5 Apr

Many of my opinions are affected by my beliefs about Atheists and Atheism, so I though I’d lay some groundwork;

1) Atheism is a religion, to the extent that the word can be usefully defined. It is based on a belief about God or Gods that is not subject to rational argument and which cannot be proven through logic.

2) Pretending that Atheism is not a religion does two things for Atheists. It allows them to impose on other religions restrictions which they escape, and it makes them feel morally superior to the rest of us slobs. The latter may safely be tolerated; it is, after all, an effect of nearly all religious belief, at least for some of the adherents. The former, however, should be opposed at all turns. “Separation of Church and State” (a phrase, BTW, that does not appear anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights) should not be made an excuse for forcing communities to pretend that they are communities of Atheists.

3) Atheists like to puff and blow about the viciousness of religions; the various “Holy” wars, the pogroms, persecutions, and inquisitions. The 20th Century saw several Atheistical States rise.  Most of them practiced mass murder as a tool of statecraft, and those mass deaths absolutely swamp anything done by any other religion in any comparable length of time, throughout human history.

As for myself? I was raised as a Protestant Christian, though I have agnostic leanings. What is an Agnostic? Somebody who isn’t sure of what he believes, and who declines to take the insecurity that engenders out on other people by proselytizing.


17 Responses to “Atheism”

  1. Allallt April 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    I am not convinced by the claims of a God. How is it that you can describe that possition as a “religion”? What position, and be precise here, am I holding to without evidence or reason to support it?

  2. cspschofield April 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Are you not convinced of the claims of a God, or are you convinced that they are wrong; there’s a difference. Agnosticism is uncertainty, and (at least for my money) uncertainty need not be proved as it is not an assertion. Atheism is the absolute belief in the nonexistence of God or Gods, and a negative cannot be proven. Therefore Atheism is belief without proof.

    • Allallt April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      “A-” to be without. “-theism” belief in God or gods.

      But I’m not interested in a language game. I simply am not an atheist in the way you have chosen to describe it.

  3. kkelley105 April 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    I agree that atheism is a religion. I generally agree with the “separation of church and state” but we’re leaning more toward “separation of church from state” which is basically making atheism the official religion. One difference between atheism and most other religions though is the absence of an objective morality or a higher power or authority who declares what that is. Lacking that, we fall into relativism, political correctness, a “living Constitution”, activist judges, and the ability to justify almost any action one wishes to take (e.g. abortion).

    • cspschofield April 6, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      I don’t disagree with you, but people claiming to follow other religions have exhibited most if not all of those behaviors.

  4. marksackler April 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Actually, if you look at the true dictionary definition of atheist, an atheist is not undecided. An atheist believes that the answer is unknowable.

    • Allallt April 8, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      Actually, that is the true definition of an agnostic. People assume it is someone who does not know (and I’m happy with that extension of the definition because I think it is an important stance). But historically (as coined by Huxley, I believe) it means to think it is unknowable.

      Atheism, technically, is the absence of belief or to abstain from belief. You can, for example,be an agnostic atheist.

      • cspschofield April 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

        Atheism as practiced these days is an aggressive belief in the non-existence of God. Not content to believe that there is no God, these people take active offense that anyone else believes that there is a God. They institute lawsuits to force people and communities to pretend that there is no God, at least in public. They may not be Atheists by your definition, but if they are not Atheists they have hijacked the term, and made it notorious.

      • Allallt April 9, 2013 at 7:03 am #

        I do not doubt that the definition stretches that far. But that’s like defining Christians by the paedos in the Catholic Church, or by abortion doctor killers, or the Inquisition. It is people who only define atheism by exaggerating the actions of the most vocal that make the word “notorious”.

  5. cspschofield April 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    “It is people who only define atheism by exaggerating the actions of the most vocal that make the word “notorious”.”

    No. Just as it is the business of Catholics to police the Church, or Baptists to denounce the Westboro freaks (which they do), it is the business of Professed Atheists to police their own. If you don’t want to be associated with aggressive nitwits the very least you can do is stand up to them and say, loudly, that their attempts to force the outward signs of their belief system on others are offensive to you. Until I see and hear of large number of Atheists tell the small but active group that sues to get War Memorials torn down and the Christ taken out of Christmas that they need to shut up and tend to their knitting, my opinion of Atheism as offensively intolerant will not change.

    • Allallt April 10, 2013 at 12:56 am #

      Are you serious? Until I denounce the activity of a minority of people that share a disbelief with me (but no actual belief or dogma) you are going to tar me with whatever brush you have perceived them to be tarred with?
      Fine. Then you are no different from abortion doctor killers and the perpetrators of the Inquisition…

      War memorials are secular, by the way. A family friend is an atheist, and if he died in combat I would be very uncomfortable with anyone associating him with Jesus. He knows what he does and does not believe, and Jesus is in the latter category (as is God). Are you telling me I should be comfortable with the government deciding what myth he is associated with? He fights for his country, and nothing more.

      I have Muslim friends. Are you saying I should be comfortable with my government saying Christianity is correct (and therefore Islam is wrong)?

