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Essay talk:Atheism is a religion

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First thread[edit]

Given that all atheists that I know take the initial position:

  • Show me the evidence and I'll believe it.

I'm not sure how that can be construed as a religious belief.--Bobbing up 05:00, 17 February 2009 (EST)

And remember the phrase "atheism is to religion as bald is to hair colour". You can group Christians by their belief in Christian God, you can group Muslims by their belief in the islamic flavour they call Allah. You can't quite group the people who call bullshit to the entire concept in the same way. Many might be "spiritual rather than religious" (an annoying term that I dislike but it should still be considered). You also have to draw the line between what is essentially a non-belief and an active disbelief. Such as "Why don't you believe in the pink and yellow spotted gorrilla behind you? More specifically, why didn't you believe in it before I mentioned it?" But primarily, you're confusing Atheism and Pantheism, both are mutually compatible but not necessessarily related. ArmondikoVgnostic 05:12, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Bob, that question depends on how one defines the word "religion." Since that definition is disputed, what is the one you are using? (Also, not all atheists that you know take that initial position; TheoryOfPractice has espoused strong-atheist beliefs. Update: Add Javascap to that list.)
Armondikov, false analogy. You can group explicit atheists by their active refusal to believe in any God or supernatural entity. The line between non-belief and active disbelief is also irrelevant, since this is a discussion of beliefs, not their adherents.
And how am I confusing atheism and pantheism? The two are very difficult to confuse, being that the latter has a God on the top and the former does not... Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 14:59, 17 February 2009 (EST)

I dislike your definition of religion. Religion, to me and many others, is about a codified set of beliefs. Panthiesm is not a religion, as they do not have codified beliefs. Deism is of questionable status. Without a set of beliefs and practices there is only spirituality, not religion. Of course you can change the definition of religion to include all forms of belief, or the lack thereof, but that is not the definition most people hold. Z3rotalk 15:11, 17 February 2009 (EST)

I am not speaking of the definitions that "most people hold," as I find them inadequate — mostly because, if you do not have a strong definition like mine or the straw-man one, less dogmatic Christians will find a way to say that their beliefs are not a religion, either. Regarding "spirituality," see my article on that word. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 15:27, 17 February 2009 (EST)
But you can't make up a definition that no one agrees with, then shout that everyone else is wrong. This isn't CP, and you're not Andy. You must either use the definition everyone else uses, or convince everyone else that you are right; you've done neither.
Regarding sprituality, the word is more usually used to mean any kind of supernatual belief. I'm not making an argument for it. Z3rotalk 15:31, 17 February 2009 (EST)
EC.EC Is there any definition of religion that would include a group which had, as a basic principle "Show me the evidence and I'll test it and accept it if it passes the test?"? This is the standard sceptical position of atheists. Under which definition of religion would this be included? I imagine that one could create an arbitrary, personal definition which included such a position but, as Z3ro suggests, such a definition would hardly be the generally held one. --Bobbing up 15:32, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Also words mean what the majority accept them to mean. Personal definitions are great for debate but they carry no weight.--Bobbing up 15:34, 17 February 2009 (EST)

Z3ro and Bob, I am merely suggesting the use of my definition, which you can hardly claim is only a "personal," "made-up" one since it is highly similar if not identical to the one used by the U.S. courts.

Also, I did not merely assert that the dictionary definitions were wrong: I argued from the premise that three belief systems, defined by this Wiki to be religions, are actually such. To those who do not believe that all three of those are religions, some parts of the argument will obviously be invalid.

Bob, most definitions of "religion" include such a group: those Christians who converted after finding "proofs" of YHVH's existence, as documented on Conservapedia. Not all of them are willing to take YHVH's existence on faith alone. They just have different ideas of what constitutes "evidence." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 15:59, 17 February 2009 (EST)

I don't normally get my definitions from the courts. Regardless, it is still not a definition that most people use, therefore, you must convince us to accept it. You have not. Regarding religions put forth by this wiki, there will be some arguing about what exactly is or isn't a religion. You'll have to take that up on those pages. Z3rotalk 16:08, 17 February 2009 (EST)
That is acceptable. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:53, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Actually I'm not talking about "proof", but "evidence". Religion may well like to imagine it has "proof" but what science deals with is evidence. If you have enough evidence you can provisionally accept something as true, unless or until it's falsified by something else. In which case you go back to the start again. Nothing is taken on faith, nothing is worshipped, nothing is prayed to, nothing supernatural is believed to happen.--Bobbing up 16:27, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Correction. One point is taken on faith: "We can't accept any hypothesis as true without enough evidence." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:53, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Yes, but that "faith" science has is based upon tangible, testable observations, and made with rational conclusions based on what can be observed. Belief in a god is based upon the concepts you are told to believe, not a testable observation.
What you are saying is bears a resemblence to a person flicking a light switch, noticing the light does not come on, and saying, "The bulb must be burned out" and stating that must be a religion because he made a statement affirming belief. That is completly different from a guy saying "My lightbulb is haunted by an evil spirit!" with no legitimate reason as to why. In the lightbulb example, a person can go up to the lightbulb, and see that it is burned out, while the "evil spirit" example relies upon, as I said earlier, "You gotta have faith" ĴάΛäšςǍ₰ In Soviet Russia, the congruent cake speaks YOU!

Nonsensical argument based on falacy of "i've created a group"[edit]

(Yes, I know it's not a real fallacy, sheesh). The point is, there is no such thing as "the atheists", there is "an atheist here" and a "*different* atheist" there. Atheists do not come from the same place, share any much less all of their culture, their identity, their frame works, their views of society, their views of the world, their views of nature (or as scholars call all of this, a "world view") which is a minimal shared set of expectations about the world that believers in a "religion" must have. Some athesis, such as myself, are pagans and worship the earth *as* a god, though not believing it to *be* a god. My religion is Wiccan. To me, what your real contention is, is this "is pantheism" or "oninism" (sp) a religion. That may be a better starting place, but redefining religion is not the place to being this particular argument, nor is your definition effective in conveying what a religion is. a religion is *not* a belief in god, nor the supernatural, it is a **shared** set of morals, ethics, understanding of nature, practice and ritual about the world. --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 15:19, 17 February 2009 (EST)


Pure and simple bullshit. Ken could not have done better. How many yoga classes did you have to attend to be able to stretch words and meanings this way? A person's religion is the summation of that person's beliefs explicitly concerning the supernatural, including the question of its existence. No. Show me some sources--and how far they go back--that show the word being used that way. By that definition, everybody has to have a religion, because everyone has some sort of belief about the subject at hand, even if that belief is only "I dunno" or "beats me." it's a gotcha game, and a pretty lame one, at that.

Let's put the toys away (i.e.wiktionary) look at a real dictionary, the only one that matters--the OED. Under religion, dating back to 1300, the OED has:

"4. a. A particular system of faith and worship."

Dating back to 1535:

"5. a. Recognition on the part of man of some higher unseen power as having control of his destiny, and as being entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship; the general mental and moral attitude resulting from this belief, with reference to its effect upon the individual or the community; personal or general acceptance of this feeling as a standard of spiritual and practical life."

The second of these implies an acknowledgement (i.e. a conscious affirmation) of a believed existence in something supernatural; they both imply the idea that that something calls for a particular conduct on the part of the believer. "Religion" has always implied the idea that something beyond our immediate experience exists, and it calls for us to act a certain way because of that. Atheism does nothing of the sort. TheoryOfPractice 15:52, 17 February 2009 (EST)

TOP, I am making no claim that my definition of "religion" is a widely accepted or traditional one. The U.S. courts use something similar, to be able to define atheism as a religion, but that is the closest it comes.
Unfortunately, I do not own a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, only Webster's. Does the OED provide any other definitions of "religion" worthy of note? I will try to work them into the essay. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:47, 17 February 2009 (EST)
U.S. Courts may have practical reasons for sometimes classifying atheism as a religion; I doubt that the people involved in those courts actually believe that atheism is literally a religion in the same sense that Islam or Christianity is.
If you're using a rarefied definition of "religion", then your essay fails. I could say that my cat is actually a bear, & prove this by explaining that a bear is any furry animal that walks on four legs and eats fish. But ultimately, it wouldn't prove anything; it's just playing with words & twisting they mean. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:10, 17 February 2009 (EST)

Faulty definition[edit]

Listener, your definition of religion purely in terms "belief" is faulty - by the same logic, you could say that believing in ghosts or aliens or the Loch Ness Monster - or not believing in any of those things - is a religion. What defines religion is not just belief but observance such as rituals, worship, commandments or ethics determined by the religion, and often some some of mythology, and/or places or objects deemed to be sacred. Not all religions involve all of these, but they involve some, and atheism does not include any of them. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 16:17, 17 February 2009 (EST)
You said this before. I answered it before. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:47, 17 February 2009 (EST)
I don't see it. Are you saying that atheism involves worship & observances or that religion doesn't? €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:57, 17 February 2009 (EST)
I had answered your question about "believing in ghosts..." by saying that these beliefs, while they are certainly religions in their own right by my definition, are usually adhered to as a part of a broader set of beliefs that is also a religion. Atheism, for example, certainly offers its adherents a disbelief in ghosts or aliens or the Loch Ness Monster, even if the questions of those beings' existence never come up for some individual atheist.
Pantheism, in its purest form, does not involve worship and observances. Yet this Wiki puts it down as a religion. Also, the belief of intelligent design does not have any worship or observances attached to it. Is intelligent design not religion? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:13, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Not inherently, it's just closely associated with religions. Atheism doesn't necessarily involve disbelief in ghosts / aliens / monsters, as there are atheists who do believe in any of those things. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:28, 17 February 2009 (EST)
? ? ! All right, must get on the same page here. I understood that "atheism" meant the lack of belief in supernatural entities. Can someone believe in supernatural entities, but still qualify as an atheist just by not calling them "Gods"? (And although the Loch Ness Monster and aliens are not exactly supernatural concepts, they have had much of the supernatural tied up with them.) Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:37, 17 February 2009 (EST)
So again you cite your own pet definition of atheism rather than any shared & recognised definition of it. To everybody else, atheism is a position regarding the non-existence of gods. Belief or disbelief in any other creatures or phenomena is not part of the definition. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:50, 17 February 2009 (EST)
I have placed my reply to this below. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:53, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Atheism is a religion in the same way that bald is a hair color. This is ********, *********, and ********. I.E., sheer idiocy. --"CURtalk 19:53, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Atheism is a religion in the same way that bald is a hair style :-) --GTac 19:55, 17 February 2009 (EST)
For the record, there is no "pure" (or fundamental) form of Pantheism, nor does being a Pantheist preclude one from worshiping. Most Deists were pantheists, though that term did not exist. Many Buddhists are either pantheists or atheists or both at various times in their understanding of the nature of things. They often do rituals to attune themselves with the "pan". I, as you know, am a Wiccan... and have at times crossed from pantheist to atheist and back, because for me they are essentianlly the exact same thing. and i have rituals and observances. It is arrogant in all forms to assume that people who do things differently from you are not "pure" in their view of pantheism. there is no one single pantheistic religion to join. Oh, that's another thing about religion, one can say what beliefs are necessary, what practices are necessary, and who is "in or out" of any religion. "you must cuss 77 times a day to the north wind to be a PanTreeist." "Druids necessarily spin in circles 22 times then drink till they pass out or they are not druids." "Gluks only allow women to be members of the religion, for the great Gluckie was a woman" what must atheists do? who is not allowed to be an atheist? --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 20:26, 17 February 2009 (EST) (sorry about the typos, my spell checker is on the fritz).
and by the way "Can someone believe in supernatural entities, but still qualify as an atheist just by not calling them "Gods"?" Depends on what you mean by supernatural. If the Star Trec dude "q" walks up to me and says, "hi, i'm Q, and i'm going to blow up your car with my mind", I'd say "Wow, he really does exist". BUT, since he existed, he'd cease to be "supernatural" in any academic sense of the term, cause nature made him. He exists, he can prove he exists. Science can say "ok, Q, Blow up this tree, to." he will have limits, though they may be beyond our understanding. Hell, he even could have made humans. I believe in Aliens. I think Aliens might well have had a "hand" in creating us, in the sense that their dna may be what sparked life on this planet. But they aren't gods or a god. Let's put it this way, if Science can (eventually) explain it, it's not a god nor is it supernatural. You create such straw men, then say "see, i won..."--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 20:32, 17 February 2009 (EST)
I concur with WFG. --"CURtalk 20:33, 17 February 2009 (EST)
I have placed my reply to this below. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:53, 17 February 2009 (EST)

Reply to Weaseloid[edit]

That is hardly a pet definition of mine; most of the arguments for atheism here and elsewhere depend on a categorical rejection of the supernatural. But, since we are discussing atheism in theory rather than practice, I am well and truly nailed on that point.

