159 comments on “Is atheism a religion?

  • 5
    GoldenRule rules! says:

    No it bloody well isn’t, and anyone who says it is, is either a shit stirring religious fanatic or sychophantic towards them. The subject of religion and the immense harm it is inflicting on humanity is no joke. It sounds to me like you still need to get yourself a New Atheist education, the sooner the better.



    Report abuse

  • 6
    Michael Fisher says:

    No

    Dear The Management

    This revamped site [& site policy?] seems to be a magnet for poorly constructed posts often from unknown first posters with trollish drive-by tendencies. These trolls don’t come back & respond to the comments. What’s the point? If someone sends you a half formed thought can’t you ask the poster to reconsider the wording & add depth rather than letting any old piece of rubbish through?

    Maybe this particular poster isn’t a troll, but my radar wonders why her/his first action is to post this question before interacting with the people here by commenting on other posts

    Quality please.



    Report abuse

  • 7
    Michael Fisher says:

    Dear The Management

    I’m also annoyed by the number of recent posters who ASSUME the community of readers here are American or Brits or in some way from the posters own part of the world. If you get a post proposal which assumes too much about the readers understanding of the posters circumstances can’t you send it back with instructions that the writer does need to explain that they live in The Gambia, North Carolina or whatever

    I used to think there were insufficient posts here ~ now I wonder…



    Report abuse

  • 10
    Street Logician says:

    I think you can regard it as an attitude toward religion, but as Zen Druid has already stated, it is no more a religion than bald is a hair color. I think this question is fair to ask as it bares on recent events where an atheist wanted to be included in an interfaith event after the Boston bombing. He was excluded for the reason everyone here has just provided.



    Report abuse

  • 11
    achromat666 says:

    No. To elaborate…

    Break down the components of religion:

    -A system of theistic beliefs

    -Worship of a supernatural power

    -Willingness to believe despite having no evidence (faith)

    Now break down the components of atheism:

    -Lack of theistic beliefs

    That’s it. This is where people get hung up where it applies to the question you’re posing, because they assume all of the components of theism with it’s doctrine, credos and dogma have to exist in all other ways of thinking. Now having no theistic belief certainly immediately implies the opposite of the other 2 components of theism I mention by their very nature, but there is no system of beliefs necessary for any of those to be true to be an atheist.

    Atheism is defined simply in the 4 words I used: Lack of theistic belief. Anything else is the viewpoint of the individual atheist.

    Or to better answer your question: How is the absence of religion a religion? How does the question itself make sense?



    Report abuse

  • 12
    jimbobjim says:

    from the Oxford:
    Definition of religion
    noun
    [mass noun]the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods:
    ideas about the relationship between science and religion•[count noun] a particular system of faith and worship:
    the world’s great religions
    •[count noun] a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion:
    consumerism is the new religion

    The bit I’m not sure about in terms of definition is the belief in God (as some other posters have said), I’m not sure how that applies to non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, which I guess believes in a higher power but not necessary a God.

    I would also think that Religion involves some kind of act as there are people who probably believe in “some sort of God” but don’t really do anything about it in terms of Worship or acts.

    sorry, just rambling!!



    Report abuse

  • 13
    gryphaea says:

    You’d have to seriously mess with any definition of religion to fit both people with a belief in supernatural entities and those without and those that ascribe to scriptures and those who don’t.

    Its a religion in the sense that atheists believe Gods don’t exist. But if we define religion as a world view or a belief and nothing else then beliefs in sport or that computer games are the best form of entertainment are religions.



    Report abuse

  • 14
    magi1959 says:

    Isn’t atheism like anti-matter? No need for the one without the other? I suppose in those terms it is a religion. What would an atheistic church look like?



    Report abuse

  • I see questions like these as tiny successes. It seems that more often than not, those who ask if atheism is a religion are religious themselves. By trying to define atheism in their own language of faith, they tacitly acknowledge something about their own view that is imperfect, derogatory or even just ordinary.

    Of course there are huge problems with a question like this, but it also opens up a backdoor for freethinkers to press the faithful into examining their claim (and they are essentially making the claim) that their worldview and atheism are kissing cousins. At the very least, a question like this demonstrates a subliminal aversion to the word religion is being held in the minds of the faithful who ask it, and that is a success for freethinkers everywhere in my book.

    Mike



    Report abuse

  • 16
    OmegaBaby says:

    In reply to #11 by achromat666:

    Break down the components of religion:

    -A system of theistic beliefs

    -Worship of a supernatural power

    -Willingness to believe despite having no evidence (faith)

    I don’t know if Buddhism necessarily fulfills these requirements, yet few would argue that it is a “religion”.



    Report abuse

  • 17
    sbooder says:

    I am not even sure it is an ism. I do not believe in god/gods and have not replaced any of these with another belief.

    Ism: A distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement.



    Report abuse

  • 18
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #16 by OmegaBaby:

    In reply to #11 by achromat666:

    Break down the components of religion:

    -A system of theistic beliefs

    -Worship of a supernatural power

    -Willingness to believe despite having no evidence (faith)

    I don’t know if Buddhism necessarily fulfills these requirements, yet few would argue that it is a “re…

    An exception perhaps, but precisely how many other faiths can you say that about?



    Report abuse

  • 20
    OmegaBaby says:

    I’m going to get a lot of flack for posting this here, but heck.

    Atheism itself is not a religion, but from what I’ve seen, many atheists treat it like one. For example….

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    2) The goal should be to convert as many of them as possible to their side.

    3) They believe much of the evil in the world is caused by the other “evildoers”, in this case religious people, and that they hold the higher moral ground. And they can cite specific examples of why this is the case.

    4) They are emotionally attached to their “beliefs”, and get very angry and quickly resort to name calling during arguments when those beliefs are questioned.

    5) They have their own instances of dogma that must not be questioned. The best example being that atheism is not in any way a religion. Or that religion has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Or that there is absolutely no possibility that any deity exists. And if you question that dogma, watch out for #4.

    6) There’s an us vs. them mentality. Being agnostic is considered bad since you’re seen as being “on the fence” and “not picking a side”.

    It’s simply a result of our tribalistic nature that humans tend to form these sacred belief systems that must not be questioned. You’ll never get rid of religion…you’ll just replace it with something else. Even now as humanism is becoming mainstream, you can see sects starting to form within the atheist community on who has the “true” beliefs. It’s fascinating to witness.

    tl;dr: Atheism is not a religion, but it is a belief system that for many shares many aspects with religion.



    Report abuse

  • 22
    sbooder says:

    In reply to #20 by OmegaBaby:

    I’m going to get a lot of flack for posting this here, but heck.

    Atheism itself is not a religion, but from what I’ve seen, many atheists treat it like one. For example….

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    2) The goal should be to con…

    Emotionally attached? Name calling?

    You take that back you bastard or I will cry!



    Report abuse

  • 24
    Fouad Boussetta says:

    Definitely not. I was born not believing in any sort of god, and I never started believing that kind of stuff ever in my entire life. So I was an atheist from day 0. Does that mean I was born religious? Absurd.



    Report abuse

  • Howdy,

    I’m the one who approves discussions. Generally I try to go for questions that would help others increase their understanding. I know the “atheism=religion” is a question/statement that atheists often hear from religious people. I don’t know if the original submission was a troll or not, or if the user will come back to read it or not, but I do know that other people will read it. My hope is that in your response you’ll be helping other atheists who get this question and don’t know how to deal with it.

    Sometimes, while reading a discussion, I have a good answer, but I’m always surprised at the variety of wonderful analogies and explanations people leave. Personally, it helps me to become better informed and leaves me with other ways of examining a topic, which makes me better able to talk to others. People learn in different ways, and users here have provided me with different ways of giving answers. I appreciate all of you for that, and I hope that these questions, which may be mundane for you, will ignite a spark in someone else.

    I am working on an FAQ and I am hoping to link to topics like these in the future, since they come up again and again in submissions. (And to give you an idea of what’s submitted, there’s an awful lot of “I can prove my god” posts, “I’m new here” posts, “Am I / Is anyone really an atheist?”, “Are atheists humanists/freethinkers/brights/agnostics/etc”, “What should I call myself?”, a surprising number of poems, and a handful of things that just don’t make any sense at all. It’s a lot to wade through.)



    Report abuse

  • 26
    DocWebster says:

    There are that I wish it was. We all could become clergy and get off speeding tickets by saying we’re late for an affirmation of faith event, Happy Hour at the strip club. Or we could claim all those tax goodies the government give religion leaders, it could be worth a pile of loot.



    Report abuse

  • 27
    poseyjt says:

    I’ve been told that by many an ignorant person. Of course it’s not. The good news is ignorance is easier to cure than stupid. If your question is out of ignorance do a bit of reading. Atheists often agree with each other, they sometimes don’t, there is no central dogma. Only people who have seen reason and that religion is a poorly written fairy-tale. Religion does a lot of harm and the world would be better without it. 🙂 Soon as religion sees that, they will become atheist and the world will be a giant step closer to being a better place. Sorry for the harsh beginning but it’s true and I feel unless corrected that your question was simply trolling.



    Report abuse

  • What atheism is, is a community of individual who happen to reject a claim made by the majority. Our recent organization is in response to attacks on our rights as freethinking individuals and the right of other. We have no dogma and accept nothing as un-criticizable. We only ask the criticism be done in a reasonable and logical manor. If you would like to fit this into the definition of a religion you will need to change the definition.



    Report abuse

  • 30
    Ben_Keyes_780 says:

    This question, as posed, is a poor question. One often encounters difficulty in defining both ‘atheism’ and ‘religion.’ There is a lack of consensus as to what exactly either of these terms denotes: is atheism indeed simply a negation of theism, or does it positively state certain related concepts as well?

    I’ve heard religion defined so broadly that any conception of atheism must qualify; however, such a move tends to be far too inclusive such that it includes any and every ideology in its ranks.

    To answer such a question it must first be established what exactly is meant by ‘atheism’ and ‘religion;’ only then can you establish sensible relations between the two. Personally I find such arguments by definition as these to be unproductive and dishonest. Unproductive because their execution is rife with the failure to define the terms sufficiently. And dishonest because it often amounts to no more than the ‘tu quoque’ fallacy.

    I wish that people would spend more time asking what their interlocutors’ positions are rather than labeling them beforehand.



    Report abuse

  • 31
    achromat666 says:

    Atheism itself is not a religion, but from what I’ve seen, many atheists treat it like one. For example….

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    2) The goal should be to convert as many of them as possible to their side.

    3) They believe much of the evil in the world is caused by the other “evildoers”, in this case religious people, and that they hold the higher moral ground. And they can cite specific examples of why this is the case.

