The Ignorance of Defining Atheism as a Religion

“The most violent element in society is ignorance” – Emma Goldman

If I had a dollar for every time a Christian says that atheism is a religion, I’d be a fairly wealthy man. If I added two-bits to that for every time a Christian says that atheism is a belief system, my kids would get a healthy inheritance, to boot. Of course, those of us that are atheists know full well that atheism is not a religion and cannot be categorized as a belief system, but since when did knowledge stop a believer from being willfully ignorant. After all, they do believe some outlandishly ridiculous things in spite of extant proof to the contrary. In fact, they are proud of their ignorance, and often quote from the book of Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 1, which states, “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Pot, Meet Kettle…

The reason that the believer stubbornly insist that atheism is a religion is actually quite simple. They are mentally unable to conceive otherwise. They are are so caught up in their own beliefs that they cannot comprehend not having them, and thus, cannot comprehend another person not having them. For the indoctrinated, there is no void. One can not simply exist without having a belief in God, and their standard responses when we atheists tell them, very simply, that we do not believe usually provokes a reply to the order of us being in denial. A believer accusing an atheist of being in denial is an oxymoron and actually quite humorous to me. Those who claim that atheism is a religion lack a clear understanding of what atheism is, which is evident by their tendency to use religious terms to describe atheism.

I have often stated on this and other blogs, as well as in my book, the following:

“There exists only one definition of atheism, and that is simply the lack of a belief in a deity.  There is a philosophical aspect to atheism, but it is not part of the definition, but an extension of the individual. Atheism, in of itself, cannot be described as religious because it takes mental gymnastics to attach the narrative, experiential, social, ethical, doctrinal, ritual and material aspects of religion to atheism because it is not a structured system with defined rules.  It has no uniform beliefs and is not a means of understanding our existence.”

Religious belief is a philosophy, but not atheism. An atheist may adopt a philosophy that is based on unbelief, but that philosophy is merely an extension of their atheism, and germane only to the individual. Religion, however, is a shared experience, regardless of all the claims about personal relationships, etc. The concept of religious belief is directly dependent on and pertinent to specific dogma, doctrine and superstitions that are common to the religion. Every Muslim, no matter which sect, has a set of core doctrines that serve to define them as Muslims. Same for Christians, etc. The atheist has no shared belief, doctrine or dogma for obvious reasons.

Mental Gymnastics…

Putting atheism up as a legitimate parallel to religion takes mental gymnastics of Olympian proportions. It is the epitome of that old axiom eluding to the comparison of apples and oranges, but it would be closer to comparing an apple to a Chevy. Atheism has nothing even remotely similar to religious belief. As I stated above, atheists do not have a single positive aspect of existence that binds us together.

We are categorized as a group based on one, single negative – the lack of belief in God. Outside of that, we can and often do, adopt a wide variety of points of view that can include anything. Even those of us who are among the outspoken, widely read and well-known in our movement cannot intelligently be compared to religious leaders, which is another common statement of ignorance coming from the religious, followed in ignorance only by their assertions that atheist organizations are comparative to religious congregations.  The plain truth is that there exists no similarities between atheism and religion that can logically command such designations.

The fact that there are a plethora of religionists who go through great lengths in their attempts to define atheism as a religion is indicative of the ignorance that is prevalent within their mindsets. A man named Daniel Smart of “Creation Ministries International” published an article last year that is probably the most batshit crazy attempt at this. It is lengthily, poorly written and completely devoid of anything close to accurate. In fact, his first commentator put it very succinctly,

“This article is a typical example of you’re complete failure to understand atheism or science. The entire CMI website and team produce nothing but propaganda which this is a clear example of. The CMI website, I understand, is supposed to be providing a scientific explanation of creation, yet it has failed to provide one solitary unbiased piece of evidence. All the website is good for is hypocrisy and propaganda.”