Now, it appears that you only raised this dispute when I cited atheism as an example in the context of quite a different discussion. In the sentence beginning with "Atheism, for example," replace "Atheism" with "A world-view entailing lack of belief in all supernatural entities," which was what I actually meant due to the definition mix-up, and continue. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:53, 17 February 2009 (EST)

Reply to WaitingforGodot[edit]

There are indeed many different kinds of pantheism, including, as you demonstrate, some with systems of practice. But the only thing one needs to do to be a pantheist is to believe that God is the universe; compare to Christianity, which requires the acceptance of an exclusive system of worship.

What I call the "purest form" of pantheism is just that one essential belief. Those who add trimmings and trappings and systems of worship, although they are still practicing pantheism, could take away all those trimmings and trappings and still be pantheists.

Say "supernatural" is as Webster's dictionary defines it, of, belonging to, having reference to, or proceeding from an order of existence beyond the physical universe that is observable, and capable of being experienced by ordinary means. How would you answer my question then? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:53, 17 February 2009 (EST)

1) your "purest form" is by definition NOT a religion. a religion requires that there be a core set of beliefs, **including** but not limited to practices, morality, ethics, social constructions, etc. You have a belief, a view, an idea. those are part of religions, but they are not "religion". I'm going to do an illegal "appeal to authority" here, by stating that i've spent the better part of 10 years in Academics arguing in detail what is and is not "religion", and the one starting place every academic comes to is that it is a shared experience of 2 or more, defining the world and world view. You have a definition that removes even that launching point, making effectively a term that is "religion=belief". we already have that word, belief. Redefining religion = belief does nothing to understand the nature of human and human drive for religion.
2) your own definition for supernatural answered your own very question, and was simply a better, more concise statement of what i said. If we can experience a thing, in any "testable" or "verifiable" sense, it is not supernatural. There is nothing about the nature of atheism (no god) that means you do or do not believe in ghosts, aliens, or other as-of-yet unproven phenomena. --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 00:06, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Read my preferred definition of "religion" again. I do not equate religion with belief; to be religious the belief has to be about the supernatural, so religion is by my definition a subset of belief. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 00:49, 18 February 2009 (EST)
But it's still your definition of religion rather than anybody else's. Real world definitions of religion involve some form of observances, practices & ethics as well as beliefs. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 07:45, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Untrue. Some of the dictionary definitions I cite in my essay have no mention of observances, practices or ethics; for example, definition 6a from Webster's. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 11:14, 18 February 2009 (EST)
You can quotemine a dictionary to prove just about anything. Try reading any article or essay about defining religion (e.g. ([1], [2], [3]) & you'll find that the definition you've used is inadequate. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 11:47, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I have examined your citations; my remarks on them follow.
The first page you cited says this: "[E]ven when we think we have a handle on what religion is, we might be fooling ourselves ... Definitions of religion tend to suffer from one of two problems: they are either too narrow and exclude many belief systems which most agree are religious, or they are too vague and ambiguous, suggesting that just about any and everything is a religion." It then goes on to give its own definition of religion and say that you do not need to believe in the supernatural to be religious. Rather like my essay, really.
On the second page you cited, the definitions are so dodgy and slippery that you can prove much more with them than you can by quote-mining a dictionary, and I pass over them with no further remark.
The Wikipedia page mentions a school of religious scholars who maintain that "Religion may be defined as the presence of a belief in the sacred or the holy." No practice needed. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 12:20, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Frankly, it is my argument that you all are conservatives, because the root of the word "conservative" is to "conserve", and i know for a fact that everyone of you has at times had to conserve water (when hiking, for example), conserves energy and gas, and has at some point in their life conserved the last piece of chocolate so they can eat it tomorrow. Also, since a liberal, to me, is someone who would LITERALLY KILL for their views, and you understand that some liberals have done that, including those who participated in the Civil War, and since not one of you has demonstrated in action that you have killed for your views, clearly you are all conservatives both by my definition and by the standard logic therein. — Unsigned, by: WaitingforGodot / talk / contribs
(EC) There are two ways in which my essay is different from this counterargument-by-analogy:
  1. My essay, unlike your counterargument, argues that the current definitions of the disputed words are inadequate and that therefore a new definition is needed. Since you do not regard pantheism as a religion, you do not accept the soundness of those arguments of mine about the word "religion," but I still made them.
  2. My essay, unlike your counterargument, does not exactly pluck definitions out of thin air. Although I did make up my definition, it is consistent with the one the U.S. courts use; never mind if that definition is informed by expediency or not lexicographically authoritative.
Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 11:51, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Wait, so ListernerX, you believe Confucianism isn't a religion, right? Just checking. --GTac 12:37, 18 February 2009 (EST)
It has no supernatural elements, so, no, it is not. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 12:59, 18 February 2009 (EST)

A bit from the other side[edit]

Though I don't think atheism is a religion, but I don't think usage of the term is ridiculous, since atheists do have a strong belief system which is in some ways similar to religion.

  • For one, it's not like atheists don't have beliefs of their own. I don't think I ever saw an atheists deny creationism without bringing up their alternative: evolution. Yes, it may be a damn better alternative, and you came upon it through rationality, but that's the same reasons every religious person would give too. My point is that you aren't merely denying their beliefs.
  • Furthermore, I'm sorry to say that there are a lot of atheists who believe so strongly in their atheism that their argumentation manner is very similar to religious fundamentalists. Sad but true.
  • Finally, the term atheism is a reference to your religious beliefs (namely none), which always groups it together with religion, so I don't think it's too weird if some people perceive it as a religion. I think a better analogy could be "Saying atheism is a religion is like saying bald is a hair style". Technically wrong, but seems to works for practical purposes. --GTac 16:33, 17 February 2009 (EST)
I'd like to responsd to this, because points like these piss me off.
1. "Believing" in evolution is a total misnomer. My alternative to creationism is nothing; how life became what it is today is evolution. I "believe" in evolution like I "believe" in gravity.
2. What does argument style have to do with anything?
3. A better analogy would be classifying not collecting stamps as a hobby. What do people who don't collect stamps have in common? Nothing, except that they don't collect stamps. Organizing atheists as a group is pointless and counterproductive. Z3rotalk 16:40, 17 February 2009 (EST)

We have a strong belief system? In WHAT. you have to believe IN something to have that as part of your belief system. I don't believe in Jack-a-lopes nor in Leprechauns. Why would that in any shape or from denote a strong "belief" in something. Being an atheist is something I "am" only by extension when a theist says "to you believe in god". 1) As for evolution, Christians believe in that, as do Muslims, Mormons, Indians, Hindus, Africans, Buddhists... I also believe in medicine, the idea that Socialism is a sound institution for modern life, and that Lost is a sucky tv show. what does this have to do with a singular "religion"? 2) There are some fundies that make me want to scream, this doesn't mean that a person who is a fundy Buddhist is a "fundy", nor does it mean that a woman who is pro-choice is an "abortionist". It means they have strong opinions and are assholes. 3)Atheism is a reference to religion only because it is the religious who ask "do you believe in a god" and demand we give ourselves some "name" if we don't. It was first coined not by disbelievers, of course, but by the Christian Elite.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 16:44, 17 February 2009 (EST) (edit conf)

(EC, just saying what everyone else said at the same time as me) Evolution is completely irrelevant: it is not part of the defition of atheism. Atheism existed long before evolution & there are plenty of theists, polytheists and pantheists who believe in evolution. (While we're on the subject, though, belief in evolution is not comparable to religious belief systems. Evolution is observable from the evidence, just as the fact that the earth revolves around the sun is observable. Saying that the earth revolves around the sun is a statement of fact, not belief. Evolution should be regarded the same way; it's only the propaganda of creationists that leads it to be regarded as a belief or an unproven theory.) €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 16:48, 17 February 2009 (EST)

Refutation by analogy here. Anyone can add to it. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:16, 17 February 2009 (EST)

Your 'alternative' to creationism is science, this is a common belief system shared between atheists. A religion is more than just believing in a specific god (who says a god is even required?), it's a shared belief system, and atheists are very similar to that. 2) if an atheists behaves just like a religious fundamentalist, I'd say that's a good indication on how the two can be pretty close. 3) They often have a lot in common, and atheists dont just not believe in a God, they believe in a lack of God.
And no, evolution isn't completely irrelevant, that's my point. It's one of the pillars on which atheism can stand. Many of you wouldn't be atheists if you didn't have answers in sciences like evolution. I'm an atheist, because it's the rational choice. I'd probably believe in Gods 6000 years ago when I had no way of finding out what put men on the earth and who creates lightning. --GTac 17:18, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Sighs. Science is not an "answer" or "alternative" to creationism; any more than science is an "answer" to Snow White, or Zeus. Science is not a "belief system", it is science. There is nothing to "believe" about science. As I said, my religion is Wiccan, yet I am an atheist. 2) I share almost nothing with any other random atheist on the street. A christian shares much with any other random christian - Including such things as Keeping one day a week holy, the belief that Jesus is the son of god and that he died and rose for sins, the belief in some kind of a heaven, the belief that there is a god watching us, and that we are judged as good or evil, etc. A buddhist (who is by most accounts, an atheist, by the way) shares beliefs about the world with other buddhists NECESSARILY. to not do so gets him kicked out of the Club. There is no single belief that an athiest MUST share (by definition) or lose membership in your self-defined club. 2)if a jackass is from France, all jackasses must be from france? and if they only ACT like jackasses, then they must be LIKE the people from france???? 3) I belive in "lack of leprichauns" "lack of fairies" and "lack of quality televsion"... so fricking what? why does this make me members in a club?--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 17:26, 17 February 2009 (EST)
To GTac, I won't adress most of your points, except the part about not being an atheist if is wasn't for evolution. I'm not a typical atheist; I didn't have a big deconversion story after believing for a long period. I just always was an atheist; even as a kid I never really believed in god, even if my parents and pastor said I should. I would still be an atheist without evolution. Be careful not to group us too tightly together. Z3rotalk 17:36, 17 February 2009 (EST)
There is no single belief that an athiest MUST share > Except the belief that there is no God :-D. Also, you said yourself that you aren't a typical atheist for that, zer0, implying that typically atheists are the other way. Don't insist that I'm grouping you too tightly together :-). --GTac 17:48, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Touche' (but my point still stands). Z3rotalk 17:52, 17 February 2009 (EST)
There is a distinction between believing that there is no god and not having a belief in god. The latter is the default position as we are all born without belief. It is only cultural pressures and indoctrination which inculcates a belief. I would define atheism as not having a belief in god (or whatever spiritual entity you might like to include) although some atheists might go further and profess that they believe there is no god the first position still holds. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 18:17, 17 February 2009 (EST)
I will honestly say to you, there is no god, and belief in any form of supernatural entity is, at best, a ridiculous and backwards concept. I honestly can say that there is no "karma" or ANY sort of supernatural influence on this earth at all whatsoever. Saying that "no supernatural" is a religion is ludicrious because a supernatural event is the core of every religion, the whole "you gotta have faith" concept, forms the backbone of every single belief system in history. In that last statement, I include Buddhism, Islam, and even the Mayan belief system in blood as a sacrifice to raise the sun. EVERY SINGLE RELIGION has a faith in the supernatural, Atheism does not. With that in mind, I therefore state, A(without)theism(god, religion) is not a religon.
Now, GTac, since you bought up evolution, I will add on quite a bit. Evolution is not a religion because it can be observed, we can say "Take a look at this, over time, organisms change, therefore, we are the result of thousands and thousands of generations of life. A religion requires blind faith, with your eyes wide shut, saying that you are right just because your priest said so. Evolution requires evidence, and as a science, can be refuted, and is open to such, having been contested before, but the end result is that science strives for accuracy, wheras religion strives for "La la la la la la la not listening!".
End rant. ĴάΛäšςǍ₰ In Soviet Russia, the congruent cake speaks YOU!
I had enormously long arguments with Pink over the definition of religion as she contended that she was religious just because she believed that god created the universe. But nothing followed on from that belief, it didn't condition her world view or impose special behaviours. A belief is inconsequential if it does not somehow change how you interact with the world and impose or require actions which appear to be irrational to a non-believer. Certain atheists may exhibit behaviour that is comparable to religious fundamentalism but that is not required to be an atheist any more than a fundamentalist line is required to be religious, it's just a facet of someone's character. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 18:05, 17 February 2009 (EST)

Being observable goes against the definition of religion? Now don't make your own definition to fit your argument, I don't think that god showing himself will convince any christians that they were wrong about god.. --GTac 18:40, 17 February 2009 (EST)

"don't make your own definition to fit your argument". Indeed. So please don't redefine science as "a belief system" or atheism as a set of shared beliefs. The only thing atheism involves is not believing in any deity. Attaching any other set of values or beliefs to it is just stretching the definition of atheism; & stereotyping in fact. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:56, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Because usually there are other beliefs attached to it, for reasons mentioned earlier. Also, it's the believe that there is no god, not the lack of belief in a god. --GTac 19:27, 17 February 2009 (EST)
It's either. & Those "other beliefs" atheists may have don't change what atheism is - only your perception of it. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:35, 17 February 2009 (EST)
Just as much as churches don't have anything to do with christianity. The definition of christianity says nothing about churches! --GTac 19:54, 17 February 2009 (EST)

If Atheism is a religion, answer this[edit]

And please be specific 1) What are the shared beliefs of the Atheists. 2) What is the common World View of atheists? 3) What are the minimum set of requirements for being in the Atheist Religion? 4) Who is in charge of the Atheist Religion, and under what umbrella are those charges authorized? 5) What happens if an Atheist suddenly believes in god, if there are all these "shared" aspects of the "religion", then do they remain "god loving atheists?" as I am an atheistic Pagan? 6) If an atheist has never heard of Darwin, can they still be an atheist? 7) Can an atheist convert? and if so, who approves the conversion... who "lets them in?" 8) Can Atheists exist in all other religions, all other cultures, all social aspects, or is it limited to a single culture? 9) What are the Atheistic Ethics? Where can they be found, and can they be challenged and if so, by who?

