Freedom of Religion

Atheism Is a Religion

Or at least it requires a God for you not to believe in.

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Oh don't grovel. One thing I can't stand is people groveling.

I didn't know what fire and brimstone was until I made a throwaway claim recently during an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. It seemed pretty unaudacious at the time, but by dropping the simple sentence "Atheism is a religion," I opened a biblical floodgate of ridicule, name-calling, and abuse.

My Twitter feed and Facebook page became engorged with angry responses. "Your adherence into adulthood to what is usually an adolescent phase (Libertarianism), speaks volumes about your confirmation bias levels," wrote Kernan. Touchstone Supertramp added; "Damn girl you got a big forehead." A guy named Kevin and about 70 other people shared this bumper-sticker nugget: "?If atheism is a religion, then off is a TV channel." Liz wrote, "Kennedy, is that if atheism constitutes a religious belief than anorexia is whenever you don't eat." Michael wrote: "re·li·gion /ri?lij?n/ Noun: 1. Whatever Kennedy says it is." That was awesome. Beth called me a minor celebrity and a major troll—and it was also awesome to have somebody think I'm a celebrity.

I was called names and insulted in ways I haven't heard since the first Clinton administration, when leading scientists still believed the Internet was created by Al Gore in only seven days. Although I've missed the barbs, I was surprised at the bitterness that poured from so many disbelievers. And I remain convinced that atheism is, in fact, a religion. 

This is an explicable scientific phenomenon.

Like the Buddha seeking truth, I decided to leave the hostile waters of social networking in search of a scientist with a fresh perspective at the intersection of biology and the divine. Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University whose field of study is neurotheology, the study of the relationship between the brain and religious and spiritual beliefs and experiences.

Newberg and his late partner Eugene D'Aquili mapped various parts of the brain showing activation in specific areas when people were undergoing certain religious rituals or experiences, such as a shaman being in a trance or a Buddhist entering a mystical state. Regardless of the religion, the brain function was the same. Something was happening when these people experienced their version of religious phenomena, and the scans lit up like Robert Redford's suit in The Electric Horseman.

This does not prove God exists, but it does show humans are wired or biologically predisposed to believe in something. When I interviewed him for this article, Newberg said his research demonstrates that "we are wired to have these beliefs about the world, to get at the fundamental stuff the universe is about. For many people, it includes God and for some it doesn't. Your brain is doing its best to understand the world and construct beliefs to understand it, and from an epistemological perspective there is no fundamental difference."

So, whether you make sense of the world as an atheist and don't require the God postulate to complete your understanding, or you are a theist and your feelings and experiences tell you something greater is there, biologically speaking, that big blob of gray Jell-O in our skulls is like a giant arrow pointing us in the same direction. I believe that is delicious. And religious.

Where Newberg and I differ is whether or not you call that universal leaning a religion when it is expressed as atheism. Newberg holds that if by religion you mean a system centered around a belief in a supernatural God, then atheism does not qualify. I contend that if your system is about God—or about the non-existence of God—God is still at the center of the argument's "aboutness." In the spirit of that "off is a TV channel" comment above: God is the TV. Religions are the channels. If it is off, maybe he's dead or disengaged, but at least you admit there's a TV. 

This also helps explain why the argument that libertarianism or the devout love of hockey are also religions fails. Libertarianism is about liberty and hockey is about mullets and pucks. Atheism, on the other hand, is about God and proving such an overpostulated supernatural being does not exist.

Maybe atheism is a religion, maybe not. But Madalyn Murray O'Hair would have made an excellent pope.

The problem doesn't seem to be so much in pinning the term religion on atheism, but defining religion in the first place. No one really wants to do this, and if they do, it's always with heavy qualifications. If you call it this, you have to mean that, blah blah blah. No one I spoke to, from atheist magicians to rockstar wives to philosophy professors, really wanted to take this cloud and pin it down in the examination tray. Even uber-atheist and diehard libertarian Penn Jillette would not give me his own definition of religion. Instead, he told me via email, "It's all in how you define religion—if it's faith, then atheism isn't. If it's theism, then atheism isn't. If it's philosophy, then atheism isn't. If it's a club, then atheism isn't."

This is a descriptive technique that has been used to get at what God is by saying what He isn't; it was first made popular by Maimonedes, who I'm sure would be a fan of Penn's magic as well as his brilliant and now defunct Showtime series, Bullshit!

You know why I love Penn? Because he added this for good measure: "The enemy is not religion, the enemy is faith. Believing something without proof is a fuck you to all the other people on earth." I don't agree with it, but that last part makes me laugh. Good thing we're centering on belief and not faith, or else I'd have to stop and go fuck myself!

When atheists rail against theists (as many did on my Facebook page), they are using the same fervor the religious use when making their claims against a secular society. By calling atheism a religion, I am not trying to craft terms or apply them out of convenience. I just see theists and atheists behaving in the same manner, approaching from opposite ends of the runway. The entire discourse about religion stems from those who think they know more than the other guy. But what we really know is that we don't know much. And we seem to share the same mechanisim in our brains that drives us to make claims of faith and rationalism as a way of making sense of the great unknown.

You can call atheism a belief system, which Newberg guardedly does, or you can make a stronger assertion and say that atheists and theists, who have conveniently developed hate-tinged froth and vitriol for one another, are quacking and waddling in the same way in different ponds. Either way, they are ducks and atheism is a religion. At least it is in the hands of those who are so religious about their disbelief that they place the weight of the argument on the feathery shoulders of their believing brothers and sisters.

Here you have the atheistic religion in a nutshell: superhuman agency, devotion, self-selecting groups of people. Add to that the intense—even religious—zeal with which many atheists defend their claims. Let me tell you: The angriest ones can be as malicious as a coven of Westboro Baptists at a veteran's funeral. Bill Maher himself took five minutes at the end of the next week's show to rant against anyone who would call atheism a religion. He added that you were a moron if you believed this (given what he's called other ladies he disagrees with, I'm thinking I got off pretty easy). 

For a group of ultra-rationalists, the atheists sound downright emotional. I may sound that way too: When I called some of my Twitter/Facebook pen pals "Palins," they became particularly rankled, accused me of circular logic, and called me a Palin, to which I say, "I know you are, but what am I?"

No matter what I said to counter their statements or clarify my thoughts, by and large they refused to give me a fitting definition of religion. Nobody on my Facebook thread could tell me why it was so problematic and offensive to categorize a system of thought adhered to by a group of people about the nonexistence of a supernatural entity as a religion.

Frank Zappa: Atheist or secret Muslim?

I have yet to hear a cogent response to this question: Why is it a problem if someone considers atheism a religion? How does that hurt the atheists' claim? It's not saying you can't believe God does not exist. Knock yourself out! Some of my idols are atheists—false idols, mind you, but certainly shapers of my outlook and worldview. I do thank God for the godless.

Maybe the best treatment on Earth of the question as to whether or not atheism is a religion came from music god Frank Zappa, founder of the Church of American Secular Humanism (CASH). Secular humanism is defined as reason rejecting dogma and supernaturalism, which is a fancy way of saying it's atheists who believe in people and not God. I am down with reason, and although I think I have psychic powers that allow my friends' dead parents to take over my emotions, I respect those who don't believe in the supernatural. It is a lot easier to believe in fewer things than to accept a host of others on faith alone, and humanists are intellectual minimalists. They are the Design Within Reach to Christianity's Shabby Chic, and no one was more ready to clean house than Frank Zappa.

CASH began with an Alabama school textbook court case, where a judge ruled atheism was a religion that was overwhelming the school system and that Christian families deserved equal time in the classroom. Frank called their bluff. If secular humanism is a court-recognized religion, he figured, then be prepared to dole out the tax-exempt rewards along with the after-life punishments! The tenets of the faith were laid out by the judge and Frank jumped on them with devotion. He created CASH and incorporated it in the Yellowhammer State, ready to convert the faithful out of their delusions and handing out T-shirts instead of communion wafers.

Zappa's widow Gail, who has renewed vigor to restart CASH and make a go of it in California, is simply giddy when she defines atheism as "technically a system of disbelief." CASH is not only a corporation but now, thanks to the Supreme Court, officially a person as well, and, as she puts it, "free to marry other religions' non-taxable businesses and enjoy another level of tax freedom." This seems like the best-case scenario. If humanism is a religion, and secular humanists are atheists, then why not create more formal instructional dwellings, label them churches, and lap up the tax-free nectar your peers in Scientology, Mormonism, and Catholicism have been enjoying for years?

As Gail Zappa summed it up to me in a poignant, thoughtful email, "I think it is central to true freedom of expression and true democracy that there be absolute separation of Church and State. Especially in politics, which [Frank] said is the Entertainment Branch of government." My Orthodox priest would probably give me a stern penance for saying this, but I do not have a problem with church-owned businesses paying taxes. I don't know that you have to tax every dime that hits the collection basket, but a blanket exemption seems a little clumsy.

Atheists should embrace their religiosity, recognize the biological component that drives them to make sense of the world like the rest of us, and church it up. As the Man from Galilee once put it, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. If you don't believe in God, then you don't owe him anything. And if my Facebook friends are any indication, you lost your sense of humor ages ago. Which means you atheists may have nothing left to lose but your taxable status.

Kennedy is host of 98.7 FM's Music in the Morning in Los Angeles.

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  1. That’s a weirdly specific definition of religion. It’s also a bad one. Some religions have nothing to do with the idea of God. Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions, has no concept of a divine creator or prime mover. It’s neither atheistic nor theistic, so by your definition, Buddhism is not a religion.

    Dictionary.com lists five definitions of religion. The first mentions superhuman agency, but not as a requirement to be a religion.

    I agree with this definition. Religion is about beliefs and faith.

    1. The first question we need to answer: Is believing that God does not exist the same thing as not believing that God exists? My opinion is that they are not equivalent, but overlapping. One could employ faith in believing that there is no God (despite having no evidence to disprove God’s existence). In that case, both statements would apply. Or one could simply refuse to believe that God does or does not exist, in which case only the latter statement would apply, which is agnosticism, a subset of atheism.

      1. yes…believing or not is EXACTLY the same thing. It is called faith and neither side can either prove itself correct or the other side wrong.

        I think the uproar is based in semantics. Atheists have no use for organized religion and whatever deity it supports, so calling them another form of religion sets them off. We often call environmentalism a religion. There are better things to get wrapped around the axle about.

        1. It is called faith and neither side can either prove itself correct or the other side wrong.

          Well…not practically, but atheism could be proven wrong. It’s simple: show me god. Theism could never be proven wrong, because if I took a believer through the entire universe and couldn’t find god, the theist would claim god exists outside the universe.

          That’s why theism is religious, and atheism is not.

          1. but, that’s the beauty(?) of faith – no one has to actually prove anything. And I suspect a serious believer would “find god” in many things as you two combed the universe.

            This just seems like an exercise in semantics. Believe, don’t believe, whatever. I am content to let adults make their own decisions on this one.

            1. The problem is, Santorum and bin Laden are not content to let adults make their own decision on this one.

              1. Of couse, bin Laden is now fish food, whereas Santorum getting the nomination and then winning the general election against Oh-bumma would probably take an act of God.

                1. “Santorum getting the nomination and then winning the general election”

                  That might get me to believe. Also solves the problem of evil.

              2. The problem is, Santorum and bin Laden are not content to let adults make their own decision on this one.

                Neither were Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao etc.

                All athiests.

                1. There atheism inspired them to do evil things, just like Santorum and Bin Laden!

                  Oh wait… no it didn’t.

                  1. “There(sic) atheism inspired them to do evil things….Oh wait… no it didn’t.”

                    Really? how would you know that? Idiots like you are fond of saying that religion has caused more wars and murder than anything. That is true only if you add the 20th century religion of Atheism.

                    1. Yup, people will find a way to suck regardless of their belief system.

                    2. “That is true only if you add the 20th century religion of Atheism Democracy”

                      Fixed for you. If it weren’t for the silly idea that the average IQ person should get to decide the rulers and that this is the best system of government, to be exported all around the world, there wouldn’t be any socialism today. Democracy inevitably devolves into socialism (esp. after granting women voting rights; women are by nature more emotional than logical).

                      We should all thank American democracy for bringing us Hitler and Stalin. Without America to spread democracy to Europe, the German 2nd Reich and Austria-Hungary would have won WWI and we wouldn’t have had nightmares such as the socialism (Stalin) and nazism (Hitler) which came into existence as perversions of democracy, of the idea that average IQ nobodys rather than the educated nobles should decide who is ruler.

                    3. Poe, surely?

                    4. You’re a fucking retard. Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, and Mao murdered people because they believed doing so was justified by communism. Saying their deeds were caused by atheism is like saying they were caused by being male, or enjoying tea.

                      Every religious war and genocide has been perpetrated in the name of God. Never the lack of God.

                2. So are -or were- Douglas Adams, Mickey Dolenz, Isaac Asimov, Lance Armstrong, Penn Jilette, Hugh Laurie, Bruce Lee, Bob Geldof, Gene Roddenberry, Bill Gates, Jamie Hyneman, John Lennon, Gary Numan, Harlan Ellison, Barry Manilow, Dave Barry, Billy Joel and thousands of other potential destroyers of mank–

                  –no, wait, those are just people you’ve heard of.

              3. Bin Laden I get, but Santorum? Hate him if you will, but don’t be absurd comparing him to B.L. You make yourself look stupid, and convince no one. Whom, pray tell (oops) did Santorum ever kill or have killed for not believing as he does? Think before you post.

