For many centuries, the best minds of humanity have been trying to find a rational explanation for the occurrence of specific, illusion-mystical, and irrational forms of human thinking and understand religion as a form of social consciousness and a social phenomenon. Having arisen at the dawn of mankind and being formed for centuries on the basis of an inadequate reflection of real objective processes in nature and the society in the human thinking, religious ideas and beliefs, their dogmas, rites, rituals, and ceremonies deeply penetrate in the human consciousness. They distort it with the perception of the world distorting mirror of fantastic myths and magical transformations, magic, and miracles. Religion became a part of the cultural potential of the nation, the country, or even in many countries. There are many types of independent traditional and non-traditional religions. They can be classified by two main features: ethnicity and the level of development.
Diversity of Religions
Today, in the world, there are dozens of original and independent major religions. The main ones are Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. Each of these religions in different forms and under different names is dedicated to serving a single omnipotent and omnipresent God. Internal differences within a particular religion determine their direction or flow. Christianity has three main streams: Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism. In Islam, there are two main areas, namely Sunizm and Shiism. There are Hinayana and Mahayana in the religion of Buddhism. Besides the main ones, there are many internal flows. Thus, there are Catholics and Orthodox, Lutherans and Baptists as well as Mormons, who consider themselves as Christians.
The churches are the flows, which are more or less independent and based on a historical basis. In Christianity, the main churches are Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Calvinist. In addition to churches, they include religious denominations that have emerged recently: Adventism, Baptists, Pentecostalism, etc. The sects or divisions are the new formations within the church. They are caused by the separation from the main church. They include Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals, etc. The divisions include Old Believers, Old Polish Church, and others.
Within each church and religion, there can be different from each other schools that the church orthodoxy recognizes as valid. For example, in Islam, there are four schools of interpretation of its creed. Within the church, there may be some special orders for the specific performance targets of religion. These orders in the Catholic Church are Jesuit, Augustans, Dominicans, etc. In Islam, they are ahmadiya, sinusitis, and others.
Classification by an Ethnic Sign
In the history of religion, there are many attempts to make a classification of religious beliefs and cover all existing religions in the only scheme. It is appropriate to classify all known religions in the world along the ethnic sign and level of development.
By ethnicity, religions are divided into:
1. Tribal. They have reached the modern time since the era of a primitive society. These religions exist among the people, who still retain elements of the tribal life. They are popular mainly among the Aboriginals of Africa (animism, fetishism, magic, and ancestor worship) and of America and Australia (totemism) as well as among the peoples of the North (shamanism). Tribal religions are characterized by the worship of spirits (nature and ancestors), the lack of professional clergy, and worship in a form of the special celebration for each tribe. It is accompanied by magical rituals (dancing and games) in the honor of spirits.
Magic, fetishism, and animism belong to early forms of religion. They arose during the formation of tribal. The magic is a belief in the existence of supernatural influence over nature. For example, some of the North American Indians in the 19th century performed a ritual dance before hunting on the buffalo. Magic doubled effects on the nature in the imagination of people. It was believed that a man could affect nature not only by work (a natural movement), but also by special symbolic actions - rites (a supernatural way).
Magic is divided into the following types: industrial, medical, precautions, military, meteorological (weather magic), and others. The most common type was the magic production, which, in turn, had a number of branches: hunting, fishing, mining, and so on. With the development of a society, there are new kinds of production magic: agricultural, pastoral, pottery, blacksmithing, educational, and sports.
A special kind of magic precaution was a religious taboo. The word taboo is borrowed from aPolynesian languages and means prohibition to do anything that can incur a trouble (O’Doherty 131). Magic has survived as an element of modern religion (a belief in the supernatural power of rituals) and as an independent form (in the form of a household gossip, like divination by the Tarot, etc.).
Fetishism is a belief in the existence of material objects with supernatural properties. Compared with magic, it is a more complex form of religion. In fetishism, an idea of God appears in an embryonic form. In modern religions, it is saved as the worship of sacred objects (crosses, icons, and relics), and as an independent balance in a form of belief in charms and amulets.
Animism is a belief in the existence of material objects and processes of supernatural twins. It begins with the attribution of twins’ qualities to material objects, i.e. a human body, animals, tools, and others. In animism, doubling of the world is carried further: the world of real objects is supplemented by the world of spiritual vanity. In modern religions, an animistic element occupies a significant place. The idea of God, Satan, angels, and the immortal soul is a basis of animism (Halverson 60). Independently, it exists in the faith in ghosts and spirits.
Totemism is a belief in supernatural affinity groups of people with certain types of animals. Totems are the animals, in which the primitive people saw their supernatural relatives. Totemism has entered in all modern religions.
Shamanism is a belief in particularly powerful supernatural capabilities of an ancient professional clergy (shamans).
2. National. These religions are locked by a national sign and exist only among certain people. National religions include Judaism, Hinduism, Shinto, Sikhism, and Taoism. These religions are characterized by a withdrawal of the lower classes of the society from an official cult, polytheism, an origin of the doctrine of the afterlife. It means that there is a causal link between the human behavior in this life and its fate in the afterlife and sacrifice.
Judaism is one of the ancient religions that has survived to this day. This type of religion is applied to the one that is circulated among the Jews. The moral values of Judaism are seen in ten Biblical commandments of Moses, which were submitted on behalf of the God (Morrison and Brown 31).
The most comprehensive definition of Hinduism includes the Indian way of life, which consists of the full amount of life principles and standards, social and ethical values, beliefs and ideas, rituals and cults, myths and legends, weekdays and holidays (Michaels 3).
Taoism offers a special way to achieve immortality. The human body is a microcosm, which in principle should be likened to the macrocosm that is the Universe. The basis of the Shinto as a religion was the myths contained in the documents of Kojiki and Nihonsoki marking a peak of ancient religion. The concept of God is central in the philosophy of Sikhism. This religion provides a belief into one God, who is a spirit (Penney 6).
3. World Religions. They are widespread among different peoples and nations of the modern time. Nowadays, there are three main world religions: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.
The last one is the oldest one of the world’s religions. Buddhism brings an absolute statement, for which the main feature of sensory life in all its forms makes suffering the essence of being. Any life in any form is always suffering, i.e. evil. That is how Buddhism differs from other religions.
Christianity is the most significant world religion of the modern time, in which there are three main areas. They include such as: Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism, as well as many smaller kinds. The main object of worship of Christians is Jesus Christ. By most Christian religions, he is considered to be both the God and man. Some others suppose him only God or only a divine messenger.
Islam is the youngest one of three world religions. The main feature of it is a close connection between religious worship and the social as well as political life. Islam’s beliefs are laid down in the holy book called the Koran. The main directions in Islam are Sunni and Shiite (“Sunnis and Shias: Islam’s Ancient Schism” n. p.).
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