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← Atheism is a religion and you're as bad as the fundamentalists

Atheism is a religion and you're as bad as the fundamentalists - Comments

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 1 by phasmagigas

ok a quick one and work in progress:

To suggest that when i say 'i dont accept there is a god' is a religion, then the definition of religion must be substantially broadened or changed entirely, I feel my words will have been give way to much significance.

'I dont accept there is a god' does not involve an exterior authority, dogma or ritual which if im not mistaken are common in the established religions.

If one has no dogma to adhere to then the accustaion of fundamentalism has no basis. 'i dont accept there is a god' is a personal stance not affiliated to any established dogma. If fundamentalism suggests that my stance cannot be changed then the accusation has no basis again, there are many events that i could witness that would make me change my mind, i have yet to see any of them.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 13:41:00 UTC | #77538

Goldy's Avatar Comment 2 by Goldy

Define religion first and see if athiesm fits.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 13:44:00 UTC | #77541

Jolly Bloger's Avatar Comment 3 by Jolly Bloger

I think it is helpful to acknowledge that atheism can potentially be a religion if it is taken dogmatically as a philosophical certainty, or is coupled with other faith claims, and that rational atheists (i.e. us) would be just as critical of this position as any theistic religion. It is unreason and dogmatic faith that we attack, not specifically a belief in a particular god.

p.s. admins: an accidental click flagged the first comment as offensive. Please ignore this!

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 14:01:00 UTC | #77553

Vaal's Avatar Comment 4 by Vaal

Atheism is NOT a religion. Please look at the description of Religion in a dictionary...

"Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe"

This is the opposite of an atheist. Religion is to an atheist as stamp collecting is to NOT stamp collecting.

This is not even an argument and is a fallacious and ill conceived attack on Atheism by religious apologists, in order to deflect the rational arguments against Theism. This is a common tactic of apologists in debates and newspaper articles.

No atheist is fundamentalist. Just the opposite, they just require evidence. In fact, you could really describe the most ardent atheist as an agnostic. If confronted with evidence of a supernatural entity that created the Universe, then any rational atheist would become a Theist. However, there is zero evidence of any such thing, so the default position is non belief. Faith is intellectual laziness, at its best, and self deception at its worst.

What is the meme for faith? It is a source of incredulity that intelligent people who have been inculcated by religion, mostly as children, cling onto their faith, even in the face of overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence. They also, with absolute conviction, insist that theirs is the true faith, yet if they had been bought up as believers in Ra, Zeus, Cave Bear theism, they would all insist the same, yet seem unable to see the hypocrisy in their world view.

They are blind to the fact that any religion other than the one they were bought up with is the "true religion".

It is almost worth a study in psychology to understand how the brain accepts this conditioning so readily, and how it is so difficult to break down. This is not a concept adhered to just in Religion, as the brainwashing of the German people in the doctrine of Nazism convinced them of their superiority over fellow human beings, and eventually led them to a war that was a disaster for humanity, leading to over 50 million deaths.

The concept that human beings in the 21st Century, with knowledge available to them that people who lived 2 millenium ago would regard as magic or witchcraft, can actually believe that the Earth is 6000 years old is, to say the least, utterly ludicrous.

To break the meme is difficult, as the Theists regard it as a personal attack on everything they stand for, and have a blind spot to any evidence that contradicts their world view, almost to the point of lunacy.

How do you confront this ignorance and solipsism? Only with education, vigorous debate, rational well constructed arguments, and hard evidence.

I wonder how Galileo considered the retrograde intellects of the bigoted self interested clerics who, despite overwhelming evidence, would not accept the Earth being displaced as the centre of the Universe (what breathtaking arrogance), and placing him under house arrest for the rest of his life, on pain of being burnt at the stake as a "heretic".

Galileo proved right, the truth will out in the end. Ignorance should be confronted at all times, and non reason should not take precedence to rationality, or we are on a spiraling descent to darkness. This cannot happen, the enlightenment was too hard fought for, to be discarded by the ignorant.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 14:56:00 UTC | #77593

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 5 by Fanusi Khiyal

This is known as the 'Scott Atran' fallacy, and needs to be dealt with in the following manner:

"Of course fundie atheists are just as bad as the fundies on the other side. Remember when South Park charicatured Richard Dawkins, these _hordes_ of guys in lab coats descended on the South Park studios brandishing signs with slogans like 'Behead those who insult Richard Dawkins!'

Oh, you don't remember that? Then start talking sense."

