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Is it just me or is Atheism a religion?
Philosphy Forum ^ | FR Post 12-6-2003 | "A Sloth"

Posted on 12/05/2003 10:43:11 AM PST by vannrox

This is a subject near to my heart and my own spiritual journey, and I'd like to discuss it with as many intelligent minds as possible as I ponder it. It seems to me as though the most basic, intrinsic aspect of a religious philosophy is faith. I have been talking to a lot of Christians lateley, so I'm not sure if that is the prevailing veiw among people of other persuasions. Anyways, it seems to me as though a religion can really be boiled down to beliving that it is THE answer, and it seems to me as though atheism is no exception.

But this is where I came to realize there many different brands of thought given the title of Atheist, each with their own twists. Here are some categories that i have run across, and my opinion(just roll with me on this one):

Spiritual Atheists Some people claim to be "spiritual" but not "religious," disavowing belief in a god persay in favor of just not thinking about the issue. It sounds just lazy to me. They get the "all good people go to heaven" feeling without defining good, heaven, or even feeling itself. This may work for some, but it seems to lack any real thought into the matter.

Non-Practicing Atheists And there are the "Catholics" like my parents who dont buy a word the church says, but are so afraid of what it means to be atheist that they desperately cling to a religion that offers them no real meaning.

Deist Atheists Some people use Atheism to describe a sense of disbelief in the major established world religions, which to me sounds like it could still be a throwback to the deism of the 18th century. Basically it can be summed up as: There is some kind of god, hes a pretty decent guy, dont be an ass and everything will turn out ok somehow, once again, a little too lazy for me.

Orthodox Atheists Then there are the Atheists so absolutly steadfast in their disbelief in god that they would have made an excellent Christian in another life (THAT's an interesting turn of phase!). They dont buy the proof that the various religions offer, but the seem to narrowmindedly rule out any possiblities except absolute soulless oblivion. I have a friend like this, and i have yet to figure out how he can 100% FOR SURE rule out a higher power of any type...

Agnostics This is the only one that really makes sense to me. I mean, maybe there's a god. Probably not one of the big religion's vengeful, mythical "gods" with their spotty and doubtfully accurate "historical records," I doubt reincarnation that doesnt work well with the increasing entropy of the universe, and the evidence for it is even less credible than the rest ... But prove to me god's not just hiding...

Thats where i'm at right now. I would appreciate any input, even religious propaganda. I want to know the truth, even if it means the complete destruction of my current schema for faith.

I would even go so far as to recommend two such books, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, to anyone who is openminded enough to consider Christianity. I almost bought into it after reading those, but to me, there are still holes (i'll probably talk about those later) If your already Christian, they will strengthen your faith, and if not, they will rock your world...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
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Interesting and open for conjecture.
1 posted on 12/05/2003 10:43:12 AM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
I don't believe in atheists. There's no such thing.
2 posted on 12/05/2003 10:44:12 AM PST by P8riot (A friend will help you move. A good friend will help you move a body.)
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To: vannrox
Religions aspouse the belief in God(s). Atheists don't believe in God(s). So to answer your question, no it is not a religion.
3 posted on 12/05/2003 10:45:45 AM PST by miloklancy
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To: vannrox
Atheism is a belief, not a religion. IIRC, there are certain specific criteria a belief system must meet to rise to the level of religion. I think a formalize canon is one of them, but there are others if I recall.
4 posted on 12/05/2003 10:45:46 AM PST by RogueIsland
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To: P8riot
I don't believe in atheists. There's no such thing.

...and I refuse to decide on the existance of agnostics...

5 posted on 12/05/2003 10:46:04 AM PST by danneskjold
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To: vannrox
comment later
6 posted on 12/05/2003 10:47:03 AM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: danneskjold
existance existence

damn

7 posted on 12/05/2003 10:47:07 AM PST by danneskjold
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To: vannrox
Is Buddhism a "religion"? As I understand it there's no God like figure, nor any stories about how the universe was created. Is that a prerequisite for a religion?
8 posted on 12/05/2003 10:47:49 AM PST by lelio
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To: vannrox
It is not a religion, but it is a religious belief. Therefore it's subject to the same restrictions on government support or inhibition as any other.

-Eric

9 posted on 12/05/2003 10:47:58 AM PST by E Rocc (You might be a liberal if.....a proctologist helps you figure out where your head is at.)
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To: miloklancy
Religions aspouse the belief in God(s). Atheists don't believe in God(s). So to answer your question, no it is not a religion.

Really? Does a religion need to have a (singular) God? Is not a "belief structure" enough to qualify?

