Atheism A Religion?
edited: Thursday, February 16, 2006
By Leland Waldrip
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, February 13, 2006
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Atheism a religion? An arguable hypothesis.
A “theist” is defined as one who believes in the existence of a god or gods. So, “atheist” describes one who does not believe in the existence of god. The common definition of the word includes someone who denies the existence of god. It can also define someone who believes that available evidence does not support the hypothesis that a god exists.
Atheism is said by some to be a religion, just as Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, etc. There are probably some individual cases that make this true , where obsession has taken over good sense, but I would like to refute this proposition in general terms.
The world has through the centuries been made wealthier for the contributions of atheists and like-minded free-thinkers who barely hid the fact from the powerful and vindictive medieval church and early American church congregations. Think Copernicus, Newton, da Vinci, Darwin, Madison, Jefferson, Lincoln, Twain, Einstein and Ingersol, to name a few.
The point is that atheists:
are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, particularly of the supernatural or superstitious variety,
believe in the use of reason and science to understand the universe, and
are open to novel ideas and new ways of thinking.
So here is the difference between the so-called sky-god religions and atheism: The sky-god religions have their schemes all worked out. They are not interested in feedback to make their plan better, or more workable, or closer to the truth. (Suggest to the Pope that he use his “infallibility” to include women in the priesthood, or nullify celibacy, or ask a ranking imam in Mecca to declare equal civil rights for women throughout Islam, or to revise the Quran to remove citations to violence.) For them their plan is the revealed word of their god and no meddling will be tolerated. It is a top-down, hierarchical, ordered scheme of instruction on how and what each and everyone is to do for the aggrandizement of their organization and eventual containment of all humanity, or of their desired segment of humanity and death and destruction for the remainder. Period.
Atheism is not like religions because it is based on a continuous search for new truth, new empirical observations of the universe, new feedback loops that at any time can and will change or cancel the old order and produce new information, new elements, new paradigms with differences in all but one aspect. There will always be the element of information feedback. So if this is a religion it is a religion with an escape hatch from stagnation of the status quo like no other.
Knowledge gained is both internalized and passed to others who will listen. There is no element of evangelizing except to say it’s wrong to be pressed by others with theistic evangelism. What may be viewed as evangelic fervor of a relative handful of atheists among the vast numbers of fundamentalist religionists may in fact be defensive tactic against infringements, taking form as an “aggressive” offense such as, “All are free to practice religion in private, but not in the public square.”
A true atheist will observe facts and evaluate, even if offered that evidence by the religious. They must be new facts, not the same old BS as has been chanted before, ad nauseam, and no time will be wasted on obvious drivel. But if it were to be scientifically proved that God exists then it would be accepted by any atheist worth his/her salt and the revelation would institute a new paradigm of spirituality.
In that case, rather than “atheist,” a new label would be adopted. Perhaps, “former atheist” would distinguish between the new converts and those who had always been theists.
Another scenario that has a far higher probability is that intelligent life originating from the other side of the galaxy will land on earth and begin holding public seminars teaching humans how to avoid wars (caused by fundamentalist religionists) and clean up our planet before it is too late to save it from destruction (by wars and economic errors). It’s in the realm of possibility — but I’m not holding my breath — that saviors are coming from the other side of the galaxy or that proof of a god exists. In the meantime, atheism presents humanity with an ideal that makes a lot of sense, even though it probably doesn't qualify as a religion.
© 2006 R. Leland Waldrip
Web Site: Rappahannock Books
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|Reviewed by Dennis Horvitz
|Reviewed by Malcolm Watts (Reader)
|Nice argument Leland. I am spiritual but not in a traditional way -just can't swallow ridgid dogma or systems of belief that make little or no rational sense. My Novel, Reflections from Shadow, is in part the story of a child rebelling against evangelical Baptist brainwashing of his early life. Malcolm Watts|
|Reviewed by M.Bennett Hooper (Mikii)
|Well Leland you have outdone even yourself. I can finally almost define myself after reading this excellent article. I am an in between,believing in a higher creative power(greater spirit)and looking with a jaundiced eye upon the laity. (pun intended) Adding to my library. Peace, love, blessings and providence. Mikii|
|Reviewed by Alexandra* OneLight*® Authors & Creations
|An article motivating deep reflections, my dear friend, and as brilliantly constructed as only someone imbued with your strong logic, common sense, and a constant desire to search for further and wider understanding beyond what many proclaim as "obvious and thus beyond any argument" indeed could have done. You wrote (in atheism) "There is no element of evangelizing except to say it’s wrong to be pressed by others with theistic evangelism" and, from a personal perspective which, as such, I humbly recognize and accept as an arguable one, I dare adding that also in theism there does not have to be an element of evangelizing, except, also, to say it's wrong to be pressed by others with atheistic evangelism. This, dearest Leland, because there are (so called) atheists and also (so called) agnostics who seem to be carried by an "evangelizing fervor" only matched by that of the most fervent religious zealots. And there are those who, not being atheists, cannot be included in the definition of "religious", because they intrinsically draw a distinction between religion and spirituality. These may even sense spirituality as a belief in concepts that are usually defined as being of "religious significance" (concepts close to those of God or Soul) but do not feel bound to the bureaucratic structure and creeds of any particular organized religion. So, my friend, there are inflexible and flexible perspectives on both "sides", if we choose to indeed view different perspectives as "sides" opposing one another. I'm deeply grateful to you, my friend, as to all those who are willing to keep the dialogue open and who strive for finding and offering flexible perspectives that may lead to further understanding and thus to a more vast scope of grounds for harmony. It is the short-sighted, self-righteous rigidity of mind, that too many human beings so often and sadly entertain and nurture, what makes of enlightening, potentially enriching controversy nothing but a quagmire of darkness.
With profound admiration and much love from your friend,
|Reviewed by Sandy Knauer
|You might have outdone yourself with this one. Excellent article. Well written and point well argued. Thank you.|
|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|You, as usual, have simplified a subject that confounds those bent on prosletyzing their complex religious views.
I am an atheist because I read and think and have no desire to join an athiest religion or any other. I am also spiritual and loving to those who deserve my love.
|Reviewed by Leland Waldrip
|There is plenty of evidence that love exists in many of the right places. Enjoy the day with loved ones. Happy Valentines Day.
|Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
|Most interesting piece Leland!!
Happy Valetines day my friend!!
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|Quite an interesting piece and perspective, Leland. Enjoyed it.|
|Reviewed by C. J. Stevens
|A brilliantly argued essay, totally unhampered by prejudices of any kind. A true breath of fresh and reasonable air.