[the above sounds best in a sarcastic voice]

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 16:06:00 UTC | #77646

dloubet's Avatar Comment 6 by dloubet

Atheism is a religion just like bald is a hair color, or not playing baseball is a sport, or not collecting stamps is a hobby.

Those are the sound-bite responses, for sure.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 16:17:00 UTC | #77655

maton100's Avatar Comment 7 by maton100

You're fundamentally conflating the two, moron.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 16:55:00 UTC | #77670

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 8 by phasmagigas

'so you are saying my nonsense is as bad as your nonsense'

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 17:09:00 UTC | #77682

TAG's Avatar Comment 9 by TAG

My (imperfect) litmus test for religion is that a candidate must have two elements. 1. A belief in some kind of supernatural phenomenon, and 2. some ritualistic behavior.

If atheism is a religion, so is baseball!

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 17:14:00 UTC | #77684

Nug's Avatar Comment 10 by Nug

(Atheism is its own religion):
This statement allows the faithful to believe that they are arguing against only another set of beliefs, just as if they were debating against Judaism or Islam. By accepting this statement it is easy for believers to disregard or negatively filter any information that comes out of an atheist's mouth whether true or false.
Because of the harm this statement can deal, I think that this must be the first debate point that should be addressed at all debates, even though it is not truly worthy of doing so.

The first thing that should be pointed out is that it is unjust to lump all non-believers into the category of atheist. Usually the pro-religion debater is knowledgeable enough to not do this in a direct statement but his or her supporting listeners are not knowledgeable enough or willing to decipher the difference in the debaters' arguments. Also, to a believer there is a difference between being a non-believer and being godless (Uncaring and indifferent to all meaning). Atheist debaters should make clear that this definition of godless is different than being "without a god". In essence I am trying to say that we should dumb it down a little bit and try to lessen the negative connotation that the word atheist carries by explaining what atheism truly is.

To directly attack the statement claiming atheism as a religion the debater should state what a religion is. Religion is a structured set of beliefs that are permanent, and the truth of these beliefs is held to be self-evident. So, religion can either be accepted or declined. What people miss is that religion is pretty much a yes or no question; religion doesn't really allow picking and choosing and not much room if any for personal beliefs within their own religion.

Atheism is a world view that adopts productive qualities that can help further the human race by trying to understand that which is not yet understood and help explain what is understood (from as large as the universe to as small as the atom). It uses tools such as science, reason, logic, skepticism, etcÂ… "But science is a religion too". Yes, science is very well structured but it is not however permanent in its beliefs. Mistakes are allowed to be corrected, and beliefs and ideas are allowed to be criticized and even proven to be wrong. Science adapts and dare I say it, it evolves. It evolves in the fact that it has become more efficient throughout history, while religion has remained set in stone. Science is proactive while religion remains frozen in time with only the names of its believers changing. Science fills holes with facts and others with theories, while religion fills holes with mystery and the acceptance of not understanding. Science does not have all the answers and it might not ever, and that is why it is neither a religion nor a substitute for one.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 18:39:00 UTC | #77715

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 11 by Rob Schneider

Those who retreat to this are usually down to their last feeble defense.

While this is not exactly an argument to be used, my perception is that this canard is deployed to attempt to implicate the atheist in what the theist (by this point) is coming to realize is pretty superstitious behavior. "OK, Mr. Atheist, you're right... my religion has inconsistencies, my holy book is flawed, but you're just as bad as me, making a 'leap of faith'. You can't prove anything any more than I can!! So we're equally on shaky ground. Back off."

It's as if the religious person is saying to us, "Let he who has never sinned throw the first stone." In fact, this is a bad assertion to let them get away with. We HAVEN'T committed the same sin.

If my perception is correct, the believer feels backed into a corner. So the question is, how can you your arguments let them out of the corner gracefully, allowing them to either save face OR see a comfortable alternative to their current position, but without accepting the premise?

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 19:13:00 UTC | #77724

Theocrapcy's Avatar Comment 12 by Theocrapcy

Define atheism first and see if religion fits.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 21:26:00 UTC | #77775

dinamo02's Avatar Comment 13 by dinamo02

It requires faith to believe in god and some will argue that faith is also required not to believe in god, therefore atheism is also a religion.

I would refute this in the following manner (I think it's from one of Dawkins' debates):
Faith (belief without evidence) is required to believe in something positive. NOT to believe in something for which there is no evidence does not require faith. Does it require faith NOT to believe in the tooth fairy, leprechauns, unicorns, dragons, vampires, zombies or the flying spaghetti monster? Is the NON belief in alchemy a religion?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 02:27:00 UTC | #77915

Rhys's Avatar Comment 14 by Rhys

I don't want to waste my time refuting this claim, instead I will just list a few details about myself.

