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Sure, Atheism Is a Religion, to which Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos Seek Converts
Evolution News and Views ^ | October 28, 2014 | David Klinghoffer

Posted on 10/29/2014 5:35:22 AM PDT by Heartlander

Sure, Atheism Is a Religion, to which Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos Seek Converts

David Klinghoffer October 28, 2014 1:46 PM | Permalink

Some Twitter correspondents objected to my comment, in connection with our new book The Unofficial Guide to Cosmos, that "Cosmos is not appropriate for public schools, where you're not supposed to advocate any religion, including atheism."

But of course Tyson-style atheism counts as a religion. As I'm hardly the first to say, it has almost all the trimmings that religions commonly do: An account of origins (panspermia and Darwinian evolution), a philosophical commitment to a certain way of understanding of what the fundamental substrate of reality is (materialism), a conversionary agenda (the whole point of Cosmos, now launched into the public schools), warnings of an apocalyptic future for the unrepentant (see our chapters on Episodes 11 and 12 of Cosmos).

Atheist counselors in the role of clergy are rare, but they exist. "Humanist chaplain" Bart Campolo at the University of Southern California has praised Neil deGrasse Tyson for being as "inspiring as any preacher I've heard."

A primary purpose behind the Cosmos series was to cast a rival faith, Christianity, in a bad light, as "anti-science." One religion throwing dirt at another faith -- you've never heard of such a thing before? Not least when it comes to science, atheists have increasingly assumed the role of censors and inquisitors -- even as other religions in the West have learned to live tolerantly, even lovingly with fellow citizens who disagree with them.

Every religion tells a story that frames its worldview. So does atheism. Cosmos unspools that narrative over the course of its 13 episodes. What's missing?

A stand-in for God, a god, or gods? Not every religion has one. So again, what exactly qualifies atheism for an exemption here? That it's proved by science? That is the claim of atheist apologetics, but the fact that some people claim it doesn't make it true. You don't get to cite one dubious atheist assertion as evidence in support of another dubious atheist assertion.

As Casey Luskin has shown in the past, courts have treated atheism as religion as well, and reasonably so ("For First Amendment Purposes, Is Atheism a Religion?").

Atheists who think their faith deserves the special treatment of being exempted from categorization among other faiths need to argue more persuasively for their insistence on that point.

I'm on Twitter. Follow me @d_klinghoffer.



TOPICS: Education; Religion; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: atheismandstate; atheistsupremacist; evolution; fundamentalatheism; thenogodgod
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Want More Misinformation from the Creators of Cosmos? Use the Official Cosmos Study Guides!


1 posted on 10/29/2014 5:35:22 AM PDT by Heartlander
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To: Heartlander

I think it is of the utmost importance that government define environmentalism as a religion!

That is the only way we will ever get the environmental propaganda out of our schools!


2 posted on 10/29/2014 5:37:09 AM PDT by TexasFreeper2009 (Obama lied .. the economy died.)
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To: Heartlander

Some atheists even meet on Sundays at gatherings singing songs & showing the hallmarks of a budding religion.


3 posted on 10/29/2014 5:40:20 AM PDT by Republican1795.
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To: Republican1795.

They’re called Unitarian Universalists.


4 posted on 10/29/2014 5:41:55 AM PDT by elcid1970 ("I am a radicalized infidel.")
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To: Heartlander
No, I'm sorry, atheism isn't "another kind of religion." Now, there are some atheists who develop a system that looks rather like religion, but atheism itself is simply atheism.

As for this particular bit of opinion, attempting to explain origins is not evidence of religion, neither is worrying about possible outcomes. It's silly to try and re-cast everything as "just another version of what I believe, simply not the correct one." It's a childish game.

5 posted on 10/29/2014 5:45:36 AM PDT by A_perfect_lady
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To: A_perfect_lady

Sorry. It takes just as much (or more) faith to believe in no god as it does to believe in Him.
Atheism is a religion - just like Communism was.


