practices can cause conflicts and disagreements between people of different beliefs and cultures.
Confession: what it is and how it differs from religion
Confession is a term that is often used to refer to a subdivision or separate branch within a larger religion, based on certain common beliefs, practices, rituals, and organizational structures. Confessions usually arise as a result of historical, theological, cultural, or political disagreements between followers of the same religion. In the context of Christianity, for example, the term “confession” can be used to describe the Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant church.
Thank you for the information. The diagram above does not include all the branches of Christianity, as there are many different branches, including Restorationism, Anabaptism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Catholicism, Eastern Catholic Churches, Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Assyrian Church, and many others.
Confessions can vary greatly in their character, beliefs, and practices, but often maintain some similarity to the main religion to which they belong. Some confessions can be very large and diverse, including many different communities and denominations, while others can be narrower and more specific.
It is important to note that the term “confession” can sometimes be used interchangeably with “denomination” or “sect,” but these words can have different connotations and emphases depending on the context. In general, a confession refers to a subdivision within a religion, while a denomination usually refers to the organizational structure or governance of a religious group, and a sect may indicate a group that has deviated from the core teachings or practices of the parent religion.
Spirituality: definition and key aspects
Spirituality is an individual or collective process of seeking and cultivating a connection with higher values, meaning, purpose, and awareness that transcend material and everyday existence. Spirituality can be associated with religion, but it can also exist independently of specific religious doctrines or practices.
Spirituality usually encompasses the following aspects:
- Inner growth and self-development: Spirituality often involves a process of self-discovery, self-improvement, and self-awareness that can lead to profound inner transformation and a change in worldview.
- Meaning and purpose in life: Spirituality can help people find meaning and purpose in their lives, by discovering their talents, passions, and life purpose.
- Values and ethics: Spirituality can involve reflection on one’s values, morality, and ethics, as well as their implementation in everyday life.
- Connection with a higher power or reality: For some people, spirituality is associated with the search for and establishment of a connection with a higher power, deity, universal energy, or absolute reality.
- Experience of the transcendent or sacred: Spirituality can involve a desire for direct personal experience of the sacred, transcendent, or divine through meditation, prayer, contemplation, or other spiritual practices.
- Connection with the surrounding world: Spirituality can also involve a sense of unity with nature, other people, and the entire universe, as well as awareness of one’s responsibility for the well-being and development of the planet and all its inhabitants.
Spirituality is an important aspect of many people’s lives and can be a source of profound joy, peace, and meaning. It is important to respect the diversity of spiritual paths and traditions that exist in the world, and to support the freedom of each person to seek and develop their spirituality in accordance with their beliefs, experiences, and needs.
Philosophy: what is it about?
Philosophy is a field of study that deals with examining the fundamental principles, ideas, and concepts that underlie everything that exists, with the goal of understanding the nature of reality, knowledge, values, and human existence. This discipline is based on critical thinking, logical analysis, rational justification, and dialogue. Philosophy is divided into several branches, such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, aesthetics, and social and political philosophy.
Here is a brief description of the main areas of philosophy:
- Metaphysics: studies the fundamental principles and structures of reality, such as causality, space, time, essence, and being. Metaphysics asks fundamental questions about what exists and how everything is connected.
- Epistemology is the study of knowledge, its nature, sources, limits, and reliability. Epistemology studies what knowledge is, how we acquire it, and how to distinguish truth from falsehood.
- Ethics: studies morality, norms of behavior, values, and virtues that guide human actions. Ethics studies morality, norms of behavior, values and virtues that guide human actions. It reflects on what is right and wrong, good and bad, and what moral principles should govern our actions.
- Logic deals with the analysis of principles of reasoning and proof, including the development and evaluation of arguments, determination of truth, and identification of errors in thinking. Logic helps to develop clear, consistent, and well-founded thinking.
- Aesthetics studies the principles and values of art, beauty, and taste, as well as their role in human life. Aesthetics explores what makes works of art attractive, significant, and valuable.
- Social and political philosophy is concerned with questions of justice, power, rights, freedoms, and responsibilities in society and the state. Social and political philosophy analyzes various systems and institutions that shape our social and political life and reflects on how to create a just and prosperous society.