    4) They are emotionally attached to their “beliefs”, and get very angry and quickly resort to name calling during arguments when those beliefs are questioned.

    5) They have their own instances of dogma that must not be questioned. The best example being that atheism is not in any way a religion. Or that religion has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Or that there is absolutely no possibility that any deity exists. And if you question that dogma, watch out for #4.

    6) There’s an us vs. them mentality. Being agnostic is considered bad since you’re seen as being “on the fence” and “not picking a side”.

    It’s simply a result of our tribalistic nature that humans tend to form these sacred belief systems that must not be questioned. You’ll never get rid of religion…you’ll just replace it with something else. Even now as humanism is becoming mainstream, you can see sects starting to form within the atheist community on who has the “true” beliefs. It’s fascinating to witness.

    tl;dr: Atheism is not a religion, but it is a belief system that for many shares many aspects with religion.

    To start, you never answered my question. It is true that Buddhism does not contain all of the components mentioned in the common definition of religion and is as much a culture as it is anything else, but the definition I pose is accurate for at least 90% of known religions past and present.

    And you aren’t talking about all atheists in any instance listed. There are many non religious people that are quite content to not even discuss the issues of religion.

    So to go point by point:

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    Some atheists believe this, not all. Toleration is high on many people’s priorities, but it is certainly not the same as wanting everyone to think their way.

    2) The goal should be to convert as many of them as possible to their side.

    No, no, no. Once again you refer to something some atheist may want but does not reflect all atheists. It might be easier if you specified specific groups of atheist rather than lumping everyone into a huge stereotype. Besides, once you convert to not believing in something what precisely have you converted to? Deconversion as a term is used at this site commonly for a reason.

    3) They believe much of the evil in the world is caused by the other “evildoers”, in this case religious people, and that they hold the higher moral ground. And they can cite specific examples of why this is the case.

    This is actually a bit of a misnomer, ‘evil’ in the world is caused by the actions of people of every race, creed and faith (or lack thereof) because it is a human condition. A human construct as an idea, and not one exclusive to any group of people. As for the higher moral ground, I know religious people that do as they do because they want to be kind to others not through fear or faith but because they actually like being nice to people and think of others. And once again, not all atheists have the same moral standard, so it obviously isn’t simply because they’re atheist.

    4) They are emotionally attached to their “beliefs”, and get very angry and quickly resort to name calling during arguments when those beliefs are questioned.

    Atheists (the ones at this site that I know of) are generally more attached to facts than theists, so the first part of the statement seems a bit off. And once again, even in that group of atheists, you’re generalizing. I don’t generally engage in name calling and many of the regular responders don’t either. It has happened, but for me is nowhere near as common as your positing.

    5) They have their own instances of dogma that must not be questioned. The best example being that atheism is not in any way a religion. Or that religion has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Or that there is absolutely no possibility that any deity exists. And if you question that dogma, watch out for #4.

    This isn’t dogma, it is definition. Atheism is merely the lack of religious belief. The absence of a belief in any higher power. As it happens, people have beliefs and ideas that are part of the culture they grew up in that are not directly related to their religious (or non religious) beliefs. And in your examples you are once again generalizing.

    6) There’s an us vs. them mentality. Being agnostic is considered bad since you’re seen as being “on the fence” and “not picking a side”.

    That is perpetuated by both sides, in all fairness, and when people try to use religion to usurp political and legal authority it certainly becomes more pronounced. But even here there are many as many different shades of the non religious as there are non religious people.

    This is not about whether or not there are atheists that think in the way you describe, this is about you putting all atheists in one narrow category. A great number of atheists don’t posts online. A lot of them you may not even know are atheists.

    So to put them, and all other atheists you don’t know into one series of points is pointless and a bit unfair. You can say you feel this to be true about most atheist you know of, but as I’ve said there is no atheist dogma that all people lacking religion must comport with. That is a fallacy.



    Report abuse

  • 32
    B.Blade says:

    Atheism is the absence of belief, it is therefore the “natural” blank state you are in BEFORE religious techings enter your mind. It is very important to understand that whenever you come across the argument that Hitler, Stalin and other dictators were atheists and that their atheism must have been the cause for their terrible crimes. When islamic suicide bombers blow themselves up they do this because of their beliefs. Atheists do not have such beliefs, and atheism in itself is not a belief. It is the absence of belief, so it makes no sense to see it as a reasoning for doing such things.
    “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
    ― Steven Weinberg



    Report abuse

  • 33
    QuestioningKat says:

    I had a dream the other night. Some moderator from the site said “We have heard your complaints about ‘fluff’ on the site. It is noted and corrected.” I think this counts as solid proof that our thoughts and dreams do not manifest reality.



    Report abuse

  • In reply to #14 by magi1959:

    Isn’t atheism like anti-matter? No need for the one without the other? I suppose in those terms it is a religion. What would an atheistic church look like?

    Apparently there are moves afoot. Alain de Botton has suggested starting an atheist church in London, I believe. In his book “Religion for Atheists” he’s at pains to point out that regions have positive attributes apart from the belief in a foolish idea of a supernatural being. Gathering with the like-minded, singing as a group etc are things we’re missing out on.

    The physical aspects of the “church” would probably be a pleasing structure ( modern I should think), possibly a coloured glass window, raised platform for a speaker and so on.

    I’d be very surprised if it came to fruitition as atheists are normally inclined to view any institutions with suspicion.



    Report abuse

  • Obviously atheism is not a religion, by definition. One needs to ask why such a label would be used? In my opinion , it serves religious leaders well to make such a claim because they can then say ” you are just the same as we are!” Any negative comments hurled at believers ( such as being sheep and following blindly) will be hurled straight back to the atheists as a single entity. They will attack our leaders of a thought movement in the same way that we attack their leaders.

    I think I could make a generalisation and say that atheists are independent thinkers and don’t like to be boxed in by an all embracing definition.



    Report abuse

  • While reading this thread here I wonder what the real discussion policies on this site are.

    Some days ago I tried to start a serious thread about an alternative explanation for the “gap” (referring to The God Delusion) from no life to the first forms of life. I wrote everything according to the policies. Unfortunately, it never got published. And then a few days later I am back to read this.

    Very sad…



    Report abuse

  • 39
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #40 by dny:

    While reading this thread here I wonder what the real discussion policies on this site are.

    Some days ago I tried to start a serious thread about an alternative explanation for the “gap” (referring to The God Delusion) from no life to the first forms of life. I wrote everything according to the pol…

    I’m right there with you, I’ve tried to post what I thought were legitimate threads and I’ve seen many discussions pop up that are definitely not worth the time. It is vexing to say the least.



    Report abuse

  • 42
    whiteraven says:

    In reply to #4 by kraut:

    Define religion.

    Good idea. The originator does us a disservice by setting a fire and walking away. Let’s start with a dictionary definition…

    The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods
    (i) a particular system of faith and worship
    (ii) a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance

    If the intended meaning was sense (i), it seems to be getting at a point but provocatively.

    If the intended meaning was sense (ii), it seems like a legitimate question that can be directed at a subgroup which displays an attitude like in #38.



    Report abuse

  • 43
    paulmarkj says:

    In reply to #16 by OmegaBaby:

    In reply to #11 by achromat666:

    Break down the components of religion:

    -A system of theistic beliefs

    -Worship of a supernatural power

    -Willingness to believe despite having no evidence (faith)

    I don’t know if Buddhism necessarily fulfills these requirements, yet few would argue that it is a “re…

    Some people do debate this point, but it is irrelevant: if one thing is misnamed, that is no excuse for misnaming something else!



    Report abuse

  • 48
    Myles_Delfin says:

    Technically, you will need a god of some sort for your belief to qualify as a religion. Atheism, by my own understanding, is the complete opposite of a religion, it is a non-belief. Also, for a site that promotes reason I am surprised by the amount of sarcasm that I see. Is it too difficult to write a short and sensible answer to the question, or are such inquiries simply beneath your level of genius? I think everybody deserves a proper response, no matter how simple or complex his request is. It is part of being reasonable after all, is it not? I am new here, please show me that I haven’t wasted my time signing up for a forum of cheap malcontent.



    Report abuse

  • 50
    Nodhimmi says:

    In reply to #34 by QuestioningKat:

    I had a dream the other night. Some moderator from the site said “We have heard your complaints about ‘fluff’ on the site. It is noted and corrected.” I think this counts as solid proof that our thoughts and dreams do not manifest reality.

    These ‘old chestnuts’ are easily resolved by Googling. Your assessment is spot on. This is getting too close to trolling.

    Moderators’ comments?



    Report abuse

  • 51
    Nodhimmi says:

    In reply to #51 by Myles_Delfin:

    Technically, you will need a god of some sort for your belief to qualify as a religion. Atheism, by my own understanding, is the complete opposite of a religion, it is a non-belief. Also, for a site that promotes reason I am surprised by the amount of sarcasm that I see. Is it too difficult to write…

    I suppose some of us have developed a cynical eye for seemingly rhetorical questions and suspect the motivation of the questioners. This one ranks bottom of the pile, along with “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” Snide remarks don’t help either. I see no evidence of pretensions to genius here…



    Report abuse

  • 52
    Neodarwinian says:

    Should take a poll and see which of these is leading the answers.

    ” Is bald a hair color? Is not collecting stamps a hobby? Is abstinence a sexual position? “

    (Question attributed to ZenDruid )



    Report abuse

  • 54
    susanlatimer says:

    I suppose some of us have developed a cynical eye for seemingly rhetorical questions and suspect the motivation of the questioners. This one ranks bottom of the pile, along with “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” Snide remarks don’t help either. I see no evidence of pretensions to genius here…

    This falls under the “frequently asked questions” category, or more accurately, the “snide, frequent insinuations” category.

    As so many articles and discussions off site use cheap rhetorical tricks to accuse atheism of being a religion (which is fascinating, as the accusations come from the religious or the pro-religious and amount to no more than tu quoque) , I can understand why the Mods think it’s a worthwhile topic for visitors here. The burden is on us to respond on the outside chance that it’s an honest question.

    As Nodhimmi said, a quick Google is the most honest, preliminary work a person could do. The “sarcastic” responses aren’t many and anyway, they are well deserved. Does “Is off a TV channel?” qualify as sarcastic? I don’t think so. It’s a perfect response.

    I would rather see an FAQ on this site than to see the discussion topics devolve to this extent.

    There’s too much I’ve learned here and still too much that I can learn here. I am a regular dummy, so I think I represent a significant percentage of people who come here willing and desperate to learn and who have benefitted from better discussions.

    “Is atheism a religion?” What a silly question. Of course it’s not. How could it be?

