There have been numerous times (both on these forums and in the larger debate) when the question has come up- is Atheism a religion? Now, as a proud member of the 'Godsquad' (as one of my Atheist-friends have hilariously taken to calling any grouping of religious persons), I can give the short and hopefully definitive answer: No, Atheism is not a religion.
I have also many times seen Atheists be perplexed, bemused, annoyed and frustrated by claims from some on the religious side that Atheism is “in fact” a religion. I would like to propose a possible reason for this incorrect claim repeatedly popping up:
Some Atheists share many of the same characteristics found in the so-called 'religiots'.
To back up my hypothesis, I have compiled a non-exhaustive list as to why I make this statement. Like “religiots” are with their religious views, many Atheists:
1) Hold the position that they are the sole proprietors and vendors of "the truth" and that if only the world was as they wanted it, everyone and everything would be better off.
2) Have the mentality that if another person is not an Atheist, then they are to be shunned, derided and ridiculed mercilessly, until they change their ways. They will gladly gang up on, spur each other on and applaud each other’s endeavors in order to achieve this. Should the religious person then change their ways, they are welcomed into the fold with a pat on the back and a sympathetic arm around the shoulders. (Is this not a “conversion”?)
3) Have formed global groups such as http://www.atheistalliance.org/ to help support the spread of Atheism. Here, I use “the spread of Atheism” in the sense of the drive to support the increase in the Atheist demographic, as per AAI’s president. (AAI curiously lists “Freedom from discrimination” as item number 5 under their list of values, but also states that part of its “mission and vision” is to confront religious faith. The dictionary definition of confront is to “Meet (someone) face to face with hostile or argumentative intent”. Once again, it speaks of the mindset that their movement proclaims freedom from discrimination, defined as the “unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things”, as long as you are on their side, see #2 above.)
4) Follow the teachings of other better-read and more famous Atheists almost blindly and all-too willingly will regurgitate and follow their instructions. An example of this is the increase in the hostility which Atheists have been showing towards the religious after being instructed to, as for example per #3 above. Dawkins also famously instructs this at nearly every opportunity he gets.
5) Hold and attend rallies in order to “advance secularism (in the broadest sense of the word) in society” (taken from the ironically named http://reasonrally.org/about/ [by the way, their website reads like it is Mighty Men for Atheists!] )
6) Perform charitable works not because of altruism, but in the name of Atheism (www.atheistvolunteers.org for example states right at the very top of their website “doing good in the name of atheism”).
7) Will revert to name calling and off-the-ball tactics to illicit a response from the religious, for nothing else but entertainment value.
8) Will gladly part with wads of their hard-earned cash to buy merchandise from vendors supporting the Atheist cause. (http://www.atheistalliance.org/store , http://www.thearrogantatheist.com/ , http://www.rationalresponders.com/buy_amazon_through_these_links_support_online_atheism , http://evolvefish.com/ a quick Google search yields many more).
So, next time some “religiot” calls Atheism a religion, ask yourself if your actions are contributing to their ignorance.
PS. I am sure that other commentators can add to this list and I sincerely hope for some contributions from our resident Atheists!
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