These questions can be answered for every single religion in the world, though in some cases the answer is "noone", "none"; but the point here is to show that the questions themselves are absurd to ask of an "atheist", because it is not any kind of integrated system.

Here are my answers to these questions. The answers are slightly different with some of them for weak and strong atheism.
  1. Weak atheism: That one should not believe in the existence of any Gods. Strong atheism: That there are no Gods.
  2. See answer 1, since the only shared beliefs of atheists occur in the world-view. (N.B.: Practitioners of other religions have a diversity of world-views as well, since religion is not the only source of one's world-view.)
  3. Weak atheism: One must not believe that there are any Gods. Strong atheism: One must believe that there are no Gods.
  4. No one. But no one is in charge of Odinism, either.
  5. By beginning to believe in a God, an atheist categorically ceases to be an atheist, instead becoming a theist. "God-loving atheist" is a contradiction in terms.
  6. Yes, as Darwin had nothing to do with atheism at all.
  7. Certainly a person can convert to atheism. But, like in many other religions (e.g., Odinism, some sorts of Christianity) no one needs to "approve" this conversion.
  8. Atheism is not limited to a single culture. Neither are Christianity or Islam.
  9. Secular humanists and such types try hard to give atheists a value system by which to live; arguments have been made that if people cannot rely on any supernatural help to solve their problems, they should be stimulated to do it themselves. [4]
Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 01:44, 18 February 2009 (EST)
"God-loving atheist" is a contradiction in terms.
I personally don't think it is. Not in all cases at least. It isn't a contraddiction where it's true the "theists care also for atheists", where a religion is considered universal and not restricted to only the declared believers. So if also god isn't considered ad a soprannatural being, but as the "will" of the believers, it has even more sense.
Or you can see it an other different way. "A god loves atheist", meaning atheist don't believe in it, but it loves them anyway (an unrequested love :P). Obviously it wuold happen only if a god was indipendent from the belief of others to exist.
Dnanaz 15:34, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Wait, it's not absurd to ask who is in charge of Hinduism, but it is absurd to ask it of Atheism? I think ListenerX answered your answers splendidly and showed why some people consider atheism a religion, because it fits the same space so well. Also, I think it's more absurd to insist upon combining polytheism with atheism myself. --GTac 11:45, 18 February 2009 (EST)

ListernX's answer for the first question is incorrect. There are absolutely no tenants of "weak atheism." It is a default position. Lack of a belief does not constitute belief. Infants, animals, and tribes with no concept of a god or gods are all weak atheists. There is a name for it only because it is defined by what it is not, that is: A-theistic.
Canadacow 04:39, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

Not based on faith[edit]

The world's most famous atheist campaign, in league with the world's most famous atheist, is the Atheist bus campaign. This group and Mr Dawkins have gone to great lengths to avoid making a faith based statement. Instead they say "there's probably no god" - a statement based on lack of evidence. They also maintain that this is the majority view of atheists. This is also what Mr Dawkins maintains is the majority atheist view in his famous book "The God delusion".--Bobbing up 03:26, 18 February 2009 (EST)

Er, the "probably" got put in to avoid complaints, rather than from any effort to avoid a faith-based statement. They wanted it to say "there is no god" - which is a faith-based statement (God's existence being incapable of proof or disproof). Totnesmartin 05:25, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Look at the quote from the Atheist bus campaign article. They are "keen on" the phrase as it fits not only advertising standards but also their philosophy.--Bobbing up 05:35, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I, for one, completely agree with the "probably". Didn't Bertrand Russell say something to the effect that all knowledge is based on degrees of certainty? I know that my own attitude has changed over the years. Think of it as digital vs. analog. Though I once did, I don't see things like creationism/evolution as creationism 0, evolution 1. I see it as a 1 to 99 scale (0 and 100 being impossible certainties either way) with creationism as a 12 and evolution as a 97. Just as I see religion (in general) as an 8 and atheism as a 94. Of course, all of these numbers are just meant as illustrations of my degree of certainty. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 09:42, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Yes, I'm pretty sure that's how most atheists feel - although perhaps with slightly more consistent math.--Bobbing up 10:29, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Yeah, their not meant to mean anything specific. The numbers are an illustration of the overall point. I might give creationism a 12, whereas another "atheist" might give it a 9, and another still might actually give it a 20. The main point being that there can be significant differences between this atheist and that atheist. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 12:15, 18 February 2009 (EST)
As someone who has been tracking comments on the FB group since September, I can say that most people seem to actually like the "probably". The ones who want to be more extreme and go with "certainly" are happy to do it because of advertising restrictions but the majority, and importantly, Ariane as it's her metaphorical baby, seem happy with it because it's accurate. So, there are certainly differences in opinion, but the thing that separates out these atheists from a religious group is that none of these opinions are actually "right" because there is no organised dogma or church to say who is and who isn't in the right! ArmondikoVgnostic 12:23, 18 February 2009 (EST)

In the final analysis...[edit]

...isn't religion to an "atheist" a bit like what obscenity was to former SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart when he wrote that he couldn't quite define obscenity but continued "...I know it when I see it..." --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 12:30, 18 February 2009 (EST)

What strikes me as interesting is that Listener has to use both his personal definition of religion and a restricted definition of athiesm to make his case.--Bobbing up 12:32, 18 February 2009 (EST)
What was the restricted definition of atheism? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 12:38, 18 February 2009 (EST)
The idea that it is based on faith.--Bobbing up 12:51, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Prove that one should not believe in Gods and I will stop saying that atheism is based on faith. Until then, it is. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 12:56, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Show me the evidence God exists and I will examine it.--Bobbing up 13:00, 18 February 2009 (EST)
There is no evidence either way, as you know very well. Now prove that you need it to make the decision. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 13:05, 18 February 2009 (EST)
There is no evidence for the existence or not of Farther Christmas. The lack of positive evidence means that it is unnecessary to believe that Father Christmas exists.--Bobbing up 13:11, 18 February 2009 (EST)
(EC) Prove the claim in the second sentence. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 13:24, 18 February 2009 (EST)
(EC)So are you suggesting that you must have active "non proof" for every single statement anyone ever makes? Cinderella is real. The great Teh himself is real. The universe was once made entirely out of jello - but we have no way to prove it, 'cause of that big bang thing. Splighmorph exists. Why should a logical person have to prove that any and all statements made from unsubstantiated values, be "proven as wrong". I'm not a logician, but it is my understanding that it is an axim that you cannot prove a non-existance, and I know it is a legal axim that anyone undertaking an assertion (which must be made in the positive) is obligated to prove it, not the other way around. "you killed her" must be proven. "i did not kill her" is the *necessarily* assumed position. "I was not there" is the necessarily assumed position, you must prove otherwise. "I do not know her" is the necessarily assumed position, because there is no way to prove a negative, though you can disprove one, by proving the positive assertion. "I have a letter in your hand writing saying "dear mary' there for you *did* know her.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 13:33, 18 February 2009 (EST)
You want me to explain why it's not necessary to believe in Father Christmas? Th unsure.gif Ummmm ...Do you believe in Father Christmas?--Bobbing up 13:27, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I think Listener made a great arguement against himself. It is not the value judgment of "should not". For people like myself (and I assume that I speak for Bob here) it comes down to an Occam's Razor decision. No god(s) seems more likely than a god(s). --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 13:18, 18 February 2009 (EST)

(undent) I think Bob made the same value judgment mistake. All that needs to be stated is "There is no evidence for the existence or not of Farther Christmas". Full stop. Is there any debate on this statement? If not, there is no need for the following value judgment. Even if there is a debate, you still couldn't proceed to the value judgment until the underlying issue was resolved. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 13:31, 18 February 2009 (EST)

I disagree. The very reason for asking for evidence is to enable you to make a decision about a subject. In this case case about existence or non-existence, but it could be about any other issue which could reasonably be decided by the examination of evidence.--Bobbing up 13:38, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I agree with you Bob that asking for evidence is reasonable. What I'm saying is that if the evidence isn't even produced, then it isn't even worth the while to make the value judgment. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 13:43, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I would say that if an assertion is made, but that no evidence can be produced to substantiate the assertion, then we are justified in rejecting the assertion. It seems to me that rejecting the assertion is a justifiable value judgement under such circumstances. Hence my lack of belief in Father Christmas.--Bobbing up 13:50, 18 February 2009 (EST)
The ad hominem business about Santa Claus indicates that you are running out of arguments, Bob, so I have laid out what I was trying to demonstrate in a new subsection below. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 13:54, 18 February 2009 (EST)
You asked me why one should not believe in Father Christmas. What's ad hominem about pursuing your question?--Bobbing up 14:10, 18 February 2009 (EST)
But you did not pursue it, did you? Instead of offering a proof as I requested (of the statement "The lack of positive evidence means that it is unnecessary to believe that Father Christmas exists," which is an entirely different kettle of fish than "why one should not believe in Father Christmas"), you asked a loaded question. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 14:21, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I said:The lack of positive evidence means that it is unnecessary to believe that Father Christmas exists. you replied: Prove the claim in the second sentence. I was amazed by your response. You asked me to prove that it is unnecessary to believe in Father Christmas. So I asked you to confirm that was your question. Taken at face value it looks as though you feel that the existence of Father Christmas is a valid proposition. So I asked you if this was the case - what's loaded about that? You can answer yes or no. (For the record I've got no problems with saying "no". In a loaded question like "Have you stopped beating your wife?" there is no good answer.) You said there was no reason to answer becasue it was an ad hominem! How so? So no loaded question no ad hominem and please tell me you don't believe in Father Christmas. --Bobbing up 14:35, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Listener, I'm curious as to your opinion on my argument that asking about the necessity of belief in Father Christmas is meaningless until the basis of evidence for the existence of Father Christmas is established? --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 14:40, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Bob's argument is based, not on evidence, but on a lack of evidence. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 15:04, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Bob, your question was ad hominem (I was tempted to answer "yes" in order to let you demonstrate this beyond doubt) and loaded (just like "Smart people have been shown to like Obama. Do you like Obama?"), and no, if you must know, I do not believe in a fat man who roams the world in a flying sleigh squeezing down people's chimneys and doling out five billion presents. Nevertheless, you have not proven that lack of evidence for his existence logically entails that we do not have to believe in him. Can we get on with the argument now? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 14:59, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Still don't see how it's either ad hominem or "loaded", but that's not really the issue. I know why I don't believe in Father Christmas - it's becasue there is no evidence for him. Why don't you believe in Father Christmas?--Bobbing up 15:41, 18 February 2009 (EST)
(a) I do not believe in violations of the laws of physics. (b) Santa Claus's supposed antics violate the laws of physics. Therefore, (c) I do not believe in Santa Claus.
Statement (b) is one of fact, while statement (a) is a belief of mine. I could say that I take statement (a) on faith, but let us suppose that I do not. I would then say, possibly, that there is no evidence indicating the possibility of violations of the laws of physics.
Does this mean, per se, that belief in such violations is unnecessary? It does not. See my remarks below about the scientific method. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:18, 18 February 2009 (EST)
OK, but both of your statements could be restructured to to be statements about evidence. (a) There is not evidence that the laws of physics be broken, so I do not believe it happens. (b) Additionally, there is no evidence that the theoretical being known as Father Christmas is able to break these laws. Which leaves you in exactly the same position as me - you don't believe in Father Christmas becasue there is no evidence which supports his existence.--Bobbing up 16:31, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Exactly what I am saying. I think I take the same position as you, essentially, but unlike you I recognize that it has to boil down to just a bit of faith (in the secular sense), whether in the scientific method or in some stronger premise that I could use to prove the scientific method. See Silver Sloth's remarks below about Collingwood's "absolute presuppositions." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:39, 18 February 2009 (EST)

