Meaning of "Oldest Religion"

the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.


re·li·gion  (rĭ-lĭj′ən)
a. The belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers, regarded as creating and governing the universe: respect for religion.
b. A particular variety of such belief, especially when organized into a system of doctrine and practice: the world's many religions.
c. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order: a widow who went into religion and became a nun.
3. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion: a person for whom art became a religion.
get religion Informal
1. To become religious or devout.
2. To resolve to end one's immoral behavior.

[Middle English religioun, from Old French religion, from Latin religiō, religiōn-, perhaps from religāre, to tie fast; see rely.]


religion (rɪˈlɪdʒən)
1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny
2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion.
3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers
4. (Roman Catholic Church) chiefly RC Church the way of life determined by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience entered upon by monks, friars, and nuns: to enter religion.
5. something of overwhelming importance to a person: football is his religion.
6. archaic
a. the practice of sacred ritual observances
b. sacred rites and ceremonies
[C12: via Old French from Latin religiō fear of the supernatural, piety, probably from religāre to tie up, from re- + ligāre to bind]


(rɪˈlɪdʒ ən)
re•li•gion (rɪˈlɪdʒ ən) n.
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usu. involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code for the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something a person believes in and follows devotedly.
7. Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion.
get religion,
a. to become religious; acquire religious convictions.
b. to resolve to mend one's errant ways.
[1150–1200; religioun < Latin religiō conscientiousness, piety <religāre to tie, fasten (re- re- + ligāre to bind, tie; compare ligament)]
re•li′gion•less, adj.


  • nullifidian - Someone having no faith or religion; a disbeliever.
  • apostasy - Abandonment or renunciation of one's religion or morals.
  • renegade - First referred to a person who abandons one religion for another.
  • secular - Has a root meaning of "temporal"—opposed to the eternity of the church—and means "not connected to a religion."


