Atheism: the Religion

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Atheism
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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p26zC5-3J

I am sometimes reminded of the incredible fact that atheism is, in fact, a religion. I’m baffled at how someone concludes that I worship Satan or Science or something like that. When I didn’t return a book, someone told I burned it to appease my gods of atheism.

There are many reasons for this tactic. It seems offensive, because Atheists hate religion and couldn’t bear the fact that they are, in fact religious. This backfires incredibly because the word religion is used as an insult, and it’s questionable who should be offended. However, there are similarities between the groups. Both seem to have some sort of prophets (even though Dawkins is lame, he never does any of the cool stuff like summoning bears, resurrecting the dead, or better yet raising zombies seeing how he is the devil’s servant) and they are stubborn about what evidence qualifies as proof of a god.

There are some things that Atheists could use from religious people, like their vocabulary. You know, words like soul and spiritual which have a meaning usually connected to the supernatural. I don’t think that Graham’s number is something “godlike”, yet when I think about it, there’s only one word to describe that experience: spiritual. I feel the same whenever I contemplate the vastness of the universe, the intricacy of life, the beauty of some aspect of nature.

I wonder why the society still ignores the jaw-dropping and incredible part of science. We leave awe to religion and other made-up stories which aren’t always true, though it seems so, and think of science as a bunch of boring equations and people in lab coats doing something that will doom us all. I think we need fundamental changes in our perception. These aren’t going to happen immediately, and I’m going to write some thoughts on what should be done soon. So much for now.

What are your thoughts? Am I wrong, too harsh a critic? Have you got any suggestions, something religion has and you think Atheists lack? Also, check out this video by the fabulous YouTuber ZOMGitscriss with a few funny tips on making Atheism a religion:

These few posts are shorter than usual. Should I write more of these or go back to the longer ones?

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Comments
  1. Visnja Maudlin says:

    I don’t think there are any similarities between religion and atheism in a proper sense of those terms. The same sounding words both groups might use doesn’t ensure the sameness of the meaning of those words. You can see this in the fact that no religious person would accept your spiritual experience of Graham number as really a spiritual experience. I strongly disagree with your statement of even a possible prophet of atheism. I do not accept everything what Dawkins or Hitchens or who ever you want to label in that way says and does. They might be the spokesmen of atheism, but that is a position anyone can hold and there is nothing special about them. Their words I weigh in the same way as the words of anyone else – using my critical thinking. This is not an attitude a religious person would have towards the prophets of his/her religion.

    I can tell you what, for example, would be evidence that evolution is not right: if you can show with the same method we use for figuring out the age of dinosaurs (presumably radiocarbon dating) that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. In that case evolution would have a serious problem. And while it might not be an evidence for God’s existence it certainly would give us a pause. An intelligent design might, in that case, become more acceptable hypothesis. Is there anything what can be described in this way as a possible falsification of the claim of God’s existence?

    One is not an atheist because somebody told him/her to be, or because of a belief in some unquestionable truth told in some book. Rather, atheism is a consequence of a careful evaluation of evidence we have for the claim of God’s existence – namely none. Atheism is a result of rational thinking while religion is a result of putting aside one’s faculty of reason. It would make no sense making atheism a religion because that would mean giving up on what is in the core of its worldview: reason.

    • wilheru says:

      Thank you for your comment, Visnja. I agree with most things you said, and in my response I will focus on your first few sentences. I have read the rest, but I don’t want to repeat “I agree.” for every sentence. I wrote a longer response than this but alas, I pressed F5 and broke a commandment.

      “I don’t think there are any similarities between religion and atheism in a proper sense of those terms.”
      I don’t think there are any similarities between faith and atheism. If a faith contains a belief in a supernatural causal agent, atheism is precisely not that. However, I think that there are similarities between religion without this kind of faith and atheism because, among other things, both involve some sort of groups which are, by definition, going to have something in common. For instance, prominent figures. I equated Dawkins to a religious prophet because they are both prominent, and then I mocked the idea that Dawkins would be a prophet because he didn’t have supernatural on his side. I suspect that without supernatural there is no reason to assume that one has Absolute Truth, so I neglected to point that Atheists apply scrutiny to Dawkins’s words just as much as to everyone else’s. Aside from that, it would be great to take some good aspects of religious communities and apply them to non-religious, but it’s a difficult project, and I am only trying to hint at it here.

      “The same sounding words both groups might use doesn’t ensure the sameness of the meaning of those words. You can see this in the fact that no religious person would accept your spiritual experience of Graham number as really a spiritual experience.”
      This was my point. I would like to reclaim some things religious people have a monopoly on. The emotions I felt when contemplating how would it be to spend Graham’s number of years in heaven and it wouldn’t be over was an example outside the usual “look at that nebula” category, and it was both terrifying and terrific, two words which often, individually or together, sum up a ‘supernatural’ spiritual experience. I hate the fact that science is perceived as a dull set of equations and a bunch of careless freaks who will ruin the world, and I think “look at that nebula” is a step in the right direction. There is no need to call it spiritual, we can pick or invent a different term, but the power of this one is that it’s readily available and it could significantly thwart the efforts of those who claim that science only answers the hows.

      So much from me, I wish I could write more, but there are other matters to attend to.

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