Yeah, the 1500s are definitely a good place for a definition of religion. :P
I probably haven't made this clear enough, but I'm coming from a Comparative Religions perspective, so that may explain the way I think about the definition of religion. Religious Studies generally doesn't like the dictionary definition of religion. In fact, there's not really any one particular definition that's decided upon, people usually think something is either too inclusive or exclusive. For the most part, an academic will have a list of things that generally show up in religion, though don't necessarily have to. I was simply responding with the etymological origin of the word, as db provided it for atheism. My point was that's not necessarily relevant to how the word is used in the modern day, especially in something like academia.
First of all, lol at Taoism being anything like Confucianism, and secondly, that's a very limited definition of religion. That's really more a definition of monotheism/polytheism. Which would explain why we disagree. Of course
atheism isn't monotheism or polytheism. You should probably not worry so much when people mention atheism being a religion, because I highly doubt they're getting it confused with your definition.
The first paragraph of the Wikipeida page on Religion
seems to be more in line with academia, though.
"Religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of life and the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency, or human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine."
Okay, so obviously atheism lacks the supernatural agency, anything holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine. But the word used is "especially," so just taking the first clause, I think atheism certainly fits. Cause? Whatever empirical evidence-based investigation reveals. Nature? same thing. Purpose? nothing in particular.
Of course, the exacts specifics may differ from atheist to atheist, and someone might define themselves as an atheist humanist or somesuch. I think the part of it might be that atheism is, in our language today, used as both a category like Monotheism/Polytheism, to show the category of a religion, but also as the religious affiliation itself (like on the census. It doesn't, for instance, have a category for "monotheism," though it includes monotheistic religions)
"Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life."
Okay, no application to atheism here. But we already know that atheism is sort of the ugly stepchild, and I don't think these are required, necessarily. For an organized, institutionalized religion, yes. Atheism is obviously not a religion in that sense. But we've established that that's not what I'm talking about.
"They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature."
I think this should speak for itself. Obviously an atheist is going to derive morality specifically differently than a theist.
It looks like what I'm going towards is reading atheism as something that fits easily in place of any religion when looking at it from this academic perspective, such that the only reason it's not
a religion is because atheists say it's not. But if it looks like a duck and it sounds like a duck, it's a duck. Or whatever that saying is. XD
Also, these responses. Couldn't find a place to put them in this post (I wrote them separately somehow), so I'll just tack them down here.
daftbeaker wrote:if the evidence shows that X is true and Y is false you can't claim that Y is true 'for a personal reality'
But evidence doesn't show that X is true and Y is false. The closest thing anyone has to disproving the existence of god is occam's razor. Which is all well and good for a strictly empirical approach. All I'm saying is that you're still answering the questions religions answer.
daftbeaker wrote:Is there any evidence for a soul? Didn't think so. I feel free to reject the idea.
Go right ahead, I'm not arguing with that at all. All you're doing is answering questions religion answers
Also, I'm not keen on your referring to atheism as a 'materialistic approach', it sounds like a pejorative when I read it (although that might be from seeing so many creationsists use it as a term of abuse). Try in the future writing the other way, assume that the evidence-based approach is the default and refer to all religious ideas as the 'supernatural approach'
Yeah, it's not really an ideal terminology. Of course all I mean is that it's more an empirical approach, only concerned with that which is material, nothing transcendent or anything. Is empirical non-offensive to you? Evidence-based approach is only your lens for viewing the world. Which is fine, I'm just saying other people have a different kind of lens. But in this analogy lens = religion.