Atheism is Not a Religion

March 19, 2007 at 9:31 am | Posted in Atheism, Beliefs, evolution, Religion | 22 Comments

There has been a lot of discussion here about atheism, evolutionism, and creationism among other things.  In more than one comment on my posts I’ve seen people refer to atheism as a religion.  By definitionism  A theism means lack of theism or belief in a supernatural power.  The addition of an A before a word generally means without, example A sexual (without sexuality), A symptomatic (without symptoms) etc.  Atheism is not a religion.  Listed below are definitions of religion.  They all say pretty much the same thing.  I could have included a hundred more, but you get the point.

  • a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny; “he lost his faith but not his morality”
  • an institution to express belief in a divine power; “he was raised in the Baptist religion”; “a member of his own faith contradicted him”
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

  • Religion—sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system—is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices and institutions associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe. In the course of the development of religion, it has taken a huge number of forms in various cultures and individuals. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion

  • A framework of beliefs relating to supernatural or superhuman beings or forces that transcend the everyday material world.
    www.modernhumanorigins.com/r.html

  • a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices pertaining to supernatural power.
    oregonstate.edu/instruct/anth370/gloss.html

  • generally a belief in a deity and practice of worship, action, and/or thought related to that deity. www.carm.net/atheism/terms.htm
  • Has many definitions – most of them involve the idea of supernatural agency.
    www.csa.com/hottopics/religion/gloss.php

  • Oxford dictionary definition (theistic): “1 the belief in a superhuman controlling power, esp. in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship. 2 the expression of this in worship. 3 a particular system of faith and worship.” Non-Theistic definition: “The word religion has many definitions, all of which can embrace sacred lore and wisdom and knowledge of God or gods, souls and spirits. Religion deals with the spirit in relation to itself, the universe and other life. …
    www.ecotao.com/holism/glosoz.htm
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    1. A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.

      Athiesim has all three.

      Readers of Honjii’s blog,
      I apologize if I’m coming across as rude, repetitive, obnoxious, or anything of the sort. I am simply searching for answers. I honestly would like to know what everyone believes and why they believe it and challenge them to defend their beliefs.
      If I ask a question over and over again, it’s because I would like an answer and I don’t think my question has been answered. I apologize if that’s obnoxious.
      Also, I’m not trying to be rude or anything of the like. It may come across that way, but that’s because I can only write – not converse. After all, about 90% of communication is visual, 5% of it is tonal, and 5% is the acutal words. Through text, I cannot convey my mood proporly because I do not have the visual and tonal aspects of communication.
      Again, I’m sorry if I come across as rude or anything of the like. I try not to, but it’s hard to do so via text.

      Sincerely,
      Brian Purkiss
      -http://www.SupernaturalWarfare.com

    2. Religion—sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system—is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices and institutions associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe. In the course of the development of religion, it has taken a huge number of forms in various cultures and individuals.
      -from Wikipedia

      -Athiesm is a belief system. It does concern the supernatural. It believes that there is no supernatural.
      -It does have moral codes – survival of the fittest.
      -Athiesm has developed and has many forms in various cultures.

      I’d look at the others, but I am out of time at the moment. I apologize.

    3. Brian, there are hundreds of definitions of religion, all stating pretty much the same thing as copied in my post above. You, apparently have your own definition which doesn’t quite match the others. Not surprising, and no offense intended, but I notice that you and frederich manage to turn anything that is said, that doesn’t happen to fit into your view of the universe, to accomodate your Christian Dogma. Example, one of your comments on another one of my posts, states that

      in order for something to be a fact it must be observed (which we haven’t observed Evolution)

      Yet when I turn that around and point out that no one observed creation, your reply is “that it is taken on faith”, which is an admission there is no proof. Yet you and frederich have both posted comments indicating you believe there is proof that the word of the bible is factual. Whenever I find myself in discussions like these it seems that the Christian “game rules” apply only to those that don’t subscribe to the same belief system.

      I would hardly call atheism a belief system. It is just a word that describes one who sees no evidence of a supernatural being, not a belief system, but a lack of one. Survival of the fittest is hardly a moral code, unless you are attempting to imply that atheists are a cutthroat, backstabbing, evil lot. Do not presume to know what my, or any other person’s (atheist or not) moral or ethical code consists of.

      If I ask a question over and over again, it’s because I would like an answer and I don’t think my question has been answered.

      Your questions are not going unanswered, you just don’t seem to like the answers being given.

