A Brief Primer To The 5 (Or 6?) Great Religions

A Brief Primer To The 5 (Or 6?) Great Religions

Most of the world is religious. Three-quarters of humanity practice one of the big five religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Judaism. Half belong to Christianity or Islam alone. Religion is a human universal and is found in virtually every culture throughout recorded history.

Three of the big five—Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—are Abrahamic, which means they worship the God of Abraham. The other two are non-Abrahamic: Hinduism has monotheistic sects (one God) and polytheistic sects (multiple gods), while Buddhism is primarily non-theistic (that is, it doesn’t posit a God or gods).

Each has diverse religious expressions. On one side of the spectrum, there are strict fundamentalists, such as the Haredi Jews, Salafi Muslims, or followers of Hindutva. On the other side of the spectrum, there are looser mystics, such as the Kabbalist Jews, Sufi Muslims, and spiritual Hindus. Despite their differences, all of these religious expressions share what is core to religion: a sense of the sacred and the profane.

In the secular West, one of the fastest-growing religious categories is the “nones”—those with no official religion. Are we finally at a moment in history where we can shed our religious past, or is there an emerging 6th great religion: one that is a religion in all things but name?

To outsiders, the recent zealotry of the far-left and far-right has all the hallmarks of a fundamentalist religion: the tribalistic division between the in-group and out-group, the shared rituals, the repetitious chanting, the moral certainty, the sacred values, and even modified versions of Original Sin and Redemption.

Is this the religious impulse reasserting itself? Can humans even transcend the religious impulse, or is it too deeply ingrained in us? And what does this mean for the human condition?

These are but some of the questions that the class instructor and renowned religious scholar, Dr Christopher Hartney, will explore in our upcoming course, ‘Politics as the New Religion: ’. But be quick: there are only 30 spots available. Head to Politics as the New Religion: Understanding the Far Left and Far Right and enrol today!

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