    I don’t believe in god(s). Show me how that could be a religion.



    Report abuse

  • 55
    RationalConclusion says:

    Is atheism a religion?

    No. Atheism has no rituals, customs, traditions, practices, laws, commandments, dogma, doctrine, tenets, scripture, holy books, rules, regulations, prohibitions, restrictions, dietary requirements, dress code, beliefs, faith, prayers, songs, places of worship, gods, heaven, hell, holy figures, symbols, icons, stories, miracle claims or funny hats. It is therefore in no sense of the word a religion.



    Report abuse

  • 56
    Myles_Delfin says:

    In reply to #54 by Nodhimmi:

    Cynicism is different from a severe disinterest in tedious rhetorical conversations. It reminds me of gossip in a philosophy department faculty lounge, and I don’t think a lot of us work as philosophy professors. Is it so hard to give a straightforward answer for a very simple question, or do we expect everyone that makes a post to be of some level of capacity? It is true that there are some questions that seem to have obvious answers, and there are people who do ask them. The contribution that we can make, is to demonstrate reasonable tolerance for the efforts of others to educate themselves.



    Report abuse

  • 57
    Myles_Delfin says:

    In reply to #57 by susanlatimer:

    It is easy to label my statements as being snide, but it would be a failure to grasp my point. Is it not possible that the person asking the question about atheism is somebody who is wrestling with what he believes in? Is it not possible that there are people who sign up for this forum who are not as web-savvy as most are and might have forgotten that Google can provide answers? Or, is it not possible that an atheist simply wants to hear the answer from his fellow atheist? We can say things and make it sound genuinely perceptive, but human needs are not as easily labeled as statements that we characterize as snide.



    Report abuse

  • 58
    whiteraven says:

    In reply to #58 by RationalConclusion:

    Is atheism a religion?

    No. Atheism has no rituals, customs, traditions, practices, laws, commandments, dogma, doctrine, tenets, scripture, holy books, rules, regulations, prohibitions, restrictions, dietary requirements, dress code, beliefs, faith, prayers, songs, places of worship, gods, heaven…

    Judging by some of the name-calling and profanity directed at other users, you’re right…in some cases it even lacks common courtesy. Perhaps there’s some value to religious dictums after all.



    Report abuse

  • 59
    sbooder says:

    In reply to #58 by RationalConclusion:

    Is atheism a religion?

    No. Atheism has no rituals, customs, traditions, practices, laws, commandments, dogma, doctrine, tenets, scripture, holy books, rules, regulations, prohibitions, restrictions, dietary requirements, dress code, beliefs, faith, prayers, songs, places of worship, gods, heaven…

    No dress code?….bugger, I have been wearing this tutu for three years now, no one told me!



    Report abuse

  • 60
    sbooder says:

    In reply to #61 by whiteraven:

    Judging by some of the name-calling and profanity directed at other users, you’re right…in some cases it even lacks common courtesy. Perhaps there’s some value to religious dictums after all.

    Sticks & stones!

    Unlike the religious we do not use sticks & stones, not even to beat people for being gay or child witches. Believe it or not we do not even poison an entire girls school for wanting to be educated.

    You are correct, where on earth is our common courtesy?



    Report abuse

  • 61
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #60 by Myles_Delfin:

    In reply to #57 by susanlatimer:

    It is easy to label my statements as being snide, but it would be a failure to grasp my point. Is it not possible that the person asking the question about atheism is somebody who is wrestling with what he believes in? Is it not possible that there are people who si…

    He stated in an earlier discussion that he is a teenager.



    Report abuse

  • 62
    phil rimmer says:

    In reply to #51 by Myles_Delfin:

    Technically, you will need a god of some sort for your belief to qualify as a religion. Atheism, by my own understanding, is the complete opposite of a religion, it is a non-belief. Also, for a site that promotes reason I am surprised by the amount of sarcasm that I see. Is it too difficult to write…

    I think the poser of this question has already proposed a broader definition of religion than you allow-

    http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/3/4/i-am-trying-to-know-what-atheism-is-and-also-to-validate-myself-please-help-me#comment-box-27

    Gods are not a necessary requisite in his view. They can be lifestyle dogmas.

    The brief ripostes here really underwrite a hugely important aspect of the views of many, that atheism is a very simple thing and that any attempt to dress it with a lifestyle or other dogma (like Atheism + co-opting a specific brand of feminism or Alain de Botton’s attempt to have it ape religion in form) dilute the enormous ability and applicability of the idea, perhaps driving away those who might most benefit from its liberating power.

    In forming this ism around a group of ists a single political idea only is licensed, one that may be used to seek to deny others any assumed authority until they prove the source of that authority.

    I am new here, please show me that I haven’t wasted my time signing up for a forum of cheap malcontent.

    The records of this site run deep and long. The due diligence, though, is yours to do. I hope you’ll be pleased by what you find.



    Report abuse

  • 63
    Nodhimmi says:

    “I would rather see an FAQ on this site than to see the discussion topics devolve to this extent”

    Yes. This would negate suspicions re potential trolls vs genuine truth seekers. Great suggestion.



    Report abuse

  • 64
    achromat666 says:

    The issues and distinctions that many are quarreling over (myself included to some degree) are far more cultural than religious. It is important to note that culture factors into the practices of all people religious or not.

    It is possible to take a non religious stance with a religious fervor (as I believe OmegaBaby alluded to, apologies for the confusion) and it is possible to consider yourself religious with only the most remote connection to your faith.

    In light of phil rimmer’s link if the discussion is designed to help someone else make their own decisions regarding atheism, then I will say this: There is a distinction between being an atheist and having a set of ideas while being atheist.

    I’ve said it before being an atheist simply means having no religious belief. On the most basic level and to answer the initial question once again, it is not a religion. Not by any stretch.

    But as you no doubt read here and have read elsewhere on the site, atheist are highly individual and most here are concerned with the evidence for a claim rather than the justification of a particular belief. No doctrines, dogmas, etc… just people that came into atheism their own way and may (and often do) disagree on what positions based on the evidence presented.

    So if you’re curious about specific positions typical of the atheist here please ask. But it would have been helpful to present more than just the one line question.



    Report abuse

  • 65
    susanlatimer says:

    In reply to #66 by Nodhimmi:

    “I would rather see an FAQ on this site than to see the discussion topics devolve to this extent”

    Yes. This would negate suspicions re potential trolls vs genuine truth seekers. Great suggestion.

    I missed Kim Cox’s comment 25 the first time around. She said that she’s working on an FAQ already. It would be a great suggestion if someone hadn’t already thought of it and written about it on the very thread I posted the suggestion on.

    I’ll try to read more carefully in the future. Sorry about that Kim.



    Report abuse

  • 67
    Ignorant Amos says:

    Like Kim has stated…sometimes the answers are much more important than the questions. Sometimes the diversity of answers is very educating indeed.

    Many religious types have pitched up here over the years with the same tripe to preach. The discussions that ensue are much repetition from similar discourse. Two things seem important to me when replying or reading the same old same old. First, many observers are recent arrivals and may not be privy to a lot of the better put downs many of the old sweats know off pat. Secondly, rote learning the details also has its place. Learning stuff parrot fashion through repetition helps some folk get it lodged firmly. Getting the info out there is more for the ignorant that want to learn, even if the question might seem a bit simple to the more savy members, remember, we are an eclectic bunch.



    Report abuse

  • 68
    whiteraven says:

    In reply to #63 by sbooder:

    In reply to #61 by whiteraven:

    Judging by some of the name-calling and profanity directed at other users, you’re right…in some cases it even lacks common courtesy. Perhaps there’s some value to religious dictums after all.

    Sticks & stones!

    Unlike the religious we do not use sticks & stones, not…

    If the shoe fits, wear it; the foot has no reason to complain. If it doesn’t fit, don’t put it on; there’s nothing to complain about. 🙂



    Report abuse

  • 69
    leemachilles says:

    If you value truth, and if there is a god or there are gods (at least entities which are much more advanced than us and have some part in the creation or manipulation of this thing we call reality) then atheism is a belief and if you accept atheism because it we think it is a truth but unfortunately it turns out to not be as true as we would like to believe, then unfortunately our understanding becomes corrupt, and if we value religion as a belief which does not match the reality, even if it its belief hangs on to a hopefull lie as good will out always, then all of us, every one who follows atheism as a truth are just believers, and if we think or a religious organisation as a set of people who believe in a lie, then yes we are victims of belief and could be seen as just the same as a religion, at lest from an atheists point of view.



    Report abuse

  • 70
    ELLINIKA says:

    No it’s not a religion. New age atheism is just a term made up in order to make a lack of belief a religion.
    Saying that it takes great faith to be an atheist is absurd. Simply waking up in the morning and living your life
    without any religion is without special effort.



    Report abuse

  • 72
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #8 by whiteraven:

    In reply to #2 by OHooligan:

    Why is a duck?

    No. Why is a mouse when it spins? What is the difference between a duck?

    One of it’s legses is both the same.



    Report abuse

  • 73
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #42 by kushan.nanayakkara.50:

    2 + 2 = 5 (religion)

    2 + 2 = 4 (atheism)

    1 + 1 = 10 (the reality underlying the page you are reading)



    Report abuse

  • 76
    Myles_Delfin says:

    In reply to #65 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #51 by Myles_Delfin:

    “I think the poser of this question has already proposed a broader definition of religion than you allow…”

    Hello Phil,

    I agree with you that my definition of religion in my post is indeed simplistic, but I am sure that you would agree that it is only because nobody would read an entire treatise of what it is in its entirety. In a way, and as a manner of making an excuse for myself, I try to define a simple thing in as simple a manner as possible, as it only deserves.

    I agree as well that religion could be social dogma, though I lack the knowledge of a concrete example for it. But I do think that it is possible. I’ve read a book by an author named Norman Cantor about the civilization of the middle ages that cover the birth of the Catholic church, and it seems to me that there might have been a possibility that beyond the belief in a god, there were also social attitudes that assisted in the establishment of organized belief. But then, let me point out that I am not an authority on the issue, this is just my opinion.

    Lastly, you are right in saying that due diligence is my responsibility, but as you have also mentioned that the content of this forum “runs deep and long.” I may not be able to have enough time to review everything. In which case, it would be the flaw in my arguments that I apologize for in advance.



    Report abuse

  • 77
    Myles_Delfin says:

    In reply to #66 by Nodhimmi:

    “Yes. This would negate suspicions re potential trolls vs genuine truth seekers. Great suggestion.”

    Are trolls people who ask difficult questions and lay bare the fakery of pseudo-intelligent conversations? If so, then by all means, let us ask the moderators to act on this. Conversation is a difficult art, even more so than thought, obviously. Sometimes, there are people who speak the kind of truth that nobody wants to hear, and only for the sake of being agreeable.

