Defining religion is a bit like trying to define faith. But for our purposes a religion is a set of personal and social beliefs which have two main characteristics: a deep concern with the ultimate meaning of human existence: and an identification with a supernatural power beyond the limits of the human and natural worlds.
An intellectual position, often vigorously argued, that there are no higher authorities than human beings. There are no gods or ways of explaining human life other than rational, scientific inquiry.
A kind of atheism for fence-sitters. Agnostics believe nothing can be known about the existence of god. Since humans are finite beings we can know nothing definite about the infinite. What is important is the here and now.
A fairly recent concept linked to the eruption of capitalism and the scientific method in 18th century Britain. Secularists are either non-believers or dis-believers. Their concern is with human life in the present world (saeculum in Latin) and so they are often called 'secular humanists'.
Monotheism and Polytheism
From the root word 'theism', the belief in a god or supernatural being. Monotheistic religion is based on one supreme being (Christianity, Islam or Judaism) and polytheistic religion posits different gods with varying degrees of power - for example the ancient religions of Egypt or Rome.
The name given to traditional tribal religions (from the Latin root 'anima' which means breath or spirit). Animist faith contends that divine creative power manifests itself in the physical world humans inhabit Winds, rivers, mountains, rain, fire and animals all contain spiritual aspects of the Divine.