10 posted on 12/05/2003 10:50:59 AM PST by skraeling
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To: vannrox
Atheism is just what it says..."a" lack of.... "theism" belief in a God. Atheists generally do not congregate for purpose of furthering their beliefs and for the most part are not organized in any definitive body. (although there are splinter groups dedicated to atheistic principles from state to state)It's just a philosophy like any other.
11 posted on 12/05/2003 10:52:02 AM PST by stanz (Those who don't believe in evolution should go jump off the flat edge of the Earth.)
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To: vannrox
I agree with the premise: atheists do in fact have belief -- in nothing.

An aside: there is a group known as the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" based in the People's Republic of Madison, Wisconsin. Every year in reaction to the Christmas tree placed in the rotunda lobby of the State Capitol building, FFRF has taken to placing a sign proclaiming there is no God, there is no religion, blahblah blahblah blah blah.

It was either last Christmas or the one previous when someone apparently removed the sign.

FFRF went ape-bananas. Why, they even wrote and issued a scathing Press Release calling for, in part, the return of their sign, as well as denouncing the "theft."

How's that for irony? In the world they've invented, one that is free of religion, they balk at a "theft" of their sign.

When's the last time you read a Press Release from a young wolf when the alpha male makes off with its prey?

What it is that FFRF, atheists et al worship and revere is "no religion."

But even that so-called "nothing" therefore exists, created by its proponents.
12 posted on 12/05/2003 10:54:48 AM PST by Chummy (Billary in Baghdad was for Political Purposes)
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To: vannrox
Put me down as an Orthodox atheist.
"...absolutly steadfast in their disbelief in god ...."

That includes any/all gods; christian, hindu, budhist, greek, or egyptian. They are all the same to me.
13 posted on 12/05/2003 10:55:01 AM PST by familyofman
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To: skraeling
Note the use of (s) after the word God, hence referring to polytheists and monotheists. Many polytheistic forms of mysticism have a belief structure as you term it, which involves the influence of it's multiple Gods.
14 posted on 12/05/2003 10:55:23 AM PST by miloklancy
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To: P8riot
Don't you mean there is no scientific proof?
15 posted on 12/05/2003 10:55:57 AM PST by looscnnn ("Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils" Gen. John Stark 1809)
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To: vannrox
BTTT

read later...
16 posted on 12/05/2003 10:57:20 AM PST by EdReform (Support Free Republic - Become a Monthly Donor)
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To: vannrox
Is it just me or is Atheism a religion?

It's just you.
17 posted on 12/05/2003 10:58:38 AM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: whattajoke
Here in CT, basketball is referred to as a religion on a daily basis in print or on the radio.

18 posted on 12/05/2003 11:00:37 AM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: vannrox
The central questions that any worldview must answer:

1) Creation - Where did we come from and who are we?
2) Fall - What has gone wrong with the world?
3) Redemption - What can we do to fix it?


From: How Now Shall We Live by Chuck Colsen

Even an atheist has answers to these question.
19 posted on 12/05/2003 11:03:42 AM PST by PeterPrinciple
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To: vannrox; miloklancy; lelio; skraeling
The word "religion" is rather too amorphous.
I prefer to speak of a person's "World and Life View". [or in German, his/her Weltenshaung (sorry if I spelled it wrong)], or just "world view"

EVERYONE has a world view. Whether he be an athiest, agnostic, evangelical Christian, Buddhist, etc.
World views can be evaluated and judged on various criteria:

1) consistency and coherence
2) whether it comports with what we know and understand about humans and the world around us. (e.g. any world view that denies that there is any good and evil could be immediate suspect because all humans act as if there is such a thing as good and evil, and act as if there is an external moral code)
3) can this world view be lived out in community with other people? (solipsism clearly is unliveable in society--every person who considers himself a solipsist yet lives and acts as if other people really do exist, etc.)

This gets around the semantic issues of what qualifies as a "religion". So think in terms of "world view" which we can equate with the word "religion" used quite broadly.
20 posted on 12/05/2003 11:04:25 AM PST by fqued (Oh where, oh where, have the democrats gone? where, oh where, can they be?)
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To: vannrox
Atheism is just a lack of belief in a deity

It is no more a religion that not believing in Santa Claus is a superstition, not playing baseball is a sport, or not building model train sets is a hobby

The "Atheism is a religion" line is nonsensical propaganda promoted by theocrats

21 posted on 12/05/2003 11:04:41 AM PST by WackyKat
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To: E Rocc
It is not a religion, but it is a religious belief. Therefore it's subject to the same restrictions on government support or inhibition as any other.

