Biologist Lewis Wolpert talks about memes:
What about Daniel Dennett’s idea that religion is a kind of “meme” — an idea that has infected human cultures and keeps on spreading?
If you could tell me what a meme is, and how useful it is, I’d be very grateful. [Laughs] Please don’t misunderstand, I’m a great admirer of Richard Dawkins [who developed the concept of memes]. But what are memes? How do you decide whether something is a meme or not? And what you really want to understand is, how is it passed on and why does it persist? This is never discussed. So for Daniel Dennett — who’s a philosopher, after all — to get involved with memes, the moment he does that, I just stop reading him.
I agree. On the other hand, he does say this:
I grant that. But do you really think religion comes down to belief in the supernatural?
When I talk about religion, I’m talking about belief in the supernatural. In Western society, we’re talking about God. I don’t believe you can be religious without having some concept of a god.
I agree completely that religion and belief in the supernatural are two different things. There are a some religions, some Western ones even, that do not require belief in god and welcome atheists as members. As Mike pointed out previously, often in diatribes against religion, atheist critics of religion act as though Fundamentalist Christianity is the only game in town, sometimes giving a nod to Fundamentalist Islam. There are a number of nontheistic traditions that tend to get ignored. The fundie christians would also like to pretend that nontheistic religion does not exist and are all too happy to ignore the issue when they get in shouting matches with atheists.
thank you very much