6 posted on 10/29/2014 5:50:38 AM PDT by Little Ray (How did I end up in this hand-basket, and why is it getting so hot?)
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To: A_perfect_lady

Get back to me when you figure out what happened before time began - and what that concept even means. Or how about this, what is one centimeter beyond the end of all space? And what does that even mean?

And what is the difference between nothing, and everything.

Humans are not even smart enough to ask the most important questions, let alone give the answers, as to how all of this exists without a God outside our constraints of time and space.

To believe otherwise is a religion, whether it’s organized or not.


7 posted on 10/29/2014 5:54:00 AM PDT by C. Edmund Wright (www.FireKarlRove.com NOW)
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To: Heartlander

Atheists cannot prove that there is no God, they have to take it on faith.


8 posted on 10/29/2014 5:56:54 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: Yo-Yo

Nature abhors a vacuum?

The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.

I prefer atheists to muslims. Atheists worship themselves, muslims worship satan.

It is easier to re-direct a belief system that is not hard wired into satan worship. Just my opinion. In the end we will all stand before God. Most people will not like it.


9 posted on 10/29/2014 6:03:17 AM PDT by the anti-mahdi
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To: Republican1795.
Some atheists even meet on Sundays at gatherings singing songs
Not even a month ago in Rochester NY ...'Godless congregation' opens in RochesterSo there it is ... 54 years old and has never been happy or had other humans be friendly to him. Oy.
10 posted on 10/29/2014 6:06:33 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Republican1795.

Sounds sort of like how islam started.


11 posted on 10/29/2014 6:14:47 AM PDT by NCC-1701 (You have your fear, which might become reality; and you have Godzilla, which IS reality.)
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To: Heartlander

“Every religion tells a story that frames its worldview. So does atheism”

So does Star Trek. But I’m not praying to Mr. Spock either.


12 posted on 10/29/2014 6:23:03 AM PDT by BigCinBigD (...Was that okay?)
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To: Yo-Yo

“Atheists cannot prove that there is no God...”

You cannot prove a negative. That is why agnosticism is a more logical system than atheism.


13 posted on 10/29/2014 6:26:45 AM PDT by VietVet (I am old enough to know who I am and what I believe, and I 'm not inclined to apologize for any of)
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To: VietVet
"You cannot prove a negative."

Sure you can in many instances. I can prove I don't have a pistol in my front left pocket by turning the pocket inside out. In this instance, however, you can't prove or disprove the existence of God. This is by definition as God transcends the empirical bounds which restrain the concept of "science" or "reason". "Finitum non capax infinitium." Each side to the argument must rely on trying to establish the greatest probability for their position.

14 posted on 10/29/2014 6:40:19 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: Republican1795.
Some atheists even meet on Sundays at gatherings singing songs & showing the hallmarks of a budding religion.

Years ago I attended a Sunday morning get together at a Unitarian/Universalist "church".I learned that there are *some* atheists who feel a strange need to fill their Sunday mornings with strange rituals.

15 posted on 10/29/2014 6:43:44 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Islamophobia;The Irrational Fear Of Being Beheaded)
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To: Heartlander
…atheism isn't exempt from analysis or critique of its real world consequences. Atheism is a metaphysical stance -- there are no gods and no God, there is no intrinsic purpose to existence, there is no natural moral law, there is no accountability in an afterlife. Those are quite explicit and consequential assertions, just as the negation of those assertions -- that there is a God, that there is a purpose to existence... -- is an explicit and consequential assertion. Atheism lacks liturgy. It does not lack beliefs and consequences. It lacks belief in God; it does not lack belief in the intrinsic consequences of God's non-existence. As Nietzsche emphatically noted, if God is dead, everything changes.

