Is Atheism a religion?

Ry
Posts: 36
Joined: 2006-03-10
User is offlineOffline
Is Atheism a religion?

No.

If not believing in a god is a religion (or a belief) then let's look at all the things people DON'T believe in.

I don't believe in purple cupcake monsters. Does that make me in the religion of not-believing in purple cup cake monsters?

No.

It is not a belief I was born not believing in purple cup cake monsters and I was born not believeing is Athena or Allah oe Yahweh or any of the other gods.

--------------------------------
EDITED IN BY SAPIENT: Last night Rook and I recorded a segment about atheism and how it isn't a belief, there is also a few minutes about the war on Easter. The free download is 20 minutes and is here: RIGHT CLICK, SAVE TARGET AS!

Warning, religiousity increases the risk of religious terrorism.

www.anti-neocons.com or www.Rys2sense.com


stOneskull
Posts: 32
Joined: 2006-07-29
User is offlineOffline
Is Atheism a religion?

ricky.. i got a loaded question (on purpose) veering off away from the original post i made.. and now because of that and the prepared response of definitions and links.. i have an axe to grind?

am i supposed to just say 'hey yeah.. ok, good-o everyone is an atheist.. ok.. let me rephrase my post perfectly so as not to encourage that'..

there are two main types of professed atheists..


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7525
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
Is Atheism a religion?

stOneskull wrote:
can there be atheists without theists?

Yes, but the term would be unneccessary.

Quote:
can there be a counter-culture without a culture?

Moot.

Quote:
it's very simple to say 'i don't know' you know.

Yup, that would be agnostic.

Quote:
but you know that the counter-theists need theists..

otherwise you'd call em just people right?

Moot and red herring.

Quote:
a baby is a baby not an atheist.

you can argue they are with a definition,
but arguing that a baby is asexual is weird to me.

Moot and red herring.

Quote:
you don't seem to appreciate that some people
consider themselves neither theist nor atheist..

I appreciate those people the same way I appreciate Jerry Falwell. They think they know what they're talking about, but in reality they are either being ignorant or dishonest. If given an opportunity to see the fact of the matter, and they refuse to, I recognize them as fools.

Quote:
knowing full well the official definitions.

If they knew full well the definitions, they'd know if they aren't theist, then they are atheist.

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7525
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
Is Atheism a religion?

stOneskull wrote:
ricky.. i got a loaded question (on purpose) veering off away from the original post i made..

The purpose was to make it easier on you to accept reality without being embarrased by your initial ignorance.

Quote:
and now because of that and the prepared response of definitions and links..

i have an axe to grind?

Is that a question or a statement?

Quote:
am i supposed to just say 'hey yeah.. ok, good-o everyone is an atheist.. ok..

No because 85% of the world is theist, the rest are atheists.

Quote:
let me rephrase my post perfectly so as not to encourage that'..

there are two main types of professed atheists..

You're doing it again.

There are millions of types of atheists not two! Some disbeleive, some deny, some reject, but most are very different. They all only have to have ONE thing in common, and that is that they all are without a positive belief in a god.

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


stOneskull
Posts: 32
Joined: 2006-07-29
User is offlineOffline
Is Atheism a religion?

well was that fun?

a little pedantic dance through semantics.

the topic is 'is atheism a religion'

and i just wanted to post how i see two main types of atheists
(who call themselves atheists)

and that some atheists (not all) do treat atheism religiously.

if you want everyone thinking along the same line,
with any difference being 'incorrect' then i'm considering you to be religious.

i don't want to do that pasting and replying stuff.
it's annoying to read.

but this is one point i wanted to write before i forgot.

adults might not define god as mom and dad,
but in the mind of a baby, mum and dad could be seen as the baby's gods.
if so (and how can we know) then you would say the baby is theistic.


KoRnYAtheist
KoRnYAtheist's picture
Posts: 35
Joined: 2006-08-22
User is offlineOffline
Subjects are overrated....