          2. Many atheists with scientific training are unable to refute God within the boundaries of the universe, because the “anthropic principle” makes the universe look as if it had been designed. These atheists, in order to eliminate the possibility of God, go outside the universe and posit infinite parallel universes.

            1. The weak anthropic principle replies to “Why is the universe so finely adjusted to allow us to exist?” with “If it weren’t, you wouldn’t be asking.” That doesn’t require parallel universes.

              1. Reminds me of a joke:

                Guy comes home early, finds a naked man in his wife’s bedroom. He asks, “what are you doing here?” and the naked man replies, “everybody has to be someplace!”

                So the guy’s suspicions are put to rest.

            2. And the rest of us simply say its completely expected that we would end up fine-tuned FOR THE UNIVERSE.

              1. Your way of thinking completely destroys the fun of the movie
                “The Hangover.”

                “I don’t know *why* I woke up missing a tooth and with a tiger in the bathroom, but it makes no difference how it happened, since the universe was clearly fine-tuned to produce precisely that result!

                “So what’s for dinner?”

                1. Eduard that’s fucking retarded.

                  The atheist would say “Due to the chaotic nature of the universe, a series of natural events led to you being here and in the state that you are in, which are currently unknown to me.”

                  The intelligent designer would say “A super-powered alien conspired to bring you here in the state that you are in because that is His Plan.”

                  Which one makes more sense?

                  1. As much sense as saying “particles did these things and came together and now we have universe”. Sounds eerily similar to something in the beginning of a religious text…

            3. And the anthropic principle negates the idea that the universe was designed, it doesn’t “make the universe look as if it had been designed.”

              1. As I admit below, I confused the anthropic principle with fine-tuning. Mea culpa.

                But some atheists find fine-tuning threatening, and the multiple-dimension guys don’t think the anthropic principle is a good enough escape hatch for them, so they have to build their escape hatch into other universes.

                1. The idea of parallel universes makes at least as much sense as the fine tuning-argument. The anthropic principle makes much more sense than both.

                  1. The theory of parallel universes was not theorized to disprove god. It had to do with finding an explanation for strange observations in quantum physics.

        2. “so calling them another form of religion sets them off”

          If so many of them weren’t so “devoutly” atheist and didn’t blame every negative aspect of human nature on religion than they would have a right to be peeved. I’m an atheist. Not devoutly so. However, I do see many atheist who practice atheism with a religous ferver.

          1. Also, I have no hatred towards Christians at all. We just disagree

          2. I think that is about right. Some atheists are almost religious in their atheism. The absence of God is a central part of their world view. But for me, it’s just absence of belief, not a positive belief about the nature of things.

            1. Fuck you, Christ-fag.

              1. shrike, is there such a thing as a “Christ-dyke”?

                1. No, since Christ was a man they would have to just be “Christ-sluts” or something like that.

                  1. The Christ-ettes?

            2. Zeb, I think you’re conflating atheism with antitheism. Not being religious doesn’t necessarily mean that you are against religions.

          3. Right,

            Some atheist share the following traits with the devoutly religious:

            1) Proselytizing zeal – they have a compulsion to convert people to their belief system.

            2) Blaming problems __________, ________ & ________ on the belief system of those people with different beliefs.

            3) An insufferable surety of their beliefs, which no amount of evidence will change.

            4)Feelings of superiority over those with different beliefs.

            All of those traits are emotional, not rational.

            1. I am an atheist but I don’t preach it to others — I really keep my opinions on the subject to myself unless directly asked. I don’t really think that other people’s religious beliefs cause much direct harm though they do sometimes impact public policy in ways I disagree. I am certain there is no God, but am open to actual evidence to the contrary. I suppose I think disbelief is better than belief but I am not sure the feeling is one of being “superior” .. I get why people have faith …. But I do not think that atheism is a religion.

            2. So your saying, some atheists are assholes, some religious people are assholes, therefore atheism is a religion?

              1. So your saying, some atheists are assholes, some religious people are assholes, therefore atheism is a religion?

                Where did I say that?

                I said there are parallels in behavior between some theists and some anti theists. That may lead sloppy thinkers to conclude that both are religious, instead of concluding that both are over emotional pathetic jackasses.

                Not sure why you’re so defensive on the subject.

            3. 1. Sure I would like to convicne people to abandon their religion, I think the world would be a better (but not perfect) place without it. Why is it considered wrong to put ones beliefs forward to be considered, in general athiests are trying to co-opt the legal system or force our ideas down anyones throats. Just telling you what we think. There is nothing wrong with zeal or emotion.

              2. We don’t blame everthing on religion, at least I don’t, I blame it for the things there are good reasons to blame it for. When people in Uganda have litral witch hunts that result in people being killed why would I not say religion is to blame, these witch hunters certainly credit their religious beliefs and they quote “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” Ex 22:18.

              1. Sure I would like to convicne people to abandon their religion, I think the world would be a better (but not perfect) place without it.

                This is the problem right here.

                Why would “the world” be a better place if John Doe lost his religious faith? He obviously benefits from it in some way, in providing solace from life’s problems, for example. But his losing that faith will not positively impact you in the slightest. That is unless your own position is week and needs to be buttressed by numbers of fellow travelers.

              2. Sure I would like to convicne people to abandon their religion, I think the world would be a better (but not perfect) place without it.

                This is the problem right here.

                Why would “the world” be a better place if John Doe lost his religious faith? He obviously benefits from it in some way, in providing solace from life’s problems, for example. But his losing that faith will not positively impact you in the slightest. That is unless your own position is week and needs to be buttressed by numbers of fellow travelers.

              3. Why is it considered wrong to put ones beliefs forward to be considered, in general athiests are trying to co-opt the legal system or force our ideas down anyones throats.

                Did you mean that athiests are not trying to co-opt the legal system or force our ideas down anyone’s throat?

                If so, that isn’t true of the proselytizing atheists that sue to stop the display of christmas trees or remove crosses from cemeteries and seals, at great expense.

                1. Atheists sue to stop religion from co-opting government.

                  They are not suing to remove religion from the public sphere– no one is suing to remove churches from the town square, to prevent religions from hiring billboards, or prevent churches from holding services.

                  Atheists, have, should, and will continue to sue to get religion out of government.

              4. When people in Uganda have litral witch hunts that result in people being killed why would I not say religion is to blame, these witch hunters certainly credit their religious beliefs and they quote “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” Ex 22:18.

                Central Africa is fucked up and that has nothing to do with religion.

                Remember Idi Amin and his atrocities, including cannibalizing his political opponents? Not religious at all.

                Or the Tutsi and Hutus slaughtering each other in the 100,000s? Again, not religious.

                1. Yeah, it rather has to do with the inconvenient and politically incorrect fact that there are differences in average intelligence between the human races.

              5. “I think the world would be a better (but not perfect) place without it. ”

                Yah, 20 million dead Russians ans Ukrainians are a rounding error, yes?
                The funny thing about atheistic fundamentalists is they can’t even acknowledge their own blind spots.

                1. The republican, democratic, liberal, anti-royalist world-view espoused by America (and its leaders W.Wilson and F.D.Roosevelt) are the root causes of communism and nazism. The Czars and the Kaisers would never engage in genocide against their own peoples. But America wanted to make Europe more like herself. America despises monarchy, and its removal of monarchies in Europe allowed the 20th century to be the most murderous in human history.

              6. Without religion, there is no good or evil, there is only what I think is best for me. For you to say you think the world is would be a better place, you really mean better for you. If there are no consequence past death, then whatever I can get away with during my life is what’s best for me, and I temper my actions based on my world view.

                It’s called moral relativism, and it leads to anarchy.

            4. 3. Well on this point you are just flat out wrong, I would happily believe in a god if there were evidence, but which evidence are you talkign about? Just because I don’t find the evidence theists present convincing doesn’t mean I am “insufferably sure” of my beliefs. I was a fundamentalist Christian for years and I changed my mind, but the only arguements in favor of god’s existance seem really bad to me, so why would I be convinced based on bad arguements.

              4. I don’t personally think I am better than theists, remember I was a fundamenalits for years, and many vocal athiets were once christians, I didn’t become smarter when I became an athiest, I simply changed my conclusion on one subject based upon an examination of the evidence.

            5. Yes , and the same applies to democrats , republicans , vegans , commies , libertarians , and just about anyone who identifies with a certain set of ideas which btw makes kennedy s argument of only atheists being religiously defensive absurd.

            6. It may also be noted that some free marketeers also share the above traits with the devoutly religious.

          4. I agree. I don’t think atheists can be easily lumped into one bunch, no more than Christians, Muslims, or Buddhists can – but certainly there are some atheists who have a religious-like fervor for their belief system and take many of its tenets on faith – and it can be useful to compare these atheists to religious believers.

            See:
            http://www.southparkstudios.co…..-go-god-go
            http://www.southparkstudios.co…..god-go-xii

        3. I think that there is a big difference. I don’t have faith that there is no God. I just don’t see any reason to believe that there is. If I saw convincing evidence for it, I would believe. There is a big difference there. Especially for someone who has never believed. As far as I am concerned, gods are characters from stories, like any other. Not believing in a particular god (or gods in general) is no different to me than not believing that Edmund Dantes was a real person. It just isn’t part of how I conceive the world. I think that to call a belief religious, it must be a central part of one’s worldview.

          1. Then that’s not atheism, it’s agnosticism. Atheism inherently has faith that there is no God.

        4. I agree! It was emotional knee jerking at its worse!

        5. I think you miss the point on the non-believing part.

          Non-belief (with no evidence for belief) is a base state, requires no action on your part. Simply not believing in invisible pink unicorns or the flying spaghetti monster does not make a religion any more than not believing in someone else’s god makes one.

          Belief, in the absence of evidence, requires action – you believe.

          Saying that there’s no evidence that God exists and therefore non-belief is qualitatively the same as belief ignores basic rules of logic which require you to provide evidence to support a *positive* assertion (There is evidence God exists) not a negative one (There is no evidence God exists).

          1. non belief IS an action. disproving current religious ideologies isn’t the same thing as claiming that there is NO god. that literally is an act of belief that literally ALL versions of theism (current, old, existing, nonexisting, philosophical, religious, etc.) are false, which hasn’t proved to be true yet, though you seem to think so… Also, that’s not how logic works. Saying there is a god and saying there is NO god are both sides of the same coin. again, disproving several beliefs isnt the same as disproving the philosophical conception of god as whole. educate yourself on how logic works please, it’s highly ignorant.

          2. Also, DISproving something isn’t the same thing as not having current evidence for it. didnt realize science/atheists have disproved god already. wouldve expected it on the front page news 🙂

          3. and yes, atheists DO have the same expectation to provide evidence of a lack of belief because in our current state of not having any evidence for either theism or atheism, they have the same amount of providing evidence. proving something exists is just as hard as DISproving something because it isn’t just saying there isn’t evidence for it yet, because then that’s not atheism, that’s agnosticism fool. you do know what atheism is right? you’re yourself ignoring the basic rules of logic and just how words work in general, so again, educate yourself on how logic works.

      2. You brought up that agnosticism is a subset of atheism. But this is actually false. Agnosticism, in it’s strict greek meaning is someone who doesn’t know (which is knowledge). But agnosticism is also a subset of theism. One who doesn’t know if God exists or not, but believes that a God exists. That’s why there are agnostic theists.

      3. Agnosticism isn’t a subset of atheism; it’s a separate quality.

        Theism = you can answers yes to the question “do you believe that at least one god exists?”

        Atheism = you cannot answer yes to that question, either because you actively disbelieve it, or you’ve never heard of the concept, or the question doesn’t make sense to you, or you’re unwilling to decide on the current evidence, etc.

        Gnosticism = you believe it’s possible to prove whether or not deities exist. Both theists and atheists can be gnostic.

        Agnosticism = you do not believe it is possible to prove whether or not deities exist. Both theists and atheists can be agnostic. Most atheists are also agnostic, since we recognize that it isn’t really possible to devise any tests to falsify the god hypothesis.

    2. However the idea that people faithfully believe that God does not exist is somewhat silly and unrealistic. The actual mindset of atheism does not work this way. The typical atheist does not pompously proclaim his rock-hard “knowledge” of God’s nonexistence as theists proclaim their “knowledge” that God exists. The typical atheist attacks the idea of God as ill-defined, illogical, farcical, magical, and unsupported. In the scientific community this would be more than enough to reject such a theory. Yet we don’t go around calling science a religion for assuming unsupported claims are false. Science is partially “agnostic” and partially assigning the false value, and so are most atheists.

      So no, attacking a highly extraordinary and unprovable belief is not a religion. Postulating the null of that belief is not a religion.

      1. Absolutely correct. I’m very surprised at the sloppy reasoning of the author and, quite frankly, the stubborn nature of this article. It seems like she’s grasping at straws just so she doesn’t have to admit she made a stupid slip of the tongue. Admit it, move on. Atheism is not a religion and the post above mine explained why perfectly.

        1. No. not correct. it’s funny you’re talking about stubborn when you clearly are stubborn about the reality of the situation – that atheism is a religion. religion isn’t inherently about a god or gods. it’s about an organized system of belief. that’s it. atheism fits the bill. love how an entire article about this makes you *believe* that it was a slip of the tongue. im sure on a reason site, calling someone “stupid” or “stubborn” was clearly a slip of the tongue. Come back when you’re not an illogical, ignorant, uneducated moron. And that isn’t a slip of the tongue 🙂

      2. Science is partially “agnostic” and partially assigning the false value, and so are most atheists.
        —————-
        right…that explains the global warming cultists.