Name: NOT Nathan Woodlingtonson
Age: NOT Between 192 and 238
Hobbies: NOT feeding ducks and NOT swimming
Hair Colour: Bald
Favorite Band: NOT Grinspoon
Religion: ATHEIST!

You can tell as much as you can about my other personality traits as you can with my religion. Therefore Atheism is not a religion.

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 02:59:00 UTC | #77930

epeeist's Avatar Comment 15 by epeeist

I have posted this before, but I think it bears reiteration.

Atheism is a scientific hypothesis, testable and falsifiable.

The basic proposition is

~(Exists g) G(g)

in other words the class of all gods is empty, call this t. Now find a prediction from this (e.g. there was no biblical flood) and call this p, i.e.

t => p

If ever we produce a prediction from t that is falsified then we have

t => p
Therefore ~t

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 03:14:00 UTC | #77933

m76's Avatar Comment 16 by m76

Personally, I have no problem being proclaimed a 'fundamentalist'. No-one could reasonably argue that to be a RELIGIOUS fundamentalist would render me anything other than a dangerous, crazy person. Whereas, to adhere to the 'fundamentals' of the Enlightenment necessarily makes me utterly benign, because these are the fundamentals of debate, reason, dialogue, discussion, evidence and so on. My point is this: religious fundamentalism wouldn't be a problem if religion wasn't fundamentally crazy in the first place.

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 06:49:00 UTC | #78024

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 17 by irate_atheist

6. Comment #81414 by dloubet

Atheism is a religion just like bald is a hair color, or not playing baseball is a sport, or not collecting stamps is a hobby.
But I have consistently put a lot of effort into not collecting stamps over the years. How could you stoop so low?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 07:01:00 UTC | #78028

BMMcArdle's Avatar Comment 18 by BMMcArdle

Atheism is as much a religion as yes is no, black is white, good is bad, left is right, etcetera.

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 07:18:00 UTC | #78033

sidfaiwu's Avatar Comment 19 by sidfaiwu

" Atheism is a religion and you're as bad as the fundamentalists"

Again, define for me what a religion is and we can go from there. My guess is that any definition that is wide enough to encompass both atheism and, say, Buddhism would be too wide and include things which all would agree are not religions. But let's find out. How do you define religion?

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 09:12:00 UTC | #78088

jacen110091's Avatar Comment 20 by jacen110091

I found this to be a very interesting topic & I tried to answer it here but found that I was getting too vague & imprecise with my thoughts, so I decided to try my hand at writing a somewhat more organized blog-entry "Examining the Idea of the Fundamentalist Atheist" -

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 13:33:00 UTC | #78233

teapotbishop's Avatar Comment 21 by teapotbishop

Atheism has no ritual , guilt or malice . It can't be a religion . Such a comment could only have been made from outside the comfort of atheism ! Did anyone else feel the subliminal finger-pointing in the statement ? lol

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 13:45:00 UTC | #78239

Mewtwo_X's Avatar Comment 22 by Mewtwo_X

"Your definition of religion is incorrect, although you are right that some Atheists can act as poorly as Fundamentalists."

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 14:58:00 UTC | #78283

EastCoastAtheist's Avatar Comment 23 by EastCoastAtheist

To be an Atheist, all you have to do is reject the God theory.

Rejecting a theory, because there is evidence against it and a complete lack of evidence for it, is hardly a religion. It sounds like common sense to me.

The rejection of the theory that the world is flat isn't a religion. The rejection of the theory that the Sun revolves around Earth isn't a religion. If the rejection of a single theory made you religious, we would all belong to a huge number of religions.

There isn't much wiggle room for a moderate-to-fundamentalist spectrum with Atheism. Either you reject the God theory or you don't.

It will probably help if you have the other person define "religion". They'll back themselves right into a corner.

(Note: With many of these Debate Points, forcing the other person to define terms is very helpful. I've had a good laugh listening to believers try to define things like soul, spirit, etc. It's a good place to start.)

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 18:03:00 UTC | #78371

Nug's Avatar Comment 24 by Nug

In response to #81414:

While I completly agree with what is stated I do not feel that it is the correct aproach. Throwing a few zingers may win the debate and make supporters that were already supporters laugh, but it fails to enlighten the debate with a knowlegable response. Laughing off a hurtful debate point with a one liner will not open the minds of current believers.

There are however many times one liners are usful but not against such a broad and significant statement.

