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Religion
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Religion

Religion is belief in the divine, supernatural, or sacred that results in worship; that worship itself; the institutional or culturally-bound expression of that worship; or some combination of these.

Table of contents
1 Approaches to the study of religion
2 What do most religions have in common?
3 Religious practices
4 Comparing religion to spirituality
5 Religion in modernity
6 Scientific attempts to explain religion
7 Differences between religions
8 Questions that religions address
9 Comparison of sources of authority
10 Dealing with others' religions
11 Role of charismatic figures
12 Origin of religion
13 Religion and mental health
14 Practical benefits
15 Religion and mythology
16 Monotheism vs. polytheism
17 See also
18 External link

Approaches to the study of religion

Religion is subject to much discussion in the fields of theology, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Specialists in these fields, as well as ordinary peopletheists, atheists, and agnostics alike—often disagree about the fundamental nature of religion. Consequently, any discussion of religion must begin by answering certain "basic" questions such as "What things constitute a religion?", "What is the difference between religious and secular thought?", "How do we recognize what are religious beliefs?", "Are religions individual or group activities?", and "What methodology shall we use to investigate these questions?". The answers to these questions can then serve as a common ground upon which further discussion can be based.

If the conclusions of a discussion are to be accepted by people from diverse religious backgrounds, then that discussion must make as few assumptions as possible. However, all societies and this article start with the following a priori assumptions:

The last one is most controversial because there are two main ways of looking at the world, each bringing with it certain a priori assumptions that are usually not recognized. While a study of a particular religion made by either viewpoint may come to many of the same conclusions, differences between the two approaches include what beliefs are to be considered religious and the effects of religions.

By function

One approach, sometimes referred to as "Hebrew thought", defines "religion" as any set of beliefs that fulfills certain functions in an individual’s life, especially answering questions about our origins, present existence and what goals we should strive for, thereby forming the individual's attitudes, values, morality and actions. Consequently, adherents of this approach regard any belief system which answers any of these questions as "religious", including such non-theistic belief systems as Communism, secular humanism, and biological evolution.

The main advantage of this approach is its ability to incorporate seamlessly all of the belief systems that are considered religious, including some of the agnostic forms of Hinduism and Buddhism; according to its advocates, another advantage is its recognition of the fact that the phenomenon usually perceived as conflict between “religion” and “anti-religion” is in fact competition between different fundamentalisms.

One difficulty in applying this approach is the fact that many individuals hold multiple belief systems, some of which may be contradictory, and some feigned; consequently, it is often difficult to recognize the effect that any particular belief system has on an individual. Another difficulty is that it tries to evaluate what act as the inner guiding principles within an individual, his "religion" as it were, by the fruits those principles produce in his attitudes, values, morality and actions. It does not necessarily consider those beliefs and associations he admits to in public. Though this is a difficulty, it can be used to identify those who truly are adherents to a particular religion verses those who merely join the organization for reasons other than belief.

When studying specific religions or comparative religions, a functional study typically starts with an analysis of the teachings of the belief system, which includes an analysis of the "sacred writings" connected with the belief system if they exist. In this analysis, attention is paid to internal consistency, to whether or not the belief system answers the basic functional questions of origins, ontology and teleology, how well it correlates to observation and how it affects an individual's attitudes, values, morality and actions, even how he thinks. It looks at how integrated the religion is with daily life: is it merely ritual that once acted upon can be forgotten as done, or is it a belief that should inform every action an individual does?

A functional study also looks at those who claim to follow the religion to see if they truly follow it or not, and why.

Questions concerning group beliefs, actions and institutions, though important, are secondary because they are a result of doctrine and individual response. They may actually represent cultural norms and institutions rather than individual belief and practice, so that though they may appear to be a religion, they really aren't.

By form

Also called "Greek thought", it is the method most widely used by far, listed secondly so it can serve as a segue way to the rest of this article. It is almost universally used in academia and among sociologists, anthropologists and Western philosophers. It is the basis for the sections following this one.