You Keep Using That Word…

Believers, particularly Christians, are fond of using what I like to call “Disingenuous Heteronyms.” A heteronym is a is a word that has equal spelling and pronunciation, but has different meanings. The word “lick” is an example. You can lick an ice cream cone, and you can lick someone in a fight. A disingenuous heteronym is word that has equal spelling and pronunciation, but a meaning is attached to it that does not follow the standards by which definitions are arrived.

Examples would be the words “preacher” and “congregation.” These words have a few different meanings, which make them heteronyms, but the assignment of these words with definitions within the confines of atheism is disingenuous. Point of fact, many religious people like to call me a preacher.

Now, I used to be a preacher, so calling me a former preacher would be accurate. But within the confines of atheism, calling an outspoken atheist that tours the lecture circuit, produces radio and television programs, writes articles or authors books (or a combination of some or all of these) a preacher is inaccurate.

Atheism has no “preachers” nor “congregations.” Atheist groups have leaders and agendas, much in the way as groups such as the United Way, but to suggest that atheist groups are religious in nature is not only preposterous, but shows a lack of intellectual savvy that is common found in very young children.

We Gather Here Today….

The lack of “faithful believers” and the other inherent characteristics of religion do not allow for anything parallel between the two outside of a group of humans meeting at the same place.  After that, there is no commonality. When atheists gather to hear a speaker, they are encouraged to be skeptical about the content of the lecture. The speaker generally offers food for thought, knowing full well that individual expression of opinion is accepted as the norm.

No single atheist is obligated to agree with what another atheist might take away from any given lecture. The religious leader, however, does not offer food for thought. Quite the contrary, they have a goal of uniting their congregation under one dogmatic banner where there is no room for congregational interaction, skepticism or free thought.

Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated…

As I made reference to earlier, atheism stands on its own as a definitive and does not require an attached philosophy that all atheists must adhere to. The fact that an atheist has an individualized philosophical compass that is not connected to a common belief is the main tenet that separates it from religion.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, in an article on Religion, defines religion as such:

    • Belief in supernatural beings (gods).
    • A distinction between sacred and profane objects.
    • Ritual acts focused on sacred objects.
    • A moral code believed to be sanctioned by the gods.
    • Characteristically religious feelings (awe, sense of mystery, sense of guilt, adoration), which tend to be aroused in the presence of sacred objects and during the practice of ritual, and which are connected in idea with the gods.
    • Prayer and other forms of communication with gods.
    • A world view, or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. This picture contains some specification of an over-all purpose or point of the world and an indication of how the individual fits into it.
    • A more or less total organization of one’s life based on the world view.
    • A social group bound together by the above.

As you can see, these characteristics in no way reflect someone who lacks the belief in supernatural beings, nor anything that unites atheists on a dogmatic level. Atheism does not include any distinctions between sacred and profane objects. There are no ritual acts or moral codes to be sanctioned by God(s). There is nothing about atheism that fits any of these.

There exist no characteristically religious feelings such as awe, nor 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. Atheism is not, and cannot be classified as such because there is no belief and there is no system. No rituals, practices, rules, doctrines or dogma.

It Takes More Faith To Be An Atheist…

I wasn’t actually going to address this very common statement by the religious because it’s just so completely stupid that I doesn’t even deserve the energy it takes to make the keystrokes. But it does come up often, so I will give it some attention. Religion concerns itself with gods and religious belief is classified as “faith” because it includes unquestioning belief in unconventional definitions that require no proof to believe as truth. Hence the common, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” bumper stickers that adorn the chariots of the godly.

Atheists, however, live according to reason and do not apply a reference to a higher power. Atheism is a scientific approach to theistic belief systems. An atheist contradicts theism by using rational thinking and scientific theory to debunk the dubious and irrational assertions of religion. In short, atheism merely awaits evidence to confirm the existence of god.

It Just Ain’t So…

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…

  35 comments for “The Ignorance of Defining Atheism as a Religion

  1. sqlrob
    January 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Atheism is a scientific approach to theistic belief systems. An atheist contradicts theism by using rational thinking and scientific theory to debunk the dubious and irrational assertions of religion.