    Non-belief is an important subject, not only for atheists, but even more so for those of us who make a living tracking human interest and trends for economic applications. It has also been mentioned throughout history, as thus exulted by a popular writer, whose name I will leave to the intelligent non-trolls to figure out, he said ” I count religion but a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but ignorance.”

    Non-belief is something that will affect human thought and action in the next century. It is not a toy to be bandied about and played around with at will as though it were something that you could pick up at a bargain shop. And just because others may find my speech disagreeable, I would advise not to take me for somebody who takes his words lightly. I mean every word that I say, and not because I am a “truth seeker” or whatever manner of creature you call it, I mean my words because I thoroughly understand the consequence of everything that I say.



    Report abuse

  • 81
    RoamingThinker says:

    May I take a different slant on the question here? Could we call aethism a world-view. Wikipedia defines world view as such:

    A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.

    So for example, though I am not an expert on aethism, I would surmize aethism postulates that unexplained phenomema (quantum entanglement, initiation of our current universe) will eventually find explanation through logic, observation and scientific theory. That is a reasonable, supportable world view. The Judeo-Christian-Islamic world view takes a different view, that such items find explanation in a God figure. Though not as logically coherent, that world view is culturally acceptable, and certainly not socially isolated.

    An intriguing, fictional, world view was build by Issac Asimov in the enormous Foundation series, where a super-savant Second Foundation, guided by the mathematical principles of psychohistory, externally guided human development through corrective historic interventions. This Second Foundation certainly isn’t a God, but it does exercise a God-like benevolence. The Foundation Series is logically coherent and consistent, so the concept of an external God-like entity, vastly different from any current hypothesis proposed by standard religion, remains intriguing, at least in my mind. The “Q Continuum” in Star Trek is another intellectually interesting fictional, super-human, extra-dimensional existence.

    Now no evidence exists that anything like the Second Foundation or Q Continuum exists, but just like the religion was a social structure manipulated in the Foundation Series to further human development out of chaos, it is at least convievable that a super-human existence invented religion to assist in the development of intelligence throughout the universe.

    Why this long discussion? Religion, in its current formulation, may be on its last stand as human advancement and logic surround it, but I am not so sure that all God-like entities can be discounted. Could religion be an intervention of humanity itself, from a far-far future, where informational time travel becomes consistent via a circular causality, and thus our future selves come back to assure their own existence by intervening in the past.



    Report abuse

  • 82
    phil rimmer says:

    In reply to #79 by Myles_Delfin:

    FWIW I greatly prefer your simple definition of religion. It is only those religions that lay claim to supernatural authority that seek to put themselves beyond ultimate criticism. All others leave the door open and have reduced power for long term mischief.

    Unbiased bias’s question had hiding behind it a broad definition that allowed all sorts of non-supernatural dogma to be fingered as religious just like the supernatural type. All dogma is bad (even when it is something you agree with now!) Science, when it gets the process right, is its very antithesis.

    The simple fact that there is no evidence for gods or the supernatural that would stand up in court is the beginning and end of the evidence that atheists lay claim to. Any adjunct simply dilutes its (current) simple, stunning authority.

    Welcome, by the way. I think you will find a great spread of ideas and opinions in the “back catalogue”. The links are often to the most useful and pertinent of resources.



    Report abuse

  • 83
    RoamingThinker says:

    I struggle to integrate the historic impact Christ and Mohammad. In the absence of evidence of a God, how did those two individuals create such a large following of believers. That their influence can be explained in secular cultural and psychological terms has some plausibility, but in the end I am left unsatisfied on how to fit in the growth of religious followers of those two individuals. As a small example, the current Pope is a sane, intelligent, worldly, studied and humanistic individual, with a greater perspective that I will ever have, and he believes.

    In reply to #87 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #79 by Myles_Delfin:

    FWIW I greatly prefer your simple definition of religion. It is only those religions that lay claim to supernatural authority that seek to put themselves beyond ultimate criticism. All others leave the door open and have reduced power for long term mischief.

    Unbias…



    Report abuse

  • 84
    phil rimmer says:

    In reply to #89 by RoamingThinker:

    I struggle to integrate the historic impact Christ and Mohammad. In the absence of evidence of a God, how did those two individuals create such a large following of believers. That their influence can be explained in secular cultural and psychological terms has some plausibility, but in the end I…

    Christianity got a bit of a road test before it was tidied up by shrewd marketing men at the First Council of Nicea. Since then it has undergone further mutations to track and seemingly deal with the prevailing needs of the people. First though it serves the rulers, preaching variously docility or righteous anger as required. The shaman has always stood at the right hand of the ruler, underwriting fragile earthly power with supernatural authority.

    The religions survive most vigorously when they serve clear political ends, nakedly and obscenely so in the theocracies of the Middle East and the jealous minds of Religio-Rethuglicans in the US. Christianity nearly died in the UK after the Enlightenment when Quakers trusted individuals to have their own moral thoughts. Would that Christianity could have died in such an upbeat and decent manner, but no it has saved itself (or the CoE once the religion of Agnostic Love and Niceness) to rediscover its mean spirited political capital as comforter to the bigotted and disgruntled old. In the US it has flowered into a marketing man’s wet dream, feeding the hateful, the greedy, the rich and the powerful.

    Newton was a religious man and a deeply intelligent man. His failing was to be trusting of other intelligent peoples’ motives. He could never believe that all this intriguing material they produced analysing earlier peoples’ material etc. could be simply at base pure bunk, a sweetly contrived lie. People of good character often wrongly presume others to be likewise.

    Lies can fly even when ill formed if they meet the needs of the people and their leaders. Joseph Smith’s ludicrous lie flourishes despite its own hysterically funny nature. L.Ron Hubbard’s lie is awesome in its survival power despite the clear accounts of its roots in that bar (in New York?) when the cream of American SciFi writers bemoaned the few cents per word that they earned and Hubbard declared that creating a religion could be a salvation.

    Of all the authority figures you could choose to be impressed by why him? Why a Pope? And why follow anyone?



    Report abuse

  • 85
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #85 by RoamingThinker:

    May I take a different slant on the question here?

    Science – or Speculative – Fiction is a great way to showcase all kinds of ideas. Love the time travel stuff.

    But, you’ve got to write an entertaining story before it’s worth reading, the idle speculation is something to keep among you and your friends whenever you sit down to share a bong, or whatever.

    Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth…..



    Report abuse

  • 86
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #80 by Myles_Delfin:

    I would advise not to take me for somebody who takes his words lightly. I mean every word that I say..

    Welcome, Myles. I hope you don’t mind me observing that you sound a lot like Gandalf. I look forward to further words from you in future.



    Report abuse

  • 87
    phil rimmer says:

    In reply to #80 by Myles_Delfin:

    In reply to #66 by Nodhimmi:

    I mean every word that I say, and not because I am a “truth seeker” or whatever manner of creature you call it, I mean my words because I thoroughly understand the consequence of everything that I say..

    Too often I find myself saying words that others have said and realise that I haven’t fully digested them enough to be able to say them with confidence or with broad enough understanding. The brain plays tricks on us thinking we have internally demonstrated a causal link, say, when in fact we have merely observed the appearance of a link and settled for that. A useful trick is to develop the automatic habbit of sprinkling your writings with non absolute qualifiers as a reminder to yourself and others that certainty is for mathematicians only.



    Report abuse

  • 88
    jburnforti says:

    In reply to #20 by OmegaBaby:

    I’m going to get a lot of flack for posting this here, but heck.

    In this amusing and observant post, some of your critics have overlooked that you refer to “many” but not all atheists. Your comments accurately reflected some reactions to a few (apparently heterodox) points I posted recently elsewhere – as a new member of a Foundation the first of whose twin planks is Reason, I felt disappointed by the surliness of some of the replies and left the thread.
    (sbooder’s “sticks and stones” argument elsewhere is poorly thought out. Online bullying has had its own macabre successes and antagonism has nothing to do with clarity, anyway, except where one wants to be clear one is being antagonistic).
    Thank you for a well-written and useful corrective.



    Report abuse

  • 89
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #40 by dny:

    While reading this thread here I wonder what the real discussion policies on this site are.

    Some days ago I tried to start a serious thread about an alternative explanation for the “gap” (referring to The God Delusion) from no life to the first forms of life. I wrote everything according to the policies …

    One of the policies is not to duplicate recent discussions. Perhaps you should have looked at this one which is about abiogenesis.

    http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/1/22/practically-valid#

    BTW: I also put up proposals for discussion. – Some appear, some don’t.
    There are clearly elements of competition involved for available space.



    Report abuse

  • 90
    EugeneKaufmann says:

    Of course atheism isn’t a religion. Religions have to satisfy various criteria: belief in an omnipotent being, prayer, freqently eternal life, divine creation, miracles, the supernatural taking precedence over the natural, physical world, the belief that a superior being is aware of you and who cares for you, that the world was created for your benefit, etc., etc.

    As someone said: atheism is a religion like health is a disease.



    Report abuse

  • 91
    Eugene Kaufmann says:

    Of course atheism isn’t a religion. Religions have to satisfy various criteria: belief in an omnipotent being, prayer, freqently eternal life, divine creation, miracles, the supernatural taking precedence over the natural, physical world, the belief that a superior being is aware of you and who cares for you, that the world was created for your benefit, etc., etc.

    As someone said: atheism is a religion like health is a disease.



    Report abuse

  • 92
    Markpeachey says:

    It is an association! Religion has a belief in the supernatural creator.. Calling Athiesm a religion is like calling any association a religion. Would you call the local Morris dancers or bridge club a religion? Of course not.



    Report abuse

  • 93
    Uriel-238 says:

    Atheism specifies very little. In itself it is the lack of belief of any god. And yes, as per ZenDruid‘s examples, it’s not a religion. Nor is it a philosophy, but atheism is an incidental assumption of some philosophies such as naturalism.

    Interestingly, in this age of monotheistic faiths the major religions of this world, particularly the Abrahamic religions do not acknowledge gods outside their own narrative, and consequently they are atheistic when regarding foreign gods. Dawkins would often point out that Christians are atheistic when it comes to Thor or Zeus, for example.

    If religions were still monolatrist (which is to say they acknowledged the existence of other gods, but just didn’t worship them) as they were for most of human history, then atheism would be truly alien to the faithful.

    Interestingly (to me, at least), it’s been implied often in media that people cannot recognize that the faith other cultures have felt for their gods was with the same degree of conviction as they personally have in their own, hence in modern Moses tellings, the Egyptian gods are false and the people of Egypt are not so invested in their own pantheon. (In reality, they were just as willing to suffer and die for their beliefs as Christians and Muslims are portrayed today.)