        Science works to rule things in as much as to rule things out. Thus far, no one has been able to definitively prove the existence or lack thereof of any god from any faith. Ah, there’s that word again, “faith”.

        1. Science works to rule things in

          Well, not exactly. Science, strictly speaking, only rules things out. Science can convince us that some things are extremely likely with the practical effect or convincing people that they are true. But all science itself can do is to rule things out or not.

          1. Science doesn’t really even do that much. We can posit an infinite number of scenarios to explain what we see in the world around us, all perfectly valid. It’s possible (though completely unprovable) that the universe changes each time we make a scientific discovery. That act of “discovery” could be one of creation.

            And science requires faith. Faith in a rational, orderly universe. Faith in cause and effect. We don’t, and can’t ever, know that just because the universe seems orderly on certain scales today that it will be the same way tomorrow.

            Science is a practical tool to tell us what we can probably expect given our basic assumptions (i.e. our “articles of faith”). That’s it.

            1. It is not ‘faith’ to make assumptions about how things are based on observable phenomenon.

              You are correct that we can’t be 100% sure the laws of the known universe won’t change from one second to the next. I’ll even let you slide for suggesting it’s ‘faith’ to believe they won’t. But you must admit there is a difference between faith based on centuries of recorded observation and faith as the term is used by the religious.

              1. Yes, it is faith to make assumption based on observable things. For if the thing itself was observable, then you wouldn’t make an assumption. Oxford dictionary defines assumption as “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof”. Even Teller defined faith as “Believing something without proof”. But if you accepted something as true, you believed it was true. So basically assumption and faith are identical under the definition of Oxford dictionary and the definition of faith of Teller.

            2. You’re partially right, science tries not to deal in “absolute truth.” It always has a practical framework behind it, which says “assuming this law is true, then that is also true.”

              But this is not faith, it is simply practicality. If evidence came along that negated that law, that law would be struck down. The same could not be said for a tenet based on faith.

      3. Heller,
        horseshit.
        The biggest diehards I know in the religion/non-religion sphere are the people who are CERTAIN there is no god.
        They can be no more certain than the fundamentalist can be sure there IS a god.
        Both are deluded.

        1. The biggest diehards are the ones who are, um, most diehard?

          Seriously, how many people do you think are going to vocally fight for agnostic theism/atheism? “Religion is perhaps bullshit but I’m not really sure!” “There might be a God!”

          Typical atheists and theists, in my experience, aren’t diehard. I’ve certainly had more religious people rub it in my face growing up in the South, but most people keep views on religion to themselves.

        2. Why do you call them die hards? Because your arguments fail to persuade them that there is a God? Maybe you should look at your arguments.

      4. That’s not how that works. It’s silly and unrealistic to assume that it’s NOT faith in believing there’s no God. You do realize how faith works right? And you do realize religion doesn’t inherently involve a god? It’s just a organized system centered around some belief. I mean, even claiming god is ill-defined or illogical makes no logical sense. That’s real logic for you. How silly your comment is.

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      1. bireligious dating? Sounds kinky!

    4. Yeah, Buddhism is what is called “nontheistic” — neither atheistic (rejection of gods) nor theistic (dependence on gods)

      Some people have called this indifferentism, since the belief itself doesn’t depend on an affirmation or denial of various theistic viewpoints. In fact its perspective treats all of the physical/supernatural/divine/cosmos/god/angels/demons/heaven/hell the same and subject to the same metaphysical principles.

      Essentially for nontheism: god(s)? angels? demons? *shrug* what’s that got to do with me? Kinda like if you met an advanced alien who’s got some crazy abilties, or even some entity like Q.

    5. What about asuras & devas? Aren’t they gods? Maybe you mean to say that Buddhism is not monotheistic?

      1. “What about asuras & devas? Aren’t they gods? ”

        Nope.

        “Maybe you mean to say that Buddhism is not monotheistic?”

        Nope.

          1. Nothing there in any way disagrees with me.

          2. Gods and deities in Bhuddism aren’t worshiped like you seem to be implying.

            Honestly, if you spent two minutes reading about it you’d know why you’re wrong.

            1. Where did I say anything about worship?

              1. In your first comment.

                That you don’t realize you said it doesn’t make it go away.

              2. In your first post, whether you realize it on not.

                1. Nowhere does Kennedy say religion is the worship of God (or Gods).

                  I like what you said below about atheism being the null hypotheses. That’s pretty much how I look at it myself. However, the null hypotheses can never be proven, so anybody insisting that atheism is absolutely correct is behaving… religiously.

                  1. Make that “hypothesis“.

                  2. They are *behaving* religiously, but that is different from being religious in the common sense of the word.

                    1. Fair enough. Like I said below, I don’t really agree with her. There is no question that some people treat their atheism like it was a religion, though, so in that sense her point does have some validity.

                  3. But the null hypothesis is “accepted” not “proven.” That is what atheists are doing.

            2. “Gods and deities in Bhuddism aren’t worshiped”

              That may well be corrct for the majority of Buddist and in Buddist doctrine, but in practice there are many who do pray to those deities. Just like with any religion, doctrine does not universally dictate practice.

              1. Well, some Buddhists might worship them, but that doesn’t mean that the worship is necessarily part of Buddhism. I don’t know a whole lot about it, so I’m just idly speculating. But is seems like Buddhism doesn’t necessarily have to be exclusive of other beliefs.

                1. I’ve spoken with Zen Buddhists who were unabashidly athiest.

                  Some forms of Buddhism are theistic, some are not, there are as many varaities of it as there are Christians sects.

            3. You really should know how to spell Buddhism if you are one

      2. No, it has all of those in the mythology but none of that matters. They’re treated the same as “people” who might help or hurt you even, but still subject to suffering, death, impermanence according to its tenets. Your fate and salvation can only be determined by yourself

    6. Feck off Kennedy! But I’d jizz on that big forehead any day. Drink! Arse! Girls!

    7. Wait, the dictionary lists five definitions and you only agree with the first? Do you disagree with the other four (some of which would incorporate atheism)? Why not just admit this entire non-issue comes down to which dictionary definition of “religion” you prefer?

    8. So if atheism is a religion, are we hypocrites for posting anti religious pics on Facebook on a religious holiday?

  2. As to the neurobiological stuff, my brain is hardwired to tell me to have sex with random women I pass by on the street. That doesn’t mean I have to or that I should just accept it and embrace my inner STEVE SMITH. That would be stupid, just like accepting the urge to blindly believe something because it’s easy to is stupid.

    1. so basically you confirm the gist of Kennedy’s discovery: “blindly believe”, “stupid”, blah blah.

      Atheism centers around the belief – seems that word cuts both ways – there is no deity. No one can prove that, however, so one could say that blind belief is just as applicable here. You do make her point, though; the non-belief side is often characterized by snark, sarcasm, and utter disdain. Is it not enough to simply have your belief, or non-belief, system?

      1. “Atheism centers around the belief – seems that word cuts both ways – there is no deity.”

        No, it doesn’t.

        1. then what does it do, Obi Wan?

          1. It’s the null hypothesis.

            1. the null hypothesis seeks to reject or nullify something. If the hypothesis was, “god exists”, the null would be “god does not exist”. Neither is empirically provable, making each a matter of belief. Atheists believe there is no deity; can’t prove it, but neither can the religious prove that existence is fact.

              1. Atheism is based on the FACT there is NO Gawd in Hebbin! (or anyplace else). Feck belief.

                1. I can prove this by calling Gawd a flaming jackwad bastard mother raper, and not a damn thing will happen to me. See?

                  1. It wouldn’t prove anything even if something DID happen to you…

              2. The null hypothesis is always unprovable. That doesn’t mean you have to use faith to accept it.

              3. No, sorry you are wrong on this, the person making the claim has the burden of proof, that is how logic works.

                Most athiests, at least the ones I know, don’t say “there is no god,” they say, “I have seen no evidnece to convince me god exists.”

                Now you can offer evidence of his existance or not as you wish, I care not, but if you think I should believe in god then you have to pony up on the empirically testible evidence.

              4. The Atheist position would be “there is no good evidence to suggest that God does, in fact, exist. In the absence of such evidence there is no defensible reason to believe he exists.”
                Atheists cannot prove that unicorns don’t exist, but most people would laugh at someone who maintained stubbornly that there were unicorns, but produced no evidence to support that claim. Nobody would accuse a person who was skeptical about the existence of unicorns of “blindly disbelieving” in unicorns, or that not believing in unicorns was somehow an act of faith equivalent to believing them.
                The existence of god is, or should be, empirically proveable IF THERE IS A GOD. Just like the existence of unicorns would be empirically provable if unicorns actually existed – find one and show it to me, and let me examine it, and I might believe in unicorns. Noone has been able to do that, with unicorns or God.

                1. Snark, smugness and disdain are qualities that atheists and the faithful alike have in abundance. It’s fair to say that some Atheists come off snarky. Being snarky doesn’t mean that atheism is a religion. IMO “atheism is a religion to, Bill!” was a pretty snarky statement. And a very silly one.

      2. Atheism doesn’t center around anything, least of all a belief. Atheism is the lack of belief. The “null hypthesis” if you like. It’s amusing that in the face of this very simple concept the author and so many commenters here resort to: “but they’re so mean about it!” Being confident in unbelief doesn’t make you religious.

        1. Atheism is the lack of belief

          Actually, agnosticism is the lack of belief – atheists on the other hand actively believe that there is no god.

          1. You can believe that, but it’s simply not true. Gnostic pertains to knowledge, Agnostic = w/o knowledge. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. You can be an agnostic theist or a gnostic atheist or any combination thereof.

            1. An agnostic as commonly understood, and as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is:

              “one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god”

              An atheist, as commonly understood (and as defined by Webster’s), is:

              “one who believes that there is no deity”

              So, according to the common understanding and to Webster’s, I would say that atheists and agnostics are disjoint sets of people.

              True, some agnostics have atheistic leanings and others have theistic leanings, but that in no way invalidates my original statement.

              1. It is not a spectrum with agnosticism in the middle. If you lack a belief in a God you are, by definition, an a-theist.

                Even using the limited definitions you provided, agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive.

                1. Even using the limited definitions you provided, agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive

                  The “limited definitions” that I provided are mutually exclusive: an agnostic is “not committed to believing in either the existence or non-existence of God or a god”, whereas an atheist “believes that there is no deity”. One actively believes there is no god and the other does not.

                  You are correct that it is not a continuum with agnosticism as the middle ground, it is three distinct sets – atheists, theists and agnostics.

            2. When people talking about religious atheists, they’re talking about the non-agnostic variety. There are those who believe there is no God and they are usually rabid antitheists. Their beliefs are irrational.

              Why agnostic atheists who hold to the null hypothesis claim those other folks don’t exist is a puzzle.

              1. So the rabid disbelief of something is now a religion? If I rabidly believe that Santa does not exist, am I religious?

                The word religion loses all meaning this way.

                1. If you come by that belief irrationally, then yes, you are religious.

                  1. All beliefs of a negative are unprovable. By the standards set here, unprovable means they are irrational. Therefore all beliefs of a negative are religious.

                    1. Heller, I do not believe that there is an invisible fairy that leaves money under my pillow in exchange for teeth. I do not believe that I am Napoleon. I do not believe that the earth is made of camembert or that the TV is sending telepathic signals to my poodle. These are all “negative beliefs.” Am I irrational to not believe such things, or would I be irrational to positively believe them?

          2. No, turdbrain, we KNOW there is NO Gawd!

        2. How can you be confident in something that is empty? If atheism doesn’t center around anything, then how can you be confident in it when it doesn’t center around anything? Sounds really non-nonsensical. I don’t believe in unicorns, I’m really confident in this nothing.

      3. You use the term ‘belief’ as if it means the same thing when applied to atheists (or agnostics) as it does to those who believe in a God. I’m 99.99999% convinced–some would call that a belief–there are no gods because no one has ever offered solid, observable, testable evidence proving their existence.

        Similarly, I’m 99.99999% convinced there is no such thing as Leprechauns, but no rational person would suggest my ‘belief’ in this presumption is the same as the ‘belief’ of those who DO believe in Leprechauns.

        1. “no rational person”

          Nice verbal mine.

      4. wareagle I know you read my first posts above, so obviously you didn’t understand what they were saying, since they answer all the points you just made. Atheists do not “believe” that God does not exist, they accept the null hypothesis of God’s existence due to lack of evidence. Logical assumption =! belief.

      5. Atheism is most commonly not the center of a belief system, but simply one conclusion of belief systems at least claiming to be centered around the use of reason. Reason is at the centerl. Lack of belief in God is at the periphery.

  3. I would say that Atheism is a faith. There are tenets – well, one tenet. Without proof, atheists believe there is no divine being. Many feel it just as strongly as the devout feel there is a supreme entity. Non-non-believers are often held in as much contempt as the two characters in the classic Emo Philips joke feel toward each other in the punchline. Agnosticism is what I would call a true non-religion.

    Of course, this all comes down to how each of us defines religion.

    1. Problem with this definition is then that a strong belief that something does not exist is then a “religion”. I don’t believe aliens exist. Is that my “religion”? I strongly believe that there is no evidence to substantiate their existence, just like athiests believe there is a lack of proof of a “supreme being”.

      1. You make a good point.

        I, however, do believe that space aliens do exist purely based on probabilities, Sagan’s “billions and billions” thing. The problem is they are so far away that we will never meet them, and we may never intercept any of their radio communications for the same reason.