    Sorry, I can’t agree with this, plus it goes against your thesis that atheists have nothing in common.

    Why does atheism have to arrive from rational thought? That’s something not required by the definition, nor is it true in all cases. One can become an atheist simply as an act of nonconformity with religious parents, putting no particular thought into it.

    • bybelknap
      January 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      No True Atheist does it out of rebellious non-conformity! Heretic!

    • Al Stefanelli
      January 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Don’t confuse atheism with atheists. Atheists come from all walks of life and can have widely differing world views. Atheism is exactly the same for everyone, however they arrive at it. Approaching religion with indifference is not atheism, but agnosticism. Just sayin…

      • sqlrob
        January 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm

        Atheism is exactly the same for everyone, yet in the part I quoted “Atheism is a scientific approach to theistic belief systems” seems to belie your comment.

        It’s a lack, where is the scientific / rationality in that definition?

        • Al Stefanelli
          January 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm

          You’re over thinking this. Using reason is a scientific principle. At it’s base, atheism is a lack of belief based on the lack of evidence. That is the result of reason.

          • Beth
            January 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm

            This doesn’t seem true to me. Many people do arrive at atheism via the path you described, but not everyone who travels that path arrives at atheism nor do all atheists follow that path.

  2. January 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Atheism is a religion like “off” is a channel on your television…

    love it

    I am Jewish by birth and upbringing although I am no longer practising. My partner is atheist by birth and upbringing. We’ve had many discussions on life the universe and everything. One of the things that’s handy is that I don’t try to convert her to how I was brought up partly because it’s not my bad any more but mainly because I was brought up Jewish which means not trying to persuade people over to your way of being. But it is interesting how as someone who “has/had” religion I have a frame of reference which she simply doesn’t have. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it faith in my case but it is a frame of reference and she definitely doesn’t have it – it doesn’t make her a bad person it’s just a framework against which she doesn’t define herself.

    My point in this rambling monologue is that I think that the “Christians” to whom you refer simply cannot relate to someone who doesn’t have this god framework thing going on. They call it “faith” but it really is just a way of seeing the world / universe we live in as something that was, in some way, manifested by some third party.

    I would recommend they try.

    I would strongly recommend that they try contemplating the world around them without “god” because if they could come down from their high horses and be a bit more humble it wouldn’t do them any harm. I’d recommend it, from their perspective, because if god does exist then it is something that can create universes so the likelihood if it ever communicating with us in a way we can actually understand, and the likelihood of us ever being able to understand what it is, are pretty slim. So in my view, whatever it is that Christians are worshipping, it’s probably not god because it’s something that they claim to be able to understand and feel. And they’re human. And they can’t create universes. So they are unlikely to ever be able to relate to the thing that created the universe. 15 billion years ago. If it even exists… and wanted to be understood…

    • WalterWalcarpit
      January 20, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Simon, that is one of the most insightful thoughts I have read in quite a while.

      I’ve read a lot since Jesus & Mo tried to get into a London social – and joined in a few times – but while I have read some terrific writing I haven’t really been surprised (not even by the fundamentalists).
      I was born & raised a Christian which I rejected in my late teens, sort of replaced with New Age stuff as a young adult but basically gravitated towards atheism without really giving it that much thought. As a matter of fact it was Douglas Adams’ description of why he considered himself a radical atheist that I knew where is was in the scheme of things. My partner’s journey was similar if far less immersive (I was often amazed by hes ignorance of the bible, but that is partly addressed by your point) and se retains a peculiar empathy for Aboriginal dreamtime mythology.

      So our children will be interesting. We have not set out deliberately to inculcate them but neither do we refrain from expressing disdain when religion raises its ugly head. The older, who rather uniquely had his own Celtic Welcoming Ceremony in the Adelaide Hills, has already been overheard debating with a believing school friend. While the younger, who received no ritual but embarked on primary education in country Northern Ireland where entire communities revolve around one church or another, has been quite amenable to the mysterious ways of peers & rituals of granparents.

