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Is Atheism a Religion?

You have to have faith to be an atheist

started by allonzo1 on 12/23/09.

Is Atheism a Religion?
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arguesreason
For all those quoting dictionary entries, consider this from dictionary.com:
"re⋅li⋅gion
  /rɪˈlɪdʒən/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA
–noun
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.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice. "

Many of these certainly apply to atheism. Aside from the dictionary war, though, atheists make a guess just as much as theists make a guess about the nature of existence and the universe. Atheists certainly have dogma, i.e there is no god. And there are certainly atheist groups, e.g. humanists.

by egorz13 (63.54) on 1/28/10.

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Godwin's Law - I like that. Sia-nara.

by allonzo1 (22.07) on 12/30/09.

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arguesreason
Like Michael Corleone said, "just when I thought I was out.........they pull me back in." Having participated in this web experiment for while now, i have made a startling observation. This is that there is a common technique used in philosophical arguments by people who have no particular facts or opinions of there own to offer. I think these people could be characterized as "pot shotters." Rather than taking the whole of the discussion/argument they take little snippets and twist them around in attempt to paint a false restatement of the other person's position. Remarkably, they apparently believe that this effort proves their point! For example, Krista17 directly addresses my entries and makes her first point by providing a definition that incorporates "a belief in a supernatural creator" to disprove the premise. Surprise, Krist17, there are more than one definition of religion. Also, i have made it clear that i am not arguing semantics, but function. Her second point is actually my premise, and i agree with it. Depending upon how one approaches any activity, it can functionally become a religion to them. If a person's whole life was poured into working on model trains, and they immersed themselves into it, preached the greatness of it and make it their life's passion, guess what, model trains would be their religion! lastly, my reference to Hitler, this was in response to otm_shank's statement that there is no dogma for atheism. The reference to Darwin's book was only an aside to show the passion that some people have on the subjection. Furthermore, Krista17 then proceeds to support my point by drawing a parallel between what is said and ill effect of other religions.

by allonzo1 (22.07) on 1/13/10.

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@Krista17
I have to disagree on one point, and that is: "Atheists do not try to convert others."

Perhaps you meant to say, "Not all atheists try to convert others," and that would be fair, but it has been my experience that a vast majority of atheists are more vocal and more interested in conversion than your most adamant Baptist preacher. Bill Maher comes to mind as one of the most publicly available Atheistic Preachers, but there are many more in our every-day lives. You've met 'em. You know 'em.

Granted, an atheist conversion does not involve a specific ritual or symbolic cleansing, but those who holler the loudest about their atheism are only trying to gather more to their way of thinking, for whatever reason. Perhaps they believe they are doing good in the name of science or providing a kindness to those with questions - there is no telling when it comes to the motives of an individual - but anybody who criticizes or questions the religious beliefs of another person out loud is proselytizing, whether it be for another religion or for a lack of religion. It's all about getting the most team members on your side, otherwise there is little point in saying anything at all.

"But, no! I'm not proselytizing! I'm telling the truth! The *real* truth!" That's exactly what every religion has said throughout history.

My biggest beef with atheists, of which I am one, is that while almost every organized religion has laws and codes and rules about proselytizing, atheists have no such rules of engagement. Evangelists, by the very nature of their beliefs *must* recruit. Mormons *must* recruit. Scientologists *must* recruit. The bylaws of their clubs make it very clear; their books say so. Atheists have no such organization or codification. Atheists make a personal choice to interfere with the beliefs of those around them by trying to “shatter the illusion.”

Atheists are the least excusable in their effort to proselytize. After all, according to an atheist, we’ll all be space dust in a billion years. So why cause trouble now?

Because there’s nothing good on TV.

by Katzwinkel (69.39) on 3/13/10.

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arguesreason
Atheist display all of the same zeal and biases to support their position as do those of any "Religion." Also, the third definition in Webster's for religion is, "doctrine of custom accepted on faith." Like Blood Sweat and Tears said, "i swear there ain't no heaven, and I pray there ain't no Hell."

by allonzo1 (22.07) on 12/23/09.

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arguesreason
No codified dogma?? You must be kidding. Try searching the internet for "Books on Atheism" and see the repetitive dogma in the titles and the attacks on the belief in God. The first web page i looked at touted at least 20 books and a dozen more web links. And we dare not forget the all time reference guide to atheism, "The Origin of the Species" that helped Hitler justify his master race ambitions and his attempted genocide of the Jews.

by allonzo1 (22.07) on 12/29/09.

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If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck........it's a duck.

I don't necessarily rely on the court system for decisions on subjective issues, but i submit that at least someone else believes atheism is a religion. (see the reference and below)

WND LAW OF THE LAND
Court rules atheism a religion
Decides 1st Amendment protects prison inmate's right to start study group
Posted: August 20, 2005
1:00 am Eastern

"A federal court of appeals ruled yesterday Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat atheism as a religion. "


by allonzo1 (22.07) on 12/29/09.

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i guess when something is very simple, it has to be repeated. As i said, atheists display all of the zeal in spreading their dogma as any religious advocate. I am not necessarily arguing semantics, but reality. the court has recognized that atheism should be treated as a religion because advocates want to study and practice behavior that is emblematic of their beliefs. (Get your "ducks" in a row.") With that said, i stand by Webster's third definition, again as previously stated. Religion is a "doctrine of custom accepted on faith."

by allonzo1 (22.07) on 12/29/09.