1. the property or jurisdiction of an abbot. 2. the time during which a person serves as an abbot.
the practice of going naked for God; the beliefs of some ascetic sects in ritual nakedness. See also nakednessAdamite. n.Adamitic, adj.
1. Obsolete, a spiritual or mental elevation. 2. a mystical interpretation of a text (usually the Bible.) — anagogic, adj.anagogically, adv.
the study of hidden meanings, usually in Bible passages.
1. Theology. the doctrine or theory concerning angels. 2. the beliefs concerning angels.
the appearance to men, in visible form, of angels.
the principles of those who oppose the with-drawal of the recognition or support of the state from an established church, usually used in referring to the Anglican church in the 19th century in England.
Theology. 1. any doctrine concerning the end of the temporal world, especially one based on the Revelations of St. John the Divine. 2. the millennial doctrine of the Second Advent and the reign of Jesus Christ on earth. — apocalyptic, apocalyptical, adj.
a formal apology, especially on behalf of some belief or doctrine.
relinquishing of a religious belief. — apostate, n., adj.
being of or contemporary with the Apostles in character.
the worship of children.
the doctrines and practices of a sect growing out of Babism and reflecting some attitudes of the Islamic Shi’a sect, but with an emphasis on tolerance and the essential worth of all religions. — Baha’i, n., adj.Baha’ist, n., adj.
obtuse or narrow-minded intolerance, especially of other races or religions. — bigot, n. — bigoted, adj.
a pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, involving worship of nature spirits and the practice of sacrifice, magie, and divination. It was influential on the Tibetan form of Buddhism.
the doctrines of an Indochinese religion, especially an amalgamation of features from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and spiritualism. — Caodaist, n.
belief in a church or religious system.
the state of eternal coexistence; eternal coexistence with another eternal entity. — coeternal, adj.
the practice of converting people to a religion. — convertist, n.
the worship of the world.
a term used in 16th-century Germany for secret sympathies toward Calvinists, held by professed Lutherans. — crypto-Calvinist, n.
the quality or state of a person markedly characterized by religious devotion. — devotionalist, n.
the doctrines and practices of an order of Celtic priests in ancient Britain, Gaul, and Ireland. — Druid, n., adj.Druidic, Druidical, adj.
Theology. 1. the doctrine of two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil. 2. the belief that man embodies two parts, as body or soul. — dualist, n. — dualistic, adj.
the use of a thesis to state a belief, as the Ecthesis of Heracïius, for-bidding discussion of the duality of Christ’s will.
a mania for religion.
the appearance to man, in visible form, of a god or other supernatural being.
official recognition of a church as a national institution, especially the Church of England. Cf. antidisestablishmentarianism.
Obsolete, a complete, usually public, confession.
religious doctrines or practices that are easily understood by the general public. — exoteric, n., adj.
the beliefs of the familists, members of an antinomian sect of 16th-and 17th-century Europe. — familist, n. — familistic, adj.
the character, spirit, or conduct of a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics. — fanatic, n.
whipping or flogging as a religious practice for the mortification of the flesh. — flagellant, n., adj,flagellator, n.
the state or quality of being non-Jewish, and especially a heathen or pagan. — gentile, n., adj.
1. a belief or practice of heathens. 2. pagan worship; idolatry. 3. irreligion. 4. barbaric morals or behavior. — heathen, n., adj.heathenistic, adj.
the worship of heroes.
the principles, attitudes, and practices of priests as a group, both Christian and non-Christian. — hieratic, adj.
a mania for priests.
1. the performance of holy works. 2. the holy work itself.
the principles that distinguish the Anglican church from the Calvinist and Protestant Nonconformist churches, especially deference to the authority and claims of the Episcopate and the priesthood and belief in the saving grace of the sacraments. — High Churchist, High Churchite, n.
the art of sacred speaking; preaching. — homiletic, homiletical adj.
Taoism, def. 2.
the religion of a fourth-century Asiatic sect whose beliefs were composed of Christian, Jewish, and pagan elements.
the belief in or worship of idols. — idolatry, idolist, n.idolatrous, adj.
a view that admits no real difference between true and false in religion or philosophy; a form of agnosticism. — indifferentist, n. See also attitudes.
adherence to a theory or doctrine of divine influence, inspiration, or revelation, especially concerning the Scriptures.
the beliefs of the Izedis, a Mesopotamian sect said to worship the devil. — Izedi, Yezdi, Yezidi, n.
a dualistic, ascetic religion founded in the 6th century B.C. by a Hindu reformer as a revolt against the caste system and the vague world spirit of Hinduism. — Jain,n.,adj.Jainist, n.
a Christian sect founded by Cornelius Jansen, 17th-century Dutch religious reformer. See also heresy.
the relation between Jehovah and his people and church.
the policies and measures concerning religion introduced by Emperor Joseph II of Austria (1741-90). Also Josephism.
the study of homiletics. — kerystic, adj.
tolerance or broadmindedness, especially in matters of religion; the liberal interpretation of beliefs or doctrines. — latitudinarian, n., adj.
Theology. 1. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. 2. the judging of conduct in terms of strict adherence to precise laws. — legalist, n.legalistic, adj.
the study of public church ritual. — liturgist, n.
the system of church rituals and their symbolism. — liturgiolo-gist, n.
the principle that the Church of England is really little different from the Protestant Nonconformist churches in England and thus that the authority of the Episcopate and the priesthood, as well as the sacraments, are of comparatively minor importance. — Low Churchman, n.
the killing of something for the purpose of sacrifice.
1. the doctrine of a generalized, supernatural force or power, which may be concentrated in objects or persons. 2. belief in mana. — manaistic, adj.
1. the condition of being a martyr. 2. the death or type of suffering of a particular martyr. 3. any arduous suffering or torment.
Obsolete, a list, register or book of martyrs.
the worship of Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism as the source of all light and good. — Mazdaist, n.
the preachings of the American William Miller (1782-1849), founder of the Adventist church, who believed that the end of the world and the return of Christ would occur in 1843. — Millerite, n.
a West Indian Negro cult, probably of West African origin, that believes in the Obeah.
1. the doctrine that an immediate spiritual intuition of truth or an intimate spiritual union of the soul with God can be achieved through contemplation and spiritual exercises. 2. the beliefs, ideas, or practices of mystics.