    Report abuse

  • 95
    Nodhimmi says:

    In reply to #95 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #40 by dny:

    While reading this thread here I wonder what the real discussion policies on this site are.

    Some days ago I tried to start a serious thread about an alternative explanation for the “gap” (referring to The God Delusion) from no life to the first forms of life. I wrote everyt…

    I had thought this a seminal moment in the God debate but it didn’t get published, either-

    http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/dna_and_beliefs/

    “On April 5, 2010, biologists at the Christian website Biologos posted an article stating directly that evidence from human DNA analysis made it impossible for there to be a historical Adam and Eve”

    “The implications of these DNA findings for certain religious beliefs are stunning. Not only does the DNA evidence conclusively argue against “The Fall,” but if there was no “Fall,” then according to Christianity at least, there was no original sin and thus no need for redemption and a savior”

    Hmmm…Did a search, nothing came up but maybe it was published previously?



    Report abuse

  • 97
    honeyvizsla says:

    Isn’t it odd that the worst insult theists can use against Atheism is to call it a Religion. How confused they are to try to insult using a term they are defending and of which they are proud. They really are the masters of cognitive dissonance.



    Report abuse

  • 98
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #100 by Nodhimmi:

    “The implications of these DNA findings for certain religious beliefs are stunning. Not only does the DNA evidence conclusively argue against “The Fall,” but if there was no “Fall,” then according to Christianity at least, there was no original sin and thus no need for redemption and a savior”

    http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000959

    In a 1987 Nature article, Rebecca Cann and her co-workers, Mark Stoneking and the late Allan Wilson, painstakingly analyzed mitochondrial DNA purified from placentas that had been collected from women of many different ancestral origins. By comparing the mitochondrial DNA variants to each other, the authors produced a phylogenetic tree that showed how human mitochondria are all related to each other and, by implication, how all living females, through whom mitochondria are transmitted, are descended from a single maternal ancestor. Not only that, they localized the root of the tree in Africa. The report left a wake, still rippling today, that stimulated not just geneticists and paleo-anthropologists, but the layperson as well, especially as the ancestor was quickly dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve.”

    Genetics does indeed show a Mitochondrial Eve. It also shows a male “Adam” ancestor, – but the “Adam” and the “Eve” lived thousands of years apart!



    Report abuse

  • 101
    hanhtran says:

    Yes and NO .. it depends on what and how you define as “religion”.. Sins ( theory) selling is a business not a religion. ..

    Being atheists means we are comfortable with the unknown. , willing to questions and challenge the status quo and conventional wisdom.; moving forward with time rather than dwelling comfort in the past…..



    Report abuse

  • 102
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #104 by Smill:

    In reply to post 103. You’re amazing Alan4. I learn such a lot from your posts and links. Maybe you should start charging tuition fees? : )

    Nah! – I’ve retired from that sort of work!



    Report abuse

  • Our understanding of the term religion is influenced solely by all the crappy interpretations that we see around us! But, I am sure most of us atheists wouldn’t have a problem with atheism being referred to as a religion, if instead of hokum, the basis of the atheistic religion is logic and common sense.



    Report abuse

  • 104
    QuestioningKat says:

    hmm. So now a sentence is an article….

    Is atheism a religion?

    OK, I’ll answer it —- no. Anyone who thinks it is, is collapsing or projecting a completely different concept onto the idea of a religion. They confuse religion, a noun, with religion, a verb. I could wake up and exercise religiously, but that has nothing to do with religion. Dedication has nothing to do with a God concept. As others have said here, atheism is like non-stamp collecting or non-whatever. It is the absence of theism. What atheism potentially has is its extremists or the all consumed atheists that treat views dogmatically or “religiously.” Each group, religious and not, has its OCD, confrontational, overly zealous individuals. Then it has its extremely dedicated, passionate, and “righteous” few. Then it has its moderates. Then, its dabblers with one foot in and one foot out. Then the indifferent. Personally, I think the undecided ones who are either too lazy to look at the facts or too consumed with their own issues. They, along with the dabblers, make up the “nones” and are the real deterrent to change. Get them to commit and you have peer pressure now as a factor to motivate others. (I was listening to a show about motivating people to be more ecological. They found the biggest factor was knowing what their neighbors were doing. I bet this works for religion too.) Let’s face it, we focus on a lot of wingnuts and the religious do the same or at least perceive certain atheists as extremists. Being on the outside, a group needs to fight and demand being heard and listened to. The outsider needs to shake thing up and be “religious” in their pursuit. As usual, the theists see this dedication as equivalent to religion because the see religion as being an active (verb) part of their life. Unknowingly and expectantly, they have their definitions confused.



    Report abuse

  • 105
    QuestioningKat says:

    By the way, before anyone jumps on me saying that “religion” is not a verb by saying it’s an adjective, adverb or whatever. What I am saying is that people are treating it as if it is a verb or ACTION that they think reflects their religion’s activities or expectations- to be dedicated, have faith, etc. It really is an egocentric view; they project their views onto the opposite view because they have not fully analyzed the specifics.



    Report abuse

  • 106
    F_Ellatio says:

    Zealotry can apply to more beliefs than religious beliefs. Atheism is freedom from religion. I think you are confusing zealotry with religion. I tend to be a bit of a zealot for Atheism.



    Report abuse

  • 108
    alistair.scott.71 says:

    Religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
    Atheism: The theory or belief that God does not exist.

    No, it is not.



    Report abuse

  • It may not be a religion but because you do not worship a God but it is still a faith, but worshipping a God is not necessarily a religion what a religion is a set of rules that you have to follow, in Christianity you do not have a full set of rules to follow all you have to is believe.
    Atheism is still a faith by which you believe things and there is actually churches of religion.

    [Link removed by moderator. Arguing your case is welcome, but preaching is against the Terms & Conditions you signed up to when joining the site.]



    Report abuse

  • 110
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #115 by TCTW:

    It may not be a religion but because you do not worship a God

    That is correct. As was said earlier, “OFF”, is not a TV channel.

    but it is still a faith,

    There is a difference between “faith” – (Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.) and understanding a balance of probabilities based on evidence and reasoning. (Have a look over the earlier part of this discussion. It is long, but the information is there.)

    but worshipping a God is not necessarily a religion what a religion is a set of rules that you have to follow,

    Worshipping a god is a rule for followers of that god, so it follows that it is a religion. Although it is possible to have a religion without gods – eg. Buddhism)

    Atheism is still a faith by which you believe things

    No! It is not! This is a common misconception of theists, who project a reverse definition of their own “faith” based beliefs.

    Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, – based on the the absence of evidence for gods and the contradictory and self-contradictory nonsense of the many theist claims of supernatural mythology.



    Report abuse

  • 111
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #115 by TCTW:

    It may not be a religion but because you do not worship a God but it is still a faith, but worshipping a God is not necessarily a religion what a religion is a set of rules that you have to follow, in Christianity you do not have a full set of rules to follow all you have to is believe. http://www.y

    No. I don’t care what is in the video you’re plugging it doesn’t change the fact that atheism is a negation of religious belief, nothing more. An individual atheist may approach being such in any way they see fit, but there is no moral code or ethics that comes with being an atheist, that comes from your upbringing, general culture and individual perspective.

    No, I repeat NO aspect of that is any form of all inclusive definition of atheism.



    Report abuse

  • 112
    alistair.scott.71 says:

    In reply to #120 by Curiousity1985:

    It depends. “Religion: (1) any set of coherent answers to the dilemmas of human existence that makes the world meaningful. (2) a system of beliefs and rituals that serves to bind people together into a social group,” Sociology in a Changing World, William Kornblum. I would argue that the Ayn Rand ph…

    A lack of personal beliefs in god is atheism. There are secular cults, but they’re not religions, in the same way that any group of people who believe in stuff, plant pots say, aren’t a religion. It’s really just a matter of definitions. Religion is defined as a the belief in a superhuman god, personal god or gods. If whatever you or your group of people believe in doesn’t involve a religious belief, it’s not a religion. Because they behave like a religion, doesn’t change what it is I.e. cult, organisation, institution etc.



    Report abuse

  • 113
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #120 by Curiousity1985:

    It depends. “Religion: (1) any set of coherent answers to the dilemmas of human existence that makes the world meaningful.

    Kornblum. clearly confuses philosophies and ideologies with religions.

    (2) a system of beliefs and rituals that serves to bind people together into a social group,” Sociology in a Changing World, William Kornblum.

    Religions fit into this definition, but there is no reason to believe the converse. There are plenty beliefs and ceremonies which “bind groups of people together”, which are not religions. Numerous sports, for example are ritualised and have beliefs in their rules and objectives. Team-building is well known, but it is far too much of a stretch to suggest that team-building of formalised ceremonies are religions.

    The key element in religions is supernaturalism of some sort.



    Report abuse

  • 114
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #127 by Curiosity1985:

    (1) any set of coherent answers to the dilemmas of human existence that makes the world meaningful.
    When you start answering questions like: why does evil exist? What is the meaning to life? Those are opinions. They give meaning to life. This is part of the definition. Sports teams do not answer que…

    And not all existential questions are automatically religious. The problem with the definition is that it’s far too broad in scope in regards to the existential. Asking questions like what is evil and the nature of the universe are quite existential but do not in any way have to be religious. Hence the use of philosophy in that context.

    Philosophy and religion do at points overlap but one does not mean the other. Therefore any group of non religious people engaging in a existential discussion aren’t by any definition a religious activity.



    Report abuse

  • 115
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #130 by Curiosity1985:

    What is the difference between the transcendental ego, and a transcendental soul?
    In reply to #128 by achromat666:

    In reply to #127 by Curiosity1985:

    (1) any set of coherent answers to the dilemmas of human existence that makes the world meaningful.
    When you start answering questions like: why doe…

    Is not automatically a religious question regardless of how you phrase it. Belief is still a key component of religion which does not require the philosophical bent you wish to give religion overall.

    One can discuss these ideas and not be a part of a religion, one can be interested in these ideas and not be religious. One can approach a subject or idea with a religious fervor, and still not be religious.

    As I said at the start, your definition is far too broad. You’re taking whole sections of philosophy and various general ideologies and lumping them in with your definition of religion.



    Report abuse

  • 116
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #132 by Curiosity1985:

    Science is not interested in these questions. Math is not interested in these questions. Ignore anthropology and sociology if you like. When I have questions, I will turn to established sciences. You can delude yourself in thinking that people are rational for not having gods or that they are irrati…

    Watch the tone, I have been nothing but respectful in this discussion. All caps aren’t going to make you right.

