Sheep Herders and Cat Wrangling, is Atheism a Religion
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.
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.