        I suppose my belief is “faith-based”: an improbable event distributed across a nearly infinite possibility-space becomes a near certainty.

        1. Do you believe in Zeus, or Apolo, or Odin, or The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

          What about fairies, leprechauns, or Santa Clause.

          1. No, I don’t. Show me some proof or even a plausible mechanism for their existance and I am willing to change my mind, though.

              1. Auto spellchecking is an instrument of Satan.

                1. You misspelled Santa.

        2. “I suppose my belief is “faith-based”: an improbable event distributed across a nearly infinite possibility-space becomes a near certainty.”

          It’s not faith based, precisely for the reasons you just gave. Life on other planets is a near certainty based on the EVIDENCE.

          1. Why is “no God” the default position? Who chose that position and why? Why does THAT position make more sense than (say) a pantheistic position?

            1. It is not the default position, it is the null hypothesis to an unsupported claim, which should therefore be accepted.

              Life on other planets also has a null hypothesis, but we do not so readily accept it because we already have evidence of life on one planet, us.

              1. You’re making a normative claim, what one should hold. You need to offer some reasons to accept it, not just state that’s how people should believe. In fact, many religious people make the normative claim that you should believe in it, even if they offer no reasons to support it. Sounds like you’re doing the same thing. And you’re involved with a logical fallacy of moving from one, and only one case, to state that there are more that match that case.

                1. I didn’t make a normative claim. When one makes a claim, there is always a null hypothesis to the claim. If the claim is unsupported, the null hypothesis is accepted. If the claim is supported, we fail to reject the claim. So this really has nothing to do with normative statements. It’s how you test a hypothesis.

        3. Believing that something probably exists is very different than claiming it certainly exists.

    2. Fist of Etiquette|3.10.12 @ 5:58AM|#
      “I would say that Atheism is a faith.”

      Sorta like the ‘faith’ that there’s no Santa? That sort of ‘faith’?

      1. More like “faith” that the sky is blue.

        1. What if it’s nighttime?

          1. See? It changes color. Proof there’s a god, and magic is real.

            1. +1. I’m religious and I know day and night are caused by the earth rotating. Or magnets, maybe.

              Science plays a big part in my religion. And vice versa.

            2. But seriously, atheists centuries ago were still sure the sun rotated around the earth. It wasn’t just the religious.

              Bigger point: atheism doesn’t help the scientific method any more than belief in God does.

              1. Bigger point: atheism doesn’t help the scientific method any more than belief in God does.

                Sure, neither “help,” but belief in the supernatural sure as hell hurts. How can we perform any reliable experiments if God can intervene and perform miracles whenever he damn well pleases? What would be the purpose of studying tsumani damage if the reason certain structures stayed standing was because of teh Jeebus?

                1. Bigger point: atheism doesn’t help the scientific method any more than belief in God does.

                  Perhaps not a belief in god; however, atheism is far better for human liberty and hence advancement than organized religion can ever be. Religion is oppressive on the thought process.

                  1. Perhaps not a belief in god; however, atheism is far better for human liberty and hence advancement than organized religion can ever be. Religion is oppressive on the thought process.

                    Do you realize how much man evolved based solely on religious societies? From basic building principles (Pyramids, Domes, Columns, etc) used to create houses of worship or ceremonial burial, to the reason for creating the printing press, religion has played a major role in the development of mankind.

                    All I could find for what atheism itself has been directly responsible for was to give the atheist Bolsheviks a reason to murder millions of people. And the atheist Red Chinese to do the same in the name of eradicating God from lives so people will worship the state and humanity.

                    1. Atheism is directly responsible for Stalin and Mao the same way Pope’s hat is responsible for child rape, i.e. not at all. Statism and sexual repression, respectively.

                    2. Organized religion is about exploiting the religious and non-religious alike. It’s about power. It is just another form of government. It is orthogonal to religion itself.

                    3. And, religion built churches, painted pictures and printed books because religion had the $$$$$$. The existence of the sphynx does not validate the truth claims of ancient egyptian religions. It’s simply testifies to the organizational prowess of the government (eek!).

                    4. Do you realize how much man evolved based solely on religious societies? From basic building principles (Pyramids, Domes, Columns, etc) used to create houses of worship or ceremonial burial, to the reason for creating the printing press, religion has played a major role in the development of mankind.

                      I dispute all of these assertions, and offer that man developed such technology in spite of organized religion rather than because of it.

                    5. I dispute all of these assertions, and offer that man developed such technology in spite of organized religion rather than because of it.

                      In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, you believe this? Sounds somewhat…irrational.

                    6. I don’t see evidence that the pyramids were built to worship gods; more that the kings of Egypt believed themselves gods and had them built to honor themselves.

                      I don’t see the printing press as developed to print bibles, but as a way to print shit cheaper to make the inventor’s life better.

                      So yes, Capitalism has had its successes in spite of religion.

                    7. Umm religion doesn’t get to take credit just because it told builders and scientists we need this thing. I think, you know, the builders and scientists get credit for the engineering and science. Religion gets credit for a big useless pyramid.

                    8. The rate at which technology is evolving is proportional to the decline in religious belief.

                      If anything, religion has held us back.

                2. Miracles would be categorized as such. Miracles don’t “just happen”, they usually have a spiritual truth to impart, and those who experience it usually wind up not believing the spiritual truth, anyway.

                  For example, one would think that raising someone from the dead would be a persuasive argument to accept the teachings of the one who performed the miracle. In the case of Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead actually sealed Jesus’ fate, as far as the Jewish leaders were concerned.
                  Western science was made possible by the Christian teaching that God is a God of order, not chaos. The first scientists were Christians, who were merely trying to understand how God made things. The underlying belief that the universe has order, and that it can be observed, propelled the Christian West past the rest of the world in terms of scientific knowledge.

                  1. I should say the “first scientists”, in the modern sense of the term: one who gathers evidence, proposes a hypothesis, performs experiments to test the hypothesis, and repeats the process until he is reasonably sure the the hypothesis has not been falsified.

                    1. Modern science owes its existence to…Christianity? Now I’ve heard it all.

    3. “Without proof, atheists believe there is no divine being. ”

      Are you trolling?

    4. The burden of proof is on those who would posit that something exists. Faith, as mentioned above, is belief in the absence of evidence. Atheism is the null hypothesis of religion.

      The ‘brain effects’ mentioned in the article can also be achieved by meditation or drugs. Perhaps opium is a God? (Now there’s a sacrament)

      Having said that, any atheist who gets seriously offended by the statement really needs to calm down. If you’re that scared when someone challenges your worldview, you’d do better to examine your insecurities than attack them.

      1. *sigh* …than attack the person challenging your worldview.

      2. “Having said that, any atheist who gets seriously offended by the statement really needs to calm down.”

        Having read that, any asshole who tells me what I need to do in the face of religious intolerance can fuck off.

        “If you’re that scared when someone challenges your worldview,”

        Who said anything about SCARED asshole?

        “you’d do better to examine your insecurities than attack them.”

        And YOU would do better to examine the insecurities that require you to tell other people how to behave in the face of religious intolerance.

        1. u mad, bro?

        2. Who “told” anyone how to behave, you prick?

          As for religious intolerance… you showed that in spades “Fuck You”.

      3. I’m not offended by the assertion that atheism is a religion because I don’t want to be associated with religion. I’m more annoyed by the juvenile logic behind such a claim.

      4. Opiates is the religion of the masses? I can live with that.

      5. Actually, the burden of proof is based on anyone who makes a claim. It can be a positive claim or a negative claim. Makes no difference.

    5. Copied from my earlier comment: atheism could be proven wrong. It’s simple: show me god. Theism could never be proven wrong, because if I took a believer through the entire universe and couldn’t find god, the theist would claim god exists outside the universe.

      That’s why theism is religious (or faith-based), and atheism is not.

      1. ^^^this

      2. “show me god”

        Not being able to show does not prove anything at all. The atheist does not prove that the theist is wrong, and the theist certainly does not prove the atheist wrong.

        1. Are you retarded? Go back and read the Joe R. comment above again. Read it slowly.

          Get it now?

          1. If God shows up, will atheists be proven wrong? Will atheists or people of religions that conflict with the form of what people say is the god take it as proof?

            Atheism is not proven wrong until it is.

            1. If God shows up, will atheists be proven wrong?

              By definition, yes.

              And the point of the post you are replying to is not wrong or right but what separates faith and atheism.

              1. And how would we know He is God? Would people just accept it?

                1. The hypothetical states “God” shows up. I don’t know why you are talking about things that are not the same as the hypothetical.

                  1. God shows up. How do people know He is God?

                    1. Don’t know, don’t care. It was hypothetical.

        2. I’m pretty sure this is the exact kind of argument the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Russell’s teapot are meant to address.

      3. Copied from my earlier comment: atheism could be proven wrong. It’s simple: show me god. Theism could never be proven wrong, because if I took a believer through the entire universe and couldn’t find god, the theist would claim god exists outside the universe.

        That’s why theism is religious (or faith-based), and atheism is not.

        Buy that logic the federal government (or any number of intangible concepts) does not exist because no one has seen or met it.

        All you have seen or interacted with are it’s agents, which are analogous to the clergy of a religion.

        1. LOL. You’re not serious, are you?

        2. Seeing and interacting with the clergy of a religion is enough to prove to me that the religion exists, as a belief system and as an organization. Meetign with agents of the government is enough to prove to me that the gvoernment exists. It takes some intellectual work to understand what government is, but once you do, the evidence for it is abundant. Not so with God.

      4. “if I took a believer through the entire universe and couldn’t find god, the theist would claim god exists outside the universe.”

        Many atheists have gone through the universe, found the anthropic principle, and claim that non-God exists outside the universe (in an infinite group of parallel universes).

        1. The anthropic principle is quite possibly the weakest argument for God, but believers keep trotting it out like it hasn’t been refutted. The universe most certainly does not appear designed. And even if we grant that it does, it is most certainly not designed for human life, intelligent life or any kind of life, period. Even if we grant you that the Earth is designed for life, bacteria is clearly God’s chosen domain.

          1. I am simply pointing out that many atheists reply to the anthropic principle by talking about parallel universes. These people think (rightly or wrongly) that they need to trot out the parallel universes to rebut the anthropic principle. The fact that they’re often highly educated indicates that there’s something about the anthropic principle that bothers them, otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to escape from this universe to avoid it.

            1. I think you’re getting your names confused. The anthropic principle is the atheists’ an answer to the fine tuning argument. The fine tuning argument is says that the universe is designed, not the anthropic principle.

            2. Infinite parallel universe is not necessary to argue against the fine tuning argument, the anthropic principle is sufficient.

              1. You got me – I meant fine-tuning, which (as I mentioned) some atheists explain with their infinite universes.

      5. Atheism can’t be proven wrong. Just think about what you, personally, would say if I showed you God tomorrow. You wouldn’t believe it. And you’d require greater and greater proofs. And even then you might believe that it is simply a powerful, but natural being, not God.

        1. Doubt can never and should never be eliminated.

      6. If by “god” you mean a supernatural being, then atheism cannot be proven wrong by showing you god.

        Your senses only perceive natural things.

        If a theist showed you something that he calls god he would only be showing you a natural entity.

        How would that in any way prove that such an entity is supernatural?

        1. Part of the idea of God is a supernatural being that can affect the natural world. So showing God would necessitate you perceiving something supernatural. Assuming that you can’t is begging the question. If God presented himself to you through magic or whatever it would disprove atheism.

          1. It’s not an assumption that you can’t perceive the supernatural. It’s a fact that our senses only perceive natural things.

            So, if a god presented himself to me through “magic”, the best I could reasonably conclude was that I encountered a natural being with technology beyond my comprehension.

    6. “Without proof, atheists believe there is no divine being.

      There are an infinite number of things without proof. Most of them don’t exist.

      1. I agree with that, because there’s no other minds or an external world. There’s no proof for them, or evidence.

    7. So, do all Christians, for example, also participate in the religions of a-Buddhism and a-Islamism and a-Kali-cultism? Saying that lack of a particular belief is a religion is absurd on its face. If you have never believed in God, there is no more religion in non-belief in God than there is in non belief in any other thing that you can think of that you have no evidence of the existence for. Just because lot of other people believe in God doesn’t make disbelief in God a special form of disbelief. The existence of God only has a special status for people who believe in God.

      I am just speculating here, but I would guess that most people who think that atheism is always a religion have believed in god at some point in their lives.

  4. Typical Christian slander.

  5. I was a former atheist myself, and have to say that at that point in my life I would never (ever) have construed my lack of a belief in a supreme being a “religion”. I just honestly believed there was no evidence of this “God”. Seemed more to me like the easter bunny and Santa Claus. Is not believing in the easter bunny and Santa Claus a religion too?

    1. I was a former atheist myself,…

      So that means you’re an atheist again, right?

      I think you might mean :

      I *AM* a former atheist myself,…

      1. Technically, he could have been a former atheist and still be a former atheist.

    2. How does that work, being a former athiest? Do you one day realize that hey, maybe there is a skygod and I should worship him/her/it?
      Did you find jesus hiding under a rock or something? What is it that made you an ex-atheist?

      1. There are plenty of people who are atheists because they haven’t been converted to a belief. There are others who are atheists after examining the arguments and coming to that conclusion.

