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Your Questions About Animism in African Religions

Sandy asks…

Nontheistic religions?

A fellow of mine claims that all religions have an idea of God or Gods. My understanding is that there’s quite a number of nontheistic approaches to religion: the Karvaka School (in Hinduism), many Buddhist branches, Shinto.

My guess is that, with some reserve, one could also include some forms of the cult of ancestors (Etruscan and Early Roman, Confucianism, some West and African religions) and animism in that they manifest a belief inspirits” or “ghosts” but not necessarily in a deity that created the world.

Do you know more examples of nontheistic religions?

Animal Deities answers:

That really depend on the definition of religion being used. Buddhists are nontheists, and some scholars claim that Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion.

Shintoism is derived from animism. Many consider it polytheistic, based on an almost infinite number of kami(gods), but the problem is that Europeans almost always mistakenly translate spirits as gods.

Many of the “nontheistic religions” seem much more like philosophies than religions. They are spiritual belief systems, for sure. To me what makes them religions is their role in society and how established they are.

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