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Religious studies is an academic discipline that looks at religious phenomena worldwide from a variety of angles in order to achieve an understanding of the many roles that religion plays in human life.

Students of religion use different methods for different goals. These include historical methods to understand how religions change in time; critical literary methods to understand religious ideas; aesthetic methods to understand religious art; social-scientific methods to understand the relationship between religion and society and culture. Some ways of studying religion emphasize understanding religions on their own terms, other ways use comparative methods to discern differences and similarities between religions. Above all, the field of religious studies assumes a willingness to learn different ways of thinking and interpreting human life.