        1. Atheists who haven’t converted to a belief aren’t really atheists if they’re looking for a new god, are they?

          1. Have to agree with Nipplemancer on this one. Yes, an athiest can become a believer in God, via a religious experience. However, Nipplemancer is right in the sense it is not true that “atheists have yet to be converted to a belief”. Atheists simple do not believe in any form of deity. Agnostic is the term for folks who have no opinion either way.

            1. No true atheist would be converted…

              1. No true Scotsman would say such things.

  6. So I guess Santa and the Easter Bunny must exist, since I don’t ‘believe’ in them?

    1. Don’t get your point. Why would anything exist if you don’t believe in it?

      1. Read the headline: Atheism requires a god for me not to believe in.
        So, by that ‘reasoning’, not believing in Santa requires a Santa for me not to believe in.

        1. I think you hit on an excellent point, which is often argued about by athiests themselves. Some will say that atheism is the belief in science. Since science has not “proved” or “given evidence” of a supreme being, it doesn’t exist. However, you are right in the sense that there are now people who state that atheism is the disbelief in the existence of God. I was an athiest in the first camp, and wonder at those in the second camp because you are right. In order to not believe in God, there does have to be a God to not believe in.

          1. No, there only has to be the idea of a God. The idea of a God clearly exists.

            1. Right. I don’t believe in phlogiston, either.

              1. And I suppose you don’t believe Pb can be turned into Au either?

                1. Hell, hydrogen gets turned into gold. WTF does that have to do with God?

                  1. Lighten up dickwad, my reply was to BakedPenguin and was tongue in cheek.

            2. Yet, we are back at the conundrum that atheism, if it is a “religion”, is the disbelief in an “idea” (idea that God exsists). If this is the definition, then the disbelief in any idea is a religion, which doesn’t seem to fit right.

            3. So does the idea of a giant turtle who carries the world on his back, the idea of Zeus, Alla and Thor, the idea of – oh, hell, I give up.

  7. Gentleman, I have a “Dear Warty” question.
    I have a friend with benefits that has been going on for about 8 months. Lately he is acting very boyfriendy – Valentine’s day gifts, wanting to make plans for dinner, wanting to go away for a weekend. At the same time, he calls less frequently.
    I am puzzled. Any thoughts?

    1. He’s seeing someone else. Said other relationship is off and on, and problematic? Maybe?

      Alternatively, he’s really busy at work, doesn’t have time to chat, but wants some “quality” time alone.

      1. It would be fine with me if he were seeing someone else. I am more concerned that he is starting to think of himself as a boyfriend, in which case I should end it.

        1. Wait a minute here. It sounds like you locked him in the friend zone. You are a terrible person. If you have functioning ovaries, can I get your number?

    2. Buy him an organ for Valentine’s day, then put tulips on his organ. It shows you care and you have the proper perspective on your relationship.

    3. Tulip, if it doesn’t work out for you just let me know. I am much more realistic about FWB relationships, I promise to just keep it fun.

      1. Maybe she wants something more than a dingdong.

        1. I offer much more than that.

    4. Some guys just hate calling or emailing. Get closer in person. If he resists that, move on.

      1. I don’t want to get closer – I like things as they are

    5. Sounds like the poor boy’s in wuv with you. 8 months is an awful long time to bang someone without the W-word rearing its adorable head. I say dump him or marry him.

      1. I guess, but we both agreed to FWB. Dump him it is, then.

        1. I just broke some poor bastard’s heart. Excellent.

          1. Your weekend is complete.

          2. He is teh sexay. He’ll be fine

            1. Oh, sure, sure.

              Here is what comes next.

              1. I always loved that movie, so it could actually work (at least temporarily)

          3. You heartless SOB!

        2. Sooooo…..what are you doing tomorrow Tulip:)

        3. In the future, I recommend the fuck buddy arrangement. You can have several fuck buddies. Someone who you only bang a couple times a month, and never talk to otherwise. You don’t want to find out if you have anything in common, or develop any loyalty, you just want to fuck. Also, avoid people with kids. Those people are screwing up their kids’ lives. If you have kids, stop fucking around.

          Don’t mess with your friends, or don’t have friends at all. I would kill people for my friends.

          1. That’s what is was – which is why the “let’s make plans” was confusing. Prior to this call were “let’s have a drink” or “come over”. Hence – puzzled.

          2. I recommend conjugal visits with a lifer. Just make sure he’s not eligible for parole.

            1. And not a trusty in the Mississippi governor’s mansion.

          3. And yes, someone with no kids is a rule of mine.

      2. Thank you all.

        1. Tulpa, why do you keep spelling your name wrong?

          1. +1

          2. That’s not nice Rob. 🙂

            1. Then you’re doing it wrong…

    6. I would say, stop over-thinking it, continue as you were, and try to see what’s up. It sounds like you’re making a big deal out of nothing.

      1. I don’t think so. Sex only relationships are tricky. It’s fine if one person changes their mind about what they want, they just can’t assume the other is now on board with the change. If he has changed his mind (I haven’t) then I don’t think it is fair to continue. I think it is cruel to encourage false hope that you will change your mind and want the relationship they want.
        We clearly need to talk about this.

        1. “We clearly need to talk about this.”

          He’s officially a boyfriend.

  8. So is my refusal to believe in pink unicorns as supreme beings also a religion?

    1. Just what color do you think Unicorns are?

      1. White, duh.

  9. Why is it a problem if someone considers atheism a religion?

    Words have meaning, you lightweight VeeJay. Is stamp collecting a religion? drinking beer? laughing? walking to your car? sweating? sneezing?

    Those who call atheism a religion do so in order to diffuse it for partisan purposes.

    1. Too close for comfort, Shriek?

    2. “Those who call atheism a religion do so in order to diffuse it for partisan purposes.”
      Yes, they have an agenda.

      1. I’d say worshiping George Soros and Warren Buffett, qualifies as a religion.

        1. Perhaps, but I don’t worship either of those two ass clowns. Actually I don’t worship anyone or thing.

    3. Pound your Bible. Thump your Quran. Light up another GodStick (how can you tax religion?).

  10. I wouldn’t call atheism a religion but there are some atheists that do act religious about their beliefs.

    1. In that case, intolerance of others’ beliefs becomes the defining characteristic of “religion”.

      1. Intolerance of others’ beliefs is a common characteristic of humans. But I don’t see it defining much of anything. Tolerant atheists as well as believers are not hard to come by if you look for them.

      2. I’m intolerant of statist philosophy. Can my free-market orientation be classified as a religion?

        If so, I think it’s time to sing a hymn and take up the offering.

  11. I was surprised at the bitterness that poured from so many disbelievers.
    ———————
    First, why would you be surprised? The venom that comes from so many atheists toward believers is astounding. Malicious truths tend to inspire the worst in human behavior.

    Second, why not call it a religion? It is a belief system, a belief that no great spiritual entity(ies) exists. I have no issue with that. This is exactly why it is called faith.

    1. The thing is, most of us don’t give a fuck about your skygods. When we are lumped into ‘religion’ we get pissed because we don’t want to be a part of any of it. I don’t care what you believe in, don’t try to assume you know what goes through my head when I deny your skygod has any power/effect over me. There is no belief system – its an unbelief unsystem. It’s quite simple. I have faith that what goes up must come down (as long as whatever is going up never exceeds escape velocity).

    2. Atheism is not a belief system. It is the lack of a single belief. It says absolutely nothing positive about the world. Belief systems are about what one believe’s to exist or to be the case. You don’t state what you believe by listing all of the things that don’t exist. Atheism is no more of a religion than not believing in magic flying carpets is a religion.

      1. bullshit. Of course, it’s a belief system – a belief that there is no divine being. And, the notion of no single belief is double bullshit. Atheists believe there is no deity; there is no maybe, or coulda-woulda to it.

        Good grief; what is this hangup with semantics with some of you. Believe what you want, but all either side is doing is believing.

        1. Believing in something is not a religion. You said it better when you said the words “belief system”; a system is “an assemblege or combination of things or parts that form a complex or unitary whole”. A single belief is not a “system”. However, I do think that atheists true belief system is based on the scientific method. I think a more accurate statement would be that an atheists belief system follows the same beliefs inherent in the scientific method. That makes much more sense.

        2. So, Christians who do not believe in the Hindu gods are guilty of practicing two religions? Christianity and Atheism?!

    3. “Second, why not call it a religion? It is a belief system, a belief that no great spiritual entity(ies) exists.”

      Bullshit.

      1. Sevo, from the same link you so generously provided in the Adam Smith thread:

        “Subsidies of large grants of land and cash had helped build earlier lines to the Pacific coast. Mr Hill’s venture was unique in that land grants were neither sought nor given. [The] only government lands ever received by Mr. Hill’s company were those attached to 600 miles of railway in Minnesota constructed by predecessor companies and acquired by purchase.”

        Mr. Hill did not own the Minnesota & Pacific Railway Company at the time the latter received the charters in 1853 and 1857. At any rate, Hill did not rent seek, unlike Chrysler.

        Jeeeezzz, in the same link, no less – all you had to do was scroll down a few paragraphs.

        All in good fun.

        1. So, now we know you like to pick cherries, too.

  12. I think that what this article really points out is that some athiests feel threatened by religion. I agree with the author that in a sense atheists have embraced the very thing they “hate” about people of faith and that is shoving your beliefs down people’s throats. They have embraced intolerance in order to make their beliefs “more mainstream”. I have never understood this need in either athiests or Christians. If asked about my beliefs, I share them. That others don’t share them affects me not one bit. That was true when I was an atheist, an agnostic, and even now when I am a practicing Christian.

    1. Yuuuup. I don’t get the animus, either.

    2. Its because religious zealots want to rule us based on their scripture despite the fact our Constitution demands secularism. We are still fighting a battle we won in 1789.

      See Santorum, Rick.

      1. this is where I sadly agree with shriek. As soon as you’re attempting to control what others do based upon your belief in a supernatural being, you are forcing others to accept that the supernatural being exists and that belief is correct based upon your interpretations of said supernatural being.

        1. Yep, shriek’s right on this one.

          Also, fuck Santorum

        2. Most attempts at control are derived from an emotional belief in “humanity” or “the animals” or “the environment” and not an emotional belief in god.

        3. Yet, not all Christian want to control what you do. I can’t stand Rick Santorum either and would not support him (or anyone like him) in office. As a Christian on of the basic facts of the Bible is that God himself gave every human free will. Who am I to take that from you? Yet your complaint cuts both ways. We now have the icky Rick Santorums or the extreme secularists who don’t allow for the free practice of one’s faith (and yes forcing me to pay for an abortion is against my religious beliefs and my belief in liberty). What we need is to go back to the founding principles. For those who wish to convert another (atheists, Religious folk, etc) need to do it interpersonally – not via the government.

      2. But of course, if Obama’s Black Liberation Theology background motivates him to support affirmative action, that is TOTALLY acceptable!

        And don’t forget groups like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. They’re fine, too.

      3. And those who want to rule us based on collectivist scripture, are somehow better for us?

      4. lightning = how it should be

        shrike = how it is…and why the venomous animosity from the atheists.

        Of course if both sides would just embrace the libertarian philosophy of living their own lives without trying to control the lives of others, the conflict would become meaningless, and EVERYONE could be happy.

    3. I think that what this article really points out is that some athiests feel threatened by religion

      You mean the past 2000 years didn’t clue you in that religion is violent and oppressive?

      Yeah, I do feel threatened by it.

      1. I think the past 4000 years or so have shown that people are often violent and oppressive. Some of those violent and oppressive people are religious. However, some are not (recent examples include Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.).

        It seems silly to suggest that religion is inherently violent or oppressive.

        1. However, some are not (recent examples include Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.).

          They were religious; their religion was the State.

          Religion is inherently oppressive and frequently violent. Religion stymies freedom of thought. Always.

          1. whom the did buddhists oppress?

            1. derp, thought. Same shit, different method.

            2. Practitioners of B?n were oppressed when Buddhism moved into their region of Tibet.

              Zen Buddhism accepted Japanese militarism which oppressed people.

              Religious groups, even if they claim to be nonviolent, has violence and oppression somewhere in their history.

          2. They were religious; their religion was the State.

            Now that really stretches the definition of religion.

        2. Followers of Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il, and others were religious in a sense, it’s called cult of personality. If I’m not mistaken, Kim Jong-il was even considered supernatural by his people.

          1. Followers of Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il, and others were religious in a sense

            You and anon are really stretching what most people mean by “religion” (more so by a long shot than Kennedy did in her original article). Anon made the claim that religion is “inherently oppressive and frequently violent”, and then to support this dubious claim, you and he/she make the equally dubious claim that any group that is violent or oppressive is actually religious.

            Using this type of circular logic, I have no doubt that you and anon can convince yourselves of just about anything!

            1. I never claimed violence or oppression is what made those people and their followers somewhat religious. I said that “cult of personality” is very similar to religion; unquestionable worship, rituals and ceremonies, etc. They are political religions; e.g. North Korea.

    4. It is ridiculous to make any blanket statement about the beliefs or motivations of atheists. I’m sure you are right about some atheists. Personally, I love discussing theology with religious people, as long as they are interested in a real discussion and not proselytizing. I am slightly puzzled by it, but have no animosity toward religion per se.

  13. WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW, KENNEDY??!

  14. I suspect a gently undogmatic skepticism need not count as a religion. But it certainly makes sense to think that doctrinaire atheism does. That need only be offensive if one has already decided that “religion” is a bad word.

    I’d suggest that we might define religion this way: “a comprehensive interpretation of and response to reality as a whole.” Religions don’t have to be theistic. Many varieties of Buddhism aren’t, and conventional Marxism isn’t, but I’d suggest that both can qualify without much difficulty as religions.

