After writing about my “Religion as Play” hypothesis at The Autarkist, which says that religion is a form of play favored by natural selection by which we develop social and cognitive skills that help us cope with difficulties, the online discussion on the facebook group instigated an entire series of considerations about religion; whether it is natural and necessary, natural and unnecessary, or neither natural nor necessary; and whether Epicureanism is, can be or should be a religious identity.
In this last piece, I am indebted in part to our friend Ilkka, from Finland. He had initially proposed the notion of Epicureanism as a religious identity in private, and later fleshed out the idea by mentioning Ninian Smart, a religious scholar according to whom there are seven dimensions to religious experience. I decided to compare his seven dimensions to the Epicurean tradition and found that it fits all of them neatly and qualifies as a religion per his criteria.
The refreshing thing about this last series of reasonings is that it moves away from the mockery and disdain that we sometimes exhibit for religion, and has a relatively positive view of religion as potentially having great therapeutic and artistic value. It also opens the door to the possibility of an Epicurean “census campaign” similar to the ones carried out by Jedis and Pastafarians, where they have sought to publicly identify and present as Jedi or Pastafarian in order to gain visibility, sometimes as activism or as parody, and also to challenge conventional conceptions of religiosity.