      To conclude this I don’t mean to state the obvious by saying that how one is nurtured affects what one believes so much as to suggest that what one finds normal or natural, one’s ‘frame of reference’ is an easy comfort that requires affirmative action to change.
      Here in Ireland a resurgence of Paganism that I had attributed to a desire to reject and rebel coupled with an inability to let go completely might be explained by a void that is created on the journey.
      It must be so much easier for one who has never had anything stuffed into that space; nothing to replace. That in itself probably explains a gradual and perhaps inexorable drift towards a more secular humanity even if, for ever greater numbers, it might not be attributable to the application of reason.

      I wonder if there has ever been a born and raised atheist that has turned to religion …

  3. brizeshsolanki
    January 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    If atheism is a religion then abstinence is a sex position.

    If atheism is a religion then bald is a hair colour.

    If atheism is a religion then health is a disease.

    If atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    If atheism is a religion then “off” is a TV channel.

    If atheism is a religion then unemployment is a job.

    If atheism is a religion then “nowhere” is a place.

    If atheism is a religion then “silent” is a volume

    • January 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Very nice analogies! I’m sure I’ll find them useful!!

    • January 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      LOL. I’ve only heard of one of those before.

      Thank you for teaching me something new today. 🙂

    • crissakentavr
      January 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      If you’re a programmer, those really are true, though ^-^ Then again, if you’re a software engineer, you start counting with 0…

    • Ryan Jean
      January 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

      » “If atheism is a religion then bald is a hair colour.”

      I never liked this one. Hair style and color are independent; this analogy implies that bald is a *lack* of hair color, which it most certainly is not. As long as there is a capacity for hair, even if only below the surface or merely a follicle still capable of hair growth, it is a non sequitor.

      » “If atheism is a religion then health is a disease.”

      I’ve actually heard medical personnel describe “healthy” as merely the slowest rate of decline… 😉

      » “If atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

      I have used this one. A clever response I once received was to point out that if I enjoyed mocking stamp collectors, then my *true* hobby would thus be revealed.

      » “If atheism is a religion then “off” is a TV channel.”

      As one other pointed out, for a programmer this is true. Indexing from zero, “off” (or “null” or “false”) seems perfectly fitting as the first entry.

      » “If atheism is a religion then unemployment is a job.”

      This actually sounds like a part of the current Republican party platform, as they rail against the “welfare state” that made the American Dream possible at all… still, I like this one and think I might use it in the future.

      » “If atheism is a religion then “silent” is a volume.”

      Same programmer’s note as the TV one. I think the problem is that it relates different religions to a scale (which raises the question of which faith has a higher value…) when each one is really its own separate scale of how much someone believes in it.

      I think I’ll add my own:
      “If atheism is a religion then “transparent” is a color.”

      What I like about this one is that you can ascribe whatever values to each of the color channels that you want simultaneously (just as you can with different religions), but in the end you see them as all lacking substance…

  4. articulett
    January 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I think theists need atheism to be a religion so they can dismiss it like they do other religions… this keeps them from realizing that the atheist feels the same way about the theists supernatural beliefs as the theist feels about believers in other faiths, superstitions, myths.

    The invisible/divine beings and supernatural things that Christians believe in are just as wrong, silly, and potentially harmful as THEY find the supernatural beliefs of Muslims, Scientologists, Wiccans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Schizophrenics etc. Arrogantly, Christians don’t think they can be fooled like all those others– they (like those others) are sure that their “woo” is true.

    The atheist correctly notes that even if there were some invisible beings (such as souls) or some supernatural force or realm, science would be testing, refining, and honing the evidence for their own benefit. Absent any scientific information, all supernatural claims are equally unbelievable and unsupportable. If science can’t separate the true from the “woo”, it’s silly to think that some guru, preacher, or holy book has.