I'm amazed that we're apparently in agreement, but let's be clear. Surely "faith" and "evidence" are two very different things. In fact they are opposites. If you have evidence then faith is unnecessary. If you have faith then you don't care about evidence.--Bobbing up 16:47, 18 February 2009 (EST)

He's talking about nothing stronger than the kind of "faith" you require to get you beyond idiot scepticism about everything. Dunno why he's making such a meal of it as it's the pragmatic starting point for being able to have any kind of meaningful dialogue at all. --Robledo 17:29, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I've run into trouble explaining that before. Like I am 99% sure there's water in this bottle in front of me. I certainly don't know it (even though I just drank some), but do I believe there is water in the bottle? Yes. How much faith did it take to come to that conclusion? I like to say about 1% (just to make a simply 100% analogy about belief). It takes me about the same amount of faith to deny the Christian god. Neveruse513 17:33, 18 February 2009 (EST)

Edit point[edit]

Again, see my remarks below on the scientific method. I argue that to convince oneself of the truth of a proposition X, either one of these formulae will work:

  • Faith that X is true ==> conviction that X is true
  • Faith that the scientific method works + overwhelming evidence that X is true ==> conviction that X is true

This formula will not work, since tangible evidence and logical propositions are completely different:

  • Overwhelming evidence that X is true ==> conviction that X is true

There are analogous formulae for convincing oneself not to believe in some proposition. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:17, 18 February 2009 (EST)

Can i add to this my formula?
  • Faith that X is usefull (direct experience) ==> convinction that X need to be true
If it isn't already, it need to become true. At least for me, if i'm the only one to think it's usefull.
Dnanaz 16:16, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Edit Pointer[edit]

While I have found some of this interesting, it is a non-starter for me for the most part. Calling atheism a religion just seems silly to me. What's worse in when I see the fundies trying to make atheism out to be a religion. It seems as though they are saying "see, you're just as silly as I am". Though they never realize that they themselves are silly. It's an "as long as someone else is silly then I am fine" kind of thing. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 12:42, 18 February 2009 (EST)
(IVE HAD IT WITH THESE MOTHERF***ING EDIT CONFLICTS IN THIS MOTHERF***ING ESSAY) Now that's where I disagree. I think it's incorrect to call atheism a religion, and it does seem silly, but I believe it won't do the difference in opinion any good by rejecting them on that basis. I think it's much better to realize that the other side does not think they are being silly, and they have genuine arguments behind them with some form of rationing. And after looking into it from other perspectives, it doesn't seem that silly at all anymore to me. The thing is, religion isn't a very solidly defined subject (as most people in this debate found out), it's more kind of a descriptive term used to encompass many different cultural belief systems which can vary greatly on the details. In the big web of these religions, atheism does seem to fit the shape very well. I still disagree with it being a religion, but I understand why you would say it is and I think it's acceptable to call it a religion in certain circumstances for practical reasons. --GTac 13:02, 18 February 2009 (EST)
For certain people atheism (or rather the actions of individual atheists) may take on the appearance of a religion but that is only as a counter to the existence of formal religions. If there were no Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Buddhism (etc.) then atheism (lower case) would not be considered a religion it would just be the natural state. The whole construct of it being called a religion is its negation of organised religion. The counter examples of why atheism is not a religion are all based on the absence of something that is a man-made construct in the first place. Even if there were a god who created the universe, a belief in that would not in itself constitute a religion. Only if one somehow tries to interact with that god by making a conscious effort to appease and please him (or it) or at the very least not offend him, does that belief become a religion. Of course one may take moral and ethical stances but these do not necessarily demand beief in the supernatural. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 16:33, 18 February 2009 (EST)

Why do you believe in the scientific method?[edit]

It is all very well to say, "Show me the evidence and I'll consider a proposition." This describes, roughly, the scientific method. But why do you believe in the rules of the scientific method?

Did you consider the scientific method using the scientific method itself? No. The scientific method leaves no room for anything to be proven absolutely, and you are using the scientific method as if it is absolutely indubitable in an area where it is largely untested.

Did you prove the scientific method using a stricter system of logic that provides this needed absolute guarantee? I doubt it.

Or do you simply believe that the scientific method is effective this way, without having any proof of that? Do you have faith in the scientific method? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 13:54, 18 February 2009 (EST)

This all comes down to what Collingwood called 'absolute presuppositions' - the things we just believe. I have to go beyond Cognito, ergo sum so I believe in believing the evidence. The logical consequence of that is the scientific method. OK, if you're going to twist your definitions you can say that the belief in 'believing the evidence' is religious - I'm not sure I would agree. Silver Sloth 14:11, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I do not think that belief in the scientific method, even as the only source of any positive truth, is a religious belief. However, the latter belief has weak atheism, which I think is a religious belief, as a logical consequence. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 14:15, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Am I missing something? How does the "logical consequence" of something that is not a religious belief end up being a religious belief itself? --Kels 15:49, 18 February 2009 (EST)
@SS. Unsurprisingly I opt for the Kantian option Bibo, ergo sum. (Monty Python reference). Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 15:58, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Let us invert your question, Kels. How does the "logical consequence" of something that is a religious belief end up not being a religious belief (as a moral opposition to adultery, which also appears in secular philosophies, is a logical consequence of Christian belief, which is religious)? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:06, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Why do you assume that your example is a logical consequence of religion if it shows up in non-religious philosophies? From what I can see, a lot of "moral codes" are nothing more than things that societies need to function well, and religious codes are built around them, rather than the other way around. --Kels 16:22, 18 February 2009 (EST)
The logical consequence is that "If you are a Bible-believing Christian, you have to believe that adultery is wrong." (That is, obviously, not the only way you can conclude that adultery is wrong.) But while being a Bible-believing Christian is a religious belief, the belief that adultery is wrong certainly is not. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:28, 18 February 2009 (EST)
That doesn't make opposition to adultery a logical consequence, then. It's something that the church orders, not something that follows by definition. Two totally different things. And if you can arrive at it independently, that only strengthens the argument that the church got it from elsewhere (as a pre-existing notion) and incorporated it in the first place. --Kels 16:32, 18 February 2009 (EST)
The Christians, as part of their beliefs in the supernatural, believe that Jesus was YHVH come down to earth and that while he was here, he said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." This means that they must oppose adultery morally. Whether the church made that story up is a different matter altogether. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:47, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Whoa, did you just credit Jesus with adding the seventh commandment? I thought the great I Am passed that one along via Moses? ħumanUser talk:Human 22:41, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Jesus repeated it (Matthew 19:18). This meant that the Christians of that time got it straight from the mouth of God, no prophet in the way. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 00:06, 19 February 2009 (EST)
So your sky boy magician repeated it. Your argument here is falling into the nutzo zone. ħumanUser talk:Human 01:10, 19 February 2009 (EST)
I'm not buying it. The fact that it's part of the church, and attributed to a commandment of the god in question does not make it a logical progression from believing in gods in the first place. A group that believes adultery is wrong is not religious by definition, a group that believes in a supernatural deity is religious by definition (which, I might add, atheists do not qualify as). If the moral dislike is pre-existing, then it's not a logical consequence, it's an add-on. A logical consequence of believing in a supernatural being is something like believing in miracles, not things that exist independently of the religion. --Kels 17:07, 18 February 2009 (EST)
It is not a consequence of theism in general, but a consequence of believing in a specific God, YHVH. And remember that we are talking theory, not practice. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:13, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Some of us are talking "Theory of Practice". Sorry, lame joke. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 17:26, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Forgot to add that this doesn't answer my original question in any way, which is how does it follow that weak atheism is religious if it's a logical consequence of the scientific method, which you maintain is not. --Kels 16:33, 18 February 2009 (EST)
My definition classifies beliefs as religious or secular based on subject matter only — not on a person's reasons for having them. I mention this in the essay, I believe. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:47, 18 February 2009 (EST)
See, again, most people would define religion as something to be vested in, to a greater or lesser extent. By your definition, if someone comes to me and describes a here-to-fore unknown (to me) god or super natural being, or alien or whatever, and I say, doesn't sound logical, show it to me... then i'm now in a RELIGION about not believing what every story that person has woven. A person who tells you a ludicriss tale of Obama being a muslim, and cannot show you evidence makes you an "A-obamamusimist", which is a religion, if one also assumes as perported, that Obama is a deity. If you are religious, it's something you choose and carry. not something you "are" because you took the other side in an argument.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 17:00, 18 February 2009 (EST)

My definition classifies beliefs as religious or secular based on subject matter only... Your definition is stupid. Beliefs are not secular or religious--beliefs may be held *about* things that we would qualify as religious (as in "I believe in God") or secular ("I believe that the Red Wings are going to win the Stanley Cup this year")--but the beliefs themselves are human constructs either way--there's nothing inherently religious about them. Also one (at least one who is not a moron...) does not "believe" in the rules of the scientific method--one acknowledges them as the means by which we describe and analyze the world around us. And spare me the "weak atheism" nonsense. Atheism means not believing in any gods, full stop. "Weak" v. "strong" is nonsense that appeals to people like Ken who think that atheism is something other than it is. Either you believe in supernatural beings or you don't--there's no wiggle room there. TheoryOfPractice 17:09, 18 February 2009 (EST)

Who around here is disputing that religious beliefs are a human construct? I am not. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:16, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I was actually going to say parts of that (although not so well), but you and Godot beat me to it. Essentially, by ListenerX's definition of religion, which he's apparently rogered good and hard, believing the sun will come up in the morning, or that the earth will not stop spinning five minutes from now sending us all flying into the void, qualifies as a religion. Which, as you say, is pretty stupid ridiculous. It seems pretty obvious that weak atheism, in any case, is nothing more than the scientific method (which ListenerX already stated wasn't religious) with Occam's Razor to lop off the bit left over (supernatural explanations). i.e., there is no evidence of a supernatural being, and no, I'm not going to assume there is one anyway, that's silly. --Kels 17:15, 18 February 2009 (EST)
To qualify as a religious belief by my definition, the belief has to be on the subject of the supernatural. What has the belief that the sun will come up in the morning to do with the supernatural? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:16, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Because I'm failing to accept that the LORD OF THE FAIRIES will eat the sun and thus prevent it from rising, of course. That would make me a fervent A-LORD OF THE FAIRIES-IST by your rather unique definition. --Kels 19:25, 18 February 2009 (EST)
But remember that a secular belief can be a logical consequence of a religious one. So even if the only reason you thought the sun would come up was because of your status as an "A-LORD OF THE FAIRIES-IST," your belief about the sun coming up would still not be a religious one. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:51, 18 February 2009 (EST)
But remember that you have not yet convinced me that this is true. I find your example unconvincing, because it does not follow from theism, it's simply part of one creed's rules. --Kels 19:58, 18 February 2009 (EST)
If you are going to use an argument in which you assume my definition to be correct, then you also have to accept, within that argument, that a secular belief can be a logical consequence of a religious one (since by my definition this is the case, as the essay states). Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 20:12, 18 February 2009 (EST)
That's ridiculous. Of course if I accept all your definitions and arguments to be true, then of course you'll always be right. But "first, assume I'm right" is no way to argue whether the example or the definition have any validity. --Kels 22:47, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I am not asking you to accept all of my definitions and arguments; just the one definition, and just for the purpose of the argument in which you accepted it for the sake of argument.
You said above: "By ListenerX's definition of religion..." You could more accurately have said in that place, "By a straw-man definition of religion that sounds a lot like ListenerX's, but that I made up to be logically inconsistent so it's only true in impossible worlds...")
In particular, your characterization of my definition does not include an intrinsic quality of the actual definition — one that is necessary to make it logically consistent — the possibility that secular beliefs can follow logically from religious ones.
If you believe that such a thing is impossible, then you have proven my definition wrong — but only to yourself and other people who share your belief.
When I was arguing above for the possibility of religious beliefs entailing secular beliefs, I was not doing so according to my own definition of "religion." Had I been doing this I would not have to have argued at all. I am willing to continue that argument (although I would like to put it in a new subsection, since this one is getting crowded). Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 00:06, 19 February 2009 (EST)
ToP, I don't know if you'd agree, but to me (and to Dawkins inThe God Delusion) there is probably a distinction between those who don't believe simply because there is insufficient evidence for the existence of God and those who outright deny the existence of any God. Even Dawkins himself does not categorically deny the existence of God. He just recognises that it is highly improbable. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 17:20, 18 February 2009 (EST)
GK, of course there is a distinction; it's strong and weak.
and LX, I think you'd have a good time engaging presuppositional Calvinists, if you haven't already done so. Just a thought. Neveruse513 17:25, 18 February 2009 (EST)
does Dawkins believe in God? No. therefore he is an atheist--one who does not believe in God. Beliefs, unlike knowledge, because they are not based on evidence but conjecture, are more prone to be fuzzy and slippery; it's in their nature. Some atheists acknwoledge that it may be possible that they're wrong, others don't. So waht? It doesn't change their fundamental belief--that there is no God...TheoryOfPractice
The difference is active denial. Asserting that there is no Christian god as opposed to rejecting the proposition that there is one. It has very little practical meaning and usually adds to confusion like this. Neveruse513 17:37, 18 February 2009 (EST)

