Another idiot claims atheism is a religion
Religious people are hilarious. How many times have we been accused of being “just another religion”? I imagine just stating this baseless canard must be a way for them to feel comforted by the idea that atheists base their beliefs on the same dogmatic mechanism they use. Unfortunately for them, it’s ludicrously easy to demonstrate just how wrong this idea is.
I fell upon an article this morning claiming that atheism is a religion (it wakes you up better than coffee). I thought it might be fun to pick apart these 8 pathetic arguments one by one, for your reading pleasure. I also suggest reading the comments, as I’m not the only one who’s done this.
1. They have their own worldview. Materialism (the view that the material world is all there is) is the lens through which atheists view the world. Far from being the open-minded, follow-the-evidence-wherever thinkers they claim to be, they interpret all data ONLY within the very narrow worldview of materialism. They are like a guy wearing dark sunglasses who chides all others for thinking the sun is out.
2. They have their own orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is a set of beliefs acceptable to a faith community. Just as there are orthodox Christian beliefs, there is an atheist orthodoxy as well. In brief, it is that EVERYTHING can be explained as the product of unintentional, undirected, purposeless evolution. No truth claim is acceptable if it cannot be subjected to scientific scrutiny.
3. They have their own brand of apostasy. Apostasy is to abandon one’s former religious faith. Antony Flew was for many years one of the world’s most prominent atheists. And then he did the unthinkable: he changed his mind. You can imagine the response of the “open-minded, tolerant” New Atheist movement. Flew was vilified. Richard Dawkins accused Flew of “tergiversation.” It’s a fancy word for apostasy. By their own admission, then, Flew abandoned their “faith.”
4. They have their own prophets: Nietzsche, Russell, Feuerbach, Lenin, Marx.
5. They have their own messiah: He is, of course, Charles Darwin. Darwin – in their view – drove the definitive stake through the heart of theism by providing a comprehensive explanation of life that never needs God as a cause or explanation. Daniel Dennett has even written a book seeking to define religious faith itself as merely an evolutionary development.
6. They have their own preachers and evangelists. And boy, are they “evangelistic.” Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens (Speaking of which, our prayers goes out to Christopher Hitchens in hopes of a speedy recovery for his cancer, we need more time with him Lord) are NOT out to ask that atheism be given respect.
7. They are seeking converts. They are preaching a “gospel” calling for the end of theism.
8. They have faith. That’s right, faith. They would have you believe the opposite. Their writings ridicule faith, condemn faith. Harris’s book is called The End of Faith. But theirs is a faith-based enterprise. The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven. To deny it takes faith. Evolution has no explanation for why our universe is orderly, predictable, measurable. In fact (atheistic) evolutionary theory has no rational explanation for why there is such a thing as rational explanation. There is no accounting for the things they hope you won’t ask: Why do we have self-awareness? What makes us conscious? From what source is there a universal sense of right and wrong? They just take such unexplained things by … faith
1. So a world-view constitute a religion now? Religious people “postulate” a world that exists beyond what we can measure. They have the gall to call this imaginary world “supernatural” (as in “above nature). We simply chose to reject a notion that offers nothing in the way of proof. Materialism is simply postulating that everything in the Universe is the result of material interactions. So far, it’s the only explanation that holds any water.
2. If something needs to be subjected to scientific scrutiny, then it’s not orthodoxy. That word is defined as “of, pertaining to, or conforming to the approved form of any doctrine, philosophy, ideology, etc.” By its very definition, Orthodoxy is not open to debate or refinement. All beliefs must conform to previously held dogma. This is the very opposite of the way science work.
3. We’ll admit to being surprised if someone goes from atheism to theist, but that’s mostly because of how utterly rare it is. There’s certainly no punishment for it, and the only thing you lose is respect from fellow intellectuals. Where are the Inquisition and death threats you get from religions?
4. Nietzsche wasn’t an atheist (at least not a self professed one), and if you think Bertrand Russell is a prophet, then I think you’re profoundly confused as to what the word actually means. Prophets conjure messages they claim come from a supernatural entity. Philosophers attempt to use epistemology (the theory of how we know things) when formulating theories. Prophets just make shit up.
5. Charles Darwin, the anointed one who died for your sins, people! No doubt we can agree that evolution destroyed the religious argument for design, but that hardly makes Darwin messianic. The idea of evolution wasn’t new by the time Darwin postulated his theory of descent with modification, and isn’t even a hard one to grasp (if your mind isn’t polluted by religious dogma). We may respect him, but we certainly don’t revere him, or consider him our “Lord”.
6 +7. By this guy’s definition, someone trying to spread the word about vaccines and their benefits is “evangelizing”. We don’t use threats of hellfire, damnation, promise of eternal bliss for conversion, or any other tactic that religions use to try and “convert” people. We simply use reasoned arguments and logic to destroy superstitious notions about the world. What people do with that information is up to them.
8. If it required faith to believe in evolution, then it wouldn’t be science. Science is based on testable hypotheses. If you doubt the validity of the idea, you’re free to research it for yourself. Faith is not about questioning anything; it’s the persistent belief in a dogma DESPITE evidence to the contrary. That’s why whenever you have a conversation with a theist, they’ll fall back on this word as though it means something. “You can’t question my faith”. If an evolutionary biologist ever said that concerning a particular pet theory about some evolutionary process, he’d be laughed at.
While it’s true that we have only conjecture about consciousness and the evolution of morality (though still strongly supported by evolutionary mechanisms), this does not mean that religious ideas are therefor correct. They offer nothing in the way of verifiability, and are therefore invalid. The only recourse for believers is to disregard any competing idea in favor of a rigid persistence to maintain their belief structure. We call this process “faith”
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