    But to break this down…

    Science is not interested in these questions. Math is not interested in these questions. Ignore anthropology and sociology if you like. When I have questions, I will turn to established sciences.

    You seem to make a lot of overarching generalization in your thinking here. Philosophy is in fact tied to science as much as anything. Philosophy is a method of reasoning that can go in a myriad of directions including scientific discovery and religious significance. It is very a complex branch of thinking that suffers a lot of generalizing such as what you’re doing. But Philosophy is not religion. Philosophy is not science. Though both can take on philosophical aspects.

    And I can’t stress this enough: You don’t know what extent science is interested in lots of what you’re touching on. Spend a bit more time reading about it before just pushing it as if it were fact.

    You can delude yourself in thinking that people are rational for not having gods or that they are irrational for having them.

    Nothing I said related to this in any fashion. Stop projecting. What I’m saying, and what I said when I first responded to this is your definition is too broad. Philosophy is not religion. Having an existential thought is not religion.

    AGAIN, WHY DID AUGUSTE COMTE CREATE THE CHURCH OF HUMANITY AND IDENTIFY IT AS RELIGION IF IT HAD NO GODS OR SPIRITS, AND WHY DID ROBESPIERRE DO THE SAME IF THE ONLY DISTINGUISHING FACTOR BETWEEN RELIGION AND IDEOLOGY IS GODS OR NO GODS.

    You will have to ask those people those questions. He could have said it to get tax exempt status, he could have said it to piss off the glut of theists that would obviously be pissed off at it. Or, he could in fact see his way of thinking as a religious ideology and acted on it.

    None of that is the point. The point is his way of doing things doesn’t make everyone that may have a similar way of thinking automatically religious. It may also be that his definition of religion is in fact in error and he may simply be embracing a philosophy as religion. I don’t know much about either of these examples and I don’t pretend to.

    But, I do know that i have philosophical queries, and existential ideas. I’m an artist, so a lot of that is part of the package I suppose. But my curiosity is not ritual, my queries are not faith, and my way of examining any of them is in no way religious.

    The answer is far more complicated!

    You’re right, there are far more components to the things that go into religion. And philosophy. And science. So perhaps rather than trying to throw so much in one overarching definition perhaps you should scale back and rethink it. No matter how many times you post it. Philosophy will never be religion, and assuming that existential thinking is religious by its nature (which your definition infers) is entirely dismissive of the meaning of both.



    Report abuse

  • 117
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #136 by Curiosity1985:

    I looked extensively into the philosophy of science in order to know what is science. I cannot post enough on why a religion is a religion. I looked and found the answer. If you want to know then look. You will find the answer. If you do not want to be part of a religion, then look to anthropology a…

    This is projecting opinion again. You have a definition of religion, that does not make it definitive of what is religion for everyone. I don’t require you to define where I need to look to find individual answers about my own internal questions.

    This is the problem with this diatribe in general. If you had simply said this is my take, or this is what I think about the subject instead of claiming absolute authority we could have discussed it on those terms.

    I’m happy you find some consolation on your observations. Just don’t project them as if everyone has to accept them as you do.



    Report abuse

  • 118
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #138 by Curiosity1985:

    All I can say is “ask an anthropologist and sociologist.” I believe in science. On Christian forums, no matter how much I try to prove things, including empirically proven things, they would not accept them as true, and that is why I didn’t want to be religious, they just accepted things, or rejecte…

    Perhaps the major error lies in the term belief as it applies to science. I don’t require belief for something that can be empirically proven and I therefore do not need to believe in science per se. I can awe in wonder at what science discovers, but it doesn’t require belief, only understanding based on the information. One can form beliefs based on scientific data but it certainly isn’t necessary or automatic.

    The easiest way to think of the non religious is through their individual views. One of the great advantages of not being tied to a belief doctrine is that when scientific discovery comes about it can invite discussion with differing viewpoints without doctrine, dogma, or faith to muck up the flow. It simply becomes a matter of individual opinions and ideas.

    And though it may be true that some non religious people may have a way of doing things that is similar to the religious, the terms atheisms is very suspect. It infers multiple meaning of atheism as opposed to multiple ways of viewing a very fixed, very basic idea.

    It’s obvious that we don’t see eye to eye on this and that’s fine. But it is always better to present an idea from an individual point of view rather than from an authoritative one. It invites far less hostility.



    Report abuse

  • 119
    OHooligan says:

    Religion is a scam.

    Once someone figures out a way to make money – and get tax-exempt status – using atheism, then it will indeed become a religion.



    Report abuse

  • 120
    QuestioningKat says:

    In reply to #112 by F_Ellatio:

    Zealotry can apply to more beliefs than religious beliefs. Atheism is freedom from religion. I think you are confusing zealotry with religion. I tend to be a bit of a zealot for Atheism.

    I assume this is in response to my post. I think you are confusing my view —that theists confuse zeal with religion. That was the whole point of my post.



    Report abuse

  • 121
    C.Wood says:

    Just my 2 cents…

    Just add “faith” to the definition of what constitutes a religion. That UFO cult requires “faith” that alien scientists did create life on earth, and man in their image.

    Faith is defined as a belief (i would say a very strong belief) without evidence to support it. Problem solved, and seems like a much more elegant definition of what is a religion 🙂

    In reply to #144 by Curiosity1985:

    From rael.org: “This is what the “Message” proposes: Thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image. References to these scientists and their work can be found in the ancient texts of ma…



    Report abuse

  • What is wrong with saying

    “Buying things and stealing things is basically the same – both are means of getting yourself stuff” ?

    The answer is that for the sake of most conversations, the criterion chosen is a superficial one (as any salesperson would confirm :-). Likewise, when someone says

    “atheism is basically just another religion, they both mean a faith concerning a supreme being, be it its existence or nonexistence”,

    it means they intentionally overlook crucial differences between them and completely twist the definition of the word “religion”.

    In my estimate, this claim is usually made by

    1. believers who hope to be able to use atheists’ own arguments against them
    2. confused philosophers who like having everything neatly pidgeonholed

    I think I understand why some people find this idea compelling – identifying something as a special case of some more generic phenomenon is elegant (light < electromagnetic radiation), but in this case it is just wrong.



    Report abuse

  • 123
    whiteraven says:

    In reply to #63 by sbooder:

    In reply to #61 by whiteraven:

    Judging by some of the name-calling and profanity directed at other users, you’re right…in some cases it even lacks common courtesy. Perhaps there’s some value to religious dictums after all.

    Sticks & stones!

    Unlike the religious we do not use sticks & stones, not…

    I’ve become increasingly disappointed rather quickly after a male atheist friend with a young daughter pointed me toward this when he explained why he had no interest in seeing The Unbelievers. I I did a lot of followup and found more troubling things, for instance this. It troubles me to that I might be associated in any way with the sorts of outrageous behavior or people I’ve found out about.

    So I think your statement is contradicted by the evidence and the answer to your question is that some are lacking much more than just courtesy. This face of atheism is just as bad as the worst face of religion. These people are set apart as a religion of atheists and theists who are worshiping a perverse not-god-cum-god. This is atheism-cum-religion.



    Report abuse

  • Ad hominem, yes, Argumentum, no. This is my personal observation about people, not an argument about an issue. No more, no less.

    In reply to #147 by Curiosity1985:

    Argumentum ad hominem. Genetic fallacy.

    In reply to #146 by emgee:

    “In my estimate, this claim is usually made by

    1. believers who hope to be able to use atheists’ own arguments against them
    2. confused philosophers who like having everything neatly pidgeonholed”



    Report abuse

  • 125
    andrew.calvert says:

    Is Atheism a cosmology?

    Yes.

    I’d assume this is what the question meant. Of course it implies that each religion’s cosmology is somehow interchangeable with the orthodox, or median, scientific view of the cosmos in terms of dogma. I think it’s a worthy question that can’t written off woth pedantry about the definition of atheism/agnosticism.

    The simplistic answer of some atheists would be well “we” accept new evidence and will throw out old assumptions when they are disproved. Of course fundamentalists of every strip are the opposite. But if you can find a significant lump of the religious mainstream who are willing to accept findings regarding higgs-boson (spelling?) or evolutionary history then this does start to present as a false dichotomy.

    I think you might be able to prove that atheists are less dogmatic than the general religious population. Wouldn’t be all that simple though. I imagine that, as a humanities-based person, others like me try our best to understand breakthroughs in science but end up putting our “faith” in the experts of the field, the “clergy” of science. The difference being that the real clergy only have knowledge of a single imperfect text and its historical commentary with little way to objectively test its veracity. The “clergy” of science have a lot more to work with and we can, at times, see the evidence for ourselves. BUT the relationship between the “laity” and the “clergy” on both religious and secular/agnostic realms is similar enough to posit the question: is atheism a cosmology like other religions?

    To answer that question we have to look at whether or not lack of belief in god(s) has a lockstep and necessary relationship to scientifically orthodox cosmology. Or: “Can you be an atheist and not believe in science as a compass for social organisation?”



    Report abuse

  • 126
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #144 by Curiosity1985:

    From rael.org: “This is what the “Message” proposes: Thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image. References to these scientists and their work can be found in the ancient texts of ma…

    Sorry for the untimely response, I have been busy.

    When we commonly think of the word religion all of the common tropes (Blind faith in the supernatural, supreme being, etc) do of course come to mind. Hell, when you go to a dictionary definition like so:

    1.a : the state of a religious
    b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

    2
    a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    3
    archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness

    4
    a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    You find those common ideas immediately. It’s not until you go further down that you see it broken down as a system of principles and beliefs. And you are right, people can think any number of ways, scientific or not and still be irrational. That’s part of being human, cognitive dissonance and all the other ways we have of compartmentalizing our thinking.

    This does illuminate all the myriad ways that religions like Buddhism can be called a religion without having the vast amount of common ideas associated with it. But my problem lies with the use of atheism as a term. I very well comprehend that many non religious people come into their way of thinking and their ideologies from many different perspectives, I inferred as much earlier. But what i think you’re saying is that there are many different type of atheists, which is different in my mind from different atheisms. Atheism is in and of itself a singular idea: The lack of theistic belief. Nothing more and nothing less. What we’re discussing are different groups of people that have that in common, but still utilize components of cultural norms associated with religion. All of these things can be done in a myriad of ways, but still not affect the overall definition of atheism.

    Perhaps the semantics is the heart of the differences here. Does atheism denote lack of religious belief, or simply lack of theistic belief? A theist also does not necessarily belong to a religion, It denotes the idea of a supreme being but does not automatically mean they pretend to know its intentions. So it doesn’t automatically follow that they have any series of guiding principles based on it, hence no faith or religion to speak of.