Most people, particularly those influenced by "Western" culture, almost instinctively recognize which of their beliefs are to be called "religious" and which "secular". Usually unconsciously, they have already made a priori assumptions such as "There are beliefs that are "religious", "Religious beliefs are not the same as secular beliefs" and typical assumptions imparted by western culture to recognize "religious" beliefs include:

When studying specific religions and comparative religions, discussions typically begin by answering questions about uncontroversial, easily verifiable facts, such as "What beliefs do different groups of people hold?", "What practices are inspired by these beliefs?", and "What institutions arise as a result of these beliefs and practices?". Hopefully, answering these questions will create a body of data upon which all further discourse, including the answers to the "basic" questions mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, can then be based.

One advantage of this method is that people who hold to agnostic and atheistic belief systems can decide for themselves whether or not what they believe is a religious or secular belief system. Another advantage is that it conforms to widely held societal and academic norms, aiding in communication. Thirdly, in that it conforms to societal and academic norms, it avoids misunderstanding and conflict that can arise when using minority approaches, such as the functional approach above.

In contrast to the functional approach, the use of Greek thought as the methodology to study religion, with its emphasis on the inherently uncontroversial statements about religion's external manifestations, its expressed statements and rituals, is far less controversial and easily recognizable, therefore are more readily accepted by people with widely differing views of religion. Consequently, most major thinkers prefer to begin by examining the easily observable external forms of religion; the rest of this article takes the approach based on form.

What do most religions have in common?

The word religion probably derives from the Latin word ligare, meaning "to join", "to link" or to bind (although the OED describes this as uncertain). The prefix re- may mean means "back" or "again", or may be an intensifier, so religion could be literally translated, variously, as "binding back", or as re-linking or re-joining, or as "binding strongly". According to the first interpretation, religion is understood by many modern English-speakers to mean the reconnection of human and the alleged divine. Accordingly, one might begin by defining religion as a system of beliefs based on humanity's attempt to explain the universe and natural phenomena, often involving one or more deities or other supernatural forces and also requiring or binding adherents to follow prescribed religious obligations. Such a system of beliefs can be distinguished from branches of philosophy, such as metaphysics, which seek to address many of the same questions. In ancient Greece and in the Judeo-Christian context, especially later on when Christianity became the backdrop of European thinkers, a distinct line was drawn between metaphysics and religion. In the Indian philosophic tradition, however, religion and philosophy were until very recently inseparable, especially in Hinduism and Buddhism. Whether or not the philosophy of religion is regarded as being part of metaphysics is basically relative to which faith system is being considered.

Two identifying features of religions are that to some extent they all (a) require faith and (b) seek to organize and influence the thoughts and actions of their adherents. Because of this, some contend that all religions are to some degree both unempirical and dogmatic and are therefore to be distrusted. A system of thought that is purely rational would be a science rather than a religion, and a system that is not in the least dogmatic would be unable to guide its adherents in any way. On the other hand, schools of thought within many religions strive to embody rationalism (for example, the Nyaya school of Hinduism), and many claim to use unimpeachable logic in defending their dogmatic ontological and moral concepts.

Religious practices

Practices based upon religious beliefs typically include:

Adherents of a particular religion typically gather together to celebrate holy days, to recite or chant scripture, to pray, to worship, and provide spiritual assistance to each other. However, solitary practice of prayer and meditation is often seen to be just as important, as is living out religious convictions in secular activities when in the company of people who are not necessarily adherents to that religion. This is often a function of the religion in question.

Comparing religion to spirituality

Many Westerners prefer to use the term spirituality rather than religion to describe their form of belief. This may reflect a large-scale disillusionment with organized religion that is occurring in much of the Western world (see Religion in Modernity). However, proponents of some forms of spirituality may represent a movement towards a more "modern"—more tolerant, less counter-factual, and more intuitive—form of religion. This is evidenced by apparently greater religious pluralism and movements such as the ecumenical movement within and transcending Christian denominations. There are corresponding moderating movements within Islam and other religious traditions.

In the East, however, spirituality is viewed as inseparable from religion. The Indic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism) have always had incorporated into their very framework primary focuses on spirituality. Yoga, for example, is a section of Hindu philosophy and informed the spiritual traditions of both Hindu and Buddhist tantra. It is an extremely detailed, rational, and scientific approach to developing control of mind and body for the purpose of realizing spiritual truths such as uniting with the Divine. It built into the structure of scriptural injunctions and various cultural frameworks a universal understanding of the divinity of man. Thus, we see that spirituality has, in many Eastern religions, no separate existence.

