Monthly Archives: November 2009

Atheism is not a religion

@GospelToday left a comment on the blog the other day and on the Friendly Atheist site. Essentially the argument is that atheism is a kind of religion, that it has a central set of tenets and associated symbolism that is common to religion.

This is the response that I left on FA.

@GospelToday is Coca Cola a religious symbol? Is Intel a religion? Is Microsoft or Glaxo? What about the seal of the President of the United States or the Democratic donkey logo?

The Scarlet Letter A is an icon but not in a religious sense. It does remind atheists that there are other people who do not believe in gods, that we aren’t alone in the face of intrusive and ubiquitous religion. The entire OUT campaign is to encourage atheists to be more public about a lack of belief in gods. We can all benefit from dispelling silly rumours about us that only exist because of ignorance of what atheism is.

One such thing that needs dispelling is the assumption that atheists deny the Christian god in the sense of rebelling against God. This is not the case. I do not rebel against God anymore than I rebel against Thor or Ra. I simply don’t find the idea of ANY god compelling. I find the idea of gods logically inconsistent and I give greater credence to the rational explanations for god belief than for actual gods.

I appreciate that some people like the idea and that some even find it comforting. I’ve no interest in shattering that illusion for you. All I want is same consideration from theists. The OUT campaign and the public face of atheism only exists because many theists are not content to keep their “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” (or any other god) personal. They have to force it on others.

Stick around and read some of the articles here. Understand that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet (so to speak) so the concepts and language might be less accessible than a Christian site might be for you. You’ll see an underlying theme after a time and it isn’t a rebellion against your particular god.

If you like I could also point you to many other resources that explain the position of atheists in a largely theistic world.

I can understand how someone raised in an environment where faith took a central place would make this error. It is like trying to understand someone who wasn’t raised within a family. The concept of family is so central to most people that the idea of growing up without one just doesn’t register. Of course, once someone points out that they were raised differently we can adjust our preconceived notions accordingly. We might fall back on old ways of thinking because they work so well but, once informed, we have the new understanding to work with too.

I’ve never had a religion. I was raised with no mention of religion until I went to school. At school it was simply another form or process that we all went through and the lessons in RE dealt more with ethics and how people all over the world have rituals and ideas that we might not understand.

Understanding people who have a faith is difficult for me and I’ve taken great efforts to do so. At least when I haven’t had to defend why I don’t have a faith or why society should have to follow one. I simply cannot make the connection between the idea of gods and what I observe of reality. That isn’t religion, it is an opinion.

Just for the record: atheism is a lack of belief in gods. That’s it. The counter to this is theism (a belief in at least one god) rather than Christianity (a belief in Christ as God as described in the Bible) or Islam (a belief in God as described in the Koran) or any other subset of theism.

Atheism is to religion as bald is to hair colour

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