    Or maybe ultimately we have the practice of the more common variety of religions as the real culprit. The initial definition of religion does apply to a vast majority of religions and many of them have taken to prosthletyzing and the common methods the theist we generally address here regarding worship and faith. I would most certainly agree that irrationality is a major culprit in religious thinking and is linked directly to the issues of faith and all the other things generally associated with religion.

    But I think the one bit of semantics is the key difference here: What you’re saying is that atheist can be religious and form religious organizations without the ideas common of most religions. That is all well and good. But it still does not redefine the word atheist. A group of atheist can think as they please, but it does not make atheism itself anything other that what it is defined as.



    Report abuse

  • 127
    harryf200 says:

    Absolute atheism probably isn’t a religion but it is a belief, it requires an act of faith, since there is no evidence of the absence of God, and we cannot be absolutely sure there is no God. Hence “agnostics rule!” :¬)



    Report abuse

  • 128
    harryf200 says:

    In reply to #15 by Sample:

    I see questions like these as tiny successes. It seems that more often than not, those who ask if atheism is a religion are religious themselves. By trying to define atheism in their own language of faith, they tacitly acknowledge something about their own view that is imperfect, derogatory or even…

    I think there is confusion between ‘faith’ and ‘religion.’ All religions require faith but faith does not require religion. All faith needs is a belief in something that the believer cannot prove is true but thinks it is anyway. So, I suppose absolute atheism requires faith but agnosticism does not because the latter acknowledges one cannot be absolutely certain there is no God.



    Report abuse

  • 129
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #154 by Curiosity1985:

    I think instead of defining something (atheism) by what it is not, we should define it by what it is.

    The major philosophies of science, rational empiricism, skepticism, pragmatism, naturalism, and others, are philosophies of science; they are not religions, because the main component is proof, so…

    There are some big problems in both some of your points and trying to separate through all of the text. it’s all one paragraph and just a bit dense.

    You are indeed welcome to not accept what atheism is not and try to define it by what it is, except that what it is is a lack of something defined by it’s very nature. It’s base term is exactly what I’ve defined: A lack of religious belief. Conflating the acts of a single or group of atheists with the definition of the term doesn’t help get to a point of agreement.

    And as for this bit:

    If I go around saying “there is no god” and believe it, then I have belief in something not provable. Therefore, I have the belief in the irrational.

    If that is true and we’ve already established that religion is irrational, then rationality is effectively non existent. Which in this context would render the term meaningless. If you go around saying there is no god, you can very easily base it on the lack of evidence rather than putting any other form of belief in it. Richard Dawkins routinely says there is no reason to believe there is a god, which is a far more effective way of phrasing what you’ve said. Is that then a irrational position?

    And lastly, as to what I said…

    ” A person can be religious without being part of a religion. Religions are groups, religious being the adjective. So I can be religious without being in a group. “Atheism is in and of itself a singular idea: The lack of theistic belief. Nothing more and nothing less. What we’re discussing are different groups of people that have that in common, but still utilize components of cultural norms associated with religion.”

    The examples you keep posting (Raelism, the UFO group, Cult of the Supreme Being and the Church of Humanity) are all examples of people with no belief in a supernatural creator (one of the prerequisites of the common definition of religion) but they still utilize components of the cultural norms associated with religion, to the extent of even referring to themselves as such. A single person can set up their own ideas however rational or irrational and be religious, but he or she has not set up a religion in the sense that there is any system which others must follow.

    So whether they are god worshippers or ideal observers both can be observed with a religious fervor. That was the point. None of that makes atheism in any way religious. It refers to a lack of religion and is associated in that sense only. One can be an atheist and be irrational yes. But the basic idea itself does not become irrational simply because there is a lack of proof. There is no proof one way or the other. That is the point. The sciences and our logical, rational methods of discourse require objective reasoning. This then becomes a simple case of Occam’s razor and you eliminate what is unnecessary and unprovable. That is not irrational.

    This is a clear agree to disagree situation. So I’m agreeing to disagree and moving on. I don’t feel like this chat is actually moving anywhere. The actions of atheists do not redefine the word. If every way of thinking by your logic becomes a religion if the components of its reasoning are by your definition irrational then I see very little that doesn’t become a religion by the broad way you express it.



    Report abuse

  • 130
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #156 by Curiosity1985:

    Okay. I think we are making progress. Definition of Agnostic:

    1
    a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
    2
    a person who is unwill…

    This is a clear agree to disagree situation. So I’m agreeing to disagree and moving on.

    I wrote this in my last post. I don’t know how else I can put it.



    Report abuse

  • 132
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #152 by harryf200:

    Absolute atheism probably isn’t a religion but it is a belief, it requires an act of faith, since there is no evidence of the absence of God, and we cannot be absolutely sure there is no God. Hence “agnostics rule!” :¬)

    Not quite!

    Some are agnostics about which of the thousands of gods, people do follow, and have followed?? Agnostics who state, “there is no evidence of the absence of God”, with a capital “G” are only agnostic about one particular god! They may be strongly atheistic about other gods!

    I have yet to encounter anyone who is agnostic about all the thousands of gods!

    In fact most of the religious are absolute atheists about all the other gods apart from their own.

    It is only those who ASSUME the existence of a particular god, who think atheism is the denial of their pet god, rather than a lack of belief in ANY gods due to an absence of supporting evidence!

    there is no evidence of the absence of God

    There is no evidence of the absence of fairies, leprechauns, mythical monsters, or bug-eyed aliens from Mars, but most rational people would not claim it requires “an act of faith”, to confidently dismiss these because of a lack of credible supporting evidence.

    Curiosity1985 @156 – Did the nihilist prove that God does not exist? Nope. Irrational belief system? Yep.

    Nope! The inability to prove a negative does not allow the reaching of a rational conclusion. It is not possible to PROVE an undefined god or a vague deist god does not exist. It is only rationally possible to believe that due to a lack of supporting evidence it is very unlikely. The universe needs no personified gods, in order to function as it does.

    Irrational belief system?

    Nope! Rationality is a matter of logical self consistency. It is the evidence on which it is based which determines if it maps onto the reality of the material universe, or if is just a whimsical castle-in-the-air someone has dreamed up!



    Report abuse

  • 133
    OHooligan says:

    In reply to #156 by Curiosity1985:

    “if god does not exist, then there are no moral values”

    WTF? Sorry, utter non-sequitur. “If A does not exist there are no Bs”. Is that an axiom?

    That’s not nihilism, is it? I tried to find out more, but discovered that knowledge about nihilism is not possible, and in fact nihilism may not even exist, or have a meaningful definition, despite the insistence by some Christian theologians that rejection of their theistic doctrine entails nihilism. I gave up at that point. I mean, why bother?



    Report abuse

  • 134
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #160 by OHooligan:

    In reply to #156 by Curiosity1985:

    “if god does not exist, then there are no moral values”

    WTF? Sorry, utter non-sequitur. “If A does not exist there are no Bs”. Is that an axiom?

    That’s not nihilism, is it?

    Let’s translate this:-

    “if god does not exist, then there are no moral values”

    • “if my god does not exist, and I am not spoon-fed dogma by priests, then I have absolutely no idea about moral values”:- (so neither has anyone else who is not spoon-fed dogma)! “Thought out codes of conduct, and morals based on anticipating outcomes, have never crossed my mind!”

    “Nihilism” – is the blank zero concept, of human based morality through the eyes of the dogma-dependent non-thinkers!



    Report abuse

  • 135
    Curiosity1985 says:

    I am very sorry, I am leaving this website to be part of a real science website. I say nihilism is irrational and I get these two responses by the same guy:

    Me: “Did the nihilist prove that God does not exist? Nope. Irrational belief system? Yep.”

    “Nope! Rationality is a matter of logical self consistency.”

    “Nihilism” – is the blank zero concept, of human based morality through the eyes of the dogma-dependent non-thinkers!”

    Nihilism is completely dependent on proving negatives.



    Report abuse

  • 136
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #162 by Curiosity1985:

    I am very sorry, I am leaving this website to be part of a real science website.

    Science sites are about reasoning and evidence. If you want to debate science rather than the nature of the evidenced reasoning behind atheism, you could try some of the science discussions here – if your science is up to it?
    http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/4/23/a-one-way-ticket-to-mars-apply-now# perhaps?

    I say nihilism is irrational and I get these two responses by the same guy:

    I pointed out that nihilism is a strawman concept invented by theists. I thought you might like to have a reasoned discussion on that as your view of the concept is confused!

    Nihilism is completely dependent on proving negatives.

    It is not logically possible to prove negatives!



    Report abuse

  • 138
    SteveRob says:

    Good points on both sides I think, particularly the most recent responses. I would suggest however that the answer might be more closely aligned with “yes for some people, no for others”. The challenge in all of this is that each side assumes that it has a correct understanding of the opposing viewpoint. I am not convinced that it is possible to say “all people of faith, even within a single church (never mind a denomination) have the same interpretation and viewpoint as every other”. Many people of faith will go for the full 6 days argument whilst the person in the pew next to them considers that to be naive. In a similar way perhaps the concepts of quanta create the same feelings of awe? There are many that accept that scientific rationalism has the answer to every problem somewhere without accepting that there are still many things that we do not yet know – and that our understanding changes and depend every day. If someone has the view that “science has solved everything” then that is a virtual “faith” statement perhaps? If someone has the view that “science will solve every problem” then that too is a statement of faith. If someone says “We see and understand our universe increasingly through experimentation and observation and this is what we have seen so far” then that, at least to me, is more about objective honesty than a faith statement?

    In reply to #31 by achromat666:

    Atheism itself is not a religion, but from what I’ve seen, many atheists treat it like one. For example….

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    2) The goal should be to convert as many of them as possible to their side.

    3) They believe mu…



    Report abuse

  • 139
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #165 by SteveRob:

    Good points on both sides I think, particularly the most recent responses. I would suggest however that the answer might be more closely aligned with “yes for some people, no for others”. The challenge in all of this is that each side assumes that it has a correct understanding of the opposing viewp…

    This is the essential difference: To say any person can have a religious attitude about virtually anything is not the same as saying that atheism is a religion. It is not.

    Yes people can approach science with a religious fervor but that is little more than replacing one conception of faith for another. And it doesn’t change the definition of science. Faith and belief can be used by anyone, but they don’t alter whatever that faith is put into.

    So regardless of individual or group perspective regarding the word atheism, it is not a religion. And while people can for whatever reason see it from a religious perspective, it rather defeats the purpose, given the definition.