Spirituality, in its Western comprehension, is religion cut loose from some of its bureaucratic trappings. The concept is neutral with regard to tolerance, etc. The same disillusionment often leads in the opposite direction, toward intolerance and violence. Many extreme sects lay claim to a higher spiritual basis. Some of those professing to have attained a higher spiritual plane are actually manipulative and intolerant.

It is possible, and perhaps advised, to keep in mind that there can be a rigid distinction between the mundane, earthly aspects of religion and the spiritual dimension. People can gain security from such things as regular attendance at churches or temples, deepening knowledge of religious scriptures, and the social comfort of fervently agreeing with other believers. This sometimes is done without a corresponding spiritual dimension. Some people see this as being distant from God, but very 'religious'. Conversely those who consider themselves deeply involved with the Divine may have come to reject much of the recognised aspects of established religion. Indeed, some would feel that this is central to the beliefs of the founders of some religions: for example, Jesus was very critical of traditional interpretations of the established Judaism, and the perceived hypocrisy of some of its adherents at the time.

People disagree about whether religions have a spiritual or supernatural basis; an example of this is the belief that the modern ceremonies and canons of the Church have almost completely grown away from, or even are contrary to, the presumed original Divine revelation or source. This belief has arisen throughout history. One example is found in pre-Reformation Christianity, when 'Indulgences' (excusal of sin) were for sale, and corruption was endemic in Church appointments. Today, some would hold that extreme religious practices such as some punishments under Sharia law, or the historical burning of heretics, was not at all what God intended. Others find those practices repugnant to the secular ethics of a modern liberal democracy.

Religion in certain faith-systems can therefore draw itself into disrepute through the weaknesses of its practitioners, while spirituality can be independently, but invisibly, strong and flourishing.

Religion in modernity

In the late 19th century and throughout most of the 20th century, religion, especially Christianity, has seen great reductions in its relative power and membership, and, to a lesser degree, to its reputation. Some historically Christian Western countries, particularly in Europe, show declining recruitment for priesthoods and monasteries, and studies in the UK show a fast-diminishing attendance at churches, synagogues, etc. The demographic group that is "losing faith" the most rapidly is the most-educated classes. Explanations for this effect include the security and comfort afforded by modern technology, the materialistic philosophical influence of science, the development of what some call "secular religions" such as Marxism and Humanism, and the hostility that many feel toward evangelical religions in an age that places greater emphasis on toleration. However, in many parts of the world, religion is far from declining. In the United States and in Latin America, for instance, studies show that religion is as strong as ever, and in the Middle East fundamentalist Islam has been growing rapidly, as attested to by the rise of extremist movements in Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, and many other Islamic states.

Modern causes of rejection of religion

As noted above, in the much of the developed world mainstream religions have been on the decline. This decline is apparently in parallel with increased prosperity and social well-being. It appears increasingly common for people to engage in far-ranging explorations, with many finding spiritual satisfaction outside of organized churches. This is a demographic group whose numbers are growing and whose future impact cannot be predicted. The reasons for the decline in mainstream religions are complex and ill-understood, but include the following:

Modern adherence to religion

All of the above causes for skepticism are based on experiences in this, mortal, lifetime. Religious believers are often sad to see that people disagree with the churches' perspectives on spiritual, "eternal" beliefs by concerns they consider to be based on limited and transitory features (given the potential for an afterlife). Additional reasons for continuing adherence to mainstream religion include the following:

Scientific attempts to explain religion

All religions explain the reasons for their existence in their own terms. Modern scholarship, which may also be regarded as a self-contained system of explanation, brings its own tools to the task of accounting for the phenomenon of religious belief in naturalistic terms. Especially in the fields of neuroscience, neuropsychology, memetics and evolutionary psychology, new breakthroughs offer a hope of explaining religion in scientific terms.