the revival of paganism. — neopagan, adj.neopaganist, n., adj.
a person who has no religion; a religious skeptic.
1. the state or position of being without religious faith or belief. 2. advocacy of such a state or position. — nullifidian, n., adj.
a belief that certain secret, mysterious, or supernatural agencies exist and that human beings may communicate with them or have their assistance. — occultist, n., adj.
Philosophy. the doctrine that the human intellect has as its proper object the knowledge of God, that this knowledge is immediate and intu-itive, and that all other knowledge must be built on this base. — ontologist, n.ontologistic, adj.
the doctrines and beliefs of certain Gnostic sects that worshiped serpents as the symbol of the hidden divine wisdom and as having benefited Adam and Eve by encouraging them to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Also Ophitism. — Ophite, n.Ophitic, adj.
the religion of the Orphic mysteries, a cult of Dionysus (Bacchus) ascribed to Orpheus as its founder, especially its rites of initiation and doctrines of original sin, salvation, and purification through reincarnations. Also Orphicism. — Orphic, n., adj.
the condition, quality, or practice of conforming, especially in religious belief. — orthodox, adj.
1. a hedonistic spirit or attitude in moral or religious matters. 2. the beliefs and practices of pagans, especially polytheists. 3. the state of being a pagan. — paganist, n., adj. — paganistic, adj.
1. the belief that identifies God with the universe. 2. the belief that God is the only reality, transcending all, and that the universe and everything in it are mere manifestations of Him. — pantheist, n., adj.pantheistic, adj.
the worship of the Church Fathers.
ostentatious piety; sanctimoniousness.
the doctrine or theory of spiritual beings. — pneumatologist, n.pneumatologic, pneumatological, adj.
the study of the history of ecclesiastical disputes.
a derogatory term for the practices and beliefs of priests or the priesthood.
1. the behavior of a prophet or prophets. 2. the philosophical system of the Hebrew prophets.
the religious beliefs of a West Indian sect who worship the late Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie (given name: Ras Tafari), and who believe that black people are the chosen of God, and that their promised land is Africa. Their use of marijuana in rituals was widely publicized.
recusancy. — recusant, adj.
resistance to authority or refusal to conform, especially in religious matters, used of English Catholics who refuse to attend the services of the Church of England. Also called recusance. — recusant, n., adj.
the act or quality of being renewed, reformed, or reborn, especially in a spiritual rebirth. — regenerate, adj.
the strict adherence and devotion to religion. — religionist, n. — religionary, adj.
the worship of relics.
advocacy of the reunion of the Anglican and Catholic churches. — reunionist, n. — reunionistic, adj.
a person who believes in divine revelation or revealed religion.
the principles, institutions, or practices of the Rosicrucian Order, especially claims to various forms of occult knowledge and power, and esoteric religious practices. — Rosicrucian, n., adj.
the religious system of the Sabians, a group, according to the Koran, entitled to Muslim religious toleration. They have been associated with the Mandeans, who claim direct descent from the followers of John the Baptist. See also astronomy.
the religious doctrines of the Samaritans.
the appearance of Satan on earth.
a division especially peculiar to a Christian church or a religious body. — schismatic, n. — schismatical, adj.
the doctrines and beliefs of a religious movement founded in the mid-20th century by L. Ron Hubbard, especially an emphasis upon man’s immortal spirit, reincarnation, and an extrascientific method of psychotherapy (dianetics). — Scientologist, n., adj.
1. a view that religion and religious considerations should be ignored or excluded from social and political matters. 2. an ethical system asserting that moral judgments should be made without reference to religious doctrine, as reward or punishment in an afterlife. — secularist, n., adj.secularistic, adj.
the simulation of religious, “seraphic” ecstasy.
1. a person who delivers sermons. 2. a person who adopts a preaching attitude.
1. the act of delivering a sermon. 2. sermons taken collectively.
1. the tenets of the primitive religion of northern Asia, especially a belief in powerful spirits who can be influenced only by shamans in their double capacity of priest and doctor. 2. any similar religion, as among American Indians. — shamanist, n. — shamanistic, adj.
the doctrines and practices of Shinto, the native religion of Japan, especially its system of nature and ancestor worship. — Shinto, n., adj.Shintoistic, adj.
the practices of simony, especially the making of a profit out of sacred things. — simonist, n.simoniac, n., adj.simoniacal, adj.
1. a philosophical system evolved by Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, especially its advocacy of a simple and natural life and of noninterference with the course of natural events in order to have a happy existence in harmony with the Tao. 2. a popular Chinese religion, purporting to be based on the principles of Lao-tzu, but actually an eclectic polytheism characterized by superstition, alchemy, divination, and magic. Also called Hsüan Chiao.
a system of government in which a deity is considered the civil ruler. Also called thearchy.
the study of God and His relationship to the universe. — theologist, n. — theological, adj.
a religious ecstasy in which the devotee believes that he is the deity.
the state or condition of being formed in the image or likeness of God. — theomorphic, adj.
a manifestation or appearance of God or a god to man. — theophanic, theophanous, adj.
the doctrines or tenets of a deistic society in post-Revolutionary Paris that hoped to replace the outlawed Christian religion with a new religion based on belief in God, the immortality of the soul, and personal virtue. — theophilanthropist, n. — theophilanthropic, adj.
the belief that knowledge not accessible to empirical study can be gained through direct contact with the divine principle. — Theosophist, n.Theosophic, Theosophical, adj.
treatment of illness or disease by prayer and other religious exercises. — theotherapist, n.
the beliefs and practices of the Therapeutae, a Jewish mystical sect in Egypt during the 1st century A.D.
Obsolete, the religion of the Turks, i.e., Islam.
the principles of the Vaudois or Waldenses, who did not acknowledge the primacy of the Pope. — Waldensian, adj.
the religious system of the Wahhabi, a Muslim order founded by Muhammad Ibn-Abdul Wahhab.
Bible. the worship of idols instead of God; idolatry.
the Kongo and Kimbundu system of religion, characterized by worship of a snake deity during voodoo rites.
the doctrines and practices of a dualistic Iranian religion, especially the existence of a supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, and belief in a cosmic struggle between a spirit of good and light and a spirit of evil and darkness. Also called Zoroastrism, Zarathustrism, Mazdaism. — Zoroastrian, n., adj.