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arguesreason
just a couple of applicable cliches: first, "if the shoe fits, wear it.," and second, "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.........it's a duck."

by allonzo1 (22.07) on 1/13/10.

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Hi Allonzo

1.) The arguments I have offered do address your points and in fact, prove them wrong.
2.)Indeed I did agree with some minor things you said but that does not weaken my case, only proves I'm capable of supporting intelligent and productive discourse.
3.) You say you're not arguing semantics but any argument over DEFINITIONS is a semantic issue. Is there some other argument about atheism that you want to make?*
4.) I did not take "snippets" but I was perfectly TOPICAL. This topic here is a classic texbook definitional argument; is X a Y? I have proven that your definition is way too broad as it appears to include any ideology, philosophy or body of thought followed with fervor. I offered a better, more narrow, more accurate definition of "religion" in order to prove that atheism is not a religion.

*If you merely meant to argue that atheists subscribe to a particular philosophy or body of rhetoric, than you do not have a debate topic, you're just stating well known facts.

by Krista17 (78) on 3/11/10.

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Definition of religion is;

# 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;

So atheis can not be considered a religion as an atheist by definition does not believe in supernatural or divine power/control


by coolio12 (56.12) on 12/27/09.

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My comments on some of Allonzo1's comments:

1.)By definition a "religion" is based on belief in a supernatural creator therefore atheism is not a religion.
2.) Yes, many atheists are zealots and dogmatic, but not all bodies of thought which are dogmatic are considered "religions." By that logic, communism is a religion as is the Atkin's diet, etc.
3.) Hitler used Darwin's Survival to justify the master race, wow. Not relevant to the topic, but note that people have used the Christian bible to justify mass killings as well (the crusades, witch hunts).

by Krista17 (78) on 1/12/10.

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Atheism is an ideology, but not a religion. It has no codified dogma (no "bible", as it were), nor is it an organized institution. If its adherents seem to act in ways similar to religious people, that is only because they feel their ideology is under attack. Just as some people feel the need to defend or justify their faith, some atheists see the need to defend the lack thereof in predominantly religious societies.

by DClary (65.15) on 12/29/09.

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Atheism is a state of awareness and repudiation of a given set of dogma. It is not a religion in the same structure of ritualized belief systems such as those that are being implied here (Christianity, et al). All individuals are atheist in some form or another. Christians are atheists in respect to all other gods aside from the god of Abraham. Disregarding a few eccentrics, modern individuals are atheist in respect to Odin, Thor, Ra, Zeus, Athena, Quetzalcoatl, -insert deity here-, etc. Hence, all individuals can claim to be atheist.

by otm_shank (54.55) on 12/31/09.

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argumentsdebate
That Wisconsin court may have labeled atheism as a religion for the purposes of allowing atheists to be free from state-imposed religious ideals just as religious people are, (sep. of church & state, free speech) but really, by any stretch of definition, atheism is not a religion. However, yes, I agree with those judges, they deserve the same freedom of belief.

1.) Atheists are not "organized" like religious groups
2.) Atheists do not try to convert others
3.) Atheists are not required to ignore logic and plausibility and believe out of pure "faith," their beliefs are more based in educated guesses, scientific evidence and logic
4.) Atheists do not have a set of "rules" for behavior, morality or prophecy
5.) They believe in no creator or after-life.

So walks like a duck? Looks like a duck? Well it's a goose. The only thing in common with religion atheists have is an "ideology and set of shared beliefs."

by Krista17 (78) on 3/12/10.

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_The Origin of Species_ was not a theological book in any way, nor was it ever intended to be. In fact, Darwin was a devout Christian and was deeply troubled by the implications of his work as it related to the Christian creation story. Also, Godwin's Law dictates that this topic is now over since you invoked Hitler.

by DClary (65.15) on 12/30/09.

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@allonzo1

First, I think your Hitler point was in response to DClary's argument since you are going after his 'codified dogma' statement. I am not touching your Hitler argument in any way, shape or form.

Second, my position is that in the context of structured, ritualized religion, atheism is not a religion. We are also all atheist in some shape or form.

Lastly, you seem to be upset when others disagree with your logic and the points you are trying to make. In my opinion, I think your arguments are filled with holes, absurd logic and primarily written from your stream of consciousness without much afterthought or organization. That is my opinion. To claim we are 'pot shotters' is incredible considering the fact that you condense so many claims into one posting that we have no choice but to address them individually. To accuse us of not having facts or opinions of our own is idiotic and ironic to say the least. Again, this is arguehow.com ... there will be people who disagree with you and call you out on things. No need to get offended.

by otm_shank (54.55) on 1/13/10.

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The argument that "athiests are making as far-flung an argument that God does not exist as theists do in asserting that God does exist," does not hold water. If that argument held true, then those who deny the existence of leprechauns or the tooth fairy or a The Flying Spaghetti Monster have no leg to stand on. The claim that one must prove the non-existence of non-existence is impossible. The onus of proof of existence lies with the believer.

by Katzwinkel (69.39) on 2/18/10.

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Alonso: Your “news” article is misleading, please read the actual opinion linked to below. The Court does inquire as to whether atheism is a religion, but only insofar as that designation may provide protection under the First Amendment. The Court writes about how a person’s sincerely held beliefs dealing with issues of "ultimate concern" occupy a place parallel to that filled by God in traditionally religious persons. “[W]hen the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.” Therefore, the Court is not stating that atheism is a religion, but rather that atheism must be protected as is it was a religion.


by Mr. Huge (56.99) on 12/29/09.

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