    4. Tha answers given aren’t answering my questions. *shrugs* I asked for evidence for evolution, since it’s in the fossil record – and I haven’t been given any.

      Did you read my other comment about faith?

      Now, if the scientific method was the only method of proving something, you couldn’t prove that you went to your first hour class this morning or that you had lunch today. There’s no way you can repeat those events in a controlled situation.
      Now here’s what is called the legal-historical proof, which is based on showing that something is fact beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, a verdict is reached on the basis of the weight of the evidence. That is, there’s no reasonable basis for doubting the decision. It depends upon three typed of testimony: oral testimony, written testimony, and exhibits (such as a gun, bullet, notebook). Using the legal method of determining what happened, you could prety well prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in class this morning: your friends saw you, you have your notes, the professor remembers you.
      -More than a Carpenter – by: Josh McDowell

      Through science, Christianity cannot be proven – nor can the fact that I had breakfast – nor that George Washington crossed the Delaware. But it can be proven by “legal-historical proof.”

      I apologize if I did not clarify what I was talking aobut.

    5. You want evidence for evolution, go to the public library, better yet, visit your nearest university library. I’m not writing this blog to provide an education for anyone, I’m simply here to express my thoughts, and receive comments, some of which I may respond to. My goal isn’t to change anyone else’s way of thinking or believing and I don’t expect anyone to try to change mine. So to all of you who want me to provide proof…the proof is out there, just go get it.

      When I’ve had conversations with creationists who claim to have questioned their beliefs and researched the topic; on further questioning it usually turns out that the chosen reading material was somewhat biased to begin with.

    6. Brian,

      You’re confusing the word “atheist” with your stereotype of what most atheists believe. Simply, it’s is the answer to ONE question: god. There is no dogma, there are no doctrines. One who believes in a god or gods, would be a theist. One who does not, an atheist.

      Athiesm is a belief system. It does concern the supernatural. It believes that there is no supernatural.

      Wrong. I’m not running around saying there is absolutely NO supernatural. Based on the current evidence (none), I take the default position – there almost certainly is no realm beyond nature. This is not an active belief, as I’m not asserting anything. The burden of proof is on you, the person making the claim.

      It does have moral codes – survival of the fittest.

      Wrong. I don’t know one person who lives according to that. Though there is no dogma, most atheists lean towards humanism, a beautiful philosophy based on compassion and respect for life. Believe it or not, you don’t need an invisible friend to be good.

      Yes, the naturalistic worldview generally leads to accepting science and y’know… reality, but atheism does not depend on evolution. Should everything we know about evolution turn out wrong, belief in God would still not be justified. Disproving x does not prove y.

      Through science, Christianity cannot be proven – nor can the fact that I had breakfast – nor that George Washington crossed the Delaware. But it can be proven by “legal-historical proof.”

      I assume you have “legal-historical proof” of the supernatural? Let alone the Resurrection, Creation, efficiency of prayer, Transubstantiation, etc.? Surely you can provide one extra-Biblical, contemporary account of Jesus.

      If you were to take the time, learn how to spell “athEIst”, and read a book about evolution (your minister doesn’t count), you’d find it’s supported by not only the fossil record, but by chemical and anatomical similarities of related life forms, the geographic distribution of related species and recorded genetic changes in living organisms over many generations. I especially recommend this website.

      Stephen

    7. Brian Purkiss said:

      -Athiesm is a belief system. It does concern the supernatural. It believes that there is no supernatural.
      -It does have moral codes – survival of the fittest.
      -Athiesm has developed and has many forms in various cultures.

      I’d look at the others, but I am out of time at the moment. I apologize.

      Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby. Let’s look at your claims:

      -Athiesm is a belief system. It does concern the supernatural. It believes that there is no supernatural.

      Not at all. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. Even if you believe in no gods, you’re free to believe in ghosts, spirits, angels, fairies and what have you.

      -It does have moral codes – survival of the fittest.

      Wrong again, on two counts. First, atheism isn’t a moral code. Theism isn’t a moral code either.

      Secod, survival of the fittest is not a moral code, it is the mechanism of natural selection.

      -Athiesm has developed and has many forms in various cultures.

      Wrong again. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a god. Those “other forms” are not part of atheism, just like theism has just one form, namely the belief in god. Everything else is just specifics.

