The creation that man takes for granted brings forth an appreciation for everything that exists. When the man becomes one with his surrounding, he becomes aware of the beauty that surrounds him and that he is but an insignificant part of the cosmos. He also perceives that he is truly alone in the universe and that there is something beyond the physical that he should achieve. Religion as a construct is manmade. It reflects the path traversed by man over the ages. Each religion represents and is represented by its adherents. Religions can be classified on various bases. Ward gives four methods of sub-dividing religions. Firstly, they can be classified from “certain preconceived assumptions or standards of authority based on philosophical or theological dogma” (546). Most religions start off at an egalitarian level. However, with the passage of time, there is an emphasis on dogma. Any dissenting voices are branded heretics and the adherents are brought under the complete control of an overarching authority (546). Secondly, external characteristics like objective features and beliefs form another basis. The concept of reincarnation among Dharmic religions is a case in point. The names of the religions, for example, the numerous new age religions which began as cults and could form into religions in the future, could also qualify for this sub-division. Thirdly, “the subjective side based on a psychology of the subject i.e. the internal characteristics” are taken into consideration (546). On this point, most religions, small or large have aspects that they claim as their own. It is in the details, however insignificant, that most differences among religions crop up. Fourthly, racial and historical relationships shape religions. Region comes into play. A suitable example is a contrast between the Abrahamic religions of West Asia and Dharmic ones originating in the Indian subcontinent. Geography and time tend to influence and group certain religions into separate categories, irrespective of the differences among the members of a category (546).
Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World’s Faiths. I.B.Tauris, 1997. Print.
“The Dalai Lama’s Lecture on The Significance of Religions”. Web 1 July 2013 http://online4.fiu.edu/SA4/Flash/Pfeiffer/REL3380/Dalhi_Prelude_Concert_CC/DalhiPrelude_Concert_CC.html
Newton, R. Heber. “Religion and Religions”. The North American Review, (Apr., 1904). 178 (569): 545-557. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25119553
Ward, Durin J. H. “The Classification of Religions”. The Monist, (Oct. 1908): 544-575. Web 1 July 2013 http://www.jstor.org/stable/27900135
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