How can an atheist appreciate Sufi music

50 key ideas about religion

A journey of discovery into the religions of the world and into the sphere of faith and spirituality

  • The god-shaped vacuum
  • Sacred texts
  • Good and evil
  • life and death
  • The golden rule
  • Rites and rituals
  • The life of jesus
  • God and Mammon
  • reformation
  • The papacy
  • Guilt and misogyny
  • The Holy Spirit
  • Saints and sinners
  • orthodoxy
  • Luther and his successors
  • The Anglican Church
  • The Methodists
  • The Baptists
  • Reformed churches
  • Sects and cult communities
  • rapture
  • Being Jewish
  • Jewish passage rites
  • The Kabbalah
  • anti-Semitism
  • The birth of Islam
  • The pillars of Islam
  • Sunnis and Shiites
  • The heart of Islam
  • Militant Islam
  • The many faces of Hinduism
  • Worship in Hinduism
  • Samsara
  • Jainism
  • Sikhism
  • Buddha and the Bodhi Tree
  • Schools of Buddhism
  • The Buddhist wheel of life
  • Confucianism
  • Confucius and the Communists
  • Taoism
  • Shintoism
  • Modern beliefs
  • Religion and science
  • atheism
  • Steward of creation
  • The just war
  • The urge to mission
  • spirituality
  • The future of religion


Understanding religions and their role in the world seems to be indispensable today - more than ever. The beliefs of about 2 billion Christians, 1.2 billion Muslims, 800 million Hindus and 700 million followers of other religions influence the course of world history in many aspects: war and peace, ethics, politics, procreation, family and social structures across all civilizations and Across continents.

50 key ideas about religion is dedicated to the central questions of religion and corrects misconceptions about the different belief systems.

  • What is the “Golden Rule” and how does it unite believing people?
  • What role do rites and rituals play in the cohesion of religious communities?
  • How did the division between Catholics and Protestants come about, and what does this mean for us today?
  • What does being jewish mean?
  • What separates Sunnis and Shiites?
  • What answers do different religious traditions give to the eternal riddles of life and death and how to live?
  • What future does religion have?

Award-winning author Peter Stanford deals with these and many other questions in this understandably written and instructive introduction. The book first deals with the sacred texts, the principle of the divine and the problem of good and evil, and then illuminates the various traditions in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the diverse Asian religious systems. It will appeal to anyone who wants to better understand one of the most powerful and lasting forces in human coexistence.

Further volumes in the series:

  • 50 key math ideas (Tony Crilly)
  • 50 key physics ideas (Joanne Baker)
  • 50 key genetics ideas (Mark Henderson)
  • 50 key philosophy ideas (Ben Dupré)
  • 50 key psychology ideas (Adrian Furnham)
  • 50 key management ideas (Edward Russell-Walling)
  • 50 key economics ideas (Edmund Conway)


Buddhism Christianity Faith Hinduism Islam Religion Rituals Creation Spirituality

About the authors

Peter Stanford is an author and journalist. He has presented and produced various television and radio programs on religious topics, and was editor of the magazine for several years Catholic Herald and writes regularly for The Independent on Sunday, Observer, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. His numerous books include The devil: a biography,  The true story of Popess Joan and last The Life of Christ andThe Extra Mile: A Twenty First Century Pilgrimage. Stanford lives in London with his wife and two children.

Bibliographic information