How do we define religion?

How do we define religion?

It’s a tricky question. The most common definition is a belief in God or gods. Of course hipster doofuses are quick to point out that Buddhism has no gods, and could constitute an atheist religion. Typically, hipster doofuses are full of ignorant bullshit, because Buddhism is overflowing with gods (And hells), they’re just not integral to the process of human attainment of Nirvana. Just ask literally any non-white Buddhist and they’ll set you straight on that. Or even just look at the little shrines in any Thai restaurant.

Just the same, assuming they were right, can you have a religion without God/gods, but just some metaphysical hoobajoobery like reincarnation?

Taking that further, can you have a religion without any metaphysical beliefs whatsoever?

If we define religion as “A series of unverifiable metaphysical beliefs that affect the way one lives their life,” which seems a reasonable definition to me, then Atheism could be considered a religion, or at the very least a quasi-religion. The obvious argument there is, “They don’t believe anything metaphysical,” but it doesn’t take any sophistry to realize that believing something doesn’t exist without proof is really no different than believing something does exist without proof. They’re both faith-based assertions, and in these cases they really do affect the way people live their lives.

This is not a new argument, nor an especially clever one, I’m just putting it out there to show how vague the definition really is. Myself, I think I lean towards the Michael Chrichton camp on the subject: That we’re all wired to believe in something bigger than ourselves as a basic survival trait. The default is God/The Supernatural, however if you get rid of that, then something else will instantly take the place, be it Communism, Environmentalism, Social Justice Warriordom, Conspiracy Theories, Bernie Sanders, Alien Abductions, Ayn Rand, Unbridled Capitalism, or whatever. These things become defacto religions, the only thing separating them is that they don’t have a metaphysical aspect.

Or do they? Ayn Rand and Communism are quite adamant about how there’s no God or anything beyond life. Both of them have meetings and are organized, and have a core set of scripture-in-all-but-name writings. One has engaged in an actual crusade (Anticrusade?) against people with differing religious views, and the other probably would if it could get away with it.


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