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Author Topic: Atheism: A religion?  (Read 15199 times)
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« Topic Start: January 11, 2009, 04:21:37 pm »

(first I would like to apologize if this is not the right section for this thread, if its not I ask that it be moved to the correct area.)

       I thought it would be fairly interesting, to have a discussion on whether or not Atheism or any sort of Non-theism could actually be categorized, or listed as a type of religion?  I mean it obviously takes some sort of faith to follow Atheism or Non-theism.  I even found that their is something called Christian Atheism.  I do not believe that to have something as a religion you must believe in a God or God's.... for instance their are plenty to religions out their that mainly focus on spirits or something.  What do you guys think?
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« Reply #1: January 11, 2009, 04:26:41 pm »

(first I would like to apologize if this is not the right section for this thread, if its not I ask that it be moved to the correct area.)

       I thought it would be fairly interesting, to have a discussion on whether or not Atheism or any sort of Non-theism could actually be categorized, or listed as a type of religion?  I mean it obviously takes some sort of faith to follow Atheism or Non-theism.  I even found that their is something called Christian Atheism.  I do not believe that to have something as a religion you must believe in a God or God's.... for instance their are plenty to religions out their that mainly focus on spirits or something.  What do you guys think?

Just because you don't need to believe in a deity to be religious, does not mean that you are religious if you don't believe in a deity.
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« Reply #2: January 11, 2009, 04:28:52 pm »

Just because you don't need to believe in a deity to be religious, does not mean that you are religious if you don't believe in a deity.

That wasn't really what I was getting at, I mean, for instance Atheism has its own say Core beliefs, its own institutions, buildings (even congregations that get together)
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« Reply #3: January 11, 2009, 04:41:46 pm »

(first I would like to apologize if this is not the right section for this thread, if its not I ask that it be moved to the correct area.)

       I thought it would be fairly interesting, to have a discussion on whether or not Atheism or any sort of Non-theism could actually be categorized, or listed as a type of religion?  I mean it obviously takes some sort of faith to follow Atheism or Non-theism.  I even found that their is something called Christian Atheism.  I do not believe that to have something as a religion you must believe in a God or God's.... for instance their are plenty to religions out their that mainly focus on spirits or something.  What do you guys think?

Well, there are certainly those who are atheist and non-religious.  However, one can be god-less and still have a spiritual path.  That is what I'm currently trying to put together for myself.

Would a spiritual path that addresses the afterlife, ethics/morals, creation, code of conduct, but has no gods be considered a religion?  I would think so, but from a scholarly point of view, I'm unclear.
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« Reply #4: January 11, 2009, 04:46:53 pm »

That wasn't really what I was getting at, I mean, for instance Atheism has its own say Core beliefs, its own institutions, buildings (even congregations that get together)

Atheism as a movement might share structural similarities to organised religion, but that doesn't mean they're identical. In the same way, capitalism has its own core beliefs, institutions, buildings and congregations, but to call it a 'religion' is a metaphor only, because like atheism, it's substantively different.
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« Reply #5: January 11, 2009, 04:47:18 pm »

That wasn't really what I was getting at, I mean, for instance Atheism has its own say Core beliefs, its own institutions, buildings (even congregations that get together)

Well...there's really only one core belief: there is no god/ there are no gods.  That's all the definition involves.  When you're talking about buildings and congregations, are you talking about humanists?  They're really the only group that are springing to mind.

I'll happily agree that there are ways to be atheist and religious - there are atheist Buddhists, atheist Satanists, etc etc.  I just don't agree that atheism, in *itself* is a religion.
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« Reply #6: January 11, 2009, 04:48:21 pm »

Well, there are certainly those who are atheist and non-religious.  However, one can be god-less and still have a spiritual path.  That is what I'm currently trying to put together for myself.

Would a spiritual path that addresses the afterlife, ethics/morals, creation, code of conduct, but has no gods be considered a religion?  I would think so, but from a scholarly point of view, I'm unclear.

Don't we come across the same problem with 'atheist' like with 'pagan'?
An umbrella term and a lot of different people with very different world views and paths under it.

So I'm sure there are some atheists somewhere in the world who live their worldview in a religious-kind of way, but maybe wouldn't call it a religion? If you go to ask somebody on the street I bet most of them will include a higher power with the term 'religion'. I don't know how many official definitions of the word exist and if they all include higher powers.
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« Reply #7: January 11, 2009, 04:50:01 pm »

I wouldn't call it a religion (I also don't call monotheism, polytheism or paganism a religion), but a religious/philosophical orientation.
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« Reply #8: January 11, 2009, 05:12:55 pm »

Atheism as a movement might share structural similarities to organised religion, but that doesn't mean they're identical. In the same way, capitalism has its own core beliefs, institutions, buildings and congregations, but to call it a 'religion' is a metaphor only, because like atheism, it's substantively different.

I suppose the question is "what in the various differences is substantive, and why should it be considered a meaningful point of differentiation between these things (e.g. atheism, capitalism) and a religion?". I'm not saying that they are religions, but I am interested in understanding exactly why they are not, if not.
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« Reply #9: January 11, 2009, 05:18:25 pm »


I'm with you.  "There are no gods" is a *belief*, a religiously-oriented belief, because there is no way of knowing for certain whether deities exist or not.  However, religion is more than just "belief(s) about god(s)"; it's the whole structure that springs up around myths.  Atheism doesn't have any structure or coherency around the belief, so it's not a religion.   
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« Reply #10: January 11, 2009, 05:21:18 pm »

I just don't agree that atheism, in *itself* is a religion.

I'd have to agree with you there. It's nothing more (to me) than a description of a belief that there are no deities (and possibly that there cannot be deities (in its strong form), or that there may have been or could be, but aren't currently (in its weak form)).

That said, I have known some atheists that are strongly evangelical in their atheism and who appear to treat their belief with a degree of fervour that appears religious.
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« Reply #11: January 11, 2009, 05:26:32 pm »

I'd have to agree with you there. It's nothing more (to me) than a description of a belief that there are no deities (and possibly that there cannot be deities (in its strong form)

Could atheism also mean 'no god' in the sense that one does not follow or worship a god, but still believes they may exist?
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« Reply #12: January 11, 2009, 05:27:35 pm »


That said, I have known some atheists that are strongly evangelical in their atheism and who appear to treat their belief with a degree of fervour that appears religious.

So pushing a belief on others and/or strongly believing something is the marker of a religion?
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« Reply #13: January 11, 2009, 05:28:30 pm »

Well...there's really only one core belief: there is no god/ there are no gods.  That's all the definition involves.  When you're talking about buildings and congregations, are you talking about humanists?  They're really the only group that are springing to mind.


Yeah, I can't think of any explicitly atheist buildings/congregations/whatever (though I'm sure they exist somewhere).  However, modern universities, f'ex, are definitely institutions of *humanism*, as you said, but that is not identical to atheism nor antithetical to most present-day mainstream non-fundy religions.
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« Reply #14: January 11, 2009, 05:56:11 pm »

Yeah, I can't think of any explicitly atheist buildings/congregations/whatever (though I'm sure they exist somewhere).  However, modern universities, f'ex, are definitely institutions of *humanism*, as you said, but that is not identical to atheism nor antithetical to most present-day mainstream non-fundy religions.

well for instance we have the Freedom From Religion Foundation it pretty much acts the way a Evangelical association would act.  They put up bill boards and signs and spread literature on why they are right, and such, they are the ones that put up that controversial sign in the state capital about their being no Gods or anything of that nature.

I am trying to think of congregations but I cant find any at the moment (they are probably in small demand anyway)
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