The word religion carries a number of meanings, including: 1. [Fundamentally] a manner of living in accord with a belief in the existence of a soul and a god, and in life after death (conditional or unconditional), with the associated beliefs in divinely given moral and other commendments whose transgressions bring punishment in the hereafter. Usually, but not inevitably, religion entails public worship and other external manifestations (fasts, feasts, mutual help among believers, distinctive greetings, clothes or manners, a holy book, holy places, [etc]); 2. [Intellectually] the attempt to account for man and the universe before the development of scientific method. Insecurity was the key drive in the creation of religion and the chief metaphor of a father god in heaven was based on the model of one or several of the principle bodies of the solar system, [ie] Saturn, Jupiter and the Sun, or on singular comets which approached the Earth. Modern religious forms include those which have no pronounced influence on behaviour and require mainly intellectual assent to a number of abstract propositions such as belief in an absolute being or substance (mind or matter), the fellowship of man, the goodness of the world, the sufficiency of ethics or ethical philosophy to guide human affairs, human progress, evolution, the all-conquering nature of human reason, and similar ideas; 3. Ideology, including anti-religion.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.