Is Atheism a Religion?

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This topic contains 67 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 1 month, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #24270

    Unseen
    Participant

    Theists often claim that atheism is just another religion. I guess they feel a need to think everyone is religious no matter what.

    What’s wrong with my definition of religion?:  A religion is any belief system that claims to be a religion or self-identifies as a religion or whose members claim to be religious.

    Atheism isn’t a religion because it doesn’t claim to be a religion.

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Unseen.
    #24273

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I think one defining feature of a religion is worship or reverence for a leader or deity, so that’s why someone might say that, for example, the Michael Jackson fan club is a religion, or Dr Who is a way of life.

    Atheism doesn’t have this structure, so it can’t be described as a religion.

    #24277

    Unseen
    Participant

    I think one defining feature of a religion is worship or reverence for a leader or deity, so that’s why someone might say that, for example, the Michael Jackson fan club is a religion, or Dr Who is a way of life. Atheism doesn’t have this structure, so it can’t be described as a religion.

    You yourself identified the problem with that definition. You won’t find the Michael Jackson or Dr. Who (technically, Doctor Who) Fan Clubs in an book on major religions of the world.

    My definition works.

     

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Unseen.
    #24279

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @unseen – “You won’t find the Michael Jackson or Dr. Who (technically, Doctor Who) Fan Clubs in an book on major religions of the world.

    – apart from the dictionary definition, what attributes do religions have that atheism doesn’t have?

    #24282

    Clearsky
    Participant

    @unseen – “You won’t find the Michael Jackson or Dr. Who (technically, Doctor Who) Fan Clubs in an book on major religions of the world.” – apart from the dictionary definition, what attributes do religions have that atheism doesn’t have?

    One attribute that Religion has which atheism does NOT have is

    The belief in supernatural, stuff which has no empirical scientific explanation.

    The other more pernicious one is an organized structure, of knowledge and power.

    There is always the ones who have knowledge ( priest, nun, monk, shaman, druid, pope, Brahmin etc). And the follower ordinary people.

     

     

     

     

    #24283

    In my debates with theists I almost always have to explain to them that atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of god or gods. Not believing in god does not require any faith.

    Whatever religion they follow is faith based and is therefore build upon belief in the veracity of the claims of that religion which can only be taken on faith.

    There are many religions and gods you do not believe in and it requires no faith to not believe in those gods. You are an atheist, just like me, when it comes to belief in those other gods. Any argument you give me to explain why you do not believe in those other gods is exactly the argument I will use to explain why I do not believe in the existence of your god.

    This is where they make the mistake of seeing atheism as a form of belief because I cannot prove that their god does not exist – as if I am taking it on faith that “He” does not. Or they see atheism as a form of Denialism on my part and assume that also requires a level of belief because I am denying something that is “obvious” to them. They all presuppose that their god is real.

    They think my lack of belief requires a level of cognitive assent to not believe.  To them it is not that I don’t believe but rather that I am actively maintaining a state of disbelief.

    They cannot grasp that that I do not disbelieve what I don’t believe in the first place!! There is no conscious effort involved on my part to be an atheist. I never decided to be one. I just do not believe what they believe, just as they don’t believe what many other theists believe.

    Hindus – oh but at least they believe in something and saying you don’t believe is a form of belief in and of itself. And you say you use Reason!! So explain that you atheist!!

    #24286

    Davis
    Participant

    No. No it is not.

    #24287

    Unseen
    Participant

    @unseen – “You won’t find the Michael Jackson or Dr. Who (technically, Doctor Who) Fan Clubs in an book on major religions of the world.” – apart from the dictionary definition, what attributes do religions have that atheism doesn’t have?

    The attribute of self-identification as a religion.

    #24288

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Your definition is a failure.

    If a monkey identifies as a gold fish is it a gold fish?

    See Marcus Aurelius. What is it? What is its nature? What does it do?  Decidedly and significantly omitted…What does it call itself.

    #24289

    Unseen
    Participant

    @unseen – “You won’t find the Michael Jackson or Dr. Who (technically, Doctor Who) Fan Clubs in an book on major religions of the world.” – apart from the dictionary definition, what attributes do religions have that atheism doesn’t have?

