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11 January 2013

Is Atheism a religion?

There have been numerous times (both on these forums and in the larger debate) when the question has come up- is Atheism a religion? Now, as a proud member of the 'Godsquad' (as one of my Atheist-friends have hilariously taken to calling any grouping of religious persons), I can give the short and hopefully definitive answer: No, Atheism is not a religion.

I have also many times seen Atheists be perplexed, bemused, annoyed and frustrated by claims from some on the religious side that Atheism is “in fact” a religion. I would like to propose a possible reason for this incorrect claim repeatedly popping up:

Some Atheists share many of the same characteristics found in the so-called 'religiots'.

To back up my hypothesis, I have compiled a non-exhaustive list as to why I make this statement. Like “religiots” are with their religious views, many Atheists:

1) Hold the position that they are the sole proprietors and vendors of "the truth" and that if only the world was as they wanted it, everyone and everything would be better off.

2) Have the mentality that if another person is not an Atheist, then they are to be shunned, derided and ridiculed mercilessly, until they change their ways. They will gladly gang up on, spur each other on and applaud each other’s endeavors in order to achieve this. Should the religious person then change their ways, they are welcomed into the fold with a pat on the back and a sympathetic arm around the shoulders. (Is this not a “conversion”?)

3) Have formed global groups such as http://www.atheistalliance.org/ to help support the spread of Atheism. Here, I use “the spread of Atheism” in the sense of the drive to support the increase in the Atheist demographic, as per AAI’s president. (AAI curiously lists “Freedom from discrimination” as item number 5 under their list of values, but also states that part of its “mission and vision” is to confront religious faith. The dictionary definition of confront is to “Meet (someone) face to face with hostile or argumentative intent”. Once again, it speaks of the mindset that their movement proclaims freedom from discrimination, defined as the “unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things”, as long as you are on their side, see #2 above.)

4) Follow the teachings of other better-read and more famous Atheists almost blindly and all-too willingly will regurgitate and follow their instructions. An example of this is the increase in the hostility which Atheists have been showing towards the religious after being instructed to, as for example per #3 above. Dawkins also famously instructs this at nearly every opportunity he gets. 

5) Hold and attend rallies in order to “advance secularism (in the broadest sense of the word) in society” (taken from the ironically named http://reasonrally.org/about/  [by the way, their website reads like it is Mighty Men for Atheists!] )

6) Perform charitable works not because of altruism, but in the name of Atheism (www.atheistvolunteers.org for example states right at the very top of their website “doing good in the name of atheism”).

7) Will revert to name calling and off-the-ball tactics to illicit a response from the religious, for nothing else but entertainment value. 


8) Will gladly part with wads of their hard-earned cash to buy merchandise from vendors supporting the Atheist cause. (http://www.atheistalliance.org/store , http://www.thearrogantatheist.com/ , http://www.rationalresponders.com/buy_amazon_through_these_links_support_online_atheism , http://evolvefish.com/ a quick Google search yields many more).
So, next time some “religiot” calls Atheism a religion, ask yourself if your actions are contributing to their ignorance.
PS. I am sure that other commentators can add to this list and I sincerely hope for some contributions from our resident Atheists!
Source: http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Is-Atheism-a-religion-20130111

The comfort of religion without God
Stanford University has a new chaplain for atheists and agnostics. Photo: Bloomberg

Stanford University has a new chaplain for atheists and agnostics. This comes after Harvard University and the US military introduced - how shall I put it - non-religious religious services for non-believers who may still seek the comfort and benefits of real religion.

This is emerging as a new trend in the US, and I am sure sooner or later it will spread around and reach Hong Kong. Call it non-alcoholic drinks for the soul, religion without a belief in an almighty God.

Once upon a time, it was simple. You either believed or they burned you at the stake. That's what they did to Giordano Bruno - the Italian philosopher who believed in the infinities of worlds - in a place poetically called Campo de' Fiori, the field of flowers.

But the battle this martyr fought for free thought has been won, at least in the West. And some people just don't like the results. If you don't believe in God, it should logically follow that you can't follow any religion. If you are an agnostic, it means you can't decide, or think it's impossible to decide, whether God exists. So you shouldn't have a religion - or one religion is as good as another without any rational basis for preference.

Perhaps the certain prospect of eternal oblivion is highly discomforting. Or life and the world being products of random physical and biochemical processes with no higher purpose disturb you. You can be intellectually an atheist or an agnostic while still finding the implications of your beliefs too overwhelming and unsettling.

Marxism was once called a secular religion, but that's not quite right. True Marxists thought theirs was a social-economic science, not a religion. Whatever you say about them, many were tough cookies who spurned the false comfort of religion.

Those at the American universities and the Pentagon want the comfort and conveniences of religion without having to believe and commit. Maybe religion-free confessions offer solace without the high per-hour charges of psychiatrists; and public prayers provide a sense of community reminiscent of their religious childhood.

Well, decaf coffee, sugar-free coke, low-fat sausages … why not a God-free religion?