    1. I don’t know if I’d go as far as “reality as a whole”.

      A better definition perhaps “a comprehensive intepretation of and response to mortality and the existence of consciousness”.

      Some people believe there is an afterlife and a soul. Some don’t. Both are beliefs about things we don’t understand.

      Personally I consider myself a non-dogmatic atheist. I don’t really try to change anyone’s mind. I just don’t believe in a diety. I toy with the idea of consciousness living on after death,or returning to some vast pool of amorphous energy, but deep down I know that when we die we cease to exist. But others are entitled to believe what they want.

      I don’t really bristle at the notion that atheism is a faith. It’s one possible set of responses to the world. I happen to think it’s the right one.

  15. If Atheism is a religion, then atheist organizations should have tax-exempt status.

    1. They don’t?

      1. I have no idea whether they do or not actually.

        1. after watching the Catholics ramp up the call for involvement among the flock over the birth control business, I am more convinced than ever of the need to strip away tax-exempt status.

          1. So, the federal government should take away the tax exemption of organizations which protest too vehemently against being bossed around by the federal government?

            I suppose that makes sense, if you’re the federal government.

            1. no, the govt should take away the tax-exempt status of any organization that wants to play in the political arena, and for that matter, any other organization, too. I can’t stand non-profits. Too many folks pretend that non-profit status means no income, which is bullshit. Let the Catholics protest all the want; just expect to be treated like any other citizens’ group.

              1. You mean no tax exemptions for any group, regardless of the group’s political positions or lack of them?

                In that case, what does it matter what the Catholic Church does or doesn’t do? They should lose their exemption even if they play nice with the feds and hand out bags of condoms every Friday!

                1. There is a good argument from the standpoint of separation of church and state for not granting tax-exempt status to religious groups:

                  Granting religious groups special tax-exempt status requires that the government decide which groups are legitimate religious groups. But, surely we don’t want the government deciding which religious groups are legitimate and which are not. Therefore, religious groups should not get special tax-exempt status.

        2. I’d be shocked if there weren’t multiple 501(c)(somethings) with a stated atheist bent.

      2. Atheists have tax-supported institutions. They’re called “Public Schools”.

    2. what a surprise, atheists love to try and disprove this fact but they’ll use it to their advantage regardless. like religious people 🙂

  16. I wouldn’t say I agree with her, though some atheists certainly act like their atheism is a religion. Evangelist atheists are just as annoying as evangelist Christians.

    1. true dat!

    2. No, evangelist atheists don’t crusade against booze and porn.

      1. Your right but I cringe when my fellow atheists start screaming matches and law suits over a fucking Xmas tree in front of city hall!

        Our mayor was a smack addict and the IMPORTANT thing to worry about was the goddamn tree…

        1. If you’re suing because of a christmas display, you’re just an asshole. Seriously, the entire concept has been so secularized that to be offended is retarded.

          1. Christmas was never a terribly important Christian holiday anyway. People like it because it is something cheerful to do at the darkest time of year. Or maybe that’s just me. I guess people in the southern hemisphere like it too.

      2. What Old Salt said. That is some annoying shit.

  17. My Apple dictionary states that atheism is “the theory or belief that God does not exist.”
    Since atheism involves belief, it is therefore a religion of sorts. And according to that logic, macro evolution is a religion too. Nobody can disprove that God exists nor can anyone prove with absolute certainty that man evolved from apes or that birds evolved from fish or whatever. It’s based on a belief in circumstantial evidence just like a God-believer looking at the millions and billions of living creatures on Earth, and all of the incredible biodiversity, and thinking that a higher power must have done this. The real question is why are atheists so self-righteous?

    1. I think we need to distinguish between beliefs about what happens after death, and beliefs about what happened 3 million years ago in Africa. We do actually have physical evidence for one and not the other.

      1. Technically, we have no evidence for the past. You would have to rely on a belief which isn’t testable itself. No one has ever experienced the past, because the past by definition is beyond experience. So yeah, in a sense, they have a point. Your point would only have evidence if you already assume the thing in question, but that just begs the question.

    2. “It’s based on a belief in circumstantial evidence just like a God-believer looking at the millions and billions of living creatures on Earth, and all of the incredible biodiversity, and thinking that a higher power must have done this.”

      For me, the fault in this thinking is that it has no mechanism explanation other than,”then some magical shit happened”.

      1. The problem is that one doesn’t need a mechanistic explanation. You’re assuming that the world needs to function in a certain way, which isn’t even obvious. And even current science is moving away from that type of thinking. Descartes dream died a long time, i.e. mechanistic world.

    3. Since atheism involves belief, it is therefore a religion of sorts.

      I believe that a desk exists in my office though I can’t currently see it. Is that a religion of sorts?

      1. no, that’s called a hallucination. You may not have bought what you thought you bought.

        1. How is it a hallucination? I have photos of it and others who have seen the photos also see a desk. My daughter just told me she sees the desk right now.

          1. If you wanna REALLY get tricky, lets bring quantum metaphysics into this:

            Your desk MAY actually exist or it MAY just be a construct of your brain BUT what if the desk actually existed in another dimension that you’re able to observe? Does the desk truly exist if it’s located in another dimension and does the desk cease to exist if you lost the ability to perceive it?

            1. Quantum physics has nothing on Descartes’ evil genius.

          2. if there are photos, the desk exists. Your belief in its existence is irrelevant. Good grief, that’s like saying my car has tires even though I cannot see the car at the moment. That’s not belief; that just is.

            1. I have photos of a lot of things that no longer exist.

    4. No one can prove that the earth orbits the sun, either. Is that a religious belief?

      1. “No one can prove that the earth orbits the sun, either.”

        Actually, you pretty much can prove that.

        1. Actually, you can’t prove that. You have to make a reference point from which you judge other things. And you’re reference point makes the sun the center and judge things from that reference point. In fact, even Hawking said that the Earth being the center is consistent with all of or observations. So no, you can’t prove that the earth orbits the sun. You assume it and judge everything from that reference point.

          1. Nonsense.

            You can choose the center of mass of Jupiter, or any other point in the galaxy or universe as your reference point and still show that the earth travels an elliptical around the sun.

        2. Call the physics department at your local university, and ask any professor if he can prove that the earth orbits the sun. Unless he’s either trying to dismiss you, or he’s a really bad scientist, he’ll say something along the lines of “an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that it does.”

          Math has proofs. Logic has proofs. Science has evidence.

      2. There is physical evidence which proves macro evolution to be a scientific fact? And there is no evidence that proves Earth orbits the sun?

        None of these responses address the logical fallacy I raise. Atheists tend to be vocal and argumentative about there not being a God.

        There is far more circumstantial evidence showing that our universe was created by design rather than it being a random fluke. There are Fibonacci sequences in flowers and galaxies. There is connectivity in the universe which is being proven by quantum physics. Machines don’t build themselves, and human beings don’t just appear without some external causality.

        You can call it Mother Nature, or Evolution, but it’s always the same thing — an external causality. Atheists hate God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

        1. Or maybe atheists hate the religious for being arrogant enough to assume that they could ever understand the “mind” of “God”?

        2. Wow, are you really Grenator Bole? As in Grenator Dob Bole?

          I haven’t seen you since you debated Teve Torbes on Ched Choppel’s show Pightline!

        3. “Atheists hate God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.”

          Rubbish. Atheists are perfectly content to be held accountable for their actions. It’s the theists who rely on the crutch of relying on some existential “other” to explain their actions, and “forgive” their “transgressions”.

          “human beings don’t just appear without some external causality.” I agree, see evolution.

        4. If you use the “atheists don’t want to be accountable” line, then no one can ever make the association between atheism and communism again. Because it seems like some atheists do want to be accountable, so much that they created a God-State to do it for them. Again, it’s stupid to say communism and atheism are the same thing, but that disproves the idea that atheists “hate” God and just want to be unjudgeable. As for me, my atheism and libertarianism spring from the same root. It’s not that I don’t want to be accountable, it’s that just like libertarianism, I don’t want to be governed by idiotic and arbitrary laws.

          1. I don’t want to be governed by idiotic and arbitrary laws.

            All morality (read law) is arbitrary.

        5. Atheists hate God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

          Uh, why would I waste my time hating something that doesn’t exist?

          1. And you’re evidence that it doesn’t exist is where, again?

            1. You are arguing that God exists. Where is your evidence? See the null hypothesis.

            2. I’m not sure whether any god exists anywhere, or whether some super-powerful being capable of exerting exists in some part of the universe.

              What I am fairly sure of is that the idea of a loving God who sends people to an eternity of writhing torment if they don’t believe in his son, who he had tortured to death, contains so many internal contradictions that it’s absurd. Remember when, in his infinite love, he killed almost everything on earth? Remember when the Ten Commandments forbade idolatry but gave a pass to genocide? Remember when God commands the Israelites meet up with the Midianites, slaughter the males, burn the city, and keep the woman, but Moses became outraged that some soldiers were adopted pagan traditions, so he ordered them to kill all the women except the virgins?

              There might be a god or gods. But I’m only going to consider sensible hypotheses.

              1. *capable of exerting dominion over the Earth

        6. Oh cool, the teleological argument. Like that one’s never been proven to be a weak argument before…

        7. None of these responses address the logical fallacy I raise. Atheists tend to be vocal and argumentative about there not being a God.

          I think you mean that we refuse to address the logical fallacy you employ. For your edification, it’s called a red herring.

          Atheists hate God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

          This atheist doesn’t hate god, because I don’t spend much time thinking about something I believe doesn’t exist. As far as the accountability for one’s actions quip, you know you’re among libertarians here, right?

      3. That’s silly.

    5. Everybody has to believe in something. I believe I’ll have a beer.

    6. Since atheism involves belief, it is therefore a religion of sorts.

      Non sequitur.

      Nobody can disprove that God exists nor can anyone prove with absolute certainty that man evolved from apes or that birds evolved from fish or whatever.

      We are not omniscient, so absolute certainty isn’t possible for us. However, we can gather evidence that strongly suggests the truth of a given hypothesis. Based upon that evidence, one may choose to believe. Such a belief is qualitatively different than a belief based upon faith: belief in the absence of evidence. I think Christopher Hitchens put it perfectly: “Assertions made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

      The real question is why are atheists so self-righteous?

      The irony…it hurts.

  18. For some people I think it is a religion, they try to force their non-belief on everyone else. Penn Jillette is one of the religious atheist, who has written his bible on atheism and preaches atheism.

    Religion is a lot like government. Both set rules you must follow. Both uses fear to enforce those rules. Both want to take part of your income.

    I just want to be left alone and leave others alone.

    1. I would like to add that I don’t believe atheism is a religion, but I do believe all atheists worship something.

      1. Feckin’ A! I worship drink!

      2. What do you mean by “worship?” Beyond simple value attribution, (You might say I worship Doritos.) I can’t think of anything I really “worship” in a recognizable sense of the word.

  19. By chance human history could have developed with absolutely no concept of religion, with things still being pretty much the same. Think about it, Obama and Santorum might still be who they are. People would be atheists, there would just be no purpose to have a word describing different levels of theists.

  20. Kennedy was getting spanked by Bill Maher while a fellow Team Red player was there on the panel so she reacted like an infant – “Atheism is a religion too, Bill! So there!”.

    Certainly she knows better now.

    1. On the subject of religion – why don’t you tell us now about how great the economy is doing, and how Obama is lowering the deficit. Preach it, brotha! Preach on!

      1. Numerical measures are objective, you idiot.

        GDP was 3% last quarter and it was -8.9% in q4 2008. S&P 500 is 1360 vs 806 – objective measures. The deficit is $200 billion lower now.

        Not religion – observable fact.

        1. HALLELUJAH, AMEN!!

        2. Obama announces defense budget cuts, defense companies start hiring and shoveling more dough to the ObomBa reelection effort. Observable facts.

          1. Wow! Two hundred billion! Why, we could run the government for WEEKS on that!

          2. The thing is, if a Republican was president, shrike would be using the same “observable facts” to prove that the economy is shit and that the deficit is not being lowered.

            1. Thus the flaw in his ointment, Fatty.

              Note, also, how rankled he gets when his Sacred Idols are thumped and mocked.

    2. “Kennedy was getting spanked by Bill Maher while a fellow Team Red player was there on the panel so she reacted like an infant – “Atheism is a religion too, Bill! So there!”.”
      Funky….I wish I had seen that!

      1. Odd how shrike can bitch about infantile behavior with a straight face…

  21. I contend that if your system is about God?or about the non-existence of God?God is still at the center of the argument’s “aboutness.”

    Tru dat!

    1. That is only true in a very pedantic sense. For me, the only time I consider the existence or non-existence of god “central” to anything is when a discussion like this comes up. Otherwise, I don’t really think about it.

  22. “It’s all in how you define religion?if it’s faith, then atheism isn’t.

    He’s wrong about that.

    Another word for faith is or can be “uncertainty”.

    There are two camps of “faithful” people.

    One camp acknowledges uncertainty. They’re reasonable. Even the religious among them see that without any uncertainty, faith cannot exist. If you’re certain about what you believe, then you’re not taking anything on faith.

    The other camp sees faith as the opposite of uncertainty. These people are to be mocked and feared.

    There are atheists and religious people in both camps.

    Do atheists have faith? Of course they do! Especially if they believe that someone loves them. How can you believe someone loves you without any uncertainty? Without any faith?