It is possible to be christian and atheist at the same time. You just don't belive in any other god.

I'm just to .


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7525
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
KoRnYAtheist wrote:It is

KoRnYAtheist wrote:
It is possible to be christian and atheist at the same time. You just don't belive in any other god.

Well of course. Christians are atheists towards all of the gods except for one, we're merely atheist towards one more.

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


Atheist_Aaron
Posts: 1
Joined: 2006-08-31
User is offlineOffline
Technically you could say

Technically you could say atheism is a religion! cause people seem to take the word religion out of context, it doesnt just mean believing in god and that crap!

dictionary.com has one definition that doesnt say anything about god

"something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience"

like I follow soccer like a christian would follow the teachings of the bible, so in that sense my religion is soccer! all things like that can be classed as a religion. if you want to be picky and use the dictionary!

anyway thats what i think, and its my first post to so hey to everyone aswell!


reason_passion
Rational VIP!
Posts: 158
Joined: 2006-08-17
User is offlineOffline
wrong definition

here is the classic case of teh religious apologist defining atheism in a positive way, i.e. believing that, whereas most atheist philosophers have never defined the thinking that way. Apologists do this because it is then easier to debate, as it can be then easily pointed out, "well, you must have an idea of what god is, since you positively believe that he doesn't exist", thus throwing the atheist on the defensive.

In point of fact, atheism is a negative belief, or rather the absence of a belief. I like to use the analogy of rolling out all my beliefs on paper and showing that where belief in god comes, there's simply a blank space.

The truth of the matter is, atheism doesn't take a positive stance, except perhaps to particular definitions of god that are presented. It is the believer who says they know what is going on and therefore it is they who must prove it.

Every one of your relationships to man and to nature must be a definite expression of your real, individual life corresponding to the object of your will. -Erich Fromm


ShaunPhilly
High Level ModeratorSilver Member
ShaunPhilly's picture
Posts: 473
Joined: 2006-03-15
User is offlineOffline
I've always looked at it

I've always looked at it this way. It does not really matter if we call athiesm a religion or not; it doesn't change anything. While I agree that atheism is not a religion in any technical sense, one might argue that some people act, as atheists, much the same as people who are religious in the theist sense.

What's going on here is that there is an aspect of human behavior that expresses itself in a number of ways, one of which is what we generally call 'religious.' Now, it is quite possible that people who do not believe in any gods (atheists) can behave in some ways that are similar to religious people; they might adhere to a particular set of beliefs (for example, scientific conclusions or a philosophical position), they might act ritually, try to convince others of their ideas, etc.

Religion has survived so long because it gives outlets for these types of behavior patterns. What we need to do, especially in light of conversations like these, is keep in mind that the behavior patterns that religion has usurped are not religious in nature. It just happens that for so long in human culture, religion has been the outlet for most of our behaviors that are used to control.

Thus atheists are seen as acting in certain ways (and atheists will differ from person to person yet some tendancies can be identified) and subsequently can be compared to behaviors of religious individuals or groups. Why we call these behaviors 'religion' has more to do with tradition than anything else.

The bottom line is that we are all human and therefore behave in similar ways. Some of us believe in god(s) and some don't. Religion is just a sticky term that includes some attributes that arre only contained in theism and others that can be contained in either theism or atheism. (We need some Venn diagrams here).

But I do agree that because atheism is not a worldview or belief system, you cannot call atheism a religion. Perhaps, however, we could say that certain atheist individuals are religious in some ways that have nothing to do with god-belief. I think this is most likely among people who were raised as theists, later became atheists, and kept certain 'religious' behaviors. But in reality these are simply human behaviors associated with religious traditions over millenia of culture.

Shaun

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.


ShaunPhilly
High Level ModeratorSilver Member
ShaunPhilly's picture
Posts: 473
Joined: 2006-03-15
User is offlineOffline
Here is an article I just

Here is an article I just finished.

