Who controls the past
controls the future.
Who controls the present
controls the past.

George Orwell

religion founder born died Scripture date
Animism n.a. n.a. n.a. none old
Zoroastrians Zoroaster 628 BC 551 BC Avesta 600 AD
Taoism Lao-tzu 604 BC 531 BC Tao Teh King 200 BC
Jainism Mahavira 599 BC 527 BC Agama 500 AD
Buddhism Buddha 566 BC 483 BC Tripitaka 242 BC
Confucianism Confucius 551 BC 478 BC Classics 140 BC
Judaism Ezra 500 BC 440 BC Tanakh 100 BC
Christianity Jesus 4 BC 30 AD Bible 363 AD
Islam Muhammmad 570 AD 610 AD Koran 651 AD
Shintoism Yasumaro 660 AD 723 AD Kojiki 712 AD
Hinduism Sankara 788 AD 820 AD Rig Veda 1000 BC
Yazidi Adi Musafir 1100 AD 1200 AD al-Jilwah 1200 AD
Sikhism Guru Nanak 1469 AD 1539 AD Granth 1604 AD
Mormonism Joseph Smith 1805 AD 1844 AD Mormon 1830 AD
Bahai Baha'u'llah 1817 AD 1892 AD Kitab-i-Aqdas 1852 AD

Emil Durkheim's classical definition of religion is " ... a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden -- beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community..." A religion is an instrumentality, a mode of procedure used for various ends. Each religion has its threefold technique:— (a) its ritual including sacrifices and prayers; (b) its myths and its dogmas and other intellectual explanations why this ritual is necessary and how it works; (c) its own institutional organisation for carrying on its ritual, teaching its intellectual formulations and for handing both down to the next generation.

A definition of relgion must be purely descriptive — a characterization of religion as it has been and is. It should in no sense be normative, or define what religion ought to be. The definition must be broad enough to cover all types of religion, and yet clear cut enough to differentiate religion from related activities liable to be confused with it, such as animism and magic in the case of primitive religions, and morality, art, and science in advanced religions.

Joseph A. Adler notes that "One indicator of the problematic nature of the category "religion" in Chinese history is the absence of any pre-modern word that is unambiguously associated with the category.... Chinese (and Japanese) religions in general do not place as much emphasis as Christianity does on exclusivity and doctrine.... Confucianism is very often described as something other than a religion in the strict (yet poorly defined) sense. There was a time in Western scholarship when Buddhism was occasionally described in similar fashion... "

Religion is the endeavor to secure the conservation of socially recognized values through specific actions that are believed to evoke some agency different from the ordinary ego of the individual, or from other merely human beings, and that imply a feeling of dependence upon this agency. No one can make a religion for himself any more than he can devise a language of his own; religion is a slow development of group life and common experiences. The values which it endeavors to conserve are therefore necessarily values which are socially recognized, although not necessarily values of social concern or importance. In ethical religions prevailing among civilized nations with more pronounced individualism, more private needs are recognized than is the case in the natural religions; but this does not invalidate the definition.

All the ethical religions emphasize much the same moral precepts for the conduct of everyday life,—they are unanimous in enjoining truthfulness, regard for property rights, chastity, honor of parents, forgiveness of enemies, and the like. To this extent the socially recognized values of the ethical religions are similar. But the ethical religions differ greatly in their interpretation of the meaning of life as a whole, of what philosophers would call the highest good.

It is found that the similarities between the stories that cluster about Buddha and Jesus extend also very largely to those that have sprung up around Krishna, Confucius, Lao-tse, Zoroaster, Osiris, Moses, Mahomet, and many other religious characters, fabled and real; and the ceremonial and ecclesiastical resemblances that appear between Buddhism and Roman Catholicism are scarcely more striking than those that appear between many other religions. There is scarcely a great and fruitful idea in the Jewish or Christian systems which has not its analogy in the Egyptian faith. The development of the one God into a Trinity; the incarnation of the mediating Deity into a virgin, and without a father ; his conflict and his momentary defeat by the powers of darkness; his partial victory (for the enemy is not destroyed) ; his resurrection and reign over an eternal kingdom all natural developments. Just as, under like circumstances, different peoples develop industrially and socially along parallel lines, so under similar circumstances they develop similar religious ideas, institutions, mythologies, and observances.

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