I've recently had a lively debate with a deist who asserted that atheism is a religeon as it has set tennents and creeds that are followed i.e. the tendancy to adhear to certain "dogma" such as skeptism and so on..

Now I've heard this flacid arguement more times than I'd like, but this particuler individual pruposed that not only is atheism a religeon that the whole of philosophy is by definition a religeon in that it follows set guidelines put forth. He went onto to assert political philosophies are as well. That is what got me thinking...Is a religeon a commonly held set of beleifs shared by a group as proposed by a figure head(s)?

this got my brain scratching...so I'm interested to hear what you think


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Atheism is a religion like bald is a hairstyle.

Or like not collecting stamps is a hobby I agree.

Just a clarification to what others said, that might also help your debate-friend a little too...

Atheism is NOT the lack of a religion. It is the lack of a belief in god(s).

There are atheist religions. Eg. certain flavors of Buddhism, paganism, etc. A "collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values" need not rely on the acceptance of any higher power.

Sometimes recognizing an atheist religion can help people tease apart the difference between the two, how they are more apples-to-oranges. In this case how "religion" is different from "belief" or lack thereof.

Aside from that...

In the grand scheme of debates between atheists and religious theists, the categorization of beliefs as religions or not seems trivial in comparision to weeding out what beliefs are unhealthy bullsh** or not.

A religion is

Belief in supernatural beings (gods).

Can include the following:

A distinction between sacred and profane objects.

Ritualistic acts .

A moral code believed to be sanctioned by the god/gods.

Characteristically religious feelings (awe, sense of mystery, sense of guilt, adoration), which tend to be aroused in the presence of sacred objects or during the practice of ritual, and which are connected in idea with the gods.
Prayer and other forms of communication with gods.
A world view, or a general picture of the world as a whole and the place of the individual therein. This picture contains some specification of an over-all purpose or point of the world and an indication of how the individual fits into it.
A more or less total organization of one’s life based on above-mentioned world view.
A social group bound together by the above.

I would say Atheism is none of these things. 

However, I think atheism could be defined as philosophy which is:

Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline.
Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods.
A system of thought based on or involving such inquiry: the philosophy of Hume.
The critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs.

The discipline comprising logic, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology.

A set of ideas or beliefs relating to a particular field or activity; an underlying theory: 

A system of values by which one lives: 

I think your friend is confusing the two ideas and needs to take a university religion 101 course. I really don't see how skepticism is a dogma, as if your skeptical you can change your mind with evidence. If you have faith you less likely as it requires no thought process or evidence.

You are right, "dogmatic skepticism" is in the same stupid catagory as is Jumbo Shrimp.

God is just an excuse to get around reallity - "god did it", "it's god's will" and, my favorite, "god works in mysterous ways".

I just posted to the Forum that this is the latest Believer meme.  As black is the absence of all color, atheism is the absence of all religion.  We do not believe.  We know.

"...a deist who asserted that atheism is a religeon as it has set tennents and creeds that are followed..."

Atheism is not a religion (neither is theism), it's just a single data point (one of a possible two).

Atheism doesn't necessitate or exclude any further belief (or non-belief), position, tennent(s) doctrine or philosophy negated by that simple and quite specific "no". Further, there is no established or prescribed single path to arrive at an atheist position.

So, there are religions that are by definition "atheist" if the adherence to the religion doesn't involve belief/faith in the existence of a supernatural creator deity/moral agent. In this regard, atheism does not mean "irreligious".

For the words atheist/atheism to mean any more than they do requires adjectives, the problem with convincing some theists of this semantic, logical and rational, reality is that; the inclusion of the adjective(s) reveals the fallacy in a lot of bogus theist arguments against atheism.

Well my "friend" agrued that as we all adhear to scince and in particuler, the writings of Hitchens,Dawkins, etc..as a some sort of group mentality thing...he even went further to give an "atheist creed" (can't find the link now), but from what I've read it was an obvious mockery of religeous creeds. In any case this individual argues that even a 'non-beleife' is a beleife. It really is tiresom so i've actually given up engaging with this person.

"this individual argues that even a 'non-beleife' is a beleife."

If you ever do have this conversation come up again, this might be something worth discussing. To me this says they have a hard time imagining what it's like to be contentedly unsure about something, which probably implies they are uncomfortable with uncertainty. On that front sometimes its helpful to get them to imagine a question they feel comfortable not knowing the answer to, or otherwise try to at least temporarily dislodge them from this kind of "binary thinking."


I don't think atheism is a religion from an atheist's perspective. We all agree religion is as good of a means of pretending to know something as any other.

In the United States, though, since atheists are still a minority, we need to be pigeonholed into something called a "religion" so we can claim the rights afforded by the Constitution without challenges from theists. Perhaps it could be called a religion with a very, very simple creed espousing naturalism. We don't want the government to impose Christian theology on us, and we have the right to free speech, free expression, and to practice our "religion." (For statistical purposes, "secular" is probably a more accurate pigeonhole.)

"Well my "friend" agrued that as we all adhear to scince and in particuler, the writings of Hitchens,Dawkins, etc..as a some sort of group mentality thing..."

He stops making sense at "we all adhere to..." There is no such adherence necessary. Science doesn't include anything supernatural in its purview in the first place, so it's neutral by default, as well as not having any place in its methods for faith. Your friend is also ignoring the scientists (as well as laypersons who understand science), who are theists. The latter alone is proof that science isn't an atheist doctrine.

While I have much admiration for both Hitchens and Dawkins (especially Hitchens, who wasn't a scientist), there is much I don't agree with in the writings of both, I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

"he even went further to give an "atheist creed" (can't find the link now), but from what I've read it was an obvious mockery of religeous creeds."

Even if it is satire, it makes for a great counter-argument as his argument isn't valid. Show him, using his own reasoning; examples of theists who commit acts of terrorism in the cause of their belief (this is known as a reductio absurdum argument), by his own reasoning, then: Theists are all terrorists.

"In any case this individual argues that even a 'non-beleife' is a beleife."

This is the fallacy of "shifting the burden of proof". Theism is the belief of an existential claim, atheism is the contrary position, it's a dichotomy; as such the two positions aren't comparable, to suggest they are is to argue that no means yes. Arguments like this deserve ridicule, as they are ridiculous.

"It really is tiresom so i've actually given up engaging with this person."

He probably isn't the last person you'll hear these irrational arguments from, if you want to be able to call people on their intellectual dishonesty, it helps to learn how to recognize them (this is good for political debate as well), this is a good resource for spotting bullshît:


Every single one of his fallacious arguments, and why they are invalid (and how to prove them invalid), can be found in this resource.

As for suggestions that atheists move semantic goalposts in order to facilitate some kind of constitutional parity with regards to the establishment clause, there are a few problems with this; the two most glaring ones being:

1. This isn't necessary, despite claims to the contrary, "freedom from religion" is explicit in "freedom of religion". So says the supreme court, over and over and over again.

2. Aside from being unnecessary, altering the meaning of the words "atheism/atheist" in order to create legal fiction of parity with "theist/atheist" is an equivocation. Why counter false reasoning with false reasoning when reasoning will do?

oh I see no need with continuing with this person, at least not online, I'll encounter this person again (he's in my best friend's wedding) and I really appreciate the link.

I've grown up around differing religeous folks, some of the conventional types and some that just ascribe to the 'greater truth' so i just take the approach that chances are,i will not/ever convence anyone, best I can do is state where my position is.

I really appreciate youre response Richard Ewald...It was highly insightful!





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