    One attribute that Religion has which atheism does NOT have is The belief in supernatural, stuff which has no empirical scientific explanation. The other more pernicious one is an organized structure, of knowledge and power. There is always the ones who have knowledge ( priest, nun, monk, shaman, druid, pope, Brahmin etc). And the follower ordinary people.

    @unseen – “You won’t find the Michael Jackson or Dr. Who (technically, Doctor Who) Fan Clubs in an book on major religions of the world.” – apart from the dictionary definition, what attributes do religions have that atheism doesn’t have?

    One attribute that Religion has which atheism does NOT have is The belief in supernatural, stuff which has no empirical scientific explanation. The other more pernicious one is an organized structure, of knowledge and power. There is always the ones who have knowledge ( priest, nun, monk, shaman, druid, pope, Brahmin etc). And the follower ordinary people.

    I’m offering a definition that’s a conversation-stopper. Your points are all things to argue about. For example, they talk about supernatural stuff? Science talks about extra dimensions. Up to 11 in string theory, I believe. In a sense of the word “natural,” estra dimensions can be referred to as supernatural.

    #24290

    Unseen
    Participant

    Your definition is a failure. If a monkey identifies as a gold fish is it a gold fish? See Marcus Aurelius. What is it? What is its nature? What does it do? Decidedly and significantly omitted…What does it call itself.

    My definition doesn’t have atheism making a claim. It simply respects the self-identifications the religions make and identifies what’s unique about a religion. It is a religion and knows it.

    #24291

    Unseen
    Participant

    In my debates with theists I almost always have to explain to them that atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of god or gods. Not believing in god does not require any faith. Whatever religion they follow is faith based and is therefore build upon belief in the veracity of the claims of that religion which can only be taken on faith. There are many religions and gods you do not believe in and it requires no faith to not believe in those gods. You are an atheist, just like me, when it comes to belief in those other gods. Any argument you give me to explain why you do not believe in those other gods is exactly the argument I will use to explain why I do not believe in the existence of your god. This is where they make the mistake of seeing atheism as a form of belief because I cannot prove that their god does not exist – as if I am taking it on faith that “He” does not. Or they see atheism as a form of Denialism on my part and assume that also requires a level of belief because I am denying something that is “obvious” to them. They all presuppose that their god is real. They think my lack of belief requires a level of cognitive assent to not believe. To them it is not that I don’t believe but rather that I am actively maintaining a state of disbelief. They cannot grasp that that I do not disbelieve what I don’t believe in the first place!! There is no conscious effort involved on my part to be an atheist. I never decided to be one. I just do not believe what they believe, just as they don’t believe what many other theists believe. Hindus – oh but at least they believe in something and saying you don’t believe is a form of belief in and of itself. And you say you use Reason!! So explain that you atheist!!

    Well, there’s no necessity for a religion to even have a deity. In that regard, the theists have a point they can and do argue (though they undoubtedly aren’t coming at it from that direction). My definition sidesteps all that. We respect their self-identification and ask them to simply respect ours.

    #24292

    jakelafort
    Participant

    A spy might make a claim…I am a patriot says she…whereas she is sleeping with high mucky mucks attempting to attain information to sabotage that nation. Therefore we must honor Marcus and ask what is it, what is its nature, what does it do.  A positive claim can be misleading by design as it is in the aforementioned example or by mistake.

    Atheism is not a religion irrespective of what others think of atheism or what atheists think of atheism.

    #24293

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    @jakelafort – I think that’s very true.  Self-reporting is unreliable.  Atheists “would say that, wouldn’t they?” because they are against religion.

    Dictionary definitions are a lazy way to analyse something complex like atheism or religion.

    #24298

    Unseen
    Participant

    Of course, the religious aren’t going to accept any argument on behalf of atheism or critical of their arguments and positions. My definition is simply a conversation stopper. “You say you’re a religion, and you have a right to say you’re a religion, we accept that. We say we are not, accept it or not. There’s nothing to discuss here. Move on.”

    The assertion that any position ON religion is ipso facto a religion is absurd. Equally true: engaging with them in a discussion about it leads nowhere. They say it more to irritate us than because they actually believe it and the more we engage them on the matter, the happier they are. They say they are religious, we don’t. End of story.

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