Word Document Resources
WORLD RELIGIONS – INTRODUCTION
What is Religion?
In ancient times, people tried to explain the world around them as work of the gods. This is how religion began, with prayers and thanks being offered to the gods of nature for the gifts of the sun, rain and crops that enabled people to survive. Today, there are many different religions, with a wide variety of beliefs and ways of worship. Most religions, however, share the common purpose of trying to explain the mysteries of life: how the world was created, why it was created, what happens to people when they die and why there is suffering in the world.
Beliefs and worship
At the centre of many religions is the worship of a god or gods. These are holy, spiritual beings who are believed to have power over people’s lives and actions. Many people speak to their gods through prayer, either at home or in a place of worship such as a church. Mosque, or temple. In some religions, priests conduct services and ceremonies, speaking to the gods on behalf of the worshippers and acting as spiritual guides. Most religions provide their followers with a code for life – that is, a set of rules to help them lead a better life on Earth and in any afterlife that might exist.
Over the centuries, the differences between the major religions have caused many conflicts. Most religions now try to live and work more peacefully together. They emphasise the beliefs they have in common, rather than the differences between them, and teach their followers tolerance and respect for people of other faiths and beliefs.
THE GREAT RELIGIONS
Three of the world’s great religions _ Judaism, Islam and Christianity – are monotheistic religions, whose followers believe in one God. At the heart of each religion is a sacred book containing God’s message for the world. These books are the Jewish Torah, the Muslim Qur’an and the Christian Bible.