    We all live on faith. We have faith in our futures–even though they’re uncertain.

    1. Being an atheist does not necessarily make one faith free. However, faith is not a feature of atheism. Faith is a central feature in religion. Atheism is not in any meaningful way religion.

      1. I have faith in the data I produce, and in that produced by others. I have faith that the models (or theories) that we produce to describe the universe, or biology, or a chemical reaction, that those models are better and more testable than the models of a thousand years ago. And a thousand years forward (if we survive), we will have even better models. Perhaps none of them will be perfect, or perhaps if they are, then we will be gods ourselves.

        But I don’t need to run to some grampa in a nightshirt to understand the world, I simply accept that there are parts I do not yet know.

      2. However, faith is not a feature of atheism.

        Depends on how you’re defining faith, doesn’t it?

        I see faith as a choice you make in the face of uncertainty, and what you choose to believe is certainly a choice.

        If you imagine that there’s no uncertainty regarding what you believe about the existence of God, then I’m gonna put you in the second camp I was talking about with other people who should be mocked and feared.

        Believing that there isn’t a God, without acknowledging any uncertainty, isn’t philosophically superior to believing that there is a God without acknowledging any uncertainty.

        And if you’re making a call despite the uncertainty, then I’m gonna call that “faith”.

        You might argue that believing in God requires a greater magnitude of faith, but you can’t argue that believing requires one to overcome uncertainty and atheism doesn’t.

        1. Piffle. I’ll grant you all the uncertainty you want. But it belongs on the same shelf with the Tooth Fairy and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

          Religious belief requires a faith that is unrelated to atheism.

          1. Over the centuries, there have been some pretty formidable arguments in favor of God. I haven’t seen a reaction to any of them that dismisses the argument entirely.

            Even Darwin’s blind watchmaker concedes that there could have been a watchmaker. And doesn’t it both you that atheism has always been a reactionary stance?

            Add to that the idea that if God is merely a social adaptation–and there’s no question among anthropologists that religion is adaptive–then why criticize something functional, that people still find useful for adaptive purposes, as being on the same shelf as the tooth fairy?

            If religious belief helps people keep their families together, deal with death, overcome hardship and depression, etc., etc., then why dismiss those very real socially adaptive benefits as belief in the tooth fairy?

            There’s a lot more to it than that.

            1. Here’s a relevant article in Scientific American titled “Is Religion Adaptive?”

              http://www.scientificamerican……n-adaptive

              If you glance through it, I think you’ll see that all the assembled experts agree that it is. Some of them may say the adaptation works in different ways, but the article wasn’t titled that because there’s any controversy about whether religion is adaptive.

              They were apparently just trying to be provocative to get people to read it.

            2. Holy crap Ken. You been drinking the water again. Just about everything in this post is crap.

              There are no credible arguments in favor of God. If you want to weigh into those waters. Read Dawkins.

              It is disingenuous to claim that natural selection doesn’t rule out the deity. Darwin’s theory makes no concession to the watchmaker. It’s just another way of saying “you can’t prove there isn’t a god”

              The functional and adaptive purposes that people find for religion include flying airplanes into buildings.

              But the utility of religion is a diversion. Atheism is simply not a religion. It’s at best poor reasoning to suggest that it is.

              1. It is disingenuous to claim that natural selection doesn’t rule out the deity.

                Huh?

                I’m not sure you understand the meaning of the word “disingenuous”.

                There are no credible arguments in favor of God. If you want to weigh into those waters. Read Dawkins.

                How is this different from me telling you to go read Anselm of Canterbury or Behe?

                You read somebody that persuaded you of something–so now a thousand years of argumentation with all its unanswered questions goes out the window, why?

                The functional and adaptive purposes that people find for religion include flying airplanes into buildings.

                Syrian snipers use their opposable thumbs to aim rifles at protestors, too. Does that mean our thumbs aren’t also a beneficial adaptation in other ways?

                So long as individuals find adaptations useful, they’re useful adaptations.

                1. Oh just stop it with your “thousand years of unanswered questions”. They’ve been answered long ago. The thinking behind them is not rigorous.

                  Useful adaptations should give way to superior adaptations. Religion is a chariot in the age of jets.

  23. When I called some of my Twitter/Facebook pen pals “Palins,” they became particularly rankled, accused me of circular logic, and called me a Palin, to which I say, “I know you are, but what am I?”

    I love you.

    Will you marry me?

  24. I have a hard time taking people seriously when they make the claim that Atheism is a religion.

    Nothing personal, it just shows a deficit of critical thinking skills.

    1. I have a hard time with people who call themselves “agnostic”–as if “agnostic” somehow excludes religious people who have their doubts.

      Let’s face it, more than 90% of the religious people out there have their doubts. Hell, Jesus had his doubts! Like I said before, anybody who doesn’t have any doubt whatsoever is suspicious regardless of whether he or she believes in God.

      1. You used a bad example:

        Jesus didn’t have doubts ABOUT God, Jesus had doubts IN God!

        Meaning, he KNEW that God existed but his crisis of faith was about whether accepting God’s will was the right thing to do!

        Satan tempted Jesus in the desert with the idea that the two of them together could do a better job looking after creation!

        1. Very well.

          It wasn’t a lack of faith in God’s existence; but what I was trying to say is that no one’s free from uncertainty. Not knowing for sure or “agnosticism” isn’t exclusive to people who are leaning towards atheism if 90% of Christianity also has doubts at any particular point in time.

          1. There’s only a very small minority of people who should accurately be called “agnostic”. They’re the ones who if someone approached them and said, “I have an envelope here containing the correct answer to the question, ‘Is there a God?’. I want you to tell me your answer, and if you’re wrong, I’m gonna blow your brains out” And then he puts a gun to the guy’s head.

            If the victim of this pulls out a quarter and flips it? Then he’s an “agnostic” because he really doesn’t have an opinion one way or the other.

            Those of us who have an opinion have uncertainties, too; we just lean one way or the other. So, claiming not to know because of uncertainty in no way differentiates atheists from believers.

            Having a working theory doesn’t mean a scientist forgoes his right to uncertainty. People who believe in God don’t give up their right to uncertainty just because they have an opinion either.

            1. Strictly speaking, an agnostic is not one that simply doesn’t know whether God exists, but one that believes that it not possible to know.

              1. Strictly speaking, an agnostic is not one that simply doesn’t know whether God exists, but one that believes that it not possible to know.

                Doesn’t adding additional qualifications makes the pool of possible agnostics even smaller?

                How many agnostics really hold to that? How many of them really say they don’t know–and also that it will never be possible to know?

        2. Right, because it makes so much sense that Jesus could be one of the three aspects of the Trinity, but could still be so tempted.

          The 40 days in the desert, and Gethsemane, are the dumbest parts of the Bible – unless Jesus was not actually God. And given how dumb many of the other parts are, that’s quite an achievement.

          1. I wish more Christians paid attention to the three temptations.

            Per Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor”, that scene turns Christianity into radical libertarianism.

            More radical than I am, that’s for sure. If God allows people to murder each other, then who are Christians to say we should go to jail for cannabis?

  25. But WWNS?

    What would Nietzsche say?

    Is there anyone more pathetically superstitious than an Atheist who believes in Right and Wrong_

    1. Might makes right

      1. these hard, strict, abstinent, heroic spirits who constitute the honor of our age, all these pale atheists, anti-Christians, immoralists, nihilists, these sceptics, ephectics, hectics of the spirit….these last idealists of knowledge in whom alone the intellectual conscience today dwells and has become flesh ? these ‘free, very free spirits’…. ? this ideal is precisely their ideal as well, they themselves represent it today, and perhaps they alone; they themselves are its most spiritualized outgrowth, the troop of warriors and scouts it deploys on the front line, its most entrapping, most tender, most incomprehensible form of seduction: ? if I am a guesser of riddles in anything than let it be with this proposition!?These are by no means free spirits: for they still believe in truth?

    2. Is there anyone more pathetically superstitious than an Atheist who believes in Right and Wrong.

      Yes. A religious douchebag who needs a list of “thou shalt nots” to remind him not to kill people.

  26. “Or at least it requires a God for you not to believe in.”
    Now that’s funny.

  27. I get the novelty of an MTV alum being libertarian. But don’t we already have Kurt Loder for that?

    This is one of the most intellectually deficient articles I’ve ever read at Reason.

    You need to throw Kennedy back where you found her.

    1. There is nothing particularly interesting to be had from a conversation with a religious fellow nattering on about his beliefs; and of all the cultists who want to bend your ear about their convictions the Atheist is by far the most tedious.

      1. I take it you’ve never met someone selling Amway.

        1. You’ve met Tony, right? He “sells” the product of egalitarianism, which is right up there with battery-powered singing bass wall-hangings and the Popeil Pocket Fisherman in terms of quality merchandise.

  28. I think that if there’s a thing in your mind that you have a relationship with and thoughts and feelings about and you call it “God,” you believe in God. And in that sense, people who call themselves atheists tend to be among the most devotedly religious.

    Fuckin’ Torquemada was less defined by his relationship with God than Penn Jillete is.

    (I do love Penn. But.)

    1. I think this is the only point I was trying to make about atheists such as Penn.

    2. I think that if there’s a thing in your mind that you have a relationship with and thoughts and feelings about and you call it “God,” you believe in God. And in that sense, people who call themselves atheists tend to be among the most devotedly religious.

      Huh? So, you’re saying that if you believe in something you call God, that you believe in God. Pretty bold. You have to do some serious mental gymnastics to claim that not believing = believing though.

  29. I guess that makes me an Episcopalian, who only goes to atheist non-church on Easter and Christmas Eve.

    1. I always figured you for a kneeler.

  30. I love it when religious people try to smear athiests as being religious people.

    1. Now that’s funny too. This article has generated some funny shit!

    2. I love how Atheists consider it a “smear” to call their deepest and most passionately-held non-empirical beliefs a religion because those are totally different from other people’s most passionately-held non-empirical beliefs.

  31. Who gives a shit? Religion can’t be objectively defined so really you are all right. Except that guy who thinks there is no evidence of macroevolution, he’s an idiot.

    1. There is unequivocal evidence that some people commenting on this thread resort to ad hominem attacks to support their position.

      1. I believe it was his opinion. He belives the guy is an idiot…therefore he is religious about idiots….he thinks they exist. Hey this is fun.

  32. If atheism is a religion, then “off” is a TV channel.

    1. …bother to read the whole thing, did you?

  33. The distinction between theists and atheists in not the difference between one (or many) and zero, but between one (or many) and null. Religion is not the channel on the TV set, but the TV itself. Selecting Yahway, Vishnu or Thor, or even turning the silly thing off is fundamentally different from not having a set to begin with.

    The fact that our brains are apparently hardwired to join small-r religious groups was suggested to be based on a need to promote a group identity. But evolution is neither perfect, guided, final. In time, this too may pass away (I hope!).

  34. I prefer the term irreligious.

    1. I refer to myself as non-superstitious. I don’t care if I walk under a ladder, or if a black cat crosses my path, nor if there was a magical hippy 2k years ago who pulled fish and bread out of his ass.

      1. I prefer “Asian carpenter zombie,” but that’s just me.

      2. ….who pulled fish and bread out of his ass.

        All of a sudden I’m not so hungry.

  35. As an Atheist raised as a Christian, my moral code centers around The Golden Rule. It fit’s comfertably with my Libertarian viewpoint. I do find it interesting that so many Christians viewpoint of The Golden Rule seems to be so conceptually different than that.

  36. So, what is it called when the original post itself is trolling?

    1. Original sin?

  37. This does not prove God exists, but it does show humans are wired or biologically predisposed to believe in something.

    Heh, no, there’s no reason to think it means anything about “belief”.

    Peoples’ brains also lite up like Robert Redford’s suit in The Electric Horseman when people stub their toes or slip on ice. It’s rilly rilly spiritual!

    My own religion is based on a disbelief in unicorns. The fact that gods don’t exist is irrelevant.

  38. Well…not practically, but atheism could be proven wrong. It’s simple: show me god.

    Actually, you can’t.

    It’s the Star Trek V problem.

    Ultimately you can’t “show me God” because all you could do is show me “a being of great power who does freaky shit” and if that being claims to be God he could be lying.

    You could do the full St. Peter routine and have me judged at the pearly gates and then sent to Hell, and it could still be a trick. Solve the “upload consciousness” man-machine barrier problem and any asshole can “send me to Hell”.

    So unfortunately there’s no way to “prove” there’s a God in the Anselmian sense by experience.

    1. Uploaded consciousness sent to ‘hell’ + CIA kidnapping Jesus. The crowdsourced reason sci/fi slashfic is on it’s way to publication!

    2. Star Trek V made Howard The Duck look Oscar-worthy.

  39. Bullfarts, Kennedy.

    Sigh. Why is REASON now peddling articles based on logical fallacies?

    1. Why do you think they call it Reason?

    2. Yeah! Only we comment posters are allowed to do that!

  40. Kennedy makes a leap by saying that because brain activity is happening in the same place with RELIGIOUS experiences that this somehow makes atheism a religion. First of all, we don’t know exactly WHAT exactly is going in the brain in these areas at these times. Second, these were religious people having religious experiences being scanned, that doesn’t say anything about atheism or atheists. Kennedy is just assuming way too much. Atheism is not a religion, and Kennedy is not neuroscientist.

