Note: By “radical,” I do not mean revolutionary. I am not proposing something new. Much less, by “radical,” do I mean crazy as in unreasonable. Rather, as “radical” is drawn from the Latin radix, “root,” I mean to offer as essential a sense of the following two words in addition to the way they, generally, are understood and employed.
The word “religion” is derived from the Latin, religare, meaning “to bind.” In common parlance, many (most?) people consider religion to be the belief in a divine being or power.
However, it seems to me, religion (or, at the least, the word “religion,” again, its meaning being that which binds), broadly, even basically understood, pertains to any principles of belief (thus, not necessarily in a supernal God or gods) that ground one’s being and guide one’s living.
In a word, what one believes is that person’s religion.
From this perspective, it also seems to me, that all people, even atheists who profess no belief in God, are religious. For all people, in the act of seeking the sense of their existence, believe in something that binds things together, that, in other words, make meaning for and in their living.
Even, in the extreme, one who is a nihilist, thus, rejecting religious or moral principles, viewing reality as abstract, and considering life meaningless, believes (and functions in accordance with the beliefs) that there is no inherent morality, reality is not real, and life is devoid of intrinsic value.
The word “atheist” is derived from the Greek, atheos, meaning “without god” (a- “without” + theos- “god”). Generally speaking, an atheist is one who does not believe in God.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that if you and I believe in God, yet our beliefs differ as to the identity and character of God, then each of us is an atheist to the other. To wit, you are an atheist to me (a- “without” + theos- [my] “god”] and I am an atheist to you (a- “without” + [your] theos- “god”).
What’s the Point?
Not that I, God knows (for I do believe in God), have the first or last word on any truth, it does occur to me that the…my above definitions allow for space between and among us as human beings, which, if we looked at ourselves and at others in these ways, we might (just might) be less likely to label others as non-or-not (whatever we hold dear) and, thus, not rule them out of the universe of the care of our concern and our understanding.