The world 's principal religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups, although this is by no means a uniform practice. This theory began in the 18th century with the goal of recognizing the relative levels of civility in societies.
Worldwide percentage of Adherents by Religion, . In world cultures, there have traditionally been many different groupings of religious belief. In Indian culture , different religious philosophies were traditionally respected as academic differences in pursuit of the same truth. In Islam , the Quran mentions three different categories: Muslims , the People of the Book , and idol worshipers.
Initially, Christians had a simple dichotomy of world beliefs: Christian civility versus foreign heresy or barbarity. In the 18th century, " heresy " was clarified to mean Judaism and Islam ;  along with paganism , this created a fourfold classification which spawned such works as John Toland 's Nazarenus, or Jewish, Gentile, and Mahometan Christianity ,  which represented the three Abrahamic religions as different "nations" or sects within religion itself, the "true monotheism.
Daniel Defoe described the original definition as follows: "Religion is properly the Worship given to God, but 'tis also applied to the Worship of Idols and false Deities. Conder's work still adhered to the four-way classification, but in his eye for detail he puts together much historical work to create something resembling our modern Western image: he includes Druze , Yezidis , Mandeans , and Elamites [ clarification needed ]  under a list of possibly monotheistic groups, and under the final category, of "polytheism and pantheism," he listed Zoroastrianism , "Vedas, Puranas, Tantras, Reformed sects" of India as well as "Brahminical idolatry," Buddhism , Jainism , Sikhism , Lamaism , "religion of China and Japan," and "illiterate superstitions" as others.
The modern meaning of the phrase "world religion," putting non-Christians at the same level as Christians, began with the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago.
The Parliament spurred the creation of a dozen privately funded lectures with the intent of informing people of the diversity of religious experience: these lectures funded researchers such as William James , D.
Suzuki , and Alan Watts , who greatly influenced the public conception of world religions.
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In the latter half of the 20th century, the category of "world religion" fell into serious question, especially for drawing parallels between vastly different cultures, and thereby creating an arbitrary separation between the religious and the secular. Religious traditions fall into super-groups in comparative religion , arranged by historical origin and mutual influence. One way to define a major religion is by the number of current adherents.
The population numbers by religion are computed by a combination of census reports and population surveys in countries where religion data is not collected in census, for example the United States or France , but results can vary widely depending on the way questions are phrased, the definitions of religion used and the bias of the agencies or organizations conducting the survey. Informal or unorganized religions are especially difficult to count.
There is no consensus among researchers as to the best methodology for determining the religiosity profile of the world's population.
A number of fundamental aspects are unresolved:. Following is some available data based on the work of the World Christian Encyclopedia : . Map showing self-reported religiosity by country. Based on a — worldwide survey by Gallup. World map showing the percentages of people who regard religion as "non-important" according to a Pew survey. Map showing the prevalence of " Abrahamic religion " purple , and " Indian religion " yellow religions in each country.
Map showing the relative proportion of Christianity red and Islam green in each country as of From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Encyclopaedia of religion and ethics
Religious movement with major international spread. Islam Irreligious affiliation Hinduism Buddhism 7. Folk religions 5. Other religions 0.
Judaism 0. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
Encyclopaedia of religion and ethics
Further information: Comparative religion and Sociological classifications of religious movements. Further information: List of religious populations. Main category: Religious demographics. Further information: Religions by country. Further information: Growth of religion.
Religion portal. See also: Category:Religion by country. The Invention of World Religions.
Music: Music and Religion
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