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Is atheism a religion?

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Mr. P
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

What are your thoughts?
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LanDroid
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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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DWill
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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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LanDroid
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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:
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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
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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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DB Roy
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

geo wrote:
You'll have to explain why materialism is "not a workable philosophy."
I just listed two sources.
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Robert Tulip
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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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Re: Is atheism a religion?

Book worm wrote:Is it?
No.
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Chris OConnor
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

Atheism is the lack of belief in a God or gods. There are no doctrines, churches, leaders, rules, shared beliefs, etc...
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DB Roy
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

Robert Tulip wrote:
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.
Just as fossils present a problem to the creationist, consciousness presents a problem to the materialist. In short, it would be far better for creationism if fossils didn't exist and far better for materialism if consciousness didn't exist. But materialism pulls something that creationism can't--it denies the problem exists. That is, materialism goes so far as to say that consciousness doesn't exist while creationism cannot say that fossils don't exist. To get around the problem of consciousness existing, materialism states that consciousness is produced by the material particles and their interactions in the brain. The problem of why these particles and their interactions should result in this strange inner life of consciousness the materialist can't explain. This is famously known as the Hard Problem of Consciousness: why do we need this inner life at all? When you need to eat, for example, you get this feeling of being "hungry." Why? Why couldn't you have a sensor that monitors your digestive system that sends a signal to your brain that then blindly institutes the process of finding and consuming food for nourishment? Why is there a "me" that feels "hungry"?

So, to get around the Hard Problem of Consciousness, some materialists have postulated panpsychism. In this view, ALL matter is conscious to some degree. It's simply a property of particles no different than charge, mass or spin. This means that any inanimate object--a rock, a baseball, a thermometer, a set of fingernail clippers--all have, to some degree, this same inner life. You can believe that if you want to but I see no evidence of it and isn't evidence exactly what the the materialist claims to deal in?

Materialism holds that while the external world is real, the reality we think we see around us is an illusion. The external world is nothing more than electromagnetic waves that enter our brains through our sense-organs and that our brains construct into a mini-copy in our heads. We can never have direct access to the outside world. So you may be reading these words on your computer or phone but what you see in your head is not the computer or phone that actually exists in the world outside your head but is merely a copy. The outside world has no color or smell or taste or sound or feel. It is utterly devoid of qualities. It is just mathematical wave functions apparently.

Why does materialism believe this? Because it has to. Since matter is all that exists and consciousness is nothing more than a configuration of matter represented as the brain which is inside the skull, then ALL the subjective attributes that we give to the signals that come in from outside through the sense-organs can ONLY be in the brain inside the skull and nowhere else! The world you see around you is literally inside your head because it cannot be anywhere else! Whatever is outside your head is unknowable and cannot be directly sensed. So, there are two realities in materialism: the unknowable outside one that has no color, shape, smell, sound, feel or taste and the one you perceive inside your head that gets there via "signals" of an apparent electromagnetic wave. External reality is an abstract nothing that gets "filled in" once it passes to the brain via the sense-organs creating an internal hallucination, as it were.

Is this hallucination trustworthy? No. Your inner world-copy is inherently untrustworthy. Suppose your materialist self is walking through the veldt and you come upon a lion. Now, sure, you're looking at a brain-generated image of a lion but there is some kind of corresponding predator in the outside world that your brain is copying. But how accurate is the image? We know that when we sense a dangerous situation, our brains tend to distort reality for our survival benefit. Distort how? By eliminating objects and colors that might inhibit our ability to see the danger. To see the lion, we don't want to see bright green trees and glorious yellow grass and a brilliant sun, we want to filter all that out so that we can see the lion and what it is doing. Our brains actually do act this way and so it must be with the world-copies the materialist brain creates in our heads--it makes biased copies. But the very concept of materialism is formulated from this biased, distorted, limited world-copy!! Suppose you are studying a microbe in a water droplet under a microscope. Your perception of the microbe is distorted--its shape, color, movements, habits, any attributes we notice about it cannot be right because the microscope is made from materials we perceive imperfectly to form a viewing machine we perceive imperfectly providing images that we also perceive imperfectly in a distorted world-copy that we also get the very philosophy of materialism from. So, by materialism's own rules we can't be sure of anything including materialism itself.

So, in materialism, there is no immediate experience of the outside world because we can never directly sense the outside world and what we do sense is essentially a hallucination. It holds that the stars and galaxies we see through telescopes are really inside our heads and even looking directly at the stars in the night sky doesn't help because those too are in our skulls. It fails to explain consciousness and implies that materialism is itself inherently unreliable.
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LanDroid
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

How do theists or gnostics perceive the world? Do they believe sensory input is direct, unfiltered, and a completely accurate experience of the outside world?
Do they believe our sense organs do not perceive "signals" from the outside world but instead do zero processing with some sort of direct connection?
How they explain human perception of only a thin sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum from say DC to 50 Ghz? Wait, do they even believe there is an electromagnetic spectrum, which could be considered as "signals?"
If theist perceptions are not "biased, distorted, or limited," do they have visual acuity superior to the eagle or sense smell better than a bloodhound?
Or do they believe we do not rely on senses, but instead on direct apprehension?

Sorry, I admit I don't understand where you're going with this...
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Mr. P
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

Just saying... I did not start this useless topic. I think the original poster is since gone from BT.
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Robert Tulip
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

Mr. P wrote:Just saying... I did not start this useless topic.
??? Yes you did.
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Chris OConnor
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Re: Is atheism a religion?

The original poster was banned if I recall. Whoever that was wasn't here for discussion. They made a bunch of weird posts, never answered replies/questions, ignored my private messages, etc.. So now it appears that Mr. P started this discussion because the original poster has been thrown into the Pit of Despair and is no longer with us.
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