    Report abuse

  • 140
    Rara192 says:

    Yeah, I think plenty of people have covered the “No, it isn’t” part. I would also like to add that I find it amusing that Christians seem to think that they invented social gatherings when they accuse atheists’ gatherings and conventions as “just like going to church,” as if we’re all supposed to just stay secluded in our homes and never venture away from our blogs.



    Report abuse

  • 144
    ToastyToast says:

    In reply to #31 by achromat666:

    Atheism itself is not a religion, but from what I’ve seen, many atheists treat it like one. For example….

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    2) The goal should be to convert as many of them as possible to their side.

    3) They believe mu…

    I think the same logic you are applying (some, but not all) works in the reverse. Half the things on this site are about converting people to atheism/how better the world would be without religion. This is a common theme; if all atheists did not care about how proliferated or spread religion was, than half the links on this site would not exist. While you (and me; the reason I don’t associate with many atheist communities is due to the things mentioned before) may think that atheism isn’t about eradicating religion and converting as many people as possible to the “good” side, many athiests do. For a great example of this, go to reddit.com/r/atheism. They are a hated community due to them being the equivalent of Bible Belt evangelists, only with the added flaw of insinuating anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot and should be stoned. Wait, that isn’t added. Anyways, the person you replied to was nearly correct; I think atheism is a psuedo-religion; not really a religion, but sharing many characteristics of one. I don’t think that person you replied to was directing the statement at you anyways, but it opened an excellent opportunity for further disscussion past the word “no.”



    Report abuse

  • 145
    achromat666 says:

    In reply to #172 by ToastyToast:

    In reply to #31 by achromat666:

    Atheism itself is not a religion, but from what I’ve seen, many atheists treat it like one. For example….

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    2) The goal should be to convert as many of them as possible t…

    As I have responded to that original thought already, let me simply say that I have said, in no uncertain terms several times in this thread that people can make all kinds of associations with atheism based on what specific atheists do. This means that some will be zealous in their way of communicating with other, will proselytize in much the same fashion as theists and will counter theistic arguments in much the same mindless fashion. There are many, like many here that simply respond to what theists say at this site and don’t spend extra time out of their day converting or whatever equivalent idea would apply (how does one convert to a basic negative?).

    However and I can’t stress and underline this enough: not a single one of those examples change the definition of the word. Atheism as a term still only denotes a lack of religious belief. Period. Humanist, followers of the Enlightenment Movement, Brights and many other non religious ways of thinking cover many philosophical, ethical and moral position regarding non belief. Atheism at its base has none of those things, no values beyond the basic lack of religious belief. Everything else is cultural, internal and based around the upbringing of the individual.

    So, hopefully for the last time: What you say does apply to atheists, but the actions of some atheists, does not change the definition of atheism.



    Report abuse

  • 146
    ToastyToast says:

    In reply to #173 by achromat666:

    In reply to #172 by ToastyToast:

    In reply to #31 by achromat666:

    Atheism itself is not a religion, but from what I’ve seen, many atheists treat it like one. For example….

    1) They believe that the world would be a better place if everyone shared their belief system.

    2) The goal should be to con…

    I agree. I was merely remarking upon the fact that although atheism is not a religion, the actions of many atheists are nearly the same as if it was a religion. There is a major difference between true atheism and the style of atheism of the dogmatic people I mentioned before; while true atheism is not a religion, the style of atheism practiced by some makes it seem as if it is.



    Report abuse

  • 149
    GRAViL says:

    Yes it is.

    Now before you all jump down my throat…. my simplistic view for this is as follows:

    I was born a Christian went to church for a number of years… there was a section in my brain that at the time made me a Christian… I now consider that this same section of my brain is now dancing to the rhythm of another drum so to speak, and as an Atheist this spiritual centre has been satisfied but my current atheist beliefs.

    I believe that there is no such thing as god…. whatever the religion, Atheism is a replacement for religion, you either believe or you don’t, they are mutually exclusive but satisfy the same need, you can’t be a Christian and an Atheist! Perhaps the term religion throws people… why not just call it Feeling_X…. and this value can hold Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Athiest, Devil Worshipper, Witch, Druid….. what ever you want.

    Ok .. now you can jump down my throat..



    Report abuse

  • 150
    sparkytwobillion says:

    Oh such an innocent looking question. While the short answer is “No” others have pointed that out and moved on. Often, I have had to deal with the claim “atheism is a religion” and it’s kissing cousin “science is a religion”. While the question from the original poster is a little weak, I think it is still a valid question, one for which I have yet to come across a convincing answer, and with a little reworking is actually an interesting question.

    I suspect the underlying better question is something like “What is the relationship between Atheism and Religion?” In the taxonomy of thought where do big R religion and big A atheism fit in relation to one another.

    I propose that neither is a subclass of the other but are co-equal classes of “World Views”. I am not maintaining that they are both valid, but rather that they both exist and in the taxonomy they are siblings.

    I think this might be the case because the question “What kind of religion is atheism” makes about as much sense as “What kind of a German is a Bulgarian”. It just doesn’t make sense to say that. However, it does make sense to say “What are the qualities of German culture and what are the qualities of Bulgarian culture.” placing both as siblings in a taxonomy under “Cultures” or “Nationalities”.

    So, the questions I find when I unpack “Is atheism a religion” are “How do we tell atheism apart from religion?” and “How do they relate to each other?”. Giving a charitable reading to the question, I think that is what needs to be answered.



    Report abuse

  • 151
    gongdom says:

    Religion; A belief system breed from cultural systems that evolve into institutions c/w ordained clergy. Faith, spirituality, moral values, scared traditions and the worshiping of deities are the integral components of the organized religious system.
    When a multitude of followers can walk through the narthex of an Atheist Kingdom Hall to hear the sermon with no supernatural enthusiasms conveyed from the pulpit, then and only then, “Atheism” will have become a religion.
    Religions are organized—Atheism is not.
    The Check List: Belief system;—Yes—atheism is mutually supported, albeit very diversely. Cultural system;—No—and any argument for yes will have a despot c/w a political religion. Institutions with Clergy;—No—prominent individuals do not equal ordainment. Faith & Spirituality;—No—religion is not identical with spirituality but religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization, and the oath of faith is a prerequisite for the religious doctrine. Moral Values;—Yes—and any no argument will only have radical irreligious political foundations for the counter claim. Scared Traditions and Deity Worship;—No—no idols, no venerated places, no rituals, and no gods goddess or demigods. So on a six item check list, (that can be increased to cover more topics) atheism gets only two “Yes’s”. Increasing the check list will not change the answer. Atheism is NOT a religion. The “Glory of No God” cultural meme is growing. There will most likely be a day in the future when the answer to the topic question is—Yes. The world is only partially ready for moral organized atheism. The next most obvious question to ask; “Should moral atheism organize?”.



    Report abuse

  • 153
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #165 by SteveRob:

    Good points on both sides I think, particularly the most recent responses. I would suggest however that the answer might be more closely aligned with “yes for some people, no for others”. The challenge in all of this is that each side assumes that it has a correct understanding of the opposing viewpoint.

    Basic definitions, like facts, do not “two sides to them”. This is a false dichotomy. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Philosophical beliefs of individual atheists, or specific (political) ideologies, are different subjects.

    I am not convinced that it is possible to say “all people of faith, even within a single church (never mind a denomination) have the same interpretation and viewpoint as every other”. Many people of faith will go for the full 6 days argument whilst the person in the pew next to them considers that to be naive.

    Who are these people who say such nonsense? I don’t know any atheists who think all religions hold the same views, while competing religions certainly distance themselves from the conflicting doctrines and dogmas of others!
    This has nothing to do with if they are, or are not, religions.

    In a similar way perhaps the concepts of quanta create the same feelings of awe? There are many that accept that scientific rationalism has the answer to every problem somewhere without accepting that there are still many things that we do not yet know – and that our understanding changes and depend every day.

    Again! Where is the evidence of such people? Scientists do not claim to have “all the answers”. Scientific rationalism is the best way to approach the questions.

    If someone has the view that “science has solved everything” then that is a virtual “faith” statement perhaps?

    That is pure strawman! I know of no claims that “science has solved everything”, even though it has solved many things to high levels of probability.

    If someone has the view that “science will solve every problem” then that too is a statement of faith.

    That would indeed be an exaggerated claim, but confidence in work in progress offering limited outcomes, should not be underrated.

    If someone says “We see and understand our universe increasingly through experimentation and observation and this is what we have seen so far” then that, at least to me, is more about objective honesty than a faith statement?

    What is important is the recognition of the boundaries of well evidenced science, provisional theories, hypotheses under investigation, and areas which are as yet unknown.



    Report abuse

  • 154
    SilverWun says:

    As long as ‘Atheism’ avoids issuing of a set of qualifying doctrines it will avoid the trap of theology. If it simply remains rejection of notions about the existence of gods, or anything beyond reason and the five senses without evidence, it should remain free. There ought to be a healthy, self-deprecating open attitude toward anything that might come along with appeal to sound reasoning. Today’s cock-sure, orthodox truth is tomorrow’s archaic, flawed delusion that will have been corrected by certain new discoveries. The whole of recorded history attests to that fact.



    Report abuse

  • 156
    Tellmetruth says:

    In reply to #2 by OHooligan:

    Why is a duck?
    Because it can.

    Duck is just part of the full spectrum of experience god is having right now, as are you and everything.



    Report abuse

  • 158
    Daniel L. Scholten says:

    I think it’s important to “read between the lines” in this question, lest we get bogged down in hair-splitting semantics. As I see it, theists are trying to use this question as a defense against militant atheism, but there’s a much better tactic.
    Militant atheism is grounded in the (untested) assumption that disdain can be used to cure irrationality. Militant atheists believe (without evidence, thus irrationally) that the reason theists cling to irrational beliefs is because they haven’t been mocked and humiliated enough by non-believers. Rather than spinning our wheels in arguments about whether atheism is a religion (theists say “yay”, atheists “nay”, quelle surprise), we should all (theists and non-militant atheists) confront the irrationality of the militant atheists. We should demand that they produce credible evidence of the alleged curative powers of disdain. For more on this, please see my blog entry http://greatbandwagon.com/2013/07/16/is-disdain-a-cure-for-irrationality-part-1-of-2/



    Report abuse

  • 159
    Tlhedglin says:

    Is not believing in unicorns, or having a distaste for broccoli, a religion too? The truth is, atheism only tells you that someone does not believe in a deity. It tells you nothing about their other beliefs. They could believe in ghosts(which would indicate some form of after life and soul), or any other spiritual or philosophical idea that isn’t contingent upon a deity. Atheism tells you LITTLE about what a person believes, and it only tells you a single thing in which they don’t believe.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.