Science seeks to explore the apparent similarities among religious views dominate in diverse cultures that have had little or no contact, why religion is found in almost every human group, and why humans often seem to accept counterfactual statements in the name of religion. In neuroscience, work by scientists such as Ramachandran and his colleagues from the University of California, San Diego [1] suggests evidence of brain circuitry in the temporal lobe associated with intense religious experiences. In sociology, Rodney Stark has looked at the social forces that have caused religions to grow and the features of religions that have been most successful. For example, Stark, who claims to be an agnostic, hypothesizes that, before Christianity became established as the state religion of Constantinople, Christianity grew rapidly because it provided a practical framework within which non-family members would provide help to other people in the community in a barter system of mutual assistance. In evolutionary psychology, scientists have considered the survival advantages that religion might have given to a community of hunter-gatherers, such as unifying them within a coherent social group.

Some cognitive psychologists, however, take a completely different approach to explaining religion. Foremost among them is Pascal Boyer, whose book, Religion Explained, lays out the basics of his theory, and attempts to refute several previous and more simple explanations for the phenomenon of religion. Essentially, Mr. Boyer claims that religion is a result of the misfunctioning or overfunctioning of certain subconscious intuitive mental faculties, which normally apply to physics (enabling prediction of the arc a football will take only seconds after its release, for example), and social networks (to keep track of other people's identity, history, loyalty, etc.), and a variety of others.

Differences between religions

Western religions typically focus on a relationship and worship between the person and their higher deity. Eastern religions typically focus on a process of living life for the next life or the here after. However, there exists a spectrum of religions and practices between the dichotomy of relationship and process.

While practitioners of the Abrahamic faiths or "people of the Book" (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) each worship one all-powerful God, each of these religions has different beliefs. Many followers of each of these three religions openly oppose the idea that the three views point to the same God, pointing out the many areas of disagreement as to God's nature, character, deeds and overall plan with humanity.

Jews believe that their deity is the one and only God, who revealed his Torah (teachings) to Moses and other sages of Israel.

Christians accept this same God, but believe that the Christ has already appeared in the form of Jesus, in accordance to the Jewish Scriptures (such as in the books of Daniel and Isaiah). Unlike the Jewish belief of Christ, the Christians proclaim that He came to earth to set God's children free from sin, rather than from oppression. The central schism between the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches is that in the latter good deeds cannot create or maintain a relationship with God. Virtuous deeds are supposed to simply flow from pure faith and a relationship with God through entering that relationship with Jesus.

Muslims, like the Jews, differ with the Christians as to the divinity and 'sonship' of Jesus, but accept the Virgin Birth as a miracle of God. The role of Jesus in Islam is one of a distinguished line of prophets, all of whom were sent by God as messengers to enlighten humankind. Muhammad was just another of these messengers, although believed to be the 'jewel' of the prophets. Many Muslims think he was the best and the last of the prophets, but the arabic word also means 'jewel'. The Five Pillars of Islam are the five required deeds or rituals needed to relate, through submission of the ego, to the one holy God. Jews and Christians often perceive the Muslim view of God as being different from their own view, in terms of nature and character, but this is an on-going debate.

Although there is a tendency, in the West especially, to speak about religion in terms of God not all religions believe in a creator god. For example, Jain cosmology is strongly atheistic and the original forms of Taoism and Buddhism are also non-theistic.

In contrast to other mainstream religions, Hinduism has not a single founder. Besides some scholars do not consider Hinduism a single religion but a group of related religions.

Questions that religions address

Religions are systems of belief which typically answer questions about the following concerns:

Generally, the different religions and the non-religious all have different answers for the above concerns. Hence, scholars can classify a religion according to the characteristic answer the religion gives for the above concerns.

Comparison of sources of authority

In addition, scholars can classify a religion according to the nature of the authority to which the religion refers.

Generally while individual religions may differ in sources of authority, they share many common traits, such as ritual, concern with the afterlife, regulation of social behavior, and belief in the supernatural.

Dealing with others' religions

Adherents of particular religions deal with the differing doctrines and practices espoused by other religions in several ways. Examples of each exist within most major religious systems. People with exclusivist beliefs typically explain other religions as either in error, or as corruptions or counterfeits of the true faith. People with inclusivist beliefs recognize some truth in all faith systems, highlighting agreements and minimizing differences, but see their own faith as in some way ultimate. People with pluralist beliefs make no distinction between faith systems, viewing each one as valid within a particular culture. Hinduism is a faith at whose very core lies this pluralist and inclusivistic idea, and a well-known Rig Vedic hymn claims that "Truth is One, though the sages know it variously." Pluralists and inclusivists may borrow from more than one faith system for their own religious practice. However, it should be noted that in many areas different faith systems are integrated into one; this does not fit the definition of pluralism. For example, in many tribal areas of Indonesia natives practice a mixture of Islam, tribal gods, and worship of Adam and Eve.