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 19:46:00 UTC | #78409

dr gordon burton's Avatar Comment 25 by dr gordon burton

Atheism is not a religion because it is not based on faith. Religion is based on faith. Faith by definition is belief with no evidence. Atheism is the understanding that there is no supernatural being because there is no evidence.
To be a fundamentalist can mean different things to different people (see wikipedia). An atheist could be called fundamentalist in that an atheist believes in the fundamental facts based on evidence not the same as a religious fundamentalist where there are no fundamental facts only what is written in a text by other people and religious dogma.

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 03:05:00 UTC | #78533

m76's Avatar Comment 26 by m76

When debating a believer, I find it's extremely useful to demonstrate to them that they're not making the argument they think they're making. They claim to have a problem with atheism, and they channel their energies into undermining 'unbelief'. But of course, everyone's an atheist. The Pope's an atheist. The Taliban are all of them atheists. The non-believer should point out that the believer reserves the right to be an atheist when it comes to every other God but theirs and that, therefore, it would be hypocritical for the believer to reject atheism. This Straw Man dispensed with, the non-believer can go on and demonstrate that what believers are REALLY rejecting is CONSISTENT atheism, and what they are REALLY calling for is belief in AT LEAST ONE GOD. They would then have to demonstrate why it is defensible to accept one extraordinary and fantastical claim, while at the same time being 'rational' and incredulous about all the others.

I think we non-believers should proudly claim to stand shoulder-to-atheistic-shoulder with believers when it comes to all but one God. We should make believers feel uncomfortable about this undeniable common ground, and insist they accept it. Then we should request they explain why their atheism turns a blind eye to their own God.

I think Sam Harris is right. If we self-apply the name 'atheist', we imply that this makes us different from believers, and this hands them a Straw Man with which they can divert the discussion. I think the argument is much more effective if we force believers to concede they're JUST LIKE US when it comes to every faith but theirs. This neutralizes their atheist attack, and they're forced to speak specifically about their particular favoured fantasy. And this will inevitably see them wading deep into the embarrassingly wishy-washy and achingly self-aware obscurantism of McGrath and his ilk.

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 11:48:00 UTC | #78696

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 27 by Diacanu

Y'know, arguments like this (all of them, really) just show that religion is on the ropes intellectually.

This is a particularly sniffle-voiced one, one that almost makes me feel merciful in the pathetic desperation level it takes to get that petty.

But, we can have no mercy when religion is on the ropes.
That's when we have to hurl the punches even faster to finish it.

If you find yourself having pangs of guilt debating a religionist, remind yourself, they wouldn't have the slightest pang on conscience in humiliating you, and laughing you off the stage (if they could) and having done that, go right back into exploiting/being gleefully exploited.

Screw 'em.

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 12:06:00 UTC | #78700

stackoturtles's Avatar Comment 28 by stackoturtles

In this day and age, unfortunately people pay attention to sound bites, so atheists need a simple statement that everyone can understand. That is why I favor as a first pass the easy comparisons. "If atheism is just another form of faith, then not carrying a rabbit's foot is just another superstition."

Sat, 27 Oct 2007 13:52:00 UTC | #78980

jbblack's Avatar Comment 29 by jbblack

Atheism is not a complete belief system, so we are not a religion. It only describes one single opinion that we hold in common, that we do not believe a deity is likely or external. Otherwise, you will find that we run a full gamut of ideas and opinions, from the far left to the far right. As such, it is no more a religion than not collecting stamps is a hobby, to paraphrase Scott Adams.

To be Fundamentalist, one must have a core system of beliefs that one can be Fundamentalist about. We do not share a core group of beliefs or traditions, and have no desire to create and enforce one. Granted, we can be incredibly headstrong at times. But that isn't Fundamentalism; that's not believing everything you hear.

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 19:26:00 UTC | #79254

Chris Hagan's Avatar Comment 30 by Chris Hagan

What would a non-fundamentalist atheist be?

Atheism merely rejects a specific belief system constructed by people with no scientific understanding of our environment. Their relative lack of verifiable knowledge influenced their societies into creating dogmatic rules of living and dying and killing and lying. This was an error.

I reject their god(s) and dogma fundamentally. Yes, I am an atheist but the "fundamental" tag is superfluous, almost tautologous, since when an atheist rejects the notion of the existence of god(s) and dogma, he or she is rejecting it in its entirety.

Fundamental has been distastefully used by people opposed to reason to vilify and traduce their perceived enemies. It is underhand, disingenuous and demeaning to their cause. And let us continue to remind those who choose to attempt to insult us, that we're completely open to any evidence. Just one piece of evidence will be cracking start.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 18:55:00 UTC | #79534