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I have removed the prominent mention to mythology here. Now, I could simply be misinformed about how "mythology" is used in religious studies, but my understanding is that it is usually used pejoratively when applied to modern, living religions. If I am right (as a Google search seems to indicate), it is inappropriate to refer to the stories associated with any given religion as its "mythology"--unless you're trying to malign the religion, or religion as such. Hence, having an article labelled Christian mythology seems (though, again, perhaps I'm just confused or misinformed) inherently prejudicial. If you want to argue that Christianity is false, do so on Usenet; if you want to present prominent, common, well-documented arguments against Christianity (as opposed to your own idiosyncratic arguments--in all likelihood, you, dear reader, are not a religious scholar of note), there is certainly a place for that here. We want as much detail as we can get about such prominent, common, or well-documented arguments. We also want an absolutely huge Christian apologetics section. --LMS


I have traded 'Christian sects' for 'branches of Christianity'. The reason for this is that the word 'sect' also has a different, negative connotation. And that is not what is meant by this list, is it? Well, who doesn't agree can change it ofcourse. Another point: when adding some 'branches' I wondered for instance whether to type 'Methodists', Methodism, 'Methodist Church' or 'Methodist'. The list has all variations. Shouldn't we have some more unity here, or will the terrific new search function have to solve it?


In order to avoid apparent bias would it be appropriate to alphabetize some of the lists on this page, eg.

Religions: Buddhism -- Caodaism -- Christianity -- Demonolatry -- Druzism -- Hinduism -- Islam -- Jainism -- Judaism -- Mandaeanism -- Manichaeism -- Paganism -- Process Church of the Final Judgement -- Santeria -- Satanism -- Scientology -- Shamanism -- Shinto -- Sikhism -- Taoism -- Voudun -- Yezidis -- Zoarastrianism

--Matt Stoker

I think that in order to institute some rational discrimination we should divide them first into "groups with more than 1 million adherents" and THEN alphabetize. I just followed the link for Puritan, which is a recent addition, thinking that someone had misplaced a Protestantism link. NOOOooooo. "Wikipedia is (evidently) an advertising spot for small religions." --MichaelTinkler


Michael: If we want to organize them by size here is a rough list taken from adherents.com of religions over 1 million adherents today: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Nonreligious, Buddhism, Chinese traditional religion (Confucianism, Taoism), Sikhism, Judaism, Baha'i, Jainism, Shinto, Cao Dai, Tenrikyo, Neo-Paganism

I deleted from the adherents.com list Juche (North Korean Communism) since I would question if it counts as a religion. I also took out "Indigenous/Primal Religions", "Yoruba Religion" and "Spiritism", because although they have over 200 million adherents, it is rather difficult to separate the three of them.

Also, we might want to mention some religions which are quite small (Zoroastrianism, Mandaeanism, Manichaeism, Samaritanism) which while small or extinct today, are of significant historical importance. -- Simon J Kissane


Looks like somebody's cruising to get "Yaohushuahim" filed under the "mock religions".  :-) Need to write myself a zapper... sjc


Added Spirituality here...my preference would be to change the home page Religion to Religion and Spirituality, or separate it completely, as well as move mythology.


Eob: The following passage which you added states highly controversial claims as fact, without any evidence or references:

From a scientific viewpoint the widespread existence of religious belief in societies around the world indicates that such belief is inherent in the human brain. In fact, recent studies in how epileptic siezures can cause transendent religious feelings has started to point towards a particular neurological basis for religion. It is not clear what is the evolutionary advantage of such belief. Perhaps it helped produce more stable hunter-gatherer societies.

Firstly, while there is some research that indicates that religious experiences have some link to particular structures in the human brain, I don't think this research at present provides an adequate total explanation for religion. And you totally ignore sociological theories, such as Rodney Stark's and the various other economic theories of religion, which are arguably equally scientific, yet they don't need to explain it in terms of specific features of the human brain. And "perhaps it helped produce more stable hunter-gatherer societies" is both pure speculation, and shows anti-religious bias (since perhaps it helps produce more stable modern societies also...) -- SJK

I agree that a section on a scientific view of religion needs some fleshing out to include other areas of science like sociology, and it needs some references to bolster statements that may be considered controversial. I will try to dig up some references on the neurological stuff. (I was thinking for example of Ramachandran work at UC San Diego. See also http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro01/web2/Eguae.html) I do not know much about sociology, or anything about Stark's economic theories of religion, so perhaps SJK that is something you could write up. By the way, I think it is valid to look at hunter-gatherer societies for evolutionary advantages to genetically determined behavior, because that was the last time evolution had any significant effect on us. Any advantages or disadvantages for living in modern societies is purely a side-effect. --Eob

Is Scientology more of a religion (in and by itself), or more of a cult, such as perhaps the Branch Davidians (though maybe not as evil/suicidal)? And, would cults be considered religions anyway?


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