Because it WORKS[edit]

The scientific method's given us airplanes, polio vaccine, the atomic bomb, and iPods. And they all work whether you believe in them or not. --Gulik 23:33, 18 February 2009 (EST)

Everthing is god v. There is no god[edit]

What is the difference? I'm very serious. If every single thing is god (Pantheism), and there is no transcendent aspect of that god (panENtheism), then what is the point of saying you are no longer an atheist? Are you worshiping the god that is everything (which would of course be a religion), or are you just walking around in a world where no god like thing acts upon you, no god like thing changes anythign in your existence, etc. Why do you say pantheism is not simply athesim wrapped up in a pretty package. (and for the record, I worship the universe, so the distinction makes some sense). It may sound flippant, but i'm quite serious. What is the distinction between an atheist and a pantheist? --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 13:26, 18 February 2009 (EST)

I don't worship the universe, but I am in awe of it. To me as a de facto atheist (6 on the Dawkins scale) pantheism is just a way of calling the universe "God" as it is unknowable how the universe began. Those who say "Well,God made it" only take one step away from the question of where did God come from? If he has always been there then the universe could also have always been there. For me, infinity is the most mind-boggling concept either in time or distance, but if one says that time and space are finite then what lies beyond those finite boundaries? There is no way of knowing and the invention of God is just a cop-out. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 16:10, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Half of the Gang of Four has joined in - all we need now are Jeeves and Toast. Wisest educated Hoover! 16:12, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I rather think that Toast is a bit inconvenienced at the moment. Just hoping that she pulls through and is back with us as soon as possible. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 17:40, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I hope so too. I'll chime in in her place ;) There's no old man in the sky, it's silly to believe myths written by scared bronze-age shamans, and, oh yeah, not believing in gods is not a religion. Almost by definition. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:53, 18 February 2009 (EST)
CUR the wannabe is now in the conflict as well: X- the most logical hypothesis is that their is no god. And exactly how is believing in a Odin more rational then believing in no god? Because the Norse believed that earthquakes were caused by Loki moving when a snake dripped venom in his face- an idea disproved by modern science. --"CURtalk 16:33, 18 February 2009 (EST)
CUR, take the Odin dispute to the talk-page of the relevant essay. Be warned, however, that I might be a while in answering it because of all this ruckus. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:53, 18 February 2009 (EST)
But you are comparing atheism to Odinism. So it sort of fits here as well. --"CURtalk 19:25, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I am on the side of those who claim that atheism isn't a religion, as my dictionary too defines religion as "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power". Wisest educated Hoover! 16:43, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I would say I have contentions with that definition, cause there are many world religions that do not have any "superhuman" agent controlling things. they are never the less, fully fleshed out systems of ritual and organization making them full religions.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 16:53, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I would classify such worldviews as "superstitions", rather than religions. Wisest educated Hoover! 15:19, 19 February 2009 (EST)

Father Christmas[edit]

Since this is being discussed, here's how it went down for me. Way back in my childhood so far I can barely remember, Father Christmas seemed to be something real - people talked about him, books were written about him, & even if the details didn't quite seem to make sense, I took it for granted that he was real - it wouldn't have occurred to me at that very young age not to believe in him. As I got a little bit older, it seemed to make less & less sense, & some other kids were saying it was all made up. In a way it was kindof sad, because a part of me wanted to keep hold of that sense of wonder & magic & excitement, but ultimately I had to admit to myself that I just didn't believe in Father Christmas.

Almost exactly the same thing happened with my attitude to God, about ten or twelve years later. I had tried to believe & do all the things a Christian should do, but I was learning things about myself & sooner or later I just had to face up to the fact that I just didn't have faith in God. If I tried to pray, I had no real conviction that I was talking to anyone other than myself; I didn't feel that anything truly spiritual was happening in Church. It was like the complete opposite of a religious awakening: realising that deep down I just didn't believe in God, & probably never did, even if I might have wanted to.

So how can you say that the position I arrived at - of not having faith in the existence of God, or of Father Christmas for that matter, is in itself a faith or a religion? €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 16:14, 18 February 2009 (EST)

hum... My father, a methodis minister, said that he knew I was an "atheist" of some kind, when i was not yet even six. He would be talking about Heaven, praying for teh safety of the Viet Vets, etc., and I apparently just looked at him as if he said "let's ask bugs bunny to come over for dinner". He was a youth minister, working with kids, working with doubt, and aware that much of religion at the bible level is about indoctrination. But he'd never really had a student (much less child) who didn't accept the idea of (at the very least) some kind of super natrual power "lookign over us". i always felt that relying on someone or something else to "watch over us" was a form of weakness. Not that you can't ask for help, but that you understand your own limitations and work around them when possible. --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 16:52, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Don't try to turn from the light, we as humans need God to light our way and show us how to follow. Although you deny Him, know that God loves you, and that even by denying Him, you are choosing to follow a path that you will suffer for some day. Even if you choose not to accept God as your savior, understand that you need to worship something, and if you do not turn back the right way, you will wind up worshipping the Antichrist when he comes. Be warned. — Unsigned, by: Shatoyaah C / talk / contribs

I think he is a Poe. But since I am not certain, here I go to attack him: I do not believe in god. As such, I cannot worship anything, so I could not worship the Antichrist, when he comes (in 2012, of course). I do not need god to tell me how to behave- I follow basic moral guidelines of common sense, something which people like you dispise. --"CURtalk 19:33, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I do not despise you, I simply pity you. I will leave you to your seeting anger at whatever caused you to denounce God, and hope that you accept that you have made a mistake. I will give it time, people have recognized the error of their ways, and if you don;t that is your choice, and you will be judged as such. — Unsigned, by: Shatoyaah C / talk / contribs
  • groans* Denouce god? I never believed in him in the first place. And please learn grammer. And please do leave. --"CURtalk 19:40, 18 February 2009 (EST)
CUR, you didn't leave, why should he/she? And lern better to how to spell out "grammar" when criticizing others' grammar. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:43, 18 February 2009 (EST)
And Human, "lern" better how to spell learn when criticizing others' grammar =D ĴάΛäšςǍ₰ In Soviet Russia, the congruent cake speaks YOU!
That was intentional. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:27, 18 February 2009 (EST)
Just like to mention that while I think that Shatoyaah's opinions are pretty weird our shiny new(ish) community standards say: We welcome contributors, and encourage those who disagree with us to register and engage in constructive dialogue. . So Cur was out of line in inviting him to leave.--Bobbing up 02:18, 19 February 2009 (EST)
Absolutely, CUR was out of line. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:12, 19 February 2009 (EST)

Getting back on track with Santa Claus ... Somebody who maintains there is insufficient evidence to believe in God is an atheist. Presumably, somebody who maintains there is insufficient evidence to believe in Santa Claus would be an "asantaist". If athiesm is a religion, would "asantaism" be a religion?--Bobbing up 07:00, 19 February 2009 (EST)

By definition, yes. as is AZesuism, and ZLivingDinasourism, and ANessyism, and Aleprichaunism, and of course AFSMism, and and and... if anyone has said a belief to you, and you deny it, by this definition you are instantly and necessarily part of a new religion that denies this belief.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 10:50, 19 February 2009 (EST)

In the final, final analysis...[edit]

...does any of this matter? I am me. It doesn't matter what Listener, Andy, or Ken labels me. It doesn't matter what they think that label means. It will change nothing. I'm still going to accept that lightning is more likely a natural process rather than Thor farting. I'm still going to more readily accept the big bang and evolution rather than an OMNIPOTENT (i.e. all-powerful) being needing a whole week to make everything and then needing rest to for a day. Consider me what you will. And, consider that term to be whatever you want. It will change nothing about me. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 07:53, 19 February 2009 (EST)

Agreed. It's not clear what X is trying to prove with this. Even if we accept that, by his arbitrary definitions, atheism is a religion, what would that change in the real world? €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 09:00, 19 February 2009 (EST)
In some respects atheism being declared a religion would be helpful as it would mean being able to get tax exemption on stuff. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 10:40, 19 February 2009 (EST)
What kind of stuff? All those precious things we need in order to practice our atheism? €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 15:00, 19 February 2009 (EST)
Psychologically, the argument being made is that "well, I know you are but what am I". Republicans now saying "fine, so we sucked for 8 years, but now it's you... and you do it too". A way to minimize the real arguments that more moderate X's (in this case, more moderate atheists) say when they say things like "I am vastly offended that my Buddhist Husband will have to say the pledge **including under god** if he wants to be a citizen" (which is true. you are not allowed to formally drop the "Under god" from the pledge at the ceremony or on the signed oath). When people make they "you are just like us" argument, they really do so, so that their blackness looks more grey when compared to your now "more grey" tint.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 10:47, 19 February 2009 (EST)

Atheism as a religion? I find it preposterous that this has provoked such a large debate. Atheism is the absence of belief in a deity or deities, if atheism itself is a religion, then not kicking cats is animal abuse, not playing soccer would be a sport or not collecting stamps would be a hobby. I know, that sounds cliche, but it is a good analogy to explain it. I came across an excellent article made by the Rational Response Squad that explains how atheism is the neutral position, and that there can be agnostic theists and atheists alike as well.[5] Also, I think that any topic can be debateable if you stretch the definitions (see Conservapedia:Schlafly Stretch.) So, in conclusion: atheism is not a religion because it is the absence of religion. Rational people have an absence of faith towards intangable things with no any evidence whatsoever. Philospohical arguments "for" the existance of a God could just as well be used for an infinite number of deities (see Flying Spaghetti Monster.)Several ingredients (talk) 00:40, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

I Just Got Here, What Did I Miss?[edit]

I'd just like to say that all of my friends have varied beliefs, most believing in either a Christian God or the almighty Atheismo. What I will say is that some atheists take their stance on religion to such a level that they become every bit as annoying as a Bible Thumper. For these selct few athiests, it does seem that they follow it as a religion. DSFARGEG 09:06, 19 February 2009 (EST)

Ah, but Listener is saying that all atheism is a religion. Wisest educated Hoover! 15:18, 19 February 2009 (EST)

Here's what I don't get...[edit]

If you are claiming Atheism as a religion, by extension anything that we don't believe in constitutes a religion. Don't believe in Fairies? New religion! Don't believe in Global warming? New religion! Don't believe in supply side economics? New religion! Don't believe in empricial methodologies? New religion, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Would you say that's an absurdity? I would.

It is only because people are afraid of Atheistic progress that they try and pin us down as religious. By saying we're just another religion, as opposed to the absence of one, they try and make it seem hypocritically absurd. Luckily, its the assertion that atheism is religious that is in fact an absurdity. EternalCritic 15:39, 19 February 2009 (EST)


In light of the arguments on this page, I concede the following points:

  1. Since pantheism is apparently not considered a religion, my argument that established definitions of "religion" are unacceptable is unsound.
  2. My definition of "religion" does inflate the term by classifying a potentially infinite number of dis/beliefs considered on their own (such as disbelief in Santa Claus) as religions.
  3. To be an atheist does not, per se, require any belief.