- Philosophy of mind is concerned with the study of the nature of consciousness, its relation to the physical world, and the mechanisms that underlie human experience and mental activity. The philosophy of mind explores questions such as the relationship between the mind and the body, the nature of qualitative experiences (qualia), and the problem of free will.
- Philosophy of science is concerned with the analysis of methods, principles, and foundations of scientific knowledge, as well as the consideration of their philosophical consequences. The philosophy of science explores questions such as the structure of scientific theories, the role of observation and experimentation, the problem of induction, and the role of explanation in science.
- Philosophy of religion studies religious beliefs, their foundations, rationality, and significance, as well as considers various arguments for and against the existence of God or divine entities. Philosophy of religion also analyzes concepts such as the sacred, evil, immortality, and religious experience.
- Philosophy of language is concerned with the study of language, its nature, structure, functions, and meanings, as well as its role in communication, thought, and knowledge. Philosophy of language explores questions such as the relationship between words and things, between meaning and reference, and between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
Philosophy has a long and rich history, starting with ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and continuing up to modern thinkers. Philosophy has had a tremendous impact on the development of science, art, culture, and social life, providing the intellectual foundations for many areas of knowledge, such as mathematics, physics, psychology, linguistics, and sociology.
What else do philosophers study?
Philosophy also deals with the analysis and critique of philosophical systems and theories developed by various thinkers, and encourages dialogue and debates among them. Philosophy stimulates critical thinking and openness to new ideas, helping people develop a more conscious, reflective, and well-founded view of the world and their place in it.
An important aspect of philosophy is education. Philosophy teaches people to analyze arguments, propose hypotheses, develop logical reasoning, and critically evaluate their beliefs and views of the world. Philosophical education also promotes the development of writing, communication, and analytical thinking skills, which are valuable in many professional and personal areas of life.
Philosophy continues to evolve and adapt to new challenges, exploring current issues such as artificial intelligence, bioethics, globalization, climate change, and social inequality. Contemporary philosophy integrates methods and findings from other fields of knowledge, such as science, psychology, linguistics, and cultural studies, enriching our understanding of the world and offering new perspectives for exploration and reflection.
There are many religions in the world, and this is far from a complete list, but here are some of the most well-known and widespread religions:
- Christianity is the largest global religion, based on the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. The main branches of Christianity: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.
- Islam is the second largest religion in the world, based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as recorded in the Quran. The main branches of Islam: Sunni and Shia.
- Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, originating in ancient India. Hinduism is a complex system of beliefs, rituals, and philosophy, encompassing a multitude of gods and goddesses.
- Buddhism is based on the teachings of Prince Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), who attained enlightenment and taught the way to overcome suffering. Buddhism has various branches, including Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.
- Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, based on the belief in one God and on the sacred texts of the Tanakh (Old Testament). Judaism serves as the religion and cultural identity of the Jewish people.
- Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in India by Guru Nanak. Sikhs believe in one God and follow the teachings of their sacred text, the Guru Granth Sahib.
- Daoism is a religion and philosophy that originated in ancient China, based on the teachings of Laozi and Zhuangzi. Daoism seeks harmony with nature and the infinite laws of the Dao.
- Confucianism is a philosophical system and ethical teaching based on the principles of human virtue, order, and social harmony proposed by Confucius.
- Shinto is a Japanese religion and cultural movement based on the belief in kami, sacred spirits of nature and ancestors. Shintoism has no founder or sacred texts, but is based on customs, traditions, and rituals.
- Baha’i is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of Baha’u’llah, who proclaimed himself as a manifestation of the divine. Baha’is believe in the unity of humanity and religions, as well as the importance of world peace.
- Zoroastrianism is an ancient Persian monotheistic religion based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism focuses on the idea of the struggle between good and evil, represented by the deities Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu.
- Jainism – a religion and philosophy that originated in India, based on the teachings of the prophet Mahavira. Jainism aims to avoid causing harm to all living beings and to renounce material attachments.
- Afro-Caribbean religions – a set of religious practices and beliefs that emerged among African slaves in the Caribbean and in Central and South America. They include religions such as Voodoo, Santeria, and Candomble.
