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Is atheism a religion? 
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Post Is atheism a religion?
Is it?



Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:18 pm
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
What are your thoughts?


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Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:46 pm
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
In the conventional sense of what a religion is, it's hard to claim atheism (or agnosticism) is one. Religion claims to provide a structured system for understanding the metaphysical, worshiping a deity or deities, a formal morality, and perhaps affecting the supernatural. Atheism does not do these things.

But if you consider religion differently as in almost anything that people are intensely interested in (Joe worships the local sports team), then perhaps atheism fits for some people. Or if you buy into linguistic traps such as atheism claims the supernatural does not exist, which is a metaphysical statement, therefore atheism is a religion. Or statements of incredulity like "It takes more faith to not believe in God than it does to believe," therefore atheism is a religion. However, these are slippery efforts to redefine religion.



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Thu Jun 03, 2021 9:21 pm
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
That question arises, doesn't it, because atheists often are anti-religion. So a comeback to the atheists from believers is, "well, atheism is no less a religion than Christianity, so where do you get off dissing religion? You're just as dependent on your beliefs as you say we are."

I can't even decide whether Unitarianism is a religion. So it seems clear to me that denial of the existence of God is in no way a religion.



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Sat Jun 05, 2021 6:25 am
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
DWill wrote:
I can't even decide whether Unitarianism is a religion.

Yes that's a strange one. I attended a UU church in the '70s where the minister was an atheist, about half of the congregation was atheist, and the other half was either New Age or Wiccan. Very strange. Then I attended another one just once a few years ago where the theist minister is openly gay and I suspect there was more attention to civil rights than religion. Then a member made a statement that clarifies much of this: "The UU Church is where old hippies go to die." :adore:



Sat Jun 05, 2021 8:06 pm
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
Materialists almost make atheism a religion. For this reason, a lot of theists try to straw man atheism as materialism, a kind of "Since you are an atheist and therefore, by default, a materialist..." But, no, you do not have to be a materialist to be an atheist. Materialism is not even a workable philosophy but that doesn't even touch atheism. Two independent disciplines. One is not a subset of the other.

All there really is to atheism is that no pro-god arguments are logical and therefore are not to be accepted. All this stuff about no continuance of consciousness after death or arguments as that are not part of atheism even though a lot of atheists seem to think so.

And I think the "strong atheism v. weak atheism" is just downright silly. You're either an atheist or you are not.

Some books on the subject are:

"Why Materialism is Baloney" by Bernardo Kastrup
"Immaterialism" by Graham Harman



Sat Jun 05, 2021 10:25 pm
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
DB Roy wrote:
Materialism is not even a workable philosophy but that doesn't even touch atheism. Two independent disciplines. One is not a subset of the other.


You'll have to explain why materialism is "not a workable philosophy." I see materialism as an assumption that all phenomenon can ultimately be explained by natural processes. Certainly scientists assume all phenomena have natural causes. And every scientific discovery ever made in the history of humankind has been explained by natural causes. Not once has a phenomenon been declared to be outside the realm of science, even those areas not well understood, such as black holes and quantum physics. Materialism may very well be the most workable philosophy ever devised.

Naturally there are many areas that we don't fully understand yet and some of these problems may seem insurmountable. Arthur C. Clark's third law is: ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. But that doesn't mean the answer really is magic. It only means we don't understand yet (and may never understand due to the limitations of the human brain).


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Sun Jun 06, 2021 1:48 pm
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
geo wrote:

You'll have to explain why materialism is "not a workable philosophy."


I just listed two sources.



Sun Jun 06, 2021 4:43 pm
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Post Re: Is atheism a religion?
DB Roy wrote:
geo wrote:

You'll have to explain why materialism is "not a workable philosophy."


I just listed two sources.


This is a question I think about a lot. Materialism is the philosophy that only matter exists. That means in principle the fundamental existence of all real things is material. The problem that arises is to explain the existence of spirit and concept. For example, linguistic events have material causal effects, operating purely through conceptual processes, such as when someone does what they are told.

While in theory it may make sense to say the conceptual cause rests upon material causes, in practice the gulf between concept and object appears to be a difference of type. Spiritual freedom exercises autonomy from its material substrate, with the hypothetical causal connections between matter and spirit so complex as to be effectively infinite in complexity.

An example of this complexity is the presence of the past. People's identity is constructed in imagination based on myriad past influences. All these influences come together in the concept of soul as defining an enduring but intangible personal identity.

The material connections between present action or identity and past influences certainly cannot be discerned in any exhaustive way, whereas seeing the influence of the past in purely conceptual and spiritual terms can often generate plausible understanding. Materialism is not sufficient to explain history, although reductive accounts such as class struggle provide important information. The sense of subjective inner meaning within spiritual ideas has to be respected alongside material explanations.

As a broad example of the problem, I regard the influences of astronomical beliefs on ancient religion as ultimately requiring material explanation based on evidence and logic, in the sense that these causal processes are entirely within our physical world rather than caused by any supernatural entity. Even if the spiritual belief seems completely separate from material causes, that does not mean in principle that anything actually exists that is not material. This question of whether anything exists other than matter is a bit like asking whether there are other universes, plausible but of limited use. In principle it seems logical to say only matter exists, for example at the level of Einstein's equation between matter and energy.

There is a strong ethical dimension to materialist atheism with its insistence that all claims be justified by evidence and logic, which function as supreme moral principles. The problem is that decisions require value judgements which can never be fully explained in material terms, even where the material cause of a decision seems obvious.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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