Friday, September 5, 2008

Is atheism a religion?


That was easy.

Now where's my copy of the Holy God Delusion? Ah, here it is;
"Our Dawkins, who art in England; Richard be thy name.
Thy book-sales come, thy talks be fun; on television and the radio.
Give us this day our daily blog, on Pharyngula and Raytractors; as we ridicule those who post comments against us.



Firefighter's Gal said...

Hi Matt, just letting you know that I posted an answer to your question on my blog. Warmly, F.G.

Firefighter's Gal said...

Hi Matt - I've been thinking about you, wondering how you're doing. Haven't seen you post on Ray lately, although I admit I've steered clear of that place for the most part myself. Too much same-old, same-old.

I hope that, wherever you are, you are doing well. Anytime you'd like to engage in discussion again, please stop by.

Cheers, and much love, F.G.

Firefighter's Gal said...

Hi Matt - Thanks for checking in. No, I didn't think that our dialogue was getting too evolutionary. I'm not afraid of evolution! Haha! I guess that it seemed like it (the conversation) was naturally closing. I'll have to go back and check it out. You're right, though, I don't have the time to blog!

Thanks for the invite over to the Raytractors, but it is unfortunate that the profanity is just an insurmountable obstacle to my being able to remain there for long. And it also seems that it's somewhat of a "one-trick pony" - the same-old stuff. But, I have enjoyed virtual-talking with you, that's for sure.

Now that the weather is turning colder here in MN, maybe I'll be able to spend more time at the computer (why doesn't that sound like a good thing???). Meantime, here is a seed for our next conversation - something that I've been thinking about a lot. Do you feel (as I do) that the information age has been a detractor from true knowledge? To rephrase, it has seemed to me that, with the vast amount of information coming at us from all angles, not all of it valid or good or true, have we lost discernment as to the knowledge of truth?

You're awesome! F.G.

Firefighter's Gal said...

Hi Matt - Thanks for checking in! Great to hear from you.

Beware anyone who claims the title "prophet" for himself. I sure do. Some misguided people actually wish for divine judgment. I pray for God's withholding hand. Best wishes in your dialogue. Don't hold it against me, OK?

And I don't deny "evolution", as it's applied to variation within a kind.

Man, I'm glad the election is over. Back to life, back to reality! It was very gratifying to see my kids take an interest in the political process. I am optimistic for the future of our country...40 years ago (hmmm...doesn't that time span have some significance?), there was a man whom I believe was a prophet (MLK) whose life was tragically cut short. He saw this day. I wish he could have seen it in his lifetime, but I'm sure he sees it in some way! Rest assured, even though I hold different convictions than our president-elect, he will have my (and countless others') support and prayers for his leadership of our great country.

Peace out, and keep checkin' in! I wish you well, my friend!

Dan +†+ said...

Firefighter's Gal,

"Beware anyone who claims the title "prophet" for himself.

Amen Sister

We must test the fruit of that tree, at the very least.


According to the courts Atheism is a religion.

ExPatMatt said...



Atheism is not a religion for the same reason that not collecting stamps is not a hobby. A very old analogy, but if you can show me why it doesn't stand up then I'll be impressed.

If someone holds the opinion that 'stamp-collecting is stupid, I don't do it' they have therefore taken a position on that hobby and are then de facto engaging in a hobby themselves, right? Wrong. Just plain wrong.

These legal rulings are done to ensure that people are not discriminated against as a result of having no religion. This is only required because of the gross favouritism shown to religions over the years. It also allows people who are not religious to enjoy a similar level of protection and recognition when engaging in organized activities (whatever they are, I've never been involved in one myself).

Either way, I'm pretty sure that to qualify as a religion, you have to have faith in something beyond the naturalist explanations that science provides us.

You could possibly argue that secular humanism is a religion, although it's still a very tenuous connection; but just not having a belief that there's a deity surely cannot qualify as a religion?

I don't really believe that you think this is true. I think you like to repeat it because you think it somehow validates your own worldview in some strange way.

Most peculiar.


ExPatMatt said...

FFG & Dan,

"Beware anyone who claims the title "prophet" for himself."

Good advice. But Dan, you said that we must "test the fruit of that tree, at the very least.". So, have you tested the fruits?

Do you think San Francisco will be destroyed next year?

Dan +†+ said...

If this group of 'stamp-collecting is stupid, I don't do it' crowd gather and organize themselves and promote their "agenda" the you can be rest assured they, having a worldview that stamp collecting is stupid, and then advertise such things, example 1, example 2, then yes they are now a religion or belief system.

"their religion is wrong" (belief in God) "Ours is right" (no belief in God). It sure sounds like your dogma being pushed to me.

"Dawkins, in choosing a form of firebrand fundamentalist atheism over the discipline science, is no longer the champion of reason but rather a kind of evangelical against religion" (Carl Packman)

Don't get me wrong I fully admit I am pushing my religion (Motive: to save you from burning in hell forever) are you willing to admit that you are pushing your beliefs? BTW what are your motives for doing so? Are you trying to save me too?

Something to think about

I have no clue about San Fran. The Bible says we do not know the "when" but tells us what to look for. My eyes are wide open though.

ExPatMatt said...


Please point me to the post - on any blog, anywhere - where I was "pushing [my] beliefs" or "[my] dogma", I'd like to know how your arrived at this conclusion.

