According to Wikipedia, a religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.
Objectivism is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Objectivism has narratives (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged), symbols (the dollar sign, the New York skyline), traditions (psycho-epistemology, Concepts in a Hat) and sacred histories (the blemish-free life of Ayn Rand) that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. Objectivists try to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle (smoking cigarettes, listening to Rachmaninoff) from Rand’s ideas about the cosmos (“the Metaphysical”) and human nature (“the Man-Made”).
Is Objectivism a religion? According to (some) Wikipedia authors, the answer is yes.
Surely, that can’t be right. Recently, thousands of copies of the DVD of Atlas Shrugged were recalled because the cover inadvertently described the story as one of “courage and self-sacrifice”. Shouldn’t Wikipedia’s definition of religion likewise be recalled? After all, Objectivists are implacably opposed to religion, or “mysticism,” as they like to call it.
Wikipedia’s definition of religion is too broad. Loosely speaking, yes, Objectivism is a religion. But loose talk can cost lives. Wikipedia’s definition omits mention of belief in a supernatural entity or entities, worthy of worship. Belief in a god or gods is not incidental to religion. It is essential to it. But Objectivism is atheistic. So, properly speaking, no, Objectivism is not a religion. Objectivism is a philosophical system, a worldview, a way of life, an institution … but not a religion.
Properly speaking, Objectivism is not a religion … the term ‘religion’ can properly be applied only to belief systems which include a belief in a god or gods.