      In fact, give me a link to atheists being intolerant (as opposed to just enforcing a secular government). Show me the story where that has happened. Because maybe I’m behind on the times, but I don’t see where that has happened.

      What unjustified intolerance has, say, Sam Harris or Daniel Dennette shown?

      • cspschofield April 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

        But “Enforcing secular government” is synonymous with “Making the Government smother all religious expression OTHER THAN Atheism.”, which at an absolute minimum gives Atheism the appearance of Government approval, while denying such approval to Christianity, Judaism, etc..

        What it comes to is that the Atheists who object to crosses on WWI memorials and such-like are just as annoying as the worst of the Babbling Baptists, and furthermore they are annoying in exactly the same ways. They consider their point of view as not one of many, but as the only “natural” one, and want to see in enforced.

        Atheism is a belief about religious issues that is not based on demonstrable fact. That doesn’t make it worse than other religions, but it doesn’t make it better. Pretending that it is not a religious belief is a way to obtain the very governmental preferential treatment that you want to deny to other religious beliefs.

      • Allallt April 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

        That is simply untrue. The only way to allow religious freedoms is for the government to be entirely irreligious (the people that make it up can be religious, that’s fine. But the actual method of governing shouldn’t be).

        The state should not be in the business of condoning any faith (because by condoning one faith they are suggesting the others are wrong). Now, tell me what the difference is between secularism and a government not supporting any faith.

  6. cspschofield April 11, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    “The state should not be in the business of condoning any faith”

    And, since Atheism is a religious faith, the State should not force its outward appearance by interfering with the expressions of other faiths.

    The core problem is that the First Amendment was written to apply only to Congress (“Congress shall make no law…”). When it was adopted, several states had state approved Religions (Massachusetts and the Congregationalists springs to mind), and it would not have been adopted had it interfered with that. The 14th Amendment is generally understood to have superseded the authority of the states in this, but it does not quite fit.

    Atheism is a religious belief, because it is a belief that cannot be proven. One cannot prove the non-exisitance of something. The government cannot avoid all religious expression, because if it makes no observation of any non-atheistical faith it takes on the appearance of positively approving of Atheism.

    Much better to stick to the core meaning of “Make no laws respecting the establishment of religion”; and admit that acknowledging Christmas, or Passover, or Ramadan, is not making a law.

    BTW; I WILL back you on getting “Under God” the hell out of the Pledge of Allegiance on the simple grounds that the author didn’t put it there. Better still, can the Pledge entirely; it smacks of Mitchell Palmer and Loyalty Oaths for private citizens.

    How about pushing for some Atheist holidays, preferably involving a certain amount of drinking? As I’ve stated elsewhere, Islam’s biggest problem with general acceptance is that it has no holidays during which the rest of us cultural mongrels can get happily plastered with our Islamic neighbors.

    • Allallt April 11, 2013 at 11:40 am #

      Sorry, I thought we’d had the discussion out atheism as a religion. Is astrology a religion? Is talking to the dead a religion? Are Ouija boards a religion. No. Religion is a very specific belief: a belief in God. Then certain details and addendum separates all the different religions. Atheism is very specifically not a belief in a god. Therefore it is not a religion. There are no truth claims in atheism. There is no dogma in atheism. There is no claim.
      Consider it this way, if you will. Your claims (and every other claim I have ever heard) in support of a religion or a god have no convinced me. Therefore I do not believe them. What would you call that position. Because most self-identified atheists mean to associate with this position. Not being convinced of a religion cannot possibly be considered a religion.

      Now, I’m not that fussed with constitutional amendments because I’m British. I’m interested solely in what is fair (with respect to this discussion). Tax exemption for Churches (happens in America), legal requirements to be religious in order to hold a position in office (happens in America), seats in the House of Lords specifically for people with Christian positions (happens in the UK), tax money being used to endorse and celebrate Christmas (happens in both, but incidentally I care much less about this because I consider them cultural holidays… but that’s a different discussion), teacher-led prayer in schools (is always of a specific religion, happens in both our countries), meetings in public office actually scheduling in prayer time (definitely happens in the UK) are all unfair. They are not just unfair to me as an atheist, but they are unfair to all non-Christians. When I was at school I had a Muslim friend (okay, a daughter of Muslim parents) who was, after many years of arguing, excused from assembly because there was explicitly Christian prayer (and it wasn’t a faith school).

      Creationism, as a subject, belongs only in the RE class. It has no place in the science classroom.

      Supporting a particular faith tells the other faiths they are wrong; supporting faith in general is telling the non-faithful that they are wrong. Staying out of religion entirely (or wasting tax-payers money supporting every conceivable faith or lack therefore) is the only fair way of doing it.

      • cspschofield April 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

        I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. You don’t want to consider your faith a religion, and I’m not going to stop.

      • Allallt April 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

        Tell me the dogmatic claim I accept without evidence and I’ll change me mind: I’ll declare atheism both a faith and a religion.

        However, it seems that you simply are “not going to stop”.

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