If Atheism Is a Religion, Then Bald Is a Hair Color

Atheist Absurdities | National Review Online

Many people in this country were shocked when the U.S. Navy recently announced the removal of all Bibles from military hotels under their control. This was in response to pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a well-known atheist group.

The surprise is not the hypocritical stance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, but rather the fact that an established bulwark of American strength and patriotism caved to a self-serving group of religious fanatics. The previous sentence may seem out of place if you don’t realize that atheism is actually a religion.

No, dude, the previous sentence seems out of place because it is absurd.

Atheist – RationalWiki

As atheists don’t believe in god(s) — they have no religion. The term is a word for a negative, and this leads to a few semantic issues.

This confuses the religious because they are used to terms of religious identity being a declaration of allegiance to a view, rather than of separation from. This confusion then leads them to assert that a denial of their religion must be an avowal of another. They then do things like declare the so-called New Atheists as hypocrites for denigrating religion while sticking to an unstated one of their own, or declare that because science has an epistemology and religion has an epistemology, therefore science is just another faith (when religion’s problem is that science’s epistemology provably works much better than religion’s).

A standard response is to note that if atheism is a religion, then “bald” is a hair color, and not collecting stamps is a hobby, not kicking a kitten is a form of animal abuse and so on. Another is to note that if the definition of religion was expanded enough to legitimately include atheism – say, by defining a religion as “any philosophy on life” – then practically everything in the world would be a religion, such as socio-economic policies or views on equality. (British law has come close to finding this in employment discrimination cases.)

As Sam Harris noted in a speech to the Atheist Alliance in 2007:[1]

I think that “atheist” is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people “non-astrologers.” All we need are words like “reason” and “evidence” and “common sense” and “bullshit” to put astrologers in their place, and so it could be with religion.

Some atheists piss me off every once in a while, but not nearly as often or as much as the dumbasses of the “atheism is a religion” crowd.

Posted in Atheism permalink

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


If Atheism Is a Religion, Then Bald Is a Hair Color — 27 Comments

  1. If atheism based on the belief there is no god is not a religion, then the meme that global warming believers are part of a religion is false.
    From wiki:

    A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.

    It seems to me both fit this description.

        • Sorry, wasn’t clear: ‘just happened’ is the only metaphysical stance that is consistent with atheism. Where someone self-describing as atheist takes on the ‘where do we come from’, ‘where are we going’ arguments from any other standpoint, I have a hard time treating him as atheist.

          • Well, those questions can be discussed without religious intrusion. For instance:

            Where do we come from? We are inhabitants of a finely grained artificial reality created by an advanced race which is using the construct for its own purposes.

            This discussion does not require the intrusion of supernatural (and that’s the key word) beings or explanations.

              • Going to have to read some of Tipler’s work directly; the wikipedia page is antagonistic and I’d rather see what he says myself. Won’t be anytime soon, since my to-read stack is about 40 books deep (Lightning Fall is into the top 15 now!).
                Understood that ‘supernatural’ is the key word, and it’s been a long time since I got into the seriously philosophical realms, but in that sense I’d think materialism would be the only reasonable position for an atheist, as anything else would seem to lead to contradictions. Do you have a specific philosophical point of view?
                My one quibble would be that postulating an advanced race is pushing the initial question back one level: where did it come from?
                Thanks for engaging, Bill, and apologies for the length; I’ve been lurking here long enough that I remember when Lastango joined the party – and YKW’s old handle.

                • Do you have a specific philosophical point of view?

                  Reality is, and can be apprehended by the rational human mind. A=A.

                  …postulating an advanced race is pushing the initial question back one level: where did it come from?

                  Actually, the question needs to be pushed back to the basic, overriding question, before life, before atoms, before quantum soup: Where did reality come from?

                  My response? It didn’t come from anywhere. Reality just is, now, always, and forever, reality without end.

                  Nazdar, I know how long you’ve been around here, and I’ve valued your participation. Also, lengthy comments rarely bother me, unless they’ll lengthy due to extremely high crap content. Yours have never been that.

          • ‘just happened’ is the only metaphysical stance that is consistent with atheism.

            That’s not true.

            The notion of ‘just happened’ is, I think, logically incoherent.

            Essentially, there is no, and can be no, cause that stands apart from, is independent from all there is.

            Thus, all there is cannot meaningfully ‘just happen’, all there is just isExistence exists.

            To presuppose that there must be a reason, a cause, an explanation, for all there is is to presuppose a contradiction – to presuppose that there is something that is apart from and independent of all there is.

            But there isn’t.

  2. On a more serious note. “Atheism” is really not a very useful word. “God” is defined in so many ways, it is impossible for a person to know all of them and categorically deny that any and all meanings wrong.

    Perhaps one example from an old professor of mine, Bernie Loomer: (quote is off the net be fits what I remember.)

    “The world is God because it is the source and preserver of meaning; because the creative advance of the world in its adventure is the supreme cause to be served; because even in our desecration of our space and time within it, the world is holy ground; and because it contains and yet enshrouds the ultimate mystery inherent within existence itself. . . . The world in all the dimensions of its being is the basis for all our wonder, awe, and inquiry.” Loomer decried theological certainty and delighted in the wonder of existence: “Final answers are not to be trusted. We are born in mystery, we live in mystery, and we die in mystery.”

    • Dang it, that reminds me of something I’d forgotten. I’d planned to write a post suggesting that we mock the “trigger warning” meme by putting trigger warnings in every post and comment. I’ve been such a friggin’ burnout lately.

      Trigger warnings: mental decline, alzheimers, brain damage

      • Oh, man, and I just thought of a funnier way to do it: get rid of all the existing categories in this here WordPress setup and replace them with the funniest “trigger warning” categories we can come up with.

        Trigger warning: mocking, thin-skinned fuckholes

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