Re: Atheism is Not a Religion

atheismRan across this post where a theist talks us through why atheism isn’t a religion.

The first paragraph was fairly boring so I’m going to skip it. You can read it in its entirety if you choose by following the link.

I’m going to start in the second paragraph:

A few atheists have made a half-hearted go of trying to worship science. And if that had any lasting power, Sunday services might include playing a clip from Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. But the would-be science worshippers haven’t gotten that far, and it is highly doubtful they ever will.

Well, yeah, because worshiping science would be ridiculous. Do you think it would answer your prayers or hear you in some way? Would you build a shrine to it and burn incense?

Science is a method of observation and study. You’re not going to worship that.

They then move on to humanism.

Secular Humanism is sometimes brought up as something like a religious substitute, but so far it only appears to be a name, a logo, some manifestos no one cares about

Haha. There are quite a few of them. I think they’re a little more than a logo and stuff. I think humanists might be interested in humanist material so by default, I think some people care.

But then they demonstrate they don’t understand what humanism is in the least:

First, because it’s too amorphous to worship—as Chesterton noted, a god composed of seven billion persons neither dividing the substance nor confounding the persons is hard to believe in. The other reason is that worshipping humanity involves worshipping Hitler and Stalin and Mao and so forth.

What the fuck?

Humanism isn’t worshiping people. Humanism is this:

Humanism, with regard in particular to the belief that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God.

Come on, mate. If you’re going to write a post, at least use a dictionary or look up what humanism is before making shit up.

And I know that some people will say that atheists worship themselves—I suspect because almost all atheists define morality as nothing more than a personal preference

How would someone worship themselves, exactly?

Yeah. Morality is just a whim to us. We don’t think about ethics at all. We never consider the feelings of others or the harm our actions might do. We just toddle around breaking things, and doing whatever the hell we please.

And in any event, it is inherently impossible to worship oneself. Worshipping something is recognizing something as above oneself, and it is not possible to place oneself above oneself.

Finally! You’re beginning to make sense. Go on.

I think the physical metaphor suffices: if you are kneeling, you can’t look up and see your own feet. You might be able to see an image of yourself in a mirror, but that is not the same, and whatever fascination it might have is still not worship.

Jesus. You’ve really thought this through. Good on you, mate.

Did you try it? Because I just did and you’re absolutely right. But what if I kneel and look backwards through my legs? I can see my butt and a part of my face. Can I worship that?

It doesn’t matter whether you define atheism as a positive denial or a passive lack; either way atheism gives you absolutely no way to be in a right relationship to anything above you, because it doesn’t believe in anything above you.

My ceiling is above me right now.

Oh, we’re talking about above me as in something better or more powerful than me. Well, there are lots of things that fit that description. The sun is more powerful, for example, but I’m not sure why you have to believe in a god-thing to appreciate that.

Religious people know very well that other human beings are dangerous; there is no way in this world to get rid of temptation and sin. But religion gives the possibility of overcoming the collapsing in upon ourselves for which atheism gives no escape.

Human beings are dangerous. Religion hasn’t done a good job of ‘overcoming the collapsing’ though. In many cases, it lends itself to that destruction and makes it easier to justify it. It also insists that it’s right, inoculates itself to criticism and asks humanity to take bad ideas from thousands of years ago and pretend they’re okay now.

Individual atheists almost invariably hold unprovable dogmas with a blind certainty that makes the average Christian look like a skeptic.

Can you name some?

Atheism is not a religion, which is a great pity because atheists would be far better off if it was.

I agree with your conclusion. Atheism is indeed not a religion.

However, I disagree that we’d be better off. Personally, I feel better off being able to think for myself, rather than strap myself to a thousand (or more) year old mythology that comes dripping with dogmas that are clearly wrong, and often dangerous.

I do think we’re getting somewhere though. Spread the word my dear man. Shout it from the rooftops so other religious people can hear you.

Atheism is not a religion!



  1. I considered worshipping myself at one stage. It was an important phase in recognising my greatness before I realised it was more effective if other people just worshipped me instead. Once you realise that you are in fact a god, things become much easier and much funnier in a sick sense, especially when you realise people will do all kinds of shit you make up, just to prove they are worthy of your official thumbs up!

  2. “How would someone worship themselves, exactly?”

    We’re seeing an example of this right now. Look at the angry orange skittle running for president right now. I’m pretty sure he worships his own ego. And he’ll say or do anything to get other people to worship it too. I don’t know of many humanists who behave like that.

  3. can’t find the link, GC. Am I looking in the wrong place?

    A long time ago I was on a message board far far from here in which we started, unintentionally, a role playing thing. someone made a comment about “who will play God?” and I said, “we are ALL God, honey. Take your pick”. I meant it in all seriousness. We are our own god, if you will.
    Watch any infant demand, point, argue back. mineminemine. They are the center of their universe, and have to be taught to share, to give back. We still are at the center of our own inner universe, but we learned to share the rest of it with other sentient beings.

    I don’t know of a single non-theist who believes that atheism is a religion. It isnt anything, since we all disbelieve in our own way, we don’t organize, proselytize, or write hymns to our non-god.

    I wonder if the only reason theists insist that Atheism is a religion is because they cannot conceive of anyone not having one. It does sound as if she’s making it up as she goes along, and probably lurking in her brain is the image of satan worshipers and black Masses. Aha, she says. Religion.

  4. I’m not getting it. Why does it have to be or not be a religion? That person’s post might just as well be a post on why atheism is not a fishing rod.
    I find it strange to start off with an odd premise then make the argument for or against it.
    I once spoke to a senior member of the Islam fraternity – because I like to ask questions and seek knowledge so my queries were forwarded to this person…being senior and all. I’m as open minded as the next open minded person and had always meant to read the Koran having bought it at one point, but when his argument began with his insistence that ‘Facebook is a religion’ my brain rolled it’s eyes, packed up it’s pencils, paper and sandwiches and left me to deal with it alone. Especially as that was one of the saner points made.

  5. I’m not sure why this is such a difficult issue for theists.

    Atheist is derived from the Greek atheos: “godless, without gods.”

    Religion is derived from the Latin rĕlĭgĭo: “reverence for God (the gods).”

    Saying godlessness is a form of reverence for gods is akin to saying that health is another form of illness.

  6. Pingback: Evolution is a Religion? | The Recovering Know It All

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