The definition of religion is traditionally strongly tied to the concept of a deity. When we speak of religion many people will think of Christianity, Islam of Buddhism. But this is a very narrow minded view of religion, more closely bound to socio-political history and existing and known religions than to the very idea of religion. The religious idea however should be seen in term of physics and psychology. Afterall, religion deals with the perception of life, man and the world, the interpretation of this perception and the attachment of values to these perceptions.
In a more inclusive definition of the term, religion deals with every supernatural object, event and interpretation. In concreto, we should categorize the celebration of birthdays and New Year, and also language and concepts of our imagination in so far it does not represent directly or indirectly physical objects and physically knowable forces and their interactions, such as ‘soul’, ‘god’, ‘word’, ‘hope’, ‘value’ or ‘meaning’. As far as I know, there does not exist a table of the hierarchy of abstraction, which depicts the level of indirect representation, but obviously most words directly or indirectly in some degree represent a concrete object or interaction. Spoken in the metaphore of mathematics, the unknown variables of our knowledgeable world might be defined as necessarily concrete, but until known they too would be part of the religious world.
Which brings me to String Theory. No matter how promising String Theory might be and it certainly holds much to be hopeful about, until we find a complete and physically verifiable explanation for it, we have to conclude that much of it, should be considered a religion. Paradoxically, even true atheism recognizes that there is a possible imaginable element of unthinkability lying outside of the Kantian realm of human perception to which it restricts itself, that cannot be physically explained and probably therefore does not exist, but the possibility itself cannot be excluded and therefore the absolute denial of religion or god is a religious phenomenon.
Another misinterpretation about religion and atheism that diffuses the perception of the border between atheism and religion is that all morality derives from religion. In general religion is not an issue for me, so the idea that people find moral guidance in religion is a comforting feeling for me as much as it is for religious people. What upsets me however is the notion that atheists are not religious and therefore have fallen out of the realm of ethics or if they still bear a moral consciousness that they still carry the fruit of religion as an inheritance of history within them. Implicitly, such moral ontology denies the possibility that atheism is capable of defining moral values without religion and thus denies me capable of moral judgment without the use of religion. Such geocentric thinking is not strange to religion of course, and like geocentric thought before it is persistently false for several reasons. It denies in the first place that religion itself came into existence only after the existence of nature or even the evolution or man itself. Religion is an invention of man and it is not religion – or god – who created man, this can not be denied even by the most zealous believers if they at least do not fully ignore the status of modern science, which I know many do. Secondly, even when disregarding the first argument, ethic rules and moral behavior exists outside the realm of man. It does not take much effort to find a zoologic parallel for practically every moral rule that exists among mankind.