    8. (Again, I’m not at home, I’m elsewhere – so I’m not signed into my Admin account. But this is me)

      I have read the Origin of Species. I have read various other books on the topic. I have not unearthed any evidence. In all the books I’ve read, I have not found any evidence that hasn’t been not valid or just a flat our fraud. From what y’all are saying, there’s plenty of evidence, I haven’t found it – but y’all must have some. So please inform me.
      If evolution is true, we simply must have found some evidence in the fossil record.

      Very well Simen, I’ll revise my statements.
      Athiesm is a belief system. It does concern ‘God.’ It believes that there is no God.
      -It does have moral codes – natural selection (which could be worded as ‘survival of the fittest’).

      Very well, let me ask y’all a question.
      If there is no God, or – higher power, then why do we have to do ‘good?’ And what is ‘good?’ Who set the standard?
      If there is no higher power, then we have to look into ourselves for the answer. If that is the case, then how can we judge others for what they do? How can we judge that what terrorist do is wrong? They looked inside themselves, and they believe they’re doing right by killing themselves and others, so why can we say they’re wrong?

      My point with that is, if Atheism only answerers the question of God, then how can you answer these other questions? If you do not believe in a God, then my previous statements/questions would follow.

      Similarly, if you truly believe in Atheism and Evolution, then you would agree that Survival of the Fittest and/or Natural Selection is the way of life – after all, that’s (supposedly) how man came to be. If so, then shouldn’t we encourage the extinction of “weaker” species? Either that or just let species die out? So why do we care about other people? If they’re weaker, then they don’t deserve to survive! Provided that Evolution is true.

      Actually, I can prove the historical Jesus – aside from the Bible. First of all, the Jewish Talmud (an ancient Jewish historical book) mentions Jesus and what happened.
      There are more accounts, but unfortunately, I do not have all the names right at the tip of my fingers. I will contact a friend of mine (an expert on the matter) and give you some more info as soon as I can.

      As for that website, I will look into that.
      But still, if there are so many evidences in the fossil record that evolution is obviously true, can’t someone tell me about at least one?

    9. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in God. You can believe that there is no God, or you can simply not believe in God. The question “do you believe in a god?” has two possible answers. Atheism is one, theism is the other.

      As for the “why be moral?” question, it must be answered by theists too. When I ask you why you behave as you think is moral, you will answer that God told you to or some such. I can then ask, “why is it good to do as God says?” I bet you will use some kind of circular reasoning (it is good to listen to God because when I listened to God he told me so) or appeal to consequences (if I do, all will be good; if I don’t, I’ll burn in Hell). Circular reasoning is obviously not a good argument. Appeal to consequences is as easily employed by atheists as by theists. There are many undesirable consequences of behaving as people perceive is immoral in earthly life, too: jail, social sanctions, guilt feeling.

    10. The Talmud wasn’t written until at least 200 C.E. I’d hardly call that a contemporary reference.

      But still, if there are so many evidences in the fossil record that evolution is obviously true, can’t someone tell me about at least one?

      Certainly.

      http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/benton2.html

    11. I see the point of both sides here:
      Brian is trying to point out that Atheists have chosen to believe what they want to believe – that there is no God; they are accountable to no one.

      Others here are claiming that Atheism isn’t the belief in anything at all – it is simply the rejection of all things believed by others.

      I can see how this Atheist opinion sounds reasonable at the outset, but really makes no sense.
      Firstly because no one can know everything, every Atheist has to believe that what they don’t know won’t prove that there is a God.
      This is a faith position because Atheists are not generally saying that they have found no evidence so far and they are open to new things. no; they dogmatically push their views as fact, even when every real fact in any particular circumstance is against them.

      Secondly (and this relates to my first point) I only need find one strong piece of evidence (whether physical or supernatural or philosophical or whatever) To put a strong push for the reasonable adoption of my belief. But to make the Atheistic claim reasonable one must know all about everything to prove that no other reasonable option exists.

      I know I could shorten this to simply say that its very hard prove a negative. Ok, maybe that is obvious to some but that is what you are doing. to advocate the non-existence of a God from a position of limited knowledge is foolish.
      In my mind it is total nonsense.

    12. frederich,
      Now you presume to know what is in the mind of all atheists? Atheism is not a faith based position. You will never understand that because either you don’t want to or you’re not able to. And what makes you think that because we don’t believe in god that we are accountable to no one? I’ve been really patient and nice to you but you are getting downright insulting with these statements. How very un’Christian-like of you!