    If people weren’t afraid that they might suffer eternally for non-belief, would belief in god even matter? Would theists need to run around in desperation propping up their delusion at every opportunity and manipulating others into belief? Would they need to play the stupid silly semantic games whereby they “prove” to themselves that atheism is another faith?

    • January 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      articulett – no I don’t think you understand theism. Obviously you understand that theists believe in god via a religion but because you don’t have the frame of reference of theism, of being a theist, of “knowing” god you therefore don’t understand why it bugs theists so much. Theists feel that the only way to truly follow something is to believe it with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and that all these roads of following lead to god (incidentally). But they follow a religion because of fundamental feelings of belief. An atheist rejects this emotional crutch. It is the opposite of belief. You don’t believe anything. You don’t feel the need and why should you?

      Notwithstanding my original argument – that it is basically conceited for theists to believe they know god – if you had been brought up to believe in it then you would have a frame of reference. And had you been brought up in one of the majority “evangelical” (to some degree) religions you would have wanted to share this framework. And you would believe that those who didn’t have this framework actually did but were in denial. It is very hard for people who “believe” to understand that there are people who simply don’t. There are people – lots of people – you included – who will turn around to anything fantastical and say “well show me proof and I guess I can believe in it”.

      That’s a problem. It’s a problem because theists can’t prove god’s existence. And it’s a problem because even if theists COULD prove god’s existence… you still wouldn’t feel the need to beleive in god. It’s almost as though the existence of god is immaterial. It isn’t “god or not god” that is the issue here, it is belief, as such. Theists believe – they don’t have a choice. Atheists don’t have to believe and most will choose not to.

      That which is “proof” to a theist is not really proof to a scientist, or anyone who employs a modicum of logic but that is incidental, it is by the bye because it is like one person arguing with themselves. Theists want you to believe and will try to argue “on your terms” despite the hopelessness of their task. Atheists don’t need to believe and so would rather not burden themselves with the attendent guff. Moreover, just to complicate things a little further, there are plenty of theists (again probably the majority) who realise that the whole premise of god is a little out there and in this knowledge are still prepared to set aside reality, critical thought and burden of scientific proof and believe in god anyway. But at least they are sensible enough not to try to convert you to feel the way they do.

      And in the end that is what it is. You either feel “goddish” or you don’t. It’s nothing more than that. Theists dress their believe up in layers of ritual and tradition and meaning and scripture and holiness and spirituality but ultimately they are all giftwrapping around a central premise of belief in “god”. Atheists don’t believe in god and don’t feel the need to believe in anything. It’s very zen 😉

      • January 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        I certainly understand that one could be a theist without the trappings of a particular brand of religion. In fact, it seems to me that virtually all religious believers pick and choose the elements of their religion in which they believe. It’s sort of like a Mr. Potato Head game. Each person ultimately makes personal choices about their spiritual beliefs, even atheists.

        I admit to the logical possibility that a god-like entity might exist, however unlikely it seems to be, but I wouldn’t switch from atheism to theism unless there was pretty compelling evidence of the existence of this entity. I have no “need” for my disbelief. I talked about some of this in an essay:

        http://www.flame.org/~cdoswell/AtheisticLogic.html

        Consider the following demonstration of existence that a supreme being should be able to do easily: At precisely the same time, everywhere around the world, this entity would speak to every person in the world in their own language. The content of this speech would be to let everyone know that this entity was going to stop the rotation of the Earth in precisely 15 minutes, make the Earth rotate backward for 5 min, and then return everything to normal. If the predicted changes to the rotation of the Earth actually happened, this would be pretty compelling evidence for the existence of this deity.

        Then perhaps this hypothetical deity would take the time to explain to us all why he quit performing such supernatural miracles 2000 years ago. I don’t speak for all atheists, but it makes no rational sense to believe in a deity based only on faith.