I do not concede these points:

  1. My essay cannot be refuted by simply citing traditional definitions of "religion."
  2. My definition of "religion" does not classify any dis/belief not concerning the supernatural (such as disbelief in global warming) as a religion.

Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 14:06, 20 February 2009 (EST)


Semantics this, semantics that, semantics got hit with a wiffleball bat.

You know, I was in high school debate. I made a lot of successful arguments based on semantics. Too bad they were full of bologna.

I fail to see where, in your essay, you establish your entitlement to come up with an idea of religion with the sole attempt to encompass atheism because you fail to see the suitability in various dictionaries. I think your definition is inflated, illogical, unsuitable, and synonymous with "bullshit".

You fail to differentiate between religion and a/theism. Pantheism, deism, theism, and the like, are all beliefs. Every definition you bring forth provides the theme that separates belief from religion: acknowledgment vs. worship and active devotion ("A particular system of faith and worship", "The personal commitment to and serving of God or a god with worshipful devotion, conduct in accord with divine commands...", "A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship", "A religion is a systematic set of dogmas and, usually, rules for behaviour, that revolve around some supernatural explanations for aspects of life as we know it here on earth..."). All of these, to varying degrees, are saying the exact same thing. And you're correct, by these definitions deism and pantheism are not religions. Nobody ever said they were (with the exception of some Deists claiming that it is a religion, and some saying it is just a philosophy...much like the gray area in Buddhism). Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the like, are just a few examples of established religions full of worship and practice on an organized or unorganized level. The worship and practice (and most of the adherents to these religions do believe that this is commanded) is the very definition of religion. Around the belief of theism may come practice and worship. You may be well aware of theists are not religious.

Let's start with the definition you purport: "A person's religion is the summation of that person's beliefs (or lack of beliefs) explicitly concerning the supernatural, including the question of its existence." You attempted to redeem its inflative nature in "A nonbelief cannot be a religion", but fumbled. There suddenly becomes the absence of nonreligion, and you fail to provide a substitute for the definitions you were earlier displeased with. "YHVH is maker of heaven and earth and there are no other Gods" is not necessarily a religious statement. It's a theistic statement (not all theists are religious) as well as an atheistic statement (you are apparently blending the two intentionally in the same utterance). You could suppose with a high probability that the person who made such a statement might practice Judaism, and you may even guess as to what sect, but it's not made clear simply by the statement. Believing in god and belonging to a religion are two different things.

But, with a slight acceptance of the definitions earlier discovered and misinterpreted by you, you hint at some practices and shared values of atheists. But the reality is, there is not a standard principle of atheist ethics (particularity since, from my experience, many atheists subscribe to moral relativism over the moral absolutism of religious teaching). Take the definition of religion for what it is, and atheism as well as many other beliefs do not qualify as a religion as a religion requires more than just a belief. Yours is, as you admit, inflated and if we insert the definition of "belief" (hopefully you'll agree) from Wikipedia into the definition you provide:

A person's religion is the summation of that person's propositions or premises held true to them (or lack of premises thereof) explicitly concerning the supernatural, including the question of its existence.

Since atheism is the default human state at birth, you would be claiming that we hold religious views at birth. Not true. The absence of a concept of god, and hence a nonbelief, is atheism but it is not a religion by your own definition. A person cannot dislike or like watermelon if they have never tried it because they have never heard of it. Many of us here at RationalWiki believe that religion and the concept of god are man-made (the latter preceding the former by the definition accepted by the rest of the world). Your categorization also undoes a great deal of theological work. Whereas most would accept theism as preceding religion, you are claiming religion precedes theism (and atheism as well). I'm sure many theological scholars would disagree with you there, and they might not appreciate your inversion.

In a nutshell, it's just one big essay based on your misunderstanding of the definition of "religion". Sorry for the rudeness; you struck me as selling Odinism. Don't drink the Kool-Aid, everybody. --e|m|c [TALK] 05:45, 23 March 2009 (EDT)

In my dictionary arguments, as I note, I started with the premise that three belief systems, defined by this Wiki to be religions, were actually such. If they are not, the arguments are unsound and I have no leg to stand on. Simple as that.
With regard to your arguments along the lines of "some theists are not religious," "we don't hold religious views at birth," etc., etc., I advise you to look at the section "Concessions," immediately preceding this section, specifically the first point on the second enumerated list.
I have stated over and over again that I originally came up with these ideas when I was still an atheist, to counter claims that certain forms of Christianity were not "religions" by the traditional definitions. I had no problem, at that time, with classifying atheism as my religion.
If you want to beat me on the head for stumping for Odinism, be so kind as to do it on the talk-page of the essay where I do the stumping.
Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 13:33, 23 March 2009 (EDT)
Right. It is definitely inflating the term "religion", which includes actions and practices and preceding belief(s). Praying, for example, is an example of a religious act, based on the belief that prayer is a means to communicate with a deity. Atheists cannot sincerely commit religious acts -- attending a mosque, technically, is not religious, relative to the individual, unless they have sincere beliefs that drive such religious actions. An atheist attending a mosque for exposure to culture or religious practices is very distinct from the aforementioned. I suppose you could adjust it accordingly by stating that an atheist adhering to secular humanism and relativistic morality is religious, but that would be akin to saying that not collecting stamps is a hobby. Also, not all atheists adhere to relativistic morality and secular humanism, so you'd have to construe some sects of this atheist religion you are purporting. Quite simply, religion is action backed by sincere belief in something supernatural, and from what I can tell, all of the dictionary definitions you've provided are saying this exact same thing, only in different wording. Atheism and theism, as I've mentioned, are separate from a lack of religion or religion (these are simply beliefs, with no practice or action implied). Interesting essay though, even if I believe it's wrong. --e|m|c [TALK] 18:18, 8 April 2009 (EDT)
Given the traditional definitions of "religion," how would you answer a claim that some variants of Christianity are not religion because they have no real systematic practice to them?
Also, I put that the analogy between a positive belief in secular humanist philosophy (which is essentially Christianity-Lite) and "not collecting stamps" as a hobby is a fallacious one.
Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:00, 9 April 2009 (EDT)
"Christianity-Lite"?? Since when? €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 17:46, 11 April 2009 (EDT)
I explain this point more fully here. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:53, 11 April 2009 (EDT)
No you don't; you just wrestle with strawmen. What makes you think Christianity has a monopoly on concepts of tolerance & equality? €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 08:30, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Because the Christians were the ones who cooked up said concepts in the first place and their most prominent advocates were all heavily influenced by Christian ideas. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:26, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Prayer, observing religious holidays, etc. etc. Come on. It's not that hard to come up with practices. Think outside the box. --e|m|c [TALK] 00:33, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
You lost me. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 01:03, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
I think EMC is addressing the question you asked 3 days ago, a few comments above about "no systematic practice"... ħumanUser talk:Human 16:28, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Ah. Well, if that is the case, EMC, there are a few Christian sects that do not celebrate Christmas, Easter, and other holidays due to the holidays' pagan origins. Others believe that saying prayers, etc., is completely useless and that belief in Jesus as YHVH is what counts. Martin Luther said, "We must carefully distinguish between a pious man and a Christian." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 18:40, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Ah. Well, if that is the case, ListenerX, then I would have to say those people probably aren't Christians. In fact, a majority of those you've identified prefer to call their beliefs a "relationship with Jesus". Be that as it may, you'd still be hardpressed to find these "Christians", or, "those in a relationship with Jesus" that actually don't read the Bible, pray, or observe holidays. You might even call their incessant attempts at recruiting people to their beliefs something religious. They say, "Oh, well, I'm just trying to save people. Doing God's work as the Bible tells me to do." --e|m|c [TALK] 20:29, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
So most Lutherans do not call themselves Christian, then? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:20, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

I'm an atheist[edit]

I don't think, or believe, that any supernatural events occur, or provide explanations for any occurrences.

Please explain to me what my "religion" consists of. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:36, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

Yeah and I'm an Onanist. Is that a religion? Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 03:48, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Is there a female equivelent for that or is it a male-only religion?  Lily Ta, wack! 04:00, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
As a fully qualified high priestess of the Church of the Masturbatrixors, Cunnilingorixors & Tribades, I think men have it hard[sic].ToastToastand marmite 05:34, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Do you think I could come to at one of your services? --Silly twit 08:44, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Human, your religion is, by my definition, just that. By other people's definitions, it is editing this Wiki at a greater rate than anyone else, stumping for those beliefs. (Would insert smiley here, but think smilies are unutterably moronic.) Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:26, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Huh? So now, not only is a lack of belief in the supernatural a religion, so is editing RationalWiki? How about working on my car, is that a religion, too? Or playing guitar? How can I rid myself of having a religion? ħumanUser talk:Human 17:42, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
The Wiki-editing business was a joke, as I tried to indicate. As to the other question, by my definition, everyone has a religion, except for small children and others who have not considered the question of the supernatural, hence not reached a conclusion about it. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 18:51, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Doesn't that mean you've now created a functionally useless definition of religion, and we need new terms to describe what is now referred to as religion and not-religion? --Kels 19:04, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
(1) No, and (2) yes. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:15, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
I can't say I buy your first answer, but if the second answer is true, then what's the point? --Kels 19:19, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
I have stated "the point." I shall not be repeating myself again. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 19:36, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Growl. Considering 'the supernatural' is not, nor does not give you a religion. It is a ponderance. a religion necessarily requires more or the term is as empty as saying "pink is a color, all colors can be pink, if you just fell as if they are pink". hello??/--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Let the credulous and the vulgar continue to believe that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths to their private parts. V.Nabokov» 21:32, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
This is one of the most annoying discussions on this site. It's just like debating with a creationist - constantly redefining terms to fit their own argument. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 22:20, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
WaitingforGodot, I fail to follow. Genghis, I am only suggesting the use of a single new definition, and I do not expect this new definition to be accepted without question. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 22:56, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

ListX, I'm too lazy to read your essay (again?) to find out your definition of "religion", but it strikes me that it might be so broad as to be meaningless. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:17, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

It is not meaningless; it excludes the very wide swathe of all beliefs not explicitly concerning the supernatural, such as the other three philosophies on the "secular religions" list ("evolutionism," environmentalism, liberalism). Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:28, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
LX, you're telling me I have a "religion". I took the trouble to read your screed again. I see no intelligent definition of "religion" under which I fall. You still haven't answered my question: "What is my religion"? And redefining "religion" to include anything you like is a cop-out. Tell me, What is my religion? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:33, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
By traditional definitions, you do not have one. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:39, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
That's what I thought. Strangely enough, your essay says I do have one, or am part of one, or something like that. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:04, 13 April 2009 (EDT)


One editorial suggestion is that you probably should distinguish between God meaning the Christian god and god meaning a more generic supernatural being. That's just good English. Sterilewalkie-talkie 13:05, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

I call that God by his name, YHVH. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:26, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
YMMV Mega 17:59, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
YHVH-1. Thee Nuttish Talk 18:08, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

Sort-of-right, sort-of-wrong[edit]

While I agree that atheism is not rational (note that I am not against it), I would have to say that it is not a religion. The idea that one can 'know' a god cannot exist is admittingly ridiculous, but it cannot be called a religion. --<choose> <option>Input The ResistorOutput</option> <option>CoyoteOver 450 pages watched NOT including talk pages</option> <option>The Trickster</option> <option>Acionyx</option> 21:00, 12 April 2009 (EDT)

If our disbelief in the Judeo-Christian god is a religion, then their disbelief in Jupiter Optimus Maximus is also a religion. Stands to reason. Mega 23:21, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
The former belief disbelief is part of atheism, while the latter belief disbelief is part of both (modern-day) Christianity and atheism. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:30, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
You are failing to make sense, sadly - though I do appreciate your effort on this essay/talk page. Disbelief does not equal belief, necessarily. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:37, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Better? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:41, 12 April 2009 (EDT)
Clear as mud. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:14, 13 April 2009 (EDT)

I don't know what everyone's complaining about[edit]

I just read this essay, and I liked it! I liked it because it's informed and informative, logical, straightforward, and most importantly, challenging. I can't say I agree completely, but it was a thought-provoking piece.

Not that I'm not aware that the discussion is months old, but I hardly ever scan Recent Changes so I find these things sporadically. Wehpudicabok 06:10, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Emotive and Rational Intelligence[edit]

In My Opinion it would be possible to create a definition of religion starting from the concept of emotive intelligence. Insteod of continuing insist with the belief-based vision. If this come to some sensed results i would like to see this added to the essay.

here's a try by me:

Religion is a discipline created to administrate emotions. (emotional intelligence)

When a religion is shared by some people it become a social structure for these people. A social structure have some laws to regulate the social life of the community.

