Sheep Herders and Cat Wrangling, is Atheism a Religion

Louis_Cypher's picture

Here is a definition of Religion drawn straight from that bastion of veracity and impartiality, Wikipedia.

“…a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.”

Or perhaps the Dictionary which assures us that Religion is "... a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: i.e., the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion."

What then, is Atheism? (from Wikipedia)  "...Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist."

In order to conflate Atheism with Religion one has to ignore most if not all the defining characteristics of what a religion is. Even if one allows the niggling distinction of Atheism as a BELIEF that no god exists, it still fails on all the critical points.

If we define culture as “… the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization, or group.” [Wikipedia]

We would be hard pressed to squeeze Atheism or Atheists into a culture, little less a cultural system. Leading Atheists has been likened to herding cats, in point of fact, you would have a difficult time finding any two Atheists that share enough attitudes, values or goals to qualify as an institution, an organization or even a group. We are pro-life, pro-choice,  conservative socialists all for health care reform and keeping the government hands off of our Medicare.

We don’t have leaders as such, we may admire the outspoken members of our mindset, the authors and luminaries who we quote when the words fail us, but, let’s be honest. Aside from not believing in god, we don’t have much in common with our ‘leaders’ any more than we do with each other.  Personally, I love Hitchens, or rather his unapologetic atheism and anti-theism. On the other hand, I despise his politics… go figure.

Belief systems… well you got us there… by definition we all don’t believe in god. It’s not awfully complex, or even much of a system, but it’s one thing that by definition we share. But world view??? How would you even develop a world view based on the lack of belief?  I ask this because I honestly can’t visualize it.

Atheism doesn’t support an objective morality and we don’t have any well recognized symbols or traditions. We don’t have any rituals, sacraments or even a holiday of our own. 

Atheism doesn’t profess to explain the origin of the universe, most of us accept the scientific explanation, but it isn’t a requisite for lacking belief in a god. Similarly, Atheists, like MOST educated individuals on the planet accept evolution as a fact, and the Theory of Evolution as the best explanation of how the observed fact of evolution works. But if you don’t, we don’t kick you out of the club…

Simply put, we just aren’t organized enough to even masquerade as a religion.

Why then, are those of the theistic persuasion so desperate to make us into a religion? My theory lies in the human propensity to level the playing field. Religion is based on revelation, inspiration faith and precious little hard facts. Atheists have an annoying propensity for insisting on evidence, if we had a mantra, it would be the oft repeated refrain, “prove it”. Most atheists justify their lack of belief largely on the distinct lack of anything remotely resembling proof. There is a need in the mind of the theist therefore, to make atheists appear to be on the same shaky ground as them, to make it appear that we depend on some sort of ‘faith’ rather than cold logic.


LC >;-}>

Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.

Brian37's picture

Lets look to the future as a

Lets look to the future as a movement and consider human behavior in the  past while doing such.

Flat out all "atheist" describes is the "off" position when it comes to god claims. Outside that position atheists can be and are just as diverse in their class, status and politics.

Now, is there anything stopping a movement from becoming fascist? NO, which makes it even more important as a movement to not assume that all atheists think alike on all issues all the time.

Movements need goals, but movements are not labels. Movements are always a group of individuals.

As we move forward as atheists we must never assume like political or religious dogmatism has in the past, ever assume that by proxy of label humans wont continue to do what they have always done. We are humans first and foremost and capable of both good and bad. Humans are not automatically good or bad by proxy of label.

We have and will always see power shifts in human evolution, that will not change even if atheists become a majority. The one thing I think we can and should avoid as a movement is assuming a utopia will fix humanities problems. No matter what there will never be a utopia.

We should fight for our place in society. We should continue to debunk myth and lead others away from superstition. But at the same time we cannot, nor should we ever assume that we are above evolution. We are as much a part of evolution as every other label and every other form of life.

We are humans first and since utopias will never exist, a utopia should never be our goal.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Tapey's picture

And I pray atheists never

And I pray atheists never become organized as a group. I am sometimes of two minds about sites like this being too organized. I just don't see atheism as a grouping with which people should identify with like we do with politics, religion, class, race etc (right or wrong as those things my or may not be).

 

 

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.

Brian37's picture

Brian Sapient has said in

Brian Sapient has said in some sort words to the affect of "I wish the word atheist didn't exist". I agree, but it exists because theism does If theism did not affect politics to the point of global conflict, much less infect education, we would not need to organize.

It took Galileo to tell the truth about our solar system. It is going to take us to wake up humanity. I don't think force or fascism will be needed to do that, nor should we use that. But we do need to do something because our species is far to distracted by religion when we have problems like disease, pollution and lack of education.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Louis_Cypher's picture

Movements don't form in a vacume...

I'm not a fan of "One Tree Hill"... I've never seen a single episode, and wouldn't know it existed if it weren't for the occasional promotional blurbs I see on the screen when I'm watching something else. Thus, I am utterly neutral on the show and its status. But then, No one is trying to pass laws dictating that I MUST watch it, or that my kids must watch it in school. No one wants to pass laws saying that everyone must follow the fashion trends of the show, clothing, hair styles modeled after the lead characters... So there is no need for me to join an anti One Tree Hill movement.

If religion were 'harmless'... if it's followers weren't invading my personal space in a very real context, from the passage of laws, to restrictions on my ability to travel freely, to a small but real possibility that someone may kill me to further or just publicize their religious views I wouldn't feel any need to be part of an Atheist Movement.

LC >;-}>


 

Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.

Sapient's picture

Brian37 wrote:Brian Sapient

Brian37 wrote:

Brian Sapient has said in some sort words to the affect of "I wish the word atheist didn't exist". I agree, but it exists because theism does If theism did not affect politics to the point of global conflict, much less infect education, we would not need to organize. 

I wish we didn't have a need for the word.  We only need it because of religion being created by the ignorant.

The word atheist serves me as a means to unite with others like me.

 

- Brian Sapient


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Brian37's picture

Sapient wrote:Brian37

Sapient wrote:

Brian37 wrote:

Brian Sapient has said in some sort words to the affect of "I wish the word atheist didn't exist". I agree, but it exists because theism does If theism did not affect politics to the point of global conflict, much less infect education, we would not need to organize. 

I wish we didn't have a need for the word.  We only need it because of religion being created by the ignorant.

The word atheist serves me as a means to unite with others like me.

 

You are nothing like me. green is your favorite color. It clashes with burgundy and gold. You'd think outside of Philly you could escape green, BUT NOOOOOOO, every week during the summer I have to mow my lawn constantly reminded of that awful color. And our money, I don't know what's worse "In God We Trust" on it, or that it matches Eagles uniforms.

(Note to self: Did I think this, or type it?)

Nothing to see here folks, keep moving.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Vastet's picture

Everything Louis said here

Everything Louis said here is spot on. +1

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.