Hubby and I were discussing this a couple of nights ago and we both agreed that since it is a religious belief, therefore it should be classified as a religion.

22 posted on 12/05/2003 11:05:46 AM PST by ravingnutter
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To: vannrox
Is it just me...?

If they pass a collection plate, it's a religion.

23 posted on 12/05/2003 11:05:55 AM PST by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: vannrox
I would even go so far as to recommend two such books, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, to anyone who is openminded enough to consider Christianity. I almost bought into it after reading those, but to me, there are still holes (i'll probably talk about those later) If your already Christian, they will strengthen your faith, and if not, they will rock your world...

Good call! I'll pray for you on your spiritual journey. I hope there are those in your life that are earnestly striving to live the life of a Christian and that you see the difference in their lives. The largest attraction to Christianity are Christians and the largest detraction to Christianity are those that say they are and are not living the life.

24 posted on 12/05/2003 11:10:20 AM PST by Rockitz (After all these years, it's still rocket science.)
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To: vannrox
I remember reading within the last month or two that people are developing their own "personal religions" in the sense they base their belief and formulate their "doctrine" on their own experiences rather than historical text or some type of church history. Athesists are no different. Even they have a variety of opinions.
25 posted on 12/05/2003 11:11:16 AM PST by HarleyD
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To: PeterPrinciple
1) Creation - Where did we come from and who are we?

Gee, our parents?
And aren't we what we make of ourselves? If not, why not?

2) Fall - What has gone wrong with the world?

You want to be a little more specific about that?

3) Redemption - What can we do to fix it?

What do you want to "fix"?
And what do you mean "we", Kemosabe?

26 posted on 12/05/2003 11:12:11 AM PST by balrog666 (Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.)
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To: vannrox
If you want to study viruses or learn about distant galaxies you have to adopt the discipline and tools of the microbiologist or astronomer. It is possible to learn of both by studying the writings of experts but that is second-hand knowledge and not at all equal to personal experience. I always think about who I would most want to do brain surgery on me: the man who had read all there was about the subject but never performed an operation or the man who had successfully performed such operations on others. You can take the word of experts that viruses exist or that quasars are real or you can observe them for yourself.

If you want to determine if God is real or not you must undertake the studies and practices of those who say they have achieved first-hand knowledge of His existence. There is no lack of writing about this subject. The trick is to undertake the exercise with an attitude that there may really be something to discover. This is not to say that you have to abandon scepticism and doubt. Doubts need to be addressed and not blindly dismissed or embraced.

If you are serious be prepared to spend a long time at this.
It is unlikely (though not impossible) you will arrive at a final determination in just weeks or months or even a few years.

The real key to all this is to be truthful about the quest. You have to excercise total honesty with yourself and about yourself. No idea is beyond the most ruthless examination and, if found wanting, must be modified or discarded regardless of how dearly held.

Real saints are few and far between. Real saints are those who know God IS. But then real scientists or real authorities on any subject tend to be rare as well.

27 posted on 12/05/2003 11:12:57 AM PST by scory
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To: vannrox
By imposing their religious beliefs - atheism, agnosticism they are able to exclusively promote their religious beliefs.

They have tricked the state into promoting religion.

A single religion above all others.


28 posted on 12/05/2003 11:14:27 AM PST by Kay Soze (Liberal Homosexuals kill more people than Global Warming, SUVsí, Firearms & Terrorism combined.)
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To: miloklancy
Religions aspouse the belief in God(s). Atheists don't believe in God(s). So to answer your question, no it is not a religion.

Further evidence for my theory that liberals don't own dictionaries.

Main Entry: re·li·gion Pronunciation: ri-'li-j&n Function: noun Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back -- more at RELY Date: 13th century 1 a : the state of a religious b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance 2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices 3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS 4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith - re·li·gion·less adjective

Atheism is a religion, they just hate to admit it. Until you can PROVE God does not exist then you're working in the realm of faith my friend.

29 posted on 12/05/2003 11:15:21 AM PST by highlander_UW
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To: whattajoke
I'll bite...

Another way to look at these discussions is to replace the term 'God' with another term, such as 'invisible purple monkey'. This is not meant as a slight to the religious, but is a healthy way to handle these types of discussions...