...atheism is to sin as alcoholism is to angst. Stupor-- metaphysical or medicinal-- is a denial of reality and a denial of consequences, which feels good for an evening or a weekend.
- Michael Egnor

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First, nihilism can’t condemn Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or those who fomented the Armenian genocide or the Rwandan one. If there is no such thing as “morally forbidden,” then what Mohamed Atta did on September 11, 2001, was not morally forbidden. Of course, it was not permitted either. But still, don’t we want to have grounds to condemn these monsters? Nihilism seems to cut that ground out from under us.

Second, if we admit to being nihilists, then people won’t trust us. We won’t be left alone when there is loose change around. We won’t be relied on to be sure small children stay out of trouble.

Third, and worst of all, if nihilism gets any traction, society will be destroyed. We will find ourselves back in Thomas Hobbes’s famous state of nature, where “the life of man is solitary, mean, nasty, brutish and short.” Surely, we don’t want to be nihilists if we can possibly avoid it. (Or at least, we don’t want the other people around us to be nihilists.)

Scientism can’t avoid nihilism. We need to make the best of it. For our own self-respect, we need to show that nihilism doesn’t have the three problems just mentioned—no grounds to condemn Hitler, lots of reasons for other people to distrust us, and even reasons why no one should trust anyone else. We need to be convinced that these unacceptable outcomes are not ones that atheism and scientism are committed to. Such outcomes would be more than merely a public relations nightmare for scientism. They might prevent us from swallowing nihilism ourselves, and that would start unraveling scientism.

To avoid these outcomes, people have been searching for scientifically respectable justification of morality for least a century and a half. The trouble is that over the same 150 years or so, the reasons for nihilism have continued to mount. Both the failure to find an ethics that everyone can agree on and the scientific explanation of the origin and persistence of moral norms have made nihilism more and more plausible while remaining just as unappetizing.
- A.Rosenberg, The Atheist Guide to Reality, ch.5

______________
______________

Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates.

The physical facts fix all the facts. The mind is the brain. It has to be physical and it can’t be anything else, since thinking, feeling, and perceiving are physical process—in particular, input/output processes—going on in the brain. We can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain. The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives. It excludes the very possibility of enduring persons, selves, or souls that exist after death or for that matter while we live. (….)

The neural circuits in our brain manage the beautifully coordinated and smoothly appropriate behavior of our body. They also produce the entrancing introspective illusion that thoughts really are about stuff in the world. This powerful illusion has been with humanity since language kicked in, as we’ll see. It is the source of at least two other profound myths: that we have purposes that give our actions and lives meaning and that there is a person “in there” steering the body, so to speak. To see why we make these mistakes and why it’s so hard to avoid them, we need to understand the source of the illusion that thoughts are about stuff.
-Rosenberg, The Atheist's Guide To Reality, ch.9


16 posted on 10/29/2014 6:44:46 AM PDT by Heartlander (Prediction: Increasingly, logic will be seen as a covert form of theism. - Denyse O’Leary)
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To: circlecity

No scientist,or group of scientists,will ever be able to prove...or disprove...the existence of God.


17 posted on 10/29/2014 6:45:32 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Islamophobia;The Irrational Fear Of Being Beheaded)
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To: Gay State Conservative
"No scientist,or group of scientists,will ever be able to prove...or disprove...the existence of God."

And that's by definition. An infinite being cannot be "proved" by finite standards or methods.

18 posted on 10/29/2014 6:50:17 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: A_perfect_lady
No, I'm sorry, atheism isn't "another kind of religion."

Atheism makes a positive statement concerning the metaphysical. That makes it a religion. Agnosticism, however, is not a religion.

19 posted on 10/29/2014 6:50:20 AM PDT by cizinec ( For the Republic!)
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To: circlecity

Scientism is very odd. “We study X. Nothing outside X exists.”

How would they know, since they don’t study anything outside X?

They could reasonably say, “We study X. We do not know what outside X exists and have no opinion of it.”


20 posted on 10/29/2014 6:55:54 AM PDT by cizinec ( For the Republic!)
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