  1. As men’s prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. As religious as any man who prays daily and hangs a rabbit’s foot on his windshield —Harry Prince
  3. Beautiful women without religion are like flowers without perfume —Heinrich Heine
  4. Catholicism’s a little too much like the gold standard: a fixed weight of piety translatable into a fixed exchange rate of grace —Michael M. Thomas
  5. The Christian is like the ripening corn; the riper he grows, the more lowly he bends his head —Thomas Guthrie
  6. Christianity is like electricity. It cannot enter a person unless it can pass through —Bishop Richard C. Raines
  7. The church is a sort of hospital for men’s souls, and as full of quackery as the hospitals for those bodies —Henry David Thoreau
  8. A consistently godless world is like a picture without perspective —Franz Werfel
  9. Faith … a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible —E. M. Forster
  10. Faith is like love: it cannot be forced —Arthur Schopenhauer
  11. Faith without works is like a bird without wings —Francis Beaumont
  12. Folded into his religion like a razor into its case —Anon
  13. God’s like a kid with too many toys to take care of —Sharon Sheehe Stark
  14. People are born churchy or unchurchy, just as they are born with a tendency to arteriosclerosis, cancer or consumption —Anatole France
  15. In religion, as in friendship, they who profess most are the least sincere —Richard Brinsley Sheridan
  16. In religion as in politics it so happens that we have less charity for those who believe half our creed than for those who deny the whole of it —Charles Caleb Colton
  17. Living without faith is like driving in a fog —Anon
  18. The majority takes the creed [Calvinism] as a horse takes his collar; it slips by his ears, over his neck, he hardly knows how, but he finds himself in harness and jogs along as his fathers and forefathers before him —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  19. A man who writes of himself without speaking of God is like one who identifies himself without giving his address —Ben Hecht
  20. Men’s anger about religion is as if two men should quarrel for a lady they neither of them care for —Lord Halifax
  21. Our faith … runs as fast as feeling to embrace —William Alfred
  22. Our faith is too often like the mercury in the weather-glass; it gets up high in fine weather; in rough weather it sinks proportionally low —Anon
  23. Piety, like aristocracy, has its nobility —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  24. Prayed like an orphan —Wendell Berry
  25. Prayer is a force as real as terrestrial gravity —Alexis Carrel
  26. Priestly mannerisms clung to him like the smell of candle-wax and incense —Peter Kemp
  27. Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis —Sigmund Freud
  28. Religion is like love; it plays the devil with clear thinking —Rose Macaulay
  29. Religion is like the breath of heaven; if it goes abroad in the open air, it scatters and dissolves —Jeremy Taylor
  30. Religion, like water, may be free, but when they pipe it to you, you’ve got to help pay for the piping. And the piper —Muriel Spark
  31. Religious as a lizard on a rock —Anon
  32. Religious sense is like an esthetic sense. You’re born with it or you aren’t —P. D. James, New York Times Magazine, October 5, 1986
  33. Sects and creeds of religion are like pocket compasses, good enough to point you in the direction, but the nearer the pole you get the worse they work —Josh Billings

    In Billings’ phonetic dialect: “Sekts and creeds of religion are like pocket compesses, good enuff tu point you inte the right direction, but the nearer the pole yu git the wuss tha wurk.”

  34. She fought off God like an unwelcome suitor —Nancy Evans about Emily Dickinson, “First Editions”/WNYC February 18, 1987
  35. Some Christians are like soiled bank notes: while we acknowledge their value we wish them changed —William Lewis
  36. Sometimes the curse of God comes like the caress of a woman’s hand, and sometimes His blessing comes like a knife in the flesh —Amos Oz
  37. The soul united to God is like a leaf united to the tree —Ignazio Silone
  38. They treated their God like a desk clerk with whom they lodged requests and complaints —Helen Hudson
  39. Without dogma a religion is like a body without skeleton. It can’t stand —James G. Huneker