Religion is a difficult thing to define. Various definitions have been proposed, many of which emphasize a belief in the supernatural.
But such definitions break down on closer inspection for several reasons. They fail to deal with religions which worship non-supernatural things in their own right (for example Jainism, which holds that every living thing is sacred because it is alive, or the Mayans who worshiped the sun as a deity in and of itself rather than a deity associated with the sun); they fail to include religions such as Confucianism and Taoism which focus almost exclusively on how adherents should live and the little they do say about supernatural issues such as the existence of an afterlife is very vague; they also don't deal with UFO based religious movement which believe aliens are highly advanced (but not supernatural) beings.
According to the Routledge encyclopaedia of Philosophy:
"Atheism is the position that affirms the non-existence of God. It proposes positive disbelief rather than mere suspension of belief."
Buddhism is atheistic in the sense of denying that there is any overarching deity such as the Creator-God of the Bible.
In fact, a better way to determine whether a worldview is a religion is to look for certain characteristics that religions have in common. The framework set forth by Ninian Smart,commonly known as the Seven Dimensions of Religion, is widely accepted by anthropologists and researchers of religion as broadly covering the various aspects of religion, without focusing on things unique to specific religions.
The seven dimensions are narrative, experiential, social, ethical, doctrinal, ritual and material. Not every religion has every dimension, nor are they all equally important within an individual religion. Smart even argues that the 'secularisation' of western society is actually a shift of focus from the doctrinal and ritual to the experiential.
Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.
Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.
Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come