Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Religion?


OK theists, repeat after me, "Atheism is not a religion." There, see? It's not all that bad. Yeah, I know what you are thinking. I've seen the smug smiles from theists as they assert that atheism is just another religion as if they've just defeated every atheist position there is. As if they didn't just deal their own position a death blow by resorting to relativistic arguments that their way is just as good as an atheists since they are both religions anyway and all that.

But, the problem is that it's simply not true. If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color and not collecting stamps is a hobby. How does one make a religion out of the rational position that theism has not upheld its burden of proof? You don't/can't. Rejection of your religion does not necessitate that I have formed one of my own. Before you decide that you have this clever statement/comeback, remember that you are simply wrong, and it's a bad argument for you to make anyway.

10 comments:

AIGBusted said...

You're post about Noah's flood was dead on. I have a blog that debunks creationism, including some articles that completely kill the flood story past any credibility:

http://aigbusted.blogspot.com

-Ryan

GCT said...

Someone like QOI could really use your blog so that they could learn something about evolution.

MS Quixote said...

Atheism is not a religion. I'm on record, in public.

Worldview maybe, thought system perhaps, definitely not a religion...

It is also difficult to accurately define one atheist's thoughts and have it hold to another's outside of the denial of the existence of god(s). This makes them interesting to talk to.

One thing atheists do have in common with theists is a tendency toward mythopoesis. This is not to say they believe false propositions necessarily, but it is to say humans of all varieties consistently develop conceptions of the world that order and arrange their observations and help them conceptualize the sublime and the numinous.

Tigerboy said...

Atheism is not a philosophy. The belief that there is no God is a SINGLE conclusion.

Based upon the indisputable FACT that there is ZERO empirical evidence for there being a God, many intelligent, thinking people have drawn a SINGLE conclusion for themselves:

No God.

This is not a philosophy. This single conclusion sets forth no values, no judgments, no belief systems. It is simply a "thumbs down" on ONE idea.

Atheism offers no alternative ways to live your life, no alternative ways to hate or judge your neighbor, no alternative reasons to go to war, or stay home.

Atheism makes no judgments that your woman must, or must not, wear a burqa, or else she is, or is not, a whore. Atheism offers no opinion about whether, or not, it's a good idea to hack off a part of your baby son's penis.

It's not a philosophy.

Religions definitely ARE philosophies. Dangerous philosophies.

GCT said...

ms,
It depends on your definition of "worldview."

"It is also difficult to accurately define one atheist's thoughts and have it hold to another's outside of the denial of the existence of god(s). This makes them interesting to talk to."

This is not surprising in the least as Tigerboy points out. Atheism is simply the realization that theists have not met their burden of proof.

"One thing atheists do have in common with theists is a tendency toward mythopoesis."

What myths are created in saying that theists have not evidenced their conceptions of god?

Tigerboy said...

PEOPLE have a tendency toward myth. Another term for this tendency is "urban legend." Humans like to tell stories, and they love to make their stories just a wee bit better, to make a point, or get a laugh, or whatever.

Look at what happened to James Frey. He told his own story of what he experienced while recovering from drug addiction. But he couldn't help himself. He had to make it more entertaining.

Oprah ended up ripping him a new one on national TV. Personally, I don't have a problem with people adding drama to their stories.

However, we should be aware that this happens all the time, millions and millions of times a day, every day, all over the world. People embellish their stories.

Stories about multiplying loaves and fishes, the healing of the sick and the blind, virgin births and resurrections, these embellishments lead to Religion. It's not about true events. It's about some point the storyteller wishes to make.

Atheists, being people and all, are not immune from embellishing their stories. Everybody does it.

But their stories don't tend to be about how their neighbors are going to Hell.

One thing I found very interesting about that James Frey incident was that it showed how people feel betrayed when you embellish your DRAMATIC autobiographic story. When you tell your story for COMEDIC effect, people EXPECT you to make it a little bit better. Look at David Sedaris, or Augusten Burroughs, or Dave Eggers, or any number of autobiographical, comedic writers. Everybody knows that they make it "better" than it really happened. It's fine!

But James Frey does the same thing and gets excoriated.

Anonymous said...

If atheism is not a religeon, why are you preaching it?

personally, i live my life day to day, and caring about the afterlife is something i leave until i'm dead.

GCT said...

Where have I preached anything?

TheNerd said...

Atheism isn't really a religion or a philosophy, in my opinion. Like you said: bald isn't a hair color (except on a D&D character sheet). You may as well say "dead" is an organism's age - calling Atheism a religion is a non sequitor.

Agnosticism is a philosophy. Atheism usually falls under that philosophy, because Atheism says "any god who may exist isn't leaving an evidence trail, and therefore might as well not exist even if he does". Christians can also be Agnostic, saying "I can't show empirically that my God exists, but I still feel it in my heart".

The key difference here is that while Agnostic Christianity IS a religion, Agnostic Atheism is NOT.

I will venture to say that non-Agnostic Atheism IS a religion, because it is now saying "the non-existance of god is proveable", even when it is not. Fortunately, I don't know any non-Agnostic Atheists, and rarely see them on Teh Internetz. If I ever do, I'll tear them a new one, the same way I do non-Agnostic Christians.

Tigerboy said...

thenerd:

Do you describe yourself as an Agnostic, or non-Agnostic, concerning Astrology? I will, for the sake of argument, assume that you do NOT believe in Astrology. You cannot prove it isn't true.

But, aren't you confident enough in Astrology's bullshit nature to declare yourself an Astrology Atheist?

Are you familiar with "Russell's Teapot"?

It is frequently mentioned in Atheist discussions, so you probably DO know about it, but I will just hit the main idea. Bertrand Russell suggested that there might be a perfectly formed china teapot, too small to be seen by any telescope, in orbit around the Sun, between Mars and the Earth.

Is it necessary to describe yourself as a Teapot Agnostic? You cannot be CERTAIN it isn't there, can you?

When there is zero empirical evidence for something, why must someone who doesn't believe in the existence of that thing describe themselves as still considering the possibility?

Show me one shred of real evidence for the existence of God and suddenly I'm an Agnostic. I might even jump to Pious. (It depends what the evidence is.)

But, until then, I am quite comfortable with describing myself as a full-on, non-Agnostic Atheist.