It's kind of long, but any feedback would be great.



I’ve been paying attention to how people in the media address atheism. With such personalities as Bill O’Reilly, the “God Squad,” and other theistic people on the scene, it should be no surprise that I’d be frustrated. I’m not frustrated that there are theists stating their opinion, as I believe in and would fight for their right to do so. No, rather it is the argumentation given that disturbs me. In a recent NPR interview on “Talk of the Nation” a commentator offers up the old claim that atheism is a religion; that is requires as much faith (if not more!) as belief in God. So, is this true? Is atheism a religion and does it require faith?

Put simply; no. That is ludicrous. Atheism is a religion in the same way that baldness is a hair color. It requires faith in the same way as people who don’t believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn requires faith; in other words it doesn’t.

But before I address the question in more depth, I would like to supply a quote of Einstein’s which I find to be thought provoking and relevant:

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is

It is in this sense that an atheist might be considered religious, and no other. Richard Dawkins has expressed a similar view, and agrees that he is religious in this sense. This deep awe of mystery is something that can be appreciated with or without a belief in any deity.

However, it seems disingenuous to equivocate this specific and unorthodox use of the word ‘religious’ with it’s more common use; to conflate this sense of awe that atheists can feel with what we usually call ‘religion.’ A universally accepted and universal definition of religion is a difficult task. That is, many definitions that we can refer to will seem to exclude some other things that we generally call religious. If we say religion requires God, then we are leaving out religious traditions that often don’t require a god such as much of Buddhism. If we stretch the definition to something like “devotion to something” or something equally vague, then we essentially define it to be meaningless; does my devotion to hockey make hockey a religion? Is baseball a religion? How about stamp collecting?

Wikipedia defines religion as follows:

Religion is a system of social coherence based on a common group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, and rituals associated with such belief or system of thought

This seems like a fair definition, thus I will use it as a guidepost for my attempt to answer the question at hand. It may not be the most accurate of definitions, but I believe it suffices for our use here.

So, what’s an atheist? My definition, a definition shared by many atheists within my radar, is that atheism is the lack of belief in god. Some will include those that say god does not exist (the so-called ‘strong’ atheists), but I believe that the only necessary aspect of atheism is the lack of belief. The assertion that god does not exist is certainly sufficient for someone being an atheist, but said assertion is certainly not necessary but rather in addition to the lack of belief.

So, with these definitions in hand, let me address the relevant questions.

Is atheism the lack of religion?

I address this because some people try to answer the question of whether atheism is a religion by suggesting that atheism is simply the lack of religion. This does not hold up for a number of reasons. The first, as mentioned above, is that it would imply that non-theistic religions are actually not religions at all. Despite the fact that Zen Buddhism does not claim that gods do not exist (nor that they do!), I think that most of us would agree that Zen should be included as a religion. It has specific practices, is based on a person (the Buddha as well as other Buddhist teachers), and is shared by a common group (other Buddhists).

One might argue that Zen might not technically be atheistic, as it seems to be more of a position of doubt. However, I argue that the distinction between atheism and theism is sharp; there is no middle ground. The proposed middle ground of agnosticism is incorrect, as agnosticism is an answer to what we know, not what we believe. I, for example am an agnostic atheist; I lack belief in gods, but ultimately I do not claim to know for sure. Thus someone without an active and conscious belief in god is an atheist. This includes people who reserve judgment. Further, if any Zen Buddhist could be found that did not believe in gods, this lack of belief would not be in contradiction with his or her being a Buddhist, and therefore someone could be both a Buddhist and an atheist. .

Another reason is that the simple lack of belief in the gods of religion people does not necessarily make one anti-religious. There are many beautiful rituals, writings, and other aspects of religious practice that someone who did not accept the claims of gods can appreciate. Further, one might still remain as part of a theistic community and participate in the rituals, songs, etc without believing in the god of said religion. In this sense, we might call that person a religious atheist, just like the Buddhist above.