Role of charismatic figures

Many religions have been deeply influenced by charismatic leaders, such as Jesus Christ, Martin Luther, Saint Francis of Assisi, Henry VIII, John Calvin, Joseph Smith, Adi Sankara, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekanada, Sai Baba, Muhammad, Gautama Buddha, etc. These leaders are either the central teacher and founder of the religion (e.g. Muhammad, Jesus, or Gautama) or reformers or prominent persons.

The historical or legendary founders of some of the major world religions include Abraham and Moses (Judaism), Zoroaster (Zoroastrianism), Siddartha Gautama (Buddhism), Jesus Christ (Christianity), Muhammad (Islam), and Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í).

Origin of religion

The origin of religion in general and for particular religions is controversial, since religions often claim to have been derived directly from actions of God or god(s) to a chosen human messenger or messenger(s). By definition, followers of a religion accept the claims, either literally or in a metaphorical, or partial fashion. Followers of a religion, although they may have strongly held beliefs, may also be interested in looking at possible human origins for religious events, together with non-religious enquirers.

Institutional religion came into being about 4000 years ago, roughly coincident with the invention of writing, and writing was long the exclusive preserve of the priestly classes, and as such served to preserve their power and privilege. Coincidentally, this corresponds with the writing of the *Tanach* (an acronym for the three Parts of the Jewish Scripture: the *Torah* (Instructions for the salvation of the soul and body), the *Neviim*//Prophets,a series of books written for our spirit, and the *Ketuvim*, a collection of books for our minds, which was dictated by the Jewish Elohim to His only wife (Jer.3:14), the Jewish People in Hebrew. However the New Testament is almost universally regarded among scholars to have been written in Greek, although some scholars belonging to Messianic Judaism argue that it was originally written in Hebrew [1].

However, Archeologists and historians debate whether religion was practised before the invention of writing. Non-believers hypothesize that religion may have originated in stories created to account for the great questions of life, for comfort, to keep records of a people's history, and/or for entertainment. It is also possible that atheists (those who hold to the tenets of scientific materialism and do not believe in any deities) or agnostics (those who believe we cannot know if there are any deities) always existed as well.

Recent advances in cognitive psychology and neuropsychology suggest that religion might have its origins in the workings of the brain itself. Pascal Boyer's book, Religion Explained, attempts to explain religion through cognitive psychology.

Physical evidence of origins of religion

Early human remains, art, and artifacts leave us clues as to their beliefs and practices, though interpretation of these archaeological remains is problematic. Early human prehistory has scattered physical evidence and no writings: for example, bones painted with red ochre may signify a color symbolizing life rather than a belief in an afterlife, covering the dead person's body with valuable possessions may derive from the belief that using the dead person's possessions will bring bad luck. Imagine a future archaeologist digging through the remains of a Star Wars fan's bedroom and consider the possible erroneous interpretations of such a find.

Later religious viewpoints, such as Christianity and Islam, point to a myriad of archeological evidence (i.e., comparisons between archeological findings and the cities and people mentioned in their holy books) and manuscripts of early writings of their religion. When archaeology was still in its early stages as a scientific discipline in the 19th century, many archeologists attempted to find evidence contrary to the Bible, for example, and some became instead forceful witnesses to its overall accuracy. These religious books are sometimes used to interpret archeological finds but are still considered by many to be an unreliable guide. For example, the Jesus ossuary was precisely dated by this method before it was determined to be a fake by some, though this is still debated.

Evidence from burial practices

Nevertheless, evidence for early civilizations' religious ideas can be found similarly in elaborate burial practices in which valuable objects were left with the deceased, intended for use in an afterlife or to appease the gods. This custom has clearer motives as it is usually accompanied by tomb paintings showing a belief of afterlife. It reached a spectacular form with the creation of the pyramids of Giza and the other great tombs of ancient Egypt; the Sumerian royal burials, and other prehistoric (pre-written records) monument builders.

