Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that serve the purpose of relating humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. 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.
In ancient times, ancient religions were indistinguishable from what is known as 'mythology' in the present day and consisted of regular rituals based on a belief in higher supernatural entities who created and continued to maintain the world and surrounding cosmos. Theses entities were anthropomorphic and behaved in ways which mirrored the values of the culture closely (as in Egypt) or sometimes engaged in acts antithetical to those values (as one sees with the gods of Greece). Religion, then and now, concerns itself with the spiritual aspect of the human condition, gods and goddesses (or a single personal god or goddess), the creation of the world, a human being's place in the world, life after death, eternity, and how to escape from suffering in this world or in the next; and every nation has created its own god in its own image and resemblance. While it may be an interesting exercise in cultural exchange to attempt tracing the origins of religion, it does not seem a very worthwhile use of one's time, when it seems fairly clear that the religious impulse is simply a part of the human condition and different cultures in different parts of the world could have come to the same conclusions about the meaning of life independently.
Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as Abrahamism, are a group of Semitic-originated religious communities of faith that claim descent from the practices of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham. The term derives from a figure from the Bible known as Abraham. Abrahamic religion spread globally through Christianity being adopted by the Roman Empire in the 4th century and Islam by the Islamic Empire from the 7th century. Today the Abrahamic religions are one of the major divisions in comparative religion (along with Indian, Iranian, and East Asian religions). The major Abrahamic religions in chronological order of founding are Judaism in the 7th century BCE, Christianity in the 1st century CE, and Islam in the 7th century CE. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are the Abrahamic religions with the greatest numbers of adherents.
Indian religions, sometimes also termed as Dharmic faiths or religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent
In the study of comparative religion, the East Asian religions form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes Chinese religion overall, which further includes Ancestral Worship, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and so-called popular salvationist organisations (such as Yiguandao and Weixinism), as well as elements drawn from Mahayana Buddhism that form the core of Chinese Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism at large. The group also includes Japanese Shintoism and Korean Sindoism (both meaning "Ways of Gods" and identifying the indigenous shamanic religion and ancestor worship of such peoples), which have received influences from Chinese religions throughout the centuries. Chinese salvationist religions have influenced the rise of Korean and Japanese new religions—for instance, respectively, Jeungsanism, Caodaism and Tenriism; these movements draw upon indigenous traditions but are heavily influenced by Chinese philosophy and theology.
In Shamanism and Animism, shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. Animism (from Latin anima, "breath, spirit, life") is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive. Animism is the world's oldest religion, "Animism predates any form of organized religion and is said to contain the oldest spiritual and supernatural perspective in the world. It dates back to the Paleolithic Age, to a time when... humans roamed the plains hunting and gathering, and communing with the Spirit of Nature.