So, is a disbelief in these creatures a religion of its own? If so, most of us must belong, although I have to admit I have missed the last few meetings.
30 posted on 12/05/2003 11:16:33 AM PST by warpsmith
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To: vannrox
One God. One morality. Decency toward others. Deed over creed.
31 posted on 12/05/2003 11:19:02 AM PST by onedoug
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To: WackyKat
Atheism can be a religion. Just as Star Trek can be a religion. If you become so consumed with the defense of atheism that it defines your life you in a sense worship. Worship, hommage, whatever is not limited to supernatural beings. This is what idolatry is all about. I don't see how you can practice idolatry and be a devout atheist. :)
32 posted on 12/05/2003 11:20:21 AM PST by Naspino (I am in no way associated with the views expressed in your posts.)
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To: warpsmith
Right. And to date no one has seen the slightest evidence for invisible purple monkeys, so it certainly seems like a religion to me.

33 posted on 12/05/2003 11:22:37 AM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: PeterPrinciple
1) Creation - Where did we come from and who are we?

Energy level of the universe is zero (positive + negative = 0), and universes happen all the time. We are in a hospitable part of a hospitable universe.

2) Fall - What has gone wrong with the world?

Nothing. Life/universe/nature is not good or evil. Lions eat deer. Life happens.

3) Redemption - What can we do to fix it?

Nothing. Enjoy it while you can. Vote Republican. Give to your favorite charity.
34 posted on 12/05/2003 11:22:46 AM PST by warpsmith
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To: All
Btw, to those of you here who are pushing for "Atheism" or non theism (my term) to be declared "religions," um, think about GWB's "Faith based initiative" and all the fun atheists could have with that.

Not to mention the tax implications.

Hmmm... gets me thinking...
35 posted on 12/05/2003 11:24:21 AM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: lelio
Buddha had nothing to say about a God, for or against. But the philosophy has credos, rituals, prayers and a way to live the best you can. Taoism has no God, although there are human Immortals, there is a belief in a encompassing void, The Tao. Both are religions to me.

Agnoticism originally meant that God is too awesome to be proven, so why bother. It was changed to God may or may not exist.
I have a friend who claims he is an Atheist and does not believe in a religious God. But he DOES believe in flying saucers and advanced civilizations. So he has a religion , of sorts.
36 posted on 12/05/2003 11:25:21 AM PST by catonsville
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To: skraeling
>>>Really? Does a religion need to have a (singular) God? Is not a "belief structure" enough to qualify?<<<


From American Heritage Dictionary:

RELIGION: An organized system of beliefs centering on a supernatural being or beings.

ATHEISM: Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God.


Atheists have a belief (such as it is), but they do not have a "religion".

Funny enough though, Satanists have a religion, yet they are atheists because they do not believe in God (satan is a fallen angel)
37 posted on 12/05/2003 11:26:45 AM PST by Roughneck (". . .For there is going to come a time when people won't listen to the truth. . .")
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To: highlander_UW
Until you can PROVE God does not exist then you're working in the realm of faith my friend.

I may be crazy but if one claims the existence of something, the burden of proof is therefore on the claimant. YOU state something exists, YOU show me. I state something DOESN'T exist, how in the hell am I going to show THAT to you?!

A more illustrative example since I have a feeling you'll think me nuts...

Bob: "I believe man-eating papayas exist."
Joe: "I don't, as I've never seen such things."

Now, which guy would have to show evidence for his contention? This ain't rocket science!
38 posted on 12/05/2003 11:28:59 AM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: vannrox
It's just you. I'm sure you can find evangelical atheists like Murry, but you can also find psychopaths claiming to be religious. That is a personality disorder, not a religion.
39 posted on 12/05/2003 11:29:00 AM PST by js1138
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To: vannrox
Romans 1:18-23 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like the corruptible man - and birds and four footed animals and creeping things.
40 posted on 12/05/2003 11:31:08 AM PST by Luke (u)
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To: fqued
>>>So think in terms of "world view" which we can equate with the word "religion" used quite broadly.<<

I have to disagree. It is world (worldly) view, that atheists embrace. Whatever one's religion, or which God they worship, it is doen through a spiritual view.

My particular God (of Abraham, Issac and Joseph), tells me not to love the world or become attached to worldly things, I can not take the "world view" that may encompass atheists or satanic beliefs and expect to get into heaven.

41 posted on 12/05/2003 11:31:38 AM PST by Roughneck (". . .For there is going to come a time when people won't listen to the truth. . .")
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To: highlander_UW
Atheism is a religion, they just hate to admit it. Until you can PROVE God does not exist then you're working in the realm of faith my friend.

Prove Santa doesn't exist. If you go up to the North Pole and find nothing I'll just say he's hanging out on Mars for the summer.
42 posted on 12/05/2003 11:32:33 AM PST by lelio
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To: vannrox
I don't have enough faith to be an atheist,
I also don't have enough faith to be an environmentalist either.