      We don’t push our views as fact, it’s just that are views are based on actual fact and not fantasy mistaken as fact. The scientific evidence is overwhelming but you refuse to accept it because you might have to re-examine everything you’ve been taught. There are those who are just as adamant in their position that the world is flat, we’ve never had an astronaut on the moon (all a big hoax), that a guy on tv can talk to your dead relatives and a whole lot of other ‘out there’ beliefs. Beliefs which you are certainly entitled to, but when you start to get insulting and take that holier than thou stance (atheists have no moral code, answer to no one, etc. etc.) that just makes me angry!

      By the way, I’m starting to see a pattern, your comments are becomming redundant. Sometimes the wording changes, sometimes it doesn’t. But we’ve all read about how one would have to know everything there is to know and about how there has been no mutation that has been beneficial, yadayadaydada. Try some new arguments. Sorry man, no offense intended but you need to be de-programmed. When I was in school I attended a seminar on people that have been brainwashed (in cults and other situations) and you are sounding a lot like the subjects we studied.

      Do you even READ what you write? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

      Brian,

      If there is no God, or – higher power, then why do we have to do ‘good?’ And what is ‘good?’ Who set the standard?

      We don’t need a higher power to do good. Again, like frederich’s comments, a bit insulting here. Oh yeah, we’re atheists we have no morals therefore no feelings. The irony is, that as an atheist my behavior towards others and my moral and ethical code is probably a hell of a lot more Christian-like than many of the so called Christians I know. This is hardwired into most people, it is instinctive as it helps insure the continued survival or our species. It is not just a human quality but can be observed in other species that live in social groups.

      How can we judge that what terrorist do is wrong? They looked inside themselves, and they believe they’re doing right by killing themselves and others, so why can we say they’re wrong?

      It’s been pretty widely publicized, but maybe you missed the part about how the terrorists were acting in the name of their god.

      Similarly, if you truly believe in Atheism and Evolution

      One does NOT believe in atheism, it is a word used to describe the lack of a belief in a god. One does not believe in evolution, just as one does not believe in the sky, the soil, or the sea. The more you comment the more obvious it becomes that you don’t have a real understanding of evolution or atheism outside of what you have been taught, read, or learned at a camp that have obviously been written for people like you and people by people like you to insure you don’t leave the fold.

      Actually, I can prove the historical Jesus – aside from the Bible. First of all, the Jewish Talmud (an ancient Jewish historical book) mentions Jesus and what happened.

      Again, it must be true because not just one but two religious books say it is. Well that seals it folks, all those scientists and anthropologists, and years and years of research sure cannot stand up to that kind of proof now can they?

    13. Why anyone would bother to respond to those with such a limited grasp on the English language (frederick) is beyond me. Save your arguments for those with functioning intellect brian.

    14. surely some people have way too much time on their hands!
      i think a belief in supernatural beings makes you amoral and irresponsible. because if you do wrong you go and confess and then you are forgiven.
      wouwh – how easy is that!
      try and take your own responsibility for your life.
      love and honor your life and that of all others and do not hurt anything or anybody. just imagine if everybody would just be doing that!!!
      and you really don’t need to invent a supernatural being to do it….

    15. Many years ago a Christian missionary trekked through the South American Jungle to save the Indians who lived there. He thought he was doing a good deed but he was carrying an infection and many of the natives died. Those that survived killed him because he had brought death to their village.

    16. As for the Jewish Talmud, it does not mention Jesus at all.
      The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) refers to Jesus being hanged on the eve of Passover. However this passage cannot be fixed at a definite date within the Tannaitic time-area and the value of this passage as independent confirmation of the historicity of Jesus is therefore uncertain.

    17. I do not believe in atheism nor do I believe in a god but I do believe in meditation.

    18. alji

      I do not believe in atheism nor do I believe in a god but I do believe in meditation.

      Once again, one does NOT believe in atheism, it is a word used to describe the LACK of a belief in a god. Saying you don’t believe in atheism is like saying you don’t believe in not liking chocolate.

    19. Honjii, the ‘belief’ bit was for those who think atheism is a religion. BTW I don’t believe in not liking chocolate.

    20. Whenever someone tells me they don’t like chocolate, I don’t believe them.

    21. Yeah, I find the not liking chocolate hard to believe. When someone tells me they don’t like chocolate I think there must be something wrong and anyone who does not like chocolate is not to be trusted.

    22. Atheism may well be spurred on by the refusal of religions to engage in self-criticism. I’ve just read http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/263/ on how foreign self-criticism is to religion, and, moreover, how religion misunderstands itself. You might be interested in it.


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