  5. Rando
    January 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    They like to call atheism a religion so they can use it against us. Whenever the ACLU or an atheist group tries to get “God” out of a public area, like a school, courthouse, or public park, they claim that atheism is a religion like Christianity, and if we remove “God” we’re “respecting the Athiest religion.” They pulled that when Jessica Ahlquist tried to get that prayer banner pulled down. They also do it with Evolution, they try to associate Evolution with atheism and say it’s religious; therefore it does not belong in the schools. It’s a guilt by association fallacy they love to pull, because they can’t tell the difference between being secular and atheism.

    • JJ7212
      January 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      That’s a great point! Well put.

  6. January 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Very nicely argued, Al! I addressed the same topic in a blog a while back:

    http://cadiiitalk.blogspot.com/2011/12/disbelief-is-not-belief.html

    • Al Stefanelli
      January 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      Thank you, Chuck! Enjoyed your blog!

  7. January 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I should have added: Believers want to see atheism as a religion based on having “faith” in reason, logic and evidence, but “faith” is defined as belief without evidence, so it’s an oxymoron to have “faith” in reason, logic, and evidence. Rather, I have “confidence” and “trust” in such things because of my experience that reason, logic and evidence-based thinking actually works, unlike most religious beliefs. Asserting (incorrectly) that atheism is a religion is a way of putting atheists down at the level of faith-based believers. As Al points out, there are no atheist ministers, no atheist churches, no atheist liturgies, no atheist congregations – we are freethinkers, not adherents to some core of beliefs. All we share is: disbelief in a deity.

  8. Trip
    January 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I enjoyed this good article.

    Quoting it: “…every time a Christian says that atheism is a religion…”

    When I hear this said by a Christian, it seems that he is trying to denigrate atheism by claiming it is a religion, just like his Christianity! That just seems to backfire on them, to me. ‘Atheism is bad because it is like Christianity in that it is a religion?’

    My atheism is simply that I don’t believe any of the 3000+ named gods are, or ever were, anything more than fictional literary characters – because I have evaluated the evidence. It means nothing more than that.

    If they want to take-on actual ‘belief systems,’ they’ll have to have a go against my defense of humanism.

    Tripp
    Milledgeville

  9. Tripp
    January 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    “It Takes More Faith To Be An Atheist…”

    Oh, Lord, this opens up a can of psychological construct worms! They’re going to have to do a lot of preliminary research just to define and validate this construct, plus prove that their measurement of it is reliable!

    “How have you measured ‘how much faith’ it takes…?”, I ask. On what scale is it described? How much ‘faith’ does it take to be other things?

    I caint wait to see the normative data for how the quantities of ‘faith’ are measured!

    (And if they don’t have any research on how to quantify ‘faith,’ then their assertion is nonsense.)

    Tripp
    M’ville, GA.

    • Ataraxic
      January 18, 2012 at 5:08 am

      Tripp –
      I believe the quanta of faith is the mustard seed (SI unit msd).
      Atheist = 0msd
      YEC = 1.21Gmsd

      • Tripp
        January 18, 2012 at 11:33 pm

        Ataraxic,

        You’re making shit up – but that’s what I was getting at, so you might be right.

        Is there a conversion formula for joules to mustard seeds of ‘faith?’

        I just want to know ‘how much faith it takes…’

  10. JJ7212
    January 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    There’s another great related article over on TfB’s The Crommunist Manifesto by Brian Lynchehaun that also talks about the confusion in defining the words:

    1. The supernatural

    2. Human logic

    3. Miracles

    4. Methodological Naturalism

    5. God

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/01/16/why-people-dont-like-to-answer-theistic-questions/

    I recommend it as a nice follow-up to Mr. Stefanelli’s outstanding article. A double whammy of great thinking!

  11. January 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    >Atheism is a religion like “off” is a channel on your television.

    Perfect!

  12. January 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    There exists only one definition of atheism, and that is simply the lack of a belief in a deity.

