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Portal:Religion

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Introduction

Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion; the religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

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Porträt des Thomas Morus
Credit: Hans Holbein the Younger

Sir Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers and statesmen, coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation.

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Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus, the Apostle to the Gentiles was, together with Simon Peter, the most notable of Early Christian missionaries. Unlike the Twelve Apostles, Paul did not know Jesus in life; he came to faith through a vision of the resurrected Jesus; as he wrote, he "received it (the Gospel) by revelation from Jesus Christ"; according to Acts, his conversion was on the Road to Damascus.

Paul's influence on Christian thinking has, arguably, been more significant than any other single New Testament author, his influence on the main strands of Christian thought have been massive, from St. Augustine of Hippo to the controversies between Gottschalk and Hincmar of Reims, between Thomism and Molinism, Martin Luther, Calvin and the Arminians, Jansenism and the Jesuit theologians and even to the German church of the twentieth century through the writings of the scholar Karl Barth, whose commentary on the Letter to the Romans had a political as well theological impact.

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