Rationalism is a discipline to administrate rational thought. (rational intelligence)

When rationalism is shared by some people it become a scientific method of research for these people.

Atheits have anyway some rules about morals, such as the Golden Rule, so atheism is at least in the discipline phase.

Since many nations have laws to regulate the social life of the citizens, which laws are not based (at least not directly) on religions, one could say atheism/laity can be also a social structure.

to summarize

  • Atheism is a discipline which consider both emotional and rational intelligence, even if consider the rational to be superior to the emotional side.
  • Many religions, in the commons definition, consider both sides too, but in opposition to atheism, are focused on the emotional side, and give to the rational/pratical side the minimum attention

What i think about the view of atheism and other religions:

  • atheism: "think with your head, seek the truth"
  • common religions: "use your head to be happy, and be more than a mere animal"

By these definitions rationalism and religion are complementary and compatible. Only someone unable to separate them would think the opposite.

(always open to any critics, corrections or debate, this is anyway only the premise of this idea, it isn't the final form) --Dnanaz (talk) 19:14, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

If you start by defining religion in such a way that your definition is intended to include atheism then I wouldn't be surprised if atheism were included in your definition. Indeed, in such a case the surprising thing would be in atheism were not included in the bespoke definition.
However, "religion" traditionally includes such things like deities and worship and it's difficult to make that compatible with atheism.--BobSpring is sprung! 19:21, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Spot on Bob:
  1. Define A such that A includes B
  2. Oh look! B is a member of A!
Him (talk) 19:34, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Bias, what a nice thing. Can you try to ignore the atheism part and only focus on the religion part?
If you get so pissed i'll move this discussion to the religion talk page, for your mind sanity.
And to be complete, if you have actually read what i posted before, the conclusion was:
rationalism(atheism) is an other form of discipline/social structure, and if we decide to identify a religion with "emotive based discipline", atheism isn't a religion, since it's a "rational based discipline", while if we decide a religion is any "discipline/social structure" then atheism is a religion by that definition.
But i personally like more the emotive/rational separation definition, so personally don't think atheism can be considered fully a religion.
About deities, deities are linked to the emotive vision of the world, to explain, a reigious don't need to believe a deity is "real", only need to "feel" it, and since "feel" is a personal matter, there is no rational explanation which can change that, it will at most explain it on rational basis, but a religious will continue to ignore them, and not for ignorance, he may be well informed about that, but may decide that he likes better to continue "feel" it, even if he knows it isn't "real". --Dnanaz (talk) 13:25, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
Ah, sorry sorry, maybe i know what you did misunderstand there. "rationalism and religion are complementary and compatible" is this? With compatible i did mean: "they can co-exist", not "they're the same". And with complementary it was a my personal opinion that one complete the other, and having only religion or only rationalism is both unhealty for the society. --Dnanaz (talk) 13:49, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
"be more than a mere animal"
you mean like a chordate? Occasionaluse (talk) 19:38, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
lol, no. something in an opposite direction >_> in evolution terms, it's something related to the "evolution of the coscience" idea, that many of the serious religions take in account
again, only those religions defined as emotive disciplines, anything with no emotive-discipline in it is not a religion for me --Dnanaz (talk) 13:33, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Is Pantheism a religion?[edit]

I may be exceedingly late with this, but it seems that a lot of the problems from this essay stem from the fact that the author sees a problem that certain kinds of beliefs about the nature of the universe do not fit the definitions of "religion" he presents in the essay, though in his personal opinion they should. Specifically this is the case for atheism, pantheism, and deism. However, considering that at least to my knowledge all of these lack other aspects commonly shared by religions, such as organized worship or codified rules that must be adhered by observers of the religion, I would contend that it is actually very much correct that these are not actually religions.

It seems that the problem doesn't lie in the fact that atheism is thought of as not being a religion when it should, but that pantheism and deism are thought of as religions when they should not. At least to me it seems that pantheism and deism lack the same attributes that atheism lacks and which set atheism apart from religion. However, if one could point me toward some deeper discussion or codification of pantheism and/or deism I would appreciate that.

Further, in the essay the author contends that the RW definition of religion would exclude lutheran christianity due to the adherents of said religion believing it to be about a personal relationship with their deity, rather than about dogmatic beliefs. However, I call bollocks on that, since lutheran christianity is filled with dogmatic belief as well as rules for behavior. Chaosof99 (talk) 07:10, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Theism, atheism, deism, pantheism, polytheism, etc., are not complete belief systems. They are individual beliefs. But no one believes any of these beliefs by themselves. They bundle them up with many other beliefs, into a package, into a more comprehensive belief system. When we consider these bundles, we are much closer to a religion. Organized worship? I don't see why a belief must involve organized worship to be a religion. I am sure there are many people out there that believe in God and an afterlife, but don't practice any organized worship or ritual — do they lack a religion? I don't think so. In terms of codified rules that must be adhered by observers of the religion, well basically you are talking about ethics, and many atheists, pantheists, deists, etc., claim to have ethics. They may not necessarily codify them, but then again many groups you would surely admit as religious don't really codify their ethics either. (((Zack Martin))) 11:27, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
It appears that you are conflating personal beliefs with a religion. To me a religion is a group of worshippers with a common belief and the religion may include codified rules and regulations, ceremonies, laws, edicts, dress code, holidays, etc. A person may pick this up and accept it as his personal belief, thus becoming a member or adherent of that religion, but there needs to be a "congregation" are an attempt to form one at the least.
What you seem to include is personal ethics as a substitute for those other parts of religion, which is not the same because those aren't codified and at least nominally accepted from the outside source (the religion), but formed by the individual personally. I'm also not talking solely about ethics here, as stated above. Also, why did you include polytheism? There are polytheistic religions which very much have all the hallmarks of religion I describe (e.g. Hinduism) and which set them apart from atheism, deism and pantheism, which lack this. Chaosof99 (talk) 19:42, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't draw the distinction between personal beliefs and religion that you do. Let's say that Dmitry is Jewish, he comes from a Jewish family background. But, he hasn't been to synagogue for years, he doesn't keep kosher, etc. Let's say he doesn't even observe Jewish holidays any more. But, he still believes in God, and that the Jewish people have some special connection to God, which is reflected in the Torah. Now, what is his religion? I think everyone would say "Jewish" — a rather non-observant Jewish, but Jewish nonetheless — yet by your definition, since he stopped congregational worship, and stopped observing the laws and the holidays, he ceased to follow the religion of Judaism, but instead starting following a mere personal belief. Putting aside all halakhic arguments about who is a Jew, I would say he is still of the Jewish religion because he believes "in God, and that the Jewish people have some special connection to God, which is reflected in the Torah", since that is the essential core of the Jewish religion, and he still believes that. So, I think this example demonstrates that your distinction between "religion" and "personal belief" is invalid. (((Zack Martin))) 00:02, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
You are glossing over the fact that he is still observant of certain parts of the Torah and still accepts, at least to a degree, its authority and some customs or beliefs of other jewish sects as his own. This makes Dmitry a jew and perhaps one that will form his own sect of Judaism by preaching his own beliefs. Your question is quite similar to whether or not Martin Luther was still a christian despite him rejecting catholicism, which was more or less the only game in town as far as christianity goes at his day and age. What Luther did was profess his own personal belief and what he thought was wrong with Catholicism, and started his own Religion from that. Was what Luther a member of his own religion before he started his own religion? Your comparison, however, is also missing the mark a bit since deism and pantheism when they were first conceived off weren't off-shoots from other existing religions, and aren't accepted on the basis of the relation to existing religions, but are completely divorced and independent concepts on their own.
Anyway, since the essay was retracted, I'm not quite sure how much fruit this discussion will bear anymore. Chaosof99 (talk) 06:58, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
But my point was, Dmitry is so assimilated to the gentile world he doesn't actually observe any of the Torah. He doesn't keep the Sabbath, he doesn't keep Kosher, he doesn't follow any of the other Torah laws, beyond those broad ethical laws like not committing murder — and that isn't specifically Jewish, since non-Jews obey the same laws to. But yes, in his mind, he still accepts the Torah as having some authority, even if for him that authority is more theoretical than practical. Dmitry isn't really interested in starting a new sect of Judaism; he lives a largely non-religious life and is not especially interested in the topic of religion, although he does see it as having some value and does hold some religious beliefs. So he is quite different from Martin Luther, whose entire life revolved around religion. He believes in some form of the religion of Judaism, but there is no social aspect to it for him. His belief is as you say a "personal belief", yet is also a religion, because "personal beliefs" can be religions (of course, his personal belief is not a new and different religion, it is a form of Judaism — but, equally, if he believed something much more novel, it would still be a religion).
You say deism and pantheism when they were first conceived off [sic] weren't off-shoots from other existing religions, and aren't accepted on the basis of the relation to existing religions, but are completely divorced and independent concepts on their own — but, historically speaking, that is not true. If you look at the original deists, who began the movement who first had that name, they were mostly all born and raised as Christians, and their development of deism grew out of their experiences of Christianity, and their Christian background — they no longer found the Christianity they were raised in believable, but still believed there was an important role for the concept of God in human thought, thus they devised deism as their solution to this problem. A similar story with pantheism — the word pantheism was coined by a deist (John Toland) to describe the thought of Spinoza, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew, and developed his belief system to remedy the deficiencies he saw in Judaism. So, from a historical perspective, the claim that deism and pantheism are independent of pre-existing religions is false, since both derived from Christianity and Judaism. (((Zack Martin))) 08:26, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Clearly you misunderstood. What I meant with "entirely divorced" and the such was that pantheism and deism do not share any of the traits or beliefs that religions do. They agree that there is a god, but they disagree about what the concept of god is, what it does, wants or needs, how it relates and/or interacts with the universe and the like. They have simply completely different thoughts and concepts in those matters. The fact that people who became deists or pantheists had different believes before doesn't help you in that case because they rejected those beliefs, and that is the freaking point. They formed completely different and contradictory opinions and didn't take anything from existing religions with the possible exception of the existence of a god, and I would contend that happened only due to personal thoughts on the matter and forming an opinion that a god was still necessary, rather than because the religion they previously subscribed to said so. Those beliefs may be taken up in rejection of Christianity and Judaism, as well as other religions, but they certainly didn't derive from Christianity or Judaism (particularly for deism this is an absurd thing to even say, since the oldest evidence for a deistic beliefs can be found in ancient Greece as well as other places about the same age). Chaosof99 (talk) 16:18, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Deism, as a historical movement, originated in the 17th century, out of Christianity. That is where the word "deism" originates historically. Now, you can point to some ancient Greek thinkers whose beliefs were similar to deism, albeit maybe not exactly the same. But, their beliefs didn't originate out of nothing either, they derived from the ancient Greek religion.
Beliefs similar to pantheism are advocated in many forms of Hinduism (i.e. everything is God, God is all that exists, if anything appears to be other than God, that is an illusion). Some Jewish, Christian and Islamic mystics have also taught pantheism, despite the fact that those traditions generally identify the distinction between God and world rather than their identity; but, those who did teach pantheism, did not teach it as a new and separate belief, but as part of their existing religion
Deism and pantheism are perfectly compatible with prayer, with rituals, with festivals, with organization, etc. Deism states that God does not intervene in the universe, between initially creating it, and possibly dealing with its end; within those bounds, God leaves the universe to its own devices. Thus, prayer asking God to intervene in the world is not compatible with deism. But, other types of prayer are compatible with deism — adoration, thanksgiving (thanking God for creating the universe), even confession (acknowledging to God's one's own ethical failings.) It is only really supplicatory prayer which is out (Dear God, please do X). And even some types of supplicatory prayer may be okay: if I ask God to make me a better person, that prayer might be fulfilled without any divine intervention required, since the very act of praying that prayer regularly might result in me becoming a better person. Of course, deists have had and do have differing attitudes towards prayer, but quite a few approve of some forms of prayer. There is nothing incompatible with deism with having regular festivals, rituals (such as those which mark birth, coming of age, marriage, death), a body of professional ministers. Of course, one doesn't have to have these things to be a deist, but there is nothing about them which is incompatible with deism. So deism is actually not as far away from other religions as you think.
For a good example of deism at its most traditionally religious, consider when deism was briefly declared the state religion of France—Cult of the Supreme BeingWikipedia.
There is nothing about deism incompatible with an afterlife. Some deists have denied an afterlife, but quite a few believe it. Of those deists who believe in an afterlife, many have believed in punishment/reward in the afterlife based on one's actions on the earth. Likewise, there is nothing about pantheism incompatible with an afterlife, and while a pantheist doesn't have to believe in an afterlife, many pantheists do. (The most common form of pantheism in the world is probably Hinduism, and Hindus generally believe in reincarnation based on having good or bad karma.)
On the topic of pantheism, let us consider the example of contemporary neopaganism. Neopagans follow an enormous variety of differing theologies, from hard polytheism (the gods are real, individually separate and distinct beings) to inclusive monotheism (the many gods are different names/forms/images/aspects of the one ultimate god) to symbolicism (the gods are symbols for aspects of the human mind), and many others. But, among these theologies, some adhere to pantheism. And considering pantheist neopagans, they tend to celebrate all the same rituals, etc., that neopagans with other theologies celebrate (the exact set of rituals depends on the variety of neopaganism). So, my point is, this is an example of how you can be a pantheist and follow much of the rituals, practices, etc., that other religious groups follow.
Another good example is the Unitarian-Universalist church. Since it lacks an official theology, its members are free to believe about God what they wish (atheism included); but among its members there are quite a few who adhere to deism or pantheism or panentheism. And they have all the traditional trappings of religion, churches, ministers, hymns, rites of passage, etc. So here is another example of the religious nature of deism and pantheism. (((Zack Martin))) 09:19, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

