Online Courses and Microcredentials on Religion

Religion is a complex and multifaceted subject that can have profound effects on the lives of individuals and societies. Whether you’re interested in exploring the roots of your faith or finding out more about the beliefs and practices of others, there are online courses and microcredentials that can help.

The concept of religion is today used as a taxon for sets of social practices whose paradigmatic examples include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. There is also a category of religious formations that have never been given a name and are not easily labeled by observers. It is often claimed that these do not count as religions because they lack the defining features of traditional religious practice. The most controversial examples are religious communes which often impose costly requirements such as food taboos, constraints on material possessions, or restrictions on marriage, sex, and communication with the outside world. It is widely believed that this costliness increases the likelihood of in-group loyalty and cooperation.

The study of religion can be challenging because it encompasses intangible values, ideas, and beliefs. To make sense of the different viewpoints on this topic, it may be helpful to establish some signposts. For example, a functional approach to religion, such as the one developed by Durkheim, defines it in terms of human beings’ ultimate concern. Another useful definition, offered by Paul Tillich, focuses on the axiological function of providing orientation for life.