- Native religions – a variety of religious beliefs and practices specific to indigenous peoples in different countries and regions, such as the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, the Native Americans of North and South America, and the indigenous peoples of Africa and Oceania.
- Neopaganism is a modern religious and spiritual movement that revives and develops ancient pagan beliefs and cults, such as Germanic and Slavic neopaganism, druidism, and Wicca.
- Agnosticism is a philosophical and religious stance characterized by a lack of certainty or conviction in the existence of a god or gods. Agnostics believe that it is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of a divine being or the truth of religious teachings.
- Atheism is the rejection or disbelief in the existence of a god or gods. Atheists may base their rejection of religious ideas on rational thinking, scientific evidence, or personal convictions.
- Humanism – a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of human reason, morality, and experience in determining truth, values, and ways of life. Humanists can be religious or secular and often reject dogmatism and unsupported supernatural claims.
- Pantheism is a philosophical and religious concept that holds that the universe and deity are one and the same, and that every creature is a part of the divine. Pantheists believe that God is present in everything and everyone, and that all things are interconnected.
- Deism is the belief in the existence of a god or higher power who created the universe and its natural laws but then stepped back, refraining from intervening in natural processes and human affairs. Deists reject miracles, prophets, and sacred texts as sources of divine revelation.
- Universalism is a philosophy and religious belief that all religions and spiritual paths contain truth, and that truth can be found in all traditions. Universalists recognize the value of different religious and spiritual traditions and strive for unity and interfaith dialogue.
- Syncretism – the combination of different religious and philosophical teachings into a single whole, often taking into account local cultural traditions and beliefs. Syncretic religions and movements can combine elements from different traditions, creating new forms of spirituality and practice.
- New religious movements – modern religious groups and organizations that have emerged as a result of cultural, social, and spiritual changes in the world. Some of these movements may be based on existing religious traditions, while others represent entirely new forms of faith and practice.
- Secular humanism is a philosophy and movement based on principles of reason, science, ethics, and social justice, without reference to the supernatural or religious. Secular humanists strive to build a better society based on human potential and values, separating religion from state and education.
- Agama is a term that describes Indonesian religions and beliefs, typically including a mix of Hinduism, Buddhism, animism, and other traditions. Agama represents a diversity of religious practices and teachings that blend with local culture and traditions.
- Eclecticism – an approach to religion and spirituality that focuses on the selection and combination of different teachings, practices, and ideas from different traditions. Eclectics can be open to a multitude of sources of wisdom and intuition, using them for their spiritual growth and self-knowledge.
- Mysticism – the pursuit of direct personal experience of the divine, supernatural, or transcendent. Mystics genuinely seek to unite with the supreme being or reality through meditation, prayer, contemplation, or other spiritual practices.
- Spirituality without religion – an approach to spiritual development that is not tied to a particular religion or dogma. People seeking spirituality without religion may rely on their personal experiences, emotions, moral values, and views on nature and the universe to find meaning and direction in their lives.
Popular World Religions: Comparison of the Major World Religions
|Date of foundation
|Number of adherents
|Historical center of religion
|~1st century AD
|Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
|~VI-V century AD
|Moses, other prophets
|Guru Nanak and 9 gurus
|~VI century BC
|~V century BC
|~VIII century BC
|~VI century BC
|Mahavira and tirthankaras
Conclusion: or Tolerance towards People
All these religions, beliefs, and philosophical systems represent a diversity of spiritual traditions that exist in the world. Many people find comfort, meaning, and community in their religious and spiritual beliefs, and it is important to treat differences and cultural diversity with respect.
It is important to emphasize that each person can choose their own path to spirituality and moral values based on their beliefs, cultural heritage, and personal experience. In the modern world, more and more people are seeking profound answers to life’s questions in different religions, spiritual traditions, and philosophies, and many of them combine elements of different beliefs and practices, creating an individual path of spiritual development.
As evident from this overview, the religions and spiritual traditions of the world represent a wide spectrum of teachings, practices, and worldviews. It is important to respect and value the diversity of beliefs and cultures that exist in the world, as they reflect the different ways in which people understand their lives, spirituality, and moral values. Indeed, there is much in common between different religions and spiritual traditions, as all of them are oriented towards seeking meaning, comfort, and hope in a world full of uncertainty and change.