I keep seeing this title and just laughing[edit]

A religion has, by definition, an ascribed set of beliefs and views regarding: The place of humans in the world, the relationship of humans and animals; the role of human to human ethics and morality; the role of a god or lack of gods. There there is almost always a shared set of rituals about how the day goes by. My husband is a french vietnamese "raised buddhist atheist" who has virtually nothing in common with my values, and mine have virtually nothing in common with PZ meyers, who has virtually nothing in common with the Shintoists from Japan that are no longer believers in any god or gods, and they have virtually nothing in common with Mexican gang bangers who have intentionally decided they do not believe in a god. Atheism is a description of things I do not believe in. That's all. "new atheists" if you want a lable, MIGHT be a group of people who are religious like. but to say "atheism is a religion" is to not understand a damn thing about the world at large, and the hundreds of millions of atheists in it, who have only one thing in common, "i do not have a belief in any god".--Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 00:12, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

Theism is not a religion, but it is many religions — likewise I would agree there is not one religion of atheism, but there are many atheist religions. If you look at the most common form of atheism in the Western world, it has more to it than just atheism; its other elements include a materialist ontology, a scientistic methodology, a rejection of objective values (ethical or aesthetic), yet paradoxically at the same time, a system of values and an insistence that they are superior, an insistence upon the objectivity of "fact", a denial of any fundamental essential difference between humans and other animals, or between the living and non-living. Largely missing the element of rituals, yes, but I don't see that as essential to religion as belief is.
I think, "Atheism is a religion", could be better stated as "Atheisms are religions". (((Zack Martin))) 00:20, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
So does that mean that every single human being "has" a religion? BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 00:27, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, it's often said that atheism is to religion is bald is to hair colour... but what if the appropriate analogy was skin colour. You don't have humans without skin. At least not ones that live very long. While that is a pickle, having no "no religion" does cause many problems for the concept of freedom of religion. Namely, if you can't opt out, you don't have a truly free choice - like being forced to vote and just ticking a box at random. ADK...I'll vocalise your pill! 00:44, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I wouldn't say there is no such thing as "no religion". Someone who was truly agnostic, not just about God, but also about many other issues (materialism vs. non-materialism, the objectivity or subjectivity of fact and value, methodology, etc), could quite possibly count as "no religion". But the average intellectual atheist is way too opinionated on these issues to really count as "no religion". Now, let's talk about a person who never finished high school, who isn't very intellectual, they don't think about these questions much, they just think "religion is bullshit". Well, I'd take their claims to have "no religion" much more seriously. Until they start telling me about ghosts and astrology, and that makes me reconsider the judgement. (((Zack Martin))) 00:52, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
What about a newborn baby? BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 00:55, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I would agree they lack a religion, since they have no opinions on those issues. I don't agree they should be called "atheists", since an atheist is someone who has encountered the idea of God, and consciously doubts or rejects it, whereas the newborn has not yet encountered that idea. (((Zack Martin))) 01:01, 14 August 2011 (UT
This is fundimentally nonsensical. if definitions mean anything, religion CANNOT be "something everyone has" because by definition, a religion is a SHARED experience. even if it were not, there is no foundation to saying to me, "Kip you have a religion" unless you can define it, show me the rituals and beliefs I have. Show me morals based on my "atheism" if it's a religion, and not based on my philosophy. I understand that people who live inside of religion find it hard to see how anyone can live outside of it, but we do. every day. By your definition, than the fact that I do not believe in santa clause means I have a religion about it. The fact that I've never imagined myself in heaven means I have a religion about it. But again, foundationally by what it means to be a "religion" none of that can be true. we do not all run around with thousands of little religions in us, based on things we do not ascribe to. I'm dubious you could find any sense of a religion in me based on things i *do* ascribe to, unless you simply want to toss it all out and say "thinking is a religion". but if you are going to do that, what is the point of using the word "religion".Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 01:08, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Religion is not by definition a shared experience. A religion with only a single follower is entirely possible. Indeed, it would seem most religions start out that way, first the founder has the idea of the new religion, then some time may pass before they recruit their first follower. Likewise, show me the rituals and beliefs I have — I don't think religion has to have rituals to be religion. I can think of a number of religions that have lots of belief, but little or no ritual (Urantia and Oahpse come to mind — possibly Scientology too, although it depends on whether we count say auditing as a ritual or not). Show me my morals based on my... religion, and not based on my philosophy — maybe philosophical views and religious views can't be so clearly distinguished? Maybe any sufficiently comprehensive philosophy is a religion. By your definition, than the fact that I do not believe in santa clause means I have a religion about it — no, as I said, the mere rejection of God is not a religion. But no atheist is purely an atheist, with no further views on religious or philosophical matters beyond mere atheism. Taking all those views together, we get a religion. And, rejecting Zeus is not a separate religion from rejecting Yahweh, since they both follow as consequences of the same belief system. (((Zack Martin))) 01:17, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

What she said. The word "religion" has a meaning, and you're using it wrong. BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 01:11, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

If you are so certain it has a meaning, then please tell us what it is. The term "religion" is notoriously difficult to define, so claiming that someone else's definition is obviously wrong is a bit of a stretch. How can you be so sure yours is right and theirs is wrong? If it is just semantics, how can anyone be wrong? Don't words mean whatever we use them to mean? (((Zack Martin))) 01:19, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
"Belief in or acknowledgement of some superhuman power or powers (esp. a god or gods) which is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship; such a belief as part of a system defining a code of living, esp. as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.." OED. BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 01:23, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
How do many forms of Buddhism meet that definition? They aren't focused on god or gods, or on supernatural beings more generally, or on obedience, reverence and worship towards such beings. (Granted, some forms of Buddhism are focused on such things, but it is a diverse religion). Yet most people agree Buddhism is a religion. So, arguably that definition is wrong or incomplete. Just because something is written in a dictionary, even the OED, doesn't mean it is correct. Dictionaries aren't infalliable. (((Zack Martin))) 01:27, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Okay, you're right, you're smarter than the OED. I'm sorry to have forced you to waste your obviously vastly superior intellectual capabilities on such a second-rate source. BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 01:30, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Everyone is smarter than the OED. A cockroach is smarter than the OED. The OED lacks intelligence, it is... drumroll... a book! (((Zack Martin))) 01:32, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Okay, then, you're smarter than all of the professional linguists and etymologists who created the latest edition of the OED. Must be nice. BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 01:38, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
No, I wouldn't claim such a thing. Since I don't know any of those people, I have no idea what their intelligence is compared to mine. But, that is irrelevant. Even very intelligent people can make mistakes, so how intelligent they are isn't relevant to whether one particular dictionary entry is correct. I am sure if you asked them Does the OED contain mistakes?, all of them would answer Yes. And all of them would admit that the OED is their best effort to define words in a concise way, and that some disagreements with their definitions will be entirely legitimate differences of opinion, rather than a case of we are right and you are stupid. Professional linguists and etymologists view dictionary definitions far less authoritatively than you do. (((Zack Martin))) 01:51, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
EC"no further views on religious or philosophical matters beyond mere atheism." My views on philosophy and morals and other issues have nothing to do with my views on the existence of supernatural beings. BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 01:20, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
You say so, but I very much doubt that is true. Of course, since you haven't mentioned what any of those other views are, it is hard to discuss. Tell me, what would you say is the fundamental stuff of reality — matter, mind, or both equally/independently? i.e. materialism (everything non-material is reducible to the material), idealism (everything non-mental is reducible to the mental), dualism (mind and matter are two separate and independent substances). How does your answer to this question relate to your views on the existence or non-existence of the afterlife? Do you see how there is much more to religion than merely whether one believes in a deity. (((Zack Martin))) 01:31, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

Everything is made of matter. Asking me about "the afterlife" is like asking about the "lhnfvnfjurikr." The word has no meaning to me.Nothing to do with my belief in ghosts, demons, medusas, gods, or other imaginary beings. BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 01:37, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

So, you are not just an atheist, you are also a materialist. Tell me, are there valid methods of gaining knowledge other than science, or is science the only such method, or the golden standard by which all the other methods are to be measured? I detect in your responses a complete worldview (and a very common worldview) that goes far beyond mere disbelief in God. Disbelief in God, all by itself, is not a religion, I agree; but add all these other elements to it, with which it is commonly (but not universally) associated, then I say we have a religion. (((Zack Martin))) 01:55, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Not in any meaningful sense of the word (see Godot below for a far better take on the question than I can give). If you're just going to paly Humpty Dumpty and have words mean what you intend, then I really see no point in discussing further. BbMaj7 Doin' to you in your ear hole. 01:58, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't claim words mean anything. We are all agreed that "religion", at least in the sense we mean it here, is not a recipe for cake, nor a species of lizard, nor a satellite of Jupiter, nor my cousin's best friend's girlfriend's aunt. So, out of the space of all possible definitions, we have a large space which is excluded, as not being possible definitions. And then, the inverse of that, we have a space of legitimate definitions. But does this space of legitimate definitions consist of only one single definition, or a range of distinct ones. Must all words have only one valid definition, or do words admit a range of distinct, yet still valid, usages? (((Zack Martin))) 02:05, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I can only tell you what academic scholars say, and yes, in this rare case I will pull out my phd and toss it there to say "i know of what I speak". Right or wrong, to have any use in any discussion, we really do have a definition of religion that scholars work under. Theravadic Buddhism is a religion because it follows an ascribed set of practices and values, including but not limited to physical practices, written commentary, and shared moral views. Mahayana buddhism has a god/gods despite their sometimes claim to the contrary. I've not read any scholar of religion who gives an individual doing his or her own thing, without some kind of a community in some kind of a shared system "a religion". we call it "an individual practice" "a sole practitioner" but not a religion. If there is a religion, you can define parts of it. Define parts of my "atheistic religion". is it that I work 8 hours a day, or is my workethic part of my American heratige? Is it that I think our children should be left a better world than ourselves? or that I wake up and do not brush my teeth every morning till I get to work? What is the religion. You will not find one, cause other than "it's how you think" "It's how you life", i don't have one. and saying every human has religion, again, devalues the sense of "Religion" as a word useful to describe anything.Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 01:43, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
OK, so Theravada Buddhism is not about "Belief in or acknowledgement of some superhuman power or powers (esp. a god or gods) which is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship", yet Theravada Buddhism is a religion, so the OED's definition of religion is inaccurate. Great, we are getting somewhere here.
The world is full of, and has always been full of, self-proclaimed prophets, with their alleged revelations. Some of these prophets get others to follow them, others don't. So, when does the religion begin, when the revelation is born in the prophet's mind, or when the prophet converts their first follower? Your insistence that a religion must have a community to be a religion seems arbitrary to me. If some guy writes a hundred page book of alleged revelations, and says he believes them, and that is his religion, then most people would accept that he has a religion, even if he is the only follower of it. Certainly, I am sure the law would accept that as a religion (at least in the United States, other countries' legal systems don't see things the same way)
All those things you mention, about your work ethic or your beliefs about children, none of them are primarily about your religion. They form parts of your ethics; there is much much more to your ethics than that, I am sure. And ethics is part of religion, but there is much more to religion than ethics. (((Zack Martin))) 02:01, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Don't have the energy to leap back into this again but it's all good stuff from Godot.--BobSpring is sprung! 14:24, 14 August 2011 (UTC)