Of course, Is environmentalism a religion, is a topic for another thread.

43 posted on 12/05/2003 11:33:38 AM PST by NeoCaveman (Hey hey, ho ho, Barbara Boxer has to go!)
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To: vannrox
The author missed "Evangelical Atheists" as firm in their faith as the orthodox ones but also try to convert people and get the word G-d taken off of everything.
44 posted on 12/05/2003 11:35:04 AM PST by NeoCaveman (Hey hey, ho ho, Barbara Boxer has to go!)
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To: vannrox
If it's NOT a religion, can Congress make a law respecting an establishment of non-religious belief -- and outlaw atheism? Or ban its practice from public grounds (all government schools must have a religious charter)?

It's one or the other, isn't it? A protected religion, or a form of speech. Sure, speech is protected, but the government is allowed quite of bit of latitude in matters of what speech it is allowed to engage in and promote (but not religion).

45 posted on 12/05/2003 11:35:13 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (France delenda est)
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To: vannrox
First, atheism is a philosophy and not a religion. Religion is the worship of a supernatural power.

There are two main types of religion: hedonistic or sacrificial. Buddhism, Hinduism, animism are all hedonistic (no restrictions or tests of worthiness to the creator). Islam, as I know it, is a mixture of hedonism and sacrifice. Islam seems to embrace violent jihad to spread itself, a throwback to our violent and evil natures. Judaism/Christianity, in a strict sense, is entirely sacrificial; it demands you deny your nature and be altruistic AT ALL TIMES.

The fact is--and nowhere is this seriously disputed--the universe did not generate itself. In fact, this fact is the foundation of science (Law of conservation, 1st Law I believe *don't quote). Therefore, if something extra-universal created the universe, then maybe It did so for a reason and that is what you must discover.

My best theory so far is that we subtract our qualities by our pre-consciousness ancestors to equal the direct endowment from the Creator. Interestingly, Christianity fits those qualities (IE controlling hedonism, violence, dependance on "feelings.") I was never raised Christian so I don't have any pre-logic conditioning to tell me it is right.

But the key is also to never become complacent. If you don't find what you are looking for in this thread, keep searching. And even if something "feels" good, keep questioning.

46 posted on 12/05/2003 11:35:21 AM PST by Loc123
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To: vannrox
"Is it just me or is Atheism a religion?"

Nope. Atheism is not a religion at all. It is simply a disbelief in deities.

That said, there are some atheists who display the attributes of a religious fanatic. These are a very, very small minority of atheists, however.

For most of us, our atheism is not a daily part of our lives or thought processes. We just don't believe in any deities.

We go about out lives and do pretty much what everyone else does. We don't try to convert anyone to atheism...that would be ridiculous, because we don't care whether you believe or disbelieve.

It's not a religion. There's no doctrine of atheism. There are no gatherings where atheists come together to celebrate their atheism. I guess there are a few small groups that meet to discuss the subject, but most atheists wouldn't ever bother with such a thing. There's too much to do, and what would you discuss.

The only central thesis of the atheist is a disbelieve in deities and other supernatural entities. Atheists may be conservatives, liberals, fascists, communists, or holders of every other possible political philosophy.

But atheism simply isn't a religion. It's just a disbelief, nothing more.

If you wish to discuss what a particular atheist seems to do or think, then you have a topic for discussion, just as you might discuss the difference between a cloistered Catholic monk and a televangelist. Both declare Christianity, but they're worlds apart.

47 posted on 12/05/2003 11:39:45 AM PST by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: vannrox
Atheism is the lack of theism. That's all it is. Now, there are various philosophies of which atheism is a founding principle or at least a natural result. They have nothing in common other than the atheism, however.

For example, Communism purports to be scientific, and is atheistic. Objectivism is philosophical, and is atheistic. Yet Communism and Objectivism are as opposite as you can get. They have no more in common than an Islamist and a Baptist.

48 posted on 12/05/2003 11:40:09 AM PST by wizardoz (A Republic, if you can keep it.)
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To: vannrox
I pretty much agree. Agnosticism is the non-religious position. Atheism IS a religious faith.
49 posted on 12/05/2003 11:40:28 AM PST by Sloth ("I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" -- Jacobim Mugatu, 'Zoolander')
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To: vannrox; newgeezer
Is it just me or is Atheism a religion?

Hell(bound) yes it is.

50 posted on 12/05/2003 11:40:40 AM PST by biblewonk (I must answer all bible questions.)
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