It is suggested by many people that Atheism is a religion. Applying the definition of religion toward atheism is an oxymoron and I concur with others who have come to the conclusion that the religious are are so caught up in their own beliefs that imagining another person without having any religious beliefs is largely incomprehensible to them. Either that or they simply don’t care that what they are stating lacks any sense. Those who claim that atheism is a religion do not have a clear understanding of what atheism is, and when religious terms are used to describe atheism, it is the always the beginning of the end of a sensible argument.
Contrary to the argument of those who insist that atheism is a religion, it takes mental gymnastics to attach the narrative, experiential, social, ethical, doctrinal, ritual and material aspects of religion to atheism because atheism is not a structured system with defined rules. It is simply the lack of a belief in the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural. It has no uniform beliefs and is not a means of understanding our existence. Atheism is not philosophy of life. My unbelief in Santa Claus is not a philosophy of life, and thus my unbelief in god isn’t, either.
Any comparisons that put atheism in the same context of religion are a dishonest dialogue. The definition of atheism does not include anything even remotely similar to the dogma and doctrine that is part of religious belief. Atheists can and do adopt a wide variety of points of view that can include anything except the belief in gods and still fit the definition of atheism. Even those of us who are outspoken, widely read and well known cannot be intelligently compared to religious leaders, and atheist organizations cannot be compared to religious congregations. There exists none of the aspects that command such designations.
We do not have our “preachers”, nor do we have our “congregations”. There are many groups that have leaders, such as the United Way or a political party, but to suggest that these groups are religious is preposterous. As well, the belief that atheist organizations mirror religious bodies is equally preposterous. The inherent characteristics of empiricism and skepticism and the lack of “faithful believers” do not allow for anything parallel other than the assemply of human beings in one place. Even the purposes are opposite, as one group has a belief, and the other does not.
While atheism is merely the lack of a belief in god, religion has very specific characteristics. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, in an article on Religion includes characteristics that in no way reflect someone who lacks the belief in supernatural beings. Atheism does not include any distinctions between sacred and profane objects. There are no ritual acts or a moral code believed to be sanctioned by god(s), or any characteristically religious feelings such as awe, a sense of mystery, guilt or adoration. Atheism includes nothing even remotely similar to prayer or other forms of communication with the supernatural.
Religion is a system of belief and atheism cannot be classified as a system of belief because there is no belief and there is no system. There are no rituals, practices, rules, doctrines or dogma. Atheism does not concern itself with gods and it is definitely not a “faith” that includes unquestioning belief requiring no proof. Atheists live according to reason. We do not apply a reference to a higher power in our actions. Atheism is a scientific approach to theistic belief systems. It is not a theory, requires no faith and has no hidden agenda. While an Atheist may seek to contradict theism by using rational thinking and scientific theory to debunk the dubious and irrational assertions of religion, atheism merely awaits evidence to confirm the existence of god.
Defining atheism as a religion is embellishment and bad philosophy. Atheism has no dogma, no rites, no holy books, no places of worship and no clergy of any description. It offers no moral guidance, no political opinions and no world view. Atheism is a religion like “off” is a channel on your television or bald being a hair color.