    Someone pointed out the problem with this definition: it makes rocks into atheists.

    In reality, those who label themselves atheists know about religion. By several surveys, they know about religion than the average believer. While there might be a few who lack any belief in a god because they never encountered religion, we tend more to apply the label to those who have encountered it, thought about it, and rejected it. The fact that they lack belief in any god is indeed an aspect of that rejection, since religion is how belief in gods is propagated. And it is quite correct, from an epistemological viewpoint, to point out the difference between lacking belief, as opposed to believing the negation.

    But. That lack of belief in god typically is accompanied by a variety of beliefs about religion, the ways in which it is propagated, and the kinds of arguments it makes. To put it simply, atheists are those who have decided that religious belief in the supernatural is dumb. “Off” is not a TV channel, but those who have decided to turn the TV off typically are those who know a bit about what’s on TV.

  13. Sandman
    January 17, 2012 at 6:23 am

    First up….thanks Uncle Al for the lucidity and clarity you add. As ever with your best work you have articulated complex arguments into a concise and coherent format I can now use when some dumbass faithhead fires the idiot arguments you lay out at me….which happened wth some ex-pats here where I live after my bit on your guest blog was published. They one by one trotted out all those asshat canards….like the stupid defences of Creationism it seems the faithful are like a big scratched record. I just retorted with:

    “Is bald a hair cut? Is not collecting stamps a hobby? So….is not believing in the supernatural a religion? Do I need to get the crayons out for you?”

    Next up…over at the Friendly Atheist blog I watched a short YouTube vid discussing recent neurological research showing that hardcore belief in religion, and particularly the more fundementalist type, actually impairs the functioning of the logic part of the brain…the hypocampus. So maybe that is why the faith heads cant understand us…they are all brain damaged.

    The levels of irony that revelation generates when some glassy eyed holier than thou sack of cack like Bachmann then says that it is vaccines that cause mental retardation are just sweeet sweeet honey. I think just got myself a whole new set of brass knuckles….. 😉

    The reason the faithful are so desparate and resort to these “It takes more faith blah blah..” canards is that they can see that the Emperor has his ass hanging out, and that using logic an reason it is easy to demolish every single defence for faith they put forward. There is no effective defence against the “show me” logic attack, none at all.

    Hammer on at the anvil brother Al….hammer on.

  14. EvN
    January 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    You had me chuckling.

    I often encounter believers who simply cannot fathom that I do not believe. You must believe in something, even if that something is “nothing”. “Oh, you believe in nothing, then!”

    It takes patience to explain that I do not take part in the activity of believing in god(s).

  15. lclane2
    January 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    One of my hobbies is “not collecting stamps”.

  16. Robert
    January 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    “A world view, or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. This picture contains some specification of an over-all purpose or point of the world and an indication of how the individual fits into it.”

    The supernatural does not exist.
    The individual has no special place in the world.
    There is no over-all purpose or point of the world.

    I can see how (by a bit of stretch, perhaps…) atheism fits this part of the definition. I can also think of religions that do not fit on all those points. How many of those points have to be true for something to be a religion?

  17. Tony
    January 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Russell:

    Someone pointed out the problem with this definition: it makes rocks into atheists.

    -I’m not quite sure why someone would point out a non-existent problem. I thought it was fairly obvious when speaking about theists or atheists, that most people are referring to human beings (or depending on one’s opinion, “sentient, higher thinking beings”).
    Also, if some rocks can be atheists, then some rocks can also be theists. So the definition of theism could apply to rocks as well.

  18. Kevin
    January 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    If I had a dollar for everytime some Christian refers to Atheism as a Religion, I would sure hope that wasn’t my only source of income or I would have to cut back seriously on my techy type stuff (and maybe food too). I really don’t think they refer to it that often. Most don’t really give it that much thought. Most that do might be fooled by some of the other ideologies that Atheists can hold which act like religions. We are, of course, the same set that produced both Marx and Rand.

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