What religion should we all believe?

World religions One god, several gods - or none at all

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500 religions, 5,000 or 50,000? Not even experts know exactly how many different religions there are. That depends a lot on what you mean by "religion".

From: Katharina Mutz

Status: 04/03/2021

What does "religion" actually mean?

Some scientists say: Religions - these are stories about gods, spirits, saints and other beings. In addition, religions convey certain ideas about how people should behave correctly and how they should better not behave.

Such ideas can of course change quickly - especially among small religious communities. That is why some scientists say: every day new religions emerge and every day old religions die out. When a few people get together and believe in something, a new religion can emerge. But if a handful of believers fail, for example, to pass on their convictions to their children and grandchildren, then a religion can also disappear again.

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the largest Catholic church.

Many religions have so few followers that hardly anyone knows them. But there are also major religions that are spread all over the world - the so-called world religions. This includes that Christianity, the Judaism, the Islam, the Buddhism and the Hinduism.

Religions with one god

Christianity and Islam both arose from Judaism. That is why Christians and Muslims also know many of the stories from the Torah, the holy book of the Jews. Sometimes Jews, Christians and Muslims also venerate the same prophets - these are messengers of God.

Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

However, there are also major differences between the three religions. Above all, it is different who Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the most: The Jews are waiting for a Messiah, someone who will save and redeem them. The first Christians, who were originally Jews, also waited for a Messiah. When they got to know Jesus, they believed: Jesus is the Messiah.

The blue mosque in Istanbul.

However, many Jews saw it differently - this is how Christianity developed. Islam, on the other hand, which arose six hundred years after Christianity, worships the prophet Mohammed. Despite these differences, there is one important thing in common: Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in only one God.

Religions with many gods

That is by no means a matter of course. Because there are also religions in which people believe in many gods. For example Hindus, who mainly live in India, Nepal and Bali. They worship the elephant god Ganesha, the monkey god Hanuman or the creator god Brahma.

Religions entirely without gods

Elephant god Ganesha.

But there are also religions without God - for example Buddhism. Believers worship Buddha as an enlightened one, i.e. as a very wise person - but he is not considered a god. In some currents of Buddhism there are also different gods, but they are not as important as, for example, the god in Christianity. And then of course there are people who simply don't believe in any religion or God. Scientists call such people atheists.

Why are there so many different religions?

Because there are so many different people. Because how and where we live influences who we worship and how we imagine our gods, spirits or saints. In some areas of the world people live together in very small communities - often an extended family or a village has its very own religion. It goes without saying that this is why there are so many different faiths around the world. Also, if everyone believed in the same thing, that would be one thing above all - boring.