You said;
"If this group of 'stamp-collecting is stupid, I don't do it' crowd gather and organize themselves and promote their "agenda" the you can be rest assured they, having a worldview that stamp collecting is stupid, and then advertise such things, example 1, example 2, then yes they are now a religion or belief system."

You do realize that you are now saying that being part of a group that doesn't stamp-collect is equivalent to being in a religion. I think there might be a few criteria missing from your designation of 'religious group' there.

Oh, and apparently advertising your opinion on a subject is enough to make you part of a religion too? So any political party is a religion? Any sports team? Any company you work for? Any advocacy or awareness organization? Any Charity? They all advertise and contain a group of people who share a similar opinion on a certain subject. All religions?

Seriously. I'm a member of the Liverpool FC Supporters Club and as a life-long Liverpool fan I have attended many meetings (matches), sung songs with my fellow fans, worn the colours of my team and argued with those who support opposing teams. Are you going to tell me that football is a genuine religion too?
If you are, then your definition of religion is so broad that it encompasses any organized group, no matter what they actually do, and as such loses all meaning and relevance.

I don't understand why you'd want to do that!

Although there are, clearly, other definitions of the word. Common understanding of what 'religion' constitutes is:

"1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

No stamps involved. And certainly no non-stamps involved!

Your attempts at conflating atheism and religion do not stand up to scrutiny. However, I welcome your rebuttal to what I just wrote...

Dan +†+ said...


So who do you worship? No one? Fine is 0 (zero) still a number? As Rush said "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice."

So who do you put your faith in? No one? How about yourself? You trust and put your faith in yourself? Fine The you worship yourself. Self, like satanists, is the focus of worship.

I don't know you enough to conclude that you have a dogma but if you deny the existence of God, in any blog, anywhere, then you sure are conveying or pushing your beliefs to people. It's called communication and its not a bad thing. But if you are telling me you don't have a worldview then I would consider that suspect.

At least you can admit that atheism is part of a worldview or belief system?

ExPatMatt said...


Atheism only has the name because people like to categorize other people. If I were asked, 'what religion are you?' I wouldn't say 'atheism', I'd say 'none'.

You said;

"So who do you worship? No one?"

Correct. 10 points.

"Fine, is 0 (zero) still a number?"

I don't know, you'd have ask a mathematician.

"As Rush said "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.""

I don't know who Rush is, but that statement seems incorrect to me. If you are asked to choose between A and B and you choose not to choose, you aren't choosing C as part of the initially requested choice, you're rejecting (perhaps temporarily) the initial proposition and making a whole other decision out of a different question: to make the choice or not. I kind of confused myself there, but I don't really see the value of the quote anyway.

"So who do you put your faith in? No one?"

What do you mean by 'faith'? I trust people, but only if they've earned it. I also give people the benefit-of-the-doubt to a certain degree, unless they've given me a reason not to. Is that unreasonable?

"How about yourself? You trust and put your faith in yourself? Fine Then you worship yourself."

I don't think that that is a particularly accurate definition of 'worship' by anyone's standard. If you could cite me a dictionary that says otherwise, I'd appreciate it.

"Self, like satanists, is the focus of worship."

I would assume that satanists worship Satan, no?

Well, that was a big bowl of wrong you just directed my way, Dan. Let's see about your final question:

"At least you can admit that atheism is part of a worldview or belief system?"

I will wholeheartedly admit that not having a religion shapes my worldview inasmuch that if I had a religion, my worldview would be different.

Of course, if I had a car, my worldview would be different. If I had a PhD in quantum mechanics, my worldview would be different. If I had a child, my worldview would be different.

I don't know what my worldview would be like if I had any of these things, but I assume it would be different. However, I wouldn't say that not having these these is what shapes my worldview. It's the things I do have that shape my worldview. I do not have atheism - I lack religion.

And no, I will not admit that atheism forms part of a belief system...because it doesn't.

All my opinion, of course, and I welcome your thoughts.


Dan +†+ said...


So a lack of a belief in GOd/gods is "part" of your worldview. That was the choice you made.

"If you are asked to choose between A and B ..."

Let's use an example:

If I place a gun to your head and say bow to God (A) or I will shoot you (B) and you choose not to decide then you have made your choice and it is indeed "B"

Freewill is an anti-religious song I thought you might enjoy.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill

Now for your listening pleasure I give you Rush.

"I will not admit that atheism forms part of a belief system...because it doesn't."

Well then, denial is also an option for you. Atheism is part of your worldview but you don't have to admit it.

When you define atheism there are many ways to explain it such as:

"the doctrine or belief that there is no God "

Or my favorite:

"The religious doctrine that deities do not exist."

ExPatMatt said...


I tried to be as polite and engaging as I could, but really? Is that your response?

Ok then;

Christianity is false because one definition (my personal favourite) is that,

"Christianity is the false belief that Jesus died on the cross to redeem mankind".

There you go, Christianity is proven false by my random redefining of what it is.

The rest of your comment was equally ridiculous and showed no regard for anything that I had written. You are clearly not interested in a dialogue at this time.

When you grow up and learn how to hold an adult discussion, let me know.


John said...

that's a pretty funny prayer I gotta admit!

Anonymous said...

Who has been abusing my article

ExPatMatt said...

"Who has been abusing my article"

What an odd thing to write on someone's blog!

Can I help you at all?