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Thread: The Devout Atheist
02-15-09, 03:14 PM #1
The Devout Atheist
The vast majority of atheists you meet will probably tell you that they are simply non-religious. Many have a burning hatred for organized religion, seeing it as the cause for all of the world's problems. Prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens preach against organized religion and decry the religious as ignorant and uneducated.
Here's my take on it.
Atheism is a religion. It is a set of beliefs with a core philosophy that there is no god, no supernatural, no ghosts or spirits, there is only the natural world which we can learn more about through scientific study. Saying atheism is not a religion is the same as saying Zen Buddhism isn't a religion either, because they, too, don't believe in a particular god. In fact, many American Zen practitioners are also Christians, and in Japan most Buddhists also hold traditional Shinto beliefs. And yet, we still consider Zen Buddhists to be religious. So, why not consider atheism a religion as well?
My main problem with those who claim that atheism is not a religion is that there are those who consider themselves truly "non-religious". They don't say they are atheist or agnostic. They simply don't care to be affiliated with any term or belief system. They don't care about scientific inquiry or whether or not there is a god. They are apathetic and prefer to focus on their lives, their work, their families, without giving much thought to any religion or reasoning as to why humanity exists.
Besides, if atheists would admit that their belief system is indeed a religion, I think it would help others to understand that we are not immoral, godless heathens. We simply believe differently than they do. We would be given more legal clout, too, as some of the religious type like to say that although we have freedom of religion in this country, we don't have "freedom from religion".
If religion is, as many define it, a belief system to explain our existence on earth, how we should conduct ourselves while on earth, and where we go when we die, then atheism is, by definition, a religion. We hold our beliefs, based on scientific theory, as to how the earth was created, how we evolved to become Homo sapiens, and that when we die our lives are over. Religion need not be supernatural, per se; religion is humanity's way of explaining where it came from and where we go when we die. Just because we don't believe that there is life after death or that a supreme being created us does not mean our beliefs can't be considered a religion.
Perhaps many of my fellow atheists would disagree with me because my beliefs are contrary to many of their anti-religious opinions. I certainly respect that, though it is my hope that other atheists might be open to the suggestion that we do hold a form of religious belief. If more of us did, those of more "traditional" faiths might not see us as mere heathens and accept us like they accept those of other religions where there is a belief in a god or gods. I understand that some religious people simply do not respect anyone who does not believe as they do, but many are respectful towards others and appreciate the diversity that all cultures have to offer.
This is simply my personal opinion. I don't expect all atheists to hold the same opinions as myself, but I do hope that those who are not atheists will realize that we are not all like Mr. Dawkins or Mr. Hitchens. Some of us do respect the religious faiths of others, as long as those of faith use that belief for good rather than for violence and hatred. If we are to express hatred towards others and their beliefs, how are we any better?
It will probably take some time for atheism to be considered either "mainstream", or at the very least, non-threatening. A University of Minnesota study done in 2006 found that atheists are the least-trusted minority in the United States. I just hope that if more dialogue and more acceptance can be found between atheists and those of faith, we will no longer face such distrust and misunderstanding.
02-15-09, 03:54 PM #2
Zen Buddhism, as well as Taoism and many other eastern beliefs, is not a reglion. It's a philosphy- a set of persnal beliefs- and nothing more. That's why they don't clash with each other, or any formal religion."If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton
02-22-09, 10:43 AM #3
1. [E]xplain our existence on earth - Not believing in a deity doesn't require a belief in the Big Bang Theory or Evolution. Neither of those explain why the universe as a whole exists. While I believe that these theories are correct, they don't have anything to do with being an atheist. I suspect that I'm an atheist because no one ever told me that I needed a religion until I realized that I didn't have one.
2. [H]ow we should conduct ourselves while on earth - Atheism definitely doesn't give us an answer for this one.
3. [W]here we go when we die - This question is pretty implicit atheism.
Now, if you were to ask me to fill in the religion blank on a form, I'll tell you that I'm an atheist. The only reason that I do is that we're a silent minority, and I get a little sick of christians assuming that everyone in America is just like them.
I won't go out of the way to bring it up, but if it comes up, especially when someone talks about how everything was better when everyone went to church, then I'll get argumentative about it.
02-22-09, 11:35 AM #4
It all depends on how you define "religion".
My thing about it is....who cares how a person decides to define or label their beliefs?CHIRP! CHIRP!
02-22-09, 06:57 PM #5
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