Further, the question of whether one believes in God has nothing to do with being religious; someone who is a theist is not necessarily religious. Simply believing gods exist does not mean that person is also a member of some religion or not. The point being that atheism is not simply the lack of religion, as a person’s atheism/theism does not have anything directly to do with being religious or irreligious.

Does atheism require faith?

People such as Ray Comfort from Way of the Master, have tried to argue that there are no such thing as atheists. His argument is that in order to prove that god does not exist, the atheist would have to know everything. Nobody knows everything, so nobody can know there is no god. Looking past Comfort’s misunderstanding of what an atheist is, the point he’s making is that when someone says they believe there is no god, they are making a faith claim; one that many apologists claim is a stronger claim than the theist makes. Atheists are, according to people that propose this argument, believing something extraordinary without being capable of knowing it for sure.

What is faith? The way I understand and use the term, it means a belief in something either despite either the lack of evidence for it or evidence against it. Thus, faith is essentially irrational; it is not held for rational reasons, but rather outside of rationality. Atheism cannot require faith because atheism does not require any beliefs at all—rational or not.

To believe in the stories of the various religions which have little to no supporting evidence one must accept them despite this lack of evidence. Most Christians believes that Jesus Christ lived, preached, performed miracles, was crucified, and on the third day rose from the dead. They believe this person was God-incarnate. This is an article of faith, as no historical evidence could verify this. Even if the historical events that were supposed to have happened actually occurred, the belief Jesus was God is something that must be accepted by faith. In short, faith has an object it believes in; it is a belief.

Atheism does not require faith because it is simply a lack of a specific kind of belief. Atheism only exists because some people make claims; they claim there is a god, and it’s like this, this, or this. The atheist simply rejects the claim. When someone comes along and says that the atheist has a belief—that god does not exist—they are incorrect because they misunderstand what atheism is. As I discussed above, this assertion that god does not exist, while held by many atheists, is not the definition of atheism itself but is an extension of the lack of belief.

Conclusion

So, what does all this amount to? Atheism is the lack of belief in any and all god concepts that particular theists propose. It is the responsibility of the theist, the one making a theological claim, to bear the burden of proof. Their religious conviction (whatever it may be), if it claims a god exists, is the proposal and the atheist hears that proposal and says “no, I don’t believe that.” The atheist is not making any claim at all. The only thing the atheist does is reject the claim and lack belief in the gods the theists propose.

The only thing that ties atheists together is the shared lack of belief—and this is a very loose tie. Getting atheists to organize, agree, or in general share anything in addition to this lack of belief is like herding cats. There are no rituals, social coherence, or beliefs at all. There is a simple lack of belief. That’s it. If two atheists happen to share a belief, there is no significance to atheism at all.

Part of the confusion is, I think, based in the fact that atheism has the “–ism” in it. This is because atheism comes from a-theist, not because it come from athe-ism or anything like that. It’s not a positive assertion but a lack of acceptance of millions of assertions by theists. That is, atheism is the lack (a- means lack of, or ‘without’) of theism (belief in god).

And if particular atheists act in a religious way, either in awe of their beliefs (a la Einstein’s mysteries) or in some evangelical fervor to spread their atheism to the world, this is not evidence of them being religious. Their actions might share common characteristics of religious people, but that’s merely because these characteristics are part of human nature and have been understandably adopted by religion over the millennia. Religion is a human activity, so it’s attributes will be common to most humans, even the ones that happen to not believe in god. But atheism itself is a specific philosophical answer to a particular question. Anything else the person who gives this answer does is strictly in addition to their being an atheist. It is not part of their atheism.

So, unless we are willing to call the lack of belief in god, which has no beliefs, rituals, etc at all, a religion, atheism does not qualify as a religion.

Anyone who claims atheism is a religion needs to be called on it and corrected.

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.