World's Major Religions

A Table of the World's Major Religions

An excerpt from the online hypertext Human Knowledge: Foundations and Limits.

This table summarizes the major human belief systems. The 'Deity' column identifies each system's type of supernaturalism , except that for monotheisms it instead names the deity. The 'Fate' column tells what each system believes happens to a person after death.

  • death: personality ceases at death.
  • judged: the quality of an eternal afterlife is determined by a judgment of one's mortal behavior.
  • rebirth: personality is after death recycled into a new organism, usually according to one's mortal behavior and with a loss of memory, and sometimes with the possibility that with good enough behavior or insight the cycle can be broken into communion.
  • commun: personality ascends after death to a higher plane of (perhaps non-personal) communion with the universe.
  • immort: personality graduates after death to (usually disembodied but conscious) immortality.
Belief System Millions % Where When Founder Scripture Deity Fate
Christianity 1960 34% West c30 Jesus New Testament God judged
Roman Catholicism 981 17%   c30 Paul, Peter      
Protestantism 404 7%            
Baptist 100 2%   c1611 Thomas Helwys      
Lutheran 76     1517 Martin Luther (95 Theses)    
Anglican 70   England 1534 Henry VIII      
Episcopalian 3   USA 1789        
Methodist 50     1738 John Wesley      
Reformed       1536 John Calvin (Institutes...)    
Pentecostal 9   USA c1880 Charles Parham      
Church of Christ 1.6   USA c1832 Campbell, Stone      
Society of Friends     USA 1650 George Fox      
Eastern Orthodox 123 4%   1054 Michael Cerularius      
Mormonism 11   Utah 1831 Joseph Smith Book of Mormon    
Jehovah's Witness 1.4 US   USA 1878 Charles Russell      
Christian Science 0.4   USA 1879 Mary Eddy (Science & Health)    
Islam 1130 19% Mideast 600 Muhammad Koran Allah judged
Sunni   16%            
Shiite   3%            
(Agnosticisms) 887 15%         non death
Hinduism 793 14% India 1000 BCE (Aryans) Vedas, esp. Upanishads poly rebirth
Hare Krishna                
Buddhism 325 5.6% E. Asia 525 BCE Buddha Tipitaka pan rebirth
Zen Buddhism                
(Atheism) 222 3.8%         anti death
Chinese folk religions 221 3.8% China          
Confucianism     China 500 BCE Confucius Analects; I Ching non death
Taoism     China 550 BCE Lao Tzu Tao-Te-Ching poly immort
Asian New Religions 106 1.8%            
Animisms 103 1.8%            
Sikhism 19 0.3% Punjab 1604 Guru Nanak Adi Granth Sat-Kartar rebirth
Judaism 14 0.2% Israel 1800 BCE Abraham Old Testament Yahweh death
Spiritism 10              
Bahaism 6   Persia 1863 Baha Ullah Kitabi Ikan Allah?  
Jainism 5   India 550 BCE Mahavira Purvas et al. pan rebirth
Shintoism 3   Japan <500 (Japanese)   poly commun
Cao Dai 3   Vietnam 1919 Ngo Van Chieu   God? rebirth
Tenrikyo 2.4   Japan          
Scientology 1   USA 1954 L. Ron Hubbard Dianetics (aliens) immort
Unitarianism 0.8              
Rastafarianism 0.7              
Zoroastrianism 0.2   Persia 1000 BCE Zarathustra Avesta Ahura Mazda judged
Parsee 0.19              
Mandaeanism 0.045   Iraq c300   Haran Gawaita mono? immort
Other 1.9              
Eckankar     USA 1965 Paul Twitchell   God immort
Heaven's Gate     USA 1971 Marshall Applewhite   (aliens) immort
Mithraism     Persia          
Raelianism     France 1973 Rael True Face of God (aliens)  
Rosicrucianism     West 1614 Johan Andrea Confessio rosae crucis    
Santeria     Cuba          

Judaism is the Semitic monotheistic fideist religion based on the Old Testament's (1000-600 BCE) rules for the worship of Yahweh by his chosen people, the children of Abraham's son Isaac (c1800 BCE).

Zoroastrianism is the Persian monotheistic fideist religion founded by Zarathustra (c628-c551 BCE) and which teaches that good must be chosen over evil in order to achieve salvation.

Christianity is the West Eurasian monotheistic fideist religion professing that Jesus of Nazareth (c6 BCE - c30 AD) is the descendent of Abraham and the Son of God whose sacrifice for humanity's sins was recorded in the New Testament (c100), and who fulfilled the prophecies of the divinely inspired Old Testament.

Islam is the Middle Eastern monotheistic fideist religion professing surrender to the will of Allah (God), whose revelations in the Old and New Testaments were superseded by the Koran revealed to Muhammad (c570 - 632-06) for his chosen people, the children of Abraham's son Ishmael (c1800 BCE).

Sikhism is the Punjab monotheistic fideist religion founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and whose sacred Adi Granth (1604) overlays a spartan righteousness onto Hindu cyclical cosmology.

These religions place unwarranted faith in purported revelations for which there is no credible evidence of authenticity or validity.


Hinduism is the South Asian polytheistic mystical religion based on the Veda scriptures (c1000 BCE) and professing a cyclical cosmology, an ultimate reality called brahman, gods Vishnu and Shiva, and reincarnation of atman (soul) under the influence of karma.

Taoism is the Chinese polytheistic mystical religion based on the Tao-Te-Ching ascribed to Lao Tzu (c550 BCE) and which advocates a path (tao) of minimalist serenity and reverence for various deities.

Shintoism is the Japanese polytheistic mystical religion involving mainly the observance of customs and festivals honoring various deities.

Jainism is the Indian pantheist mystical religion founded by Mahavira (599-527 BCE) and which blends monastic asceticism with Buddhist cyclical cosmology.

Buddhism is the East Asian pantheist mystical religion founded in India c525 BCE by the Buddha, who taught that existence is cyclical suffering caused by desiring and can be overcome by the "eightfold path" of right thought and deed.

Confucianism is the Chinese nontheistic mystical religion based on the sayings of Confucius (c500 BCE) recorded in the Analects, and which teaches social order, scholarship, filial reverence for family and ancestors, and divination.

These religions posit entities (such as gods or spirits or forces) to explain subjective mystical experiences which have simpler naturalistic explanations. These religions allege phenomena (such as rebirth and divination) for which there is no credible evidence.

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