Documentation of modern religions' beginnings

Religions created in modern times are often reasonably well documented (for example, Scientology). Minor religions have been, and still are, called cults, while many scholars use the term New Religious Movement (NRM). Reasons for the creation of religions are many, including a range from idealism to a desire to obtain wealth and power over others; the two may combine in interesting ways.

Religion and mental health

Maslow's research

Abraham Maslow's research after World War II showed that Holocaust survivors tended to be those who held strong religious beliefs (not necessarily temple attendance, etc), suggesting it helped people cope in extreme circumstances. Humanistic psychology went on to investigate how religious or spiritual identity may have correlations with longer lifespan and better health. Humans may particularly need religious ideas to serve various emotional needs such as the need to feel loved, the need to belong to homogenous groups, the need for understandable explanations and the need for a guarantee of ultimate justice.

The critical factors may involve sense of purpose, extreme beliefs in general, or other factors sometimes correlated with religious belief, and/or may be specific to Holocaust survivors. The very fact that religion was the primary selector for research subjects may also have introduced a bias.

Other research

A study of adolescents found that frequent church-goers with high spiritual support had the lowest scores on the Beck depression inventory (Wright et al., 1993).[1]

Practical benefits

Religions may sometimes provide breadth and scale for visionary inspirations in compassion, practical charity, and moral restraint.

Christianity is noted for the founding of many major universities, the creation of early hospitals, the provision of food and medical supplies to the needy, and the creation of orphanages and schools, amongst other charitable acts. Many other religions (and non-religious organisations and individuals, eg: humanistic Oxfam) have also performed equivalent or similar work.

Religion and mythology

Ancient polytheistic religions, such as those of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the Vikings, etc., are often studied under the heading of mythology. Religions of pre-industrial peoples, or cultures in development to industrial conditions, are similarly observed by the anthropology of religion. Mythology can be a term used pejoratively by religious and non-religious people both, by defining another person's religious stories and beliefs as mythology. Here myths are treated as fantasies, or "mere" stories. The term myth in sociology, however has a non-pejorative meaning, defined as stories that are important for the group and not necessarily untrue. The study of religions, and the investigation of myths by psychology, not to mention how some myths turn out to have historical verification, has brought about a mixed, almost contradictory use of the term: some NRMs such as Neopaganism actively research and use myths from older religions, both those that still exist and those that have disappeared. Joseph Campbell, in The Power of Myth, held that myth was a universal human trait, and necessary to well-being. There is no essential difference between the myths of extinct religions and those of extant religions.

A few religious critics view the elevation of philosophy of science and "mathematical fetishism" as creating a mythology, and call that an error, naming these practices scientism. These are usually inseparable from debates about ethics in science.

Monotheism vs. polytheism

The dominance of monotheism among influential Western scholars of religion, and theologians, proposed a division into monotheistic and polytheistic faiths. The classification fails with a religion that places minute emphasis on gods but more importance on the individual's ability to understand the ineffable (like Buddhism and Vedanta strands of Hinduism, which both express this as "seeing things as they really are"). Also, it is an overly simplistic definition that often obscures the nature of a religion, such as Hinduism, that believes all is ultimately one, with gods, goddesses and even religious institutions all representing different facets of the single truth, or with Buddhism, which declines to comment on the nature of ultimate reality (or non-reality). This monism and quasi-atheist (unclassifiable) stance defy the clear-cut conventions of a singular creator-god, such as in Christianity, Islam or Judaism.Christianity claims to be monotheistic, although some writers find this idea problematic since Christian doctrine has developed a notion of God as one essence in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), explained in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The monotheism of Islam and Judaism is much more clear cut, although very early sources for Yahweh show signs of henotheistic or polytheistic origins or forerunners, which do not at all deny their sole Deity status once the religion became established. The Bahá'í faith is also monotheistic, teaching that several major world religions all originate with God; its acceptance of religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism is explained by the Bahá'í belief that these religions were originally monotheistic but later became corrupted by their followers. Neopaganism (including Wicca and Asatru), a group of religions generally considered to be polytheistic, is also difficult to classify neatly. While adherents worship a diverse pantheon of gods and goddesses, a great many of them believe those personalities to be facets of a single Deity, as in Bhakti (devotional) sects of Hinduism.

See also

External link