  41. What about the religion that says YOU don’t exist? http://higgo.com/quantum/fourreasons.htm

  42. There is far more circumstantial evidence showing that our universe was created by design rather than it being a random fluke. There are Fibonacci sequences in flowers and galaxies.
    Atheists hate God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

    The reason atheists act in such a militant fashion is because theists are so fucking stupid that they’re annoying. Who can hear pap like this and not assume a posture of militancy out of nothing more than nerd rage?

    Let me clue you in, doofus: the two things you just argued here have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

    The presence of “circumstantial evidence that the universe was created by design” does absolutely nothing – zero – zilch – to make anyone “accountable for their actions.”

    1. For the simple reason that proving that the universe was divinely created isn’t enough to do that. You’d have to prove that the creator deity gave a shit what we did, AND you’d have to prove that you somehow have magical access to the creator deity’s rulebook.

      That’s why it’s so pathetic to see the Judeo-Christians grasp at straws like “evolution is only a theory” and “no one knows what came before the Big Bang, if there was one”. Because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t save Judeo-Christianity if it turns out that “an intelligence” was behind the Big Bang (if there was one). Because for all you know, for all anyone knows, that “intelligence” wants us to kill our neighbor and keep no day holy.

      But you just casually jump from Fibonaci sequences to “you will be accountable for your actions” even though you have absolutely nothing – nothing – to put in between those two steps.

      1. I’m such a retard for not realizing that if “Man is the measure of all things” in the absence of supernatural influences, and Government is the most powerful entity made up of Man, then Government is God and the State is the measure of all things, and therefore the State shall determine what is moral or immoral and be in charge of holding me accountable for my actions.

        Libertarianism is such obvious bullshit since free will and the self can’t even exist in a universe where everything is predetermined by chemistry and physics. Ought cannot be derived from is, and might is the only right. We biochemical machines are destined to be reprogrammed into model citizens for a totalitarian state by whichever neuro-scientist is the first to figure out how to reprogram his fellow man, if some asteroid doesn’t collide with Earth and destroy all humanity first.

        1. I think I can know secrets about the universe by getting messages from beyond.

          And I think this is somehow more respectable than going to a fortune teller, or shaking chicken bones in a gourd.

          Yay me!

          1. Now here is an oxymoron.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfuBREMXxts
            Monkees singing about being a beliver.

        2. BTW, even if you could demonstrate by argument that the existence of the Judeo-Christan god was absolutely necessary for libertarianism, and even if you could demonstrate that his existence was similarly absolutely necessary for all that bad stuff about the state you wrote here to not happen, that would still not do anything to prove that God exists.

          Nothing. Not even a little.

          It doesn’t matter if God is “necessary” for something you want or like. He’s either there or he’s not. Our likes and dislikes have nothing to do with it.

          1. It totally doesn’t prove me a hypocritical fucking retard that I continue to believe in things that can only exist if God exists while trying simultaneously to deny the existence of God. That I don’t try to stop believing in things that I like when it’s proved to me that those things are denied to me if I insist on believing God doesn’t exist shows that ultimately everything I believe is based entirely on what I want to be true rather than on anything provable, just like everyone else in the universe, including everybody else I just called fucking retards for disagreeing with me.

    2. because theists are so fucking stupid

      I don’t think it has anything to do with intelligence. The smartest man in the world believes in God and has pretty much invented his own quasi-scientific religion. I’ve known too many highly intelligent religious people to believe that intelligence and religion are intimately connected.

      1. Here lies a rotting sack of amino acids that used to be a lot smarter than you stupid theists who believe in the afterlife.

      2. “I’ve known too many highly intelligent religious people to believe that intelligence and religion are intimately connected.”
        Huh???

        1. Would it help if I said I’ve known plenty of dumb religious people, too?

        2. I think he means there’s neither a direct nor an inverse relationship between intelligence and religion; people of any belief and any disbelief can be intelligent or stupid. A lot of Christians (Augusting, Aquinas, Luther, etc.) have been very intelligent, but a lot of others (medieval peasants, for instance) have not. Likewise, a lot of Atheists have been intelligent (Darwin, Huxley, Marx, etc.), but a lot of others (pretty much every online Atheist evangelist ever) are not. Clearly, brain power and education do not necessarily correlate with one’s choice of religion.

    3. Atheists hate God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

      I don’t see any connection between an entity who would create the mathematical based aesthetics of this universe with the petty tyrant of the Old Testament. The nature of the universe is the best proof that that demon had nothing to do with it and to obey his commands would be like spitting into the face of the true creator.

      1. Of course, I’m not going to be going looking for the true creator, since he… or she… or it… might turn out to have some mandates for me that I won’t like.

        1. You can’t handle my handle anonpussy.

          Being underhanded comport well with your demonlord’s values?

          1. Hey, who’s keeping score?

      2. Atheists hate God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

        I’d say I disdain the idea of God because I *want* everyone to be held accountable for his actions.

        Believing in some deity allows you to absolve yourself of your sins, allowing you to do anything as long as you ask for forgiveness. I find this attitude reprehensible.

        1. Being held accountable for my actions, of course, means taking an eternal dirt nap just like everyone from Adolph Hitler to Anne Frank did. Isn’t it wonderful how fair and equitable the universe is to everyone by ensuring we won’t be around to experience either the good or the bad long-term effects of our actions on other, their opinion of us, or anything else that might conceivably matter to us?

          1. eternal dirt nap

            If time is what we perceive it to be, the universe would have petered out an infinity ago. So, I don’t think that is an element of existence of which we have any real understanding.

        2. Believing in some deity allows you to absolve yourself of your sins, allowing you to do anything as long as you ask for forgiveness. I find this attitude reprehensible.

          This might be the most ignorant statement about Christianity (I won’t speak for other faiths) I have ever read.

          1. It might be the most insightful statement about how my mother’s family practice their Catholicism I’ve ever read, though I’ll grant probably not all Catholics act so.

  43. “I contend that if your system is about unicorns?or about the non-existence of unicorns?unicorns are still at the center of the argument’s “aboutness.”

    Uh, do you see what’s wrong with this? Neither God, nor unicorns are at the “center” of any “system” of mine.

    Almost every argument in article is fallacious. Your thesis is wrong, definitively. Definitively. You might think it would be useful to you if were true, but it’s simply not. Embrace literalism in your public arguments. Let the rest go. (at least in public)

  44. I guess I’m a reactionary atheist. I don’t give a shit about skygods. Yet, when I get labeled as ‘religious’ which implies believing in skygods I get kind of offended.
    By not believing, how can I be participating in an act that requires belief in some sort of supernatural being? I don’t care what you believe in, just keep that shit to yourself. In my eyes it makes you look kind of insane. Shall we update the DSM for your condition? As long as you’re not hurting anyone because of your irrationality, no.

  45. Read this instead.

    The Relation of Science and Religion

    Now, since the belief in a God is a central feature of religion, this problem that I have selected points up most strongly the problem of the relation of science and religion. Why does this young man come to disbelieve?

    The first answer we might hear is very simple: You see, he is taught by scientists, and (as I have just pointed out) they are all atheists at heart, so the evil is spread from one to another. But if you can entertain this view, I think you know less of science than I know of religion.

  46. I have yet to hear a cogent response to this question: Why is it a problem if someone considers atheism a religion?

    It’s a problem because if the courts recognized Atheism is in fact a religion, then Atheists would no longer be allowed to impose their beliefs on anyone else at public expense. Atheist teachers at public schools would have to keep their disdain for other religions to themselves because anything that could be construed as evangelizing their religion could bring on a multi-million dollar lawsuit from some Al-Sharpton-esque shakedown artist, and be banned from the public square for the same reasons cr?che scenes and menorahs are.

    The tax exemptions you can get for admitting to being a religion are pretty small beer compared to the government gravy train you can ride if you pretend you’re not.

    1. You are so fucking retarded it’s silly.

      How exactly do you propose to go about banning “atheist symbols” from the public square?

      Give me a quick list of all atheist symbols, you mouth breathing piece of shit.

      1. I’m so fucking retarded that I am constantly compelled to use the term “fucking retarded” to refer to anyone who disagrees with me to whom I have no rational response.

        1. Yep, you’re fucking retarded all right.

          And you can’t make me feel badly for using the term. I don’t really have any sympathy for retards, so proving to me that using the term “retards” hurts their hypothetical feelings means nothing to me.

          Guess what, dipshit? A public park with no symbols in it whatsoever is “evangelizing atheism”, by the moronic standard being promulgated by Southerner, in his usual moronic way.

          The only way to not “evangelize atheism” in public spaces, by his standard, would be to utterly eliminate the public spaces. But since I would be cool with that, I guess I’ll wish you good luck.

          1. I’m too fucking retarded to realize how fucking retarded I am.

            1. Maybe if I say “fucking retarded” enough, people will actually listen to me instead of dismissing me for being such a fucking retard.

      2. Freedom From Religion Foundation, you are hereby banned from disseminating any of your religious literature in public schools from now on.

        Carl Sagan’s Cosmos shall no longer be allowed to be shown in public schools since it contains Atheistic religious assertions that there is no God.

        You’d be surprised how many Atheist “symbols” there are, Fluffy.

        1. I think I see why you assholes lost the war!

          1. I really wish you’d shot Calhoun and Stanton while you were purging the assholes, Abe.

    2. Sorry, but, like many irreligious libertarians and anarco-capitalist, I don’t believe in the public sphere as a net social positive. Have no desire to teach kids atheism at the public’s expense. Strict separation of school and state and a strict separation of economy and state. Those are my goals.

        1. Check out these tits!

          1. The Omega Particle doesn’t exist, you bitch!

            1. …but these tits do!

  47. I suppose if you take atheism in its strongest form then it is an unfounded faith based statement; that is, to say “There is no God” is not a statement that can be verified or logically proven. But the slightly less strong version, “I have seen no evidence for and find no reason to accept the premise of a deity” is a completely rational and faith-free statement, and doesn’t qualify as a religion in any sense, any more than a scientist observing the world could be construed as a cleric of a religion.

    1. ^^^This^^^

  48. You’re all figments of my imagination. My very, very sick imagination.

    1. If we’re all figments of your imagination, you fucking retard, why don’t you just make us go away?

  49. I have studied Newberg’s work for sometime now and what you have stated in this article is in line with Newberg’s thoughts. Newberg (and others) see the brain as a “believing machince” that is required to believe affirm notions about the world in order for humanity to test things and evolve. Thus, there is not the absence of belief in god(s) but the affirmation that they do not exist.

    For proof read next post …

  50. Newberg states:

    “We have to believe to survive, so our brains are believing machines. Furthermore, it’s far easier for our brains to confirm existing beliefs than change long-held beliefs, even in the face of significant evidence.
    […]
    Newberg had a few closing comments about atheism, which he maintains is not the absence of belief, but is a belief system in its own right. It even has its own sects: pure materialists, spiritualists, Buddhists, and various others. They all reject monotheism, but each has a complex belief system, which is strengthened through practice and action. Even science is a practiced belief system which, despite popular notions, changes slowly, or as Newberg says “one funeral at a time.”

    http://illahee.org/lectures/ar…..es/Newberg

  51. Part 3 – In light of my comments above:

    For me, and many atheists as well, the New Atheists are to be considered religious zealots.

    I don’t normally have the luxury of communicating on line in this type of forum; nor do I enjoy dialoguing with people on various issues on this matter; so, if I do not respond to reply’s to my email then this you should know.

  52. While I have no personal use for organized religion, I am not an atheist for the simple reason that I find people who say there is no god just as narrow-minded as the Jewish, Chistian or Muslim fundamentalists who say I’m going to hell for not believing what they believe.

    1. If you believe I’m narrow-minded, you’re a fucking retard!

      See? Atheists aren’t so narrow-minded. “Fucking retard” is a term of affection. You should see what I call people I don’t like!

      1. Actually, spoofer, I would say that Brian from Texas is a retard because he’s using “narrow-mindedness” as a measure of truth.

        There’s either a god or there isn’t one. Either way, atheists being dicks has no impact on the outcome. Atheists could be the biggest narrow-minded assholes in the world, and it wouldn’t bring god one iota closer to existing.

        Making up your mind about whether God exists or not based on your perception of how people behave is stupid. Almost as stupid as meditating about it and waiting for a secret message from St. Theresa, or shaking chicken bones in a gourd.

        1. The more I call people fucking retards, the more it disproves God’s existence! See, if people can’t speak over all my swearing and name-calling, they can’t make the case for anything, and that makes me and my arguments the winner! Now fuck off and die in a fire, you pathetic fucking retarded imitation of me!

          1. So, spoofer, you think that god can, in fact, be summoned into existence by people being dicks?

            Interesting. I’d like to hear about the method, though. How does it work? Sounds fascinating.

          2. See, if people can’t speak over all my swearing and name-calling

            I can swear and call names all day long and it doesn’t shorten your posts one letter, bitch.

            You’re going to have to find a better excuse for your lack of argument than “Fluffy called me a name and it kept me from speaking”.

            1. I think gods can be blotted out from existence by being a total dick! That’s why I’m so fucking persuasive and you’re not, you fucking spoofer! Now fuck off and die in a fire!

              1. All I’m saying is that when someone asks me if I believe a Supreme Being created the universe I’m honest in that my answer is “I don’t know. I wasn’t there.” And neither were you!

  53. “….Regardless of the religion, the brain function was the same….. This does not prove God exists, but it does show humans are wired or biologically predisposed to believe in something.”

    Idiot, did they test the brain functions of people getting a massage, or doing yoga or relaxing on the beach or ……?

  54. Once again, I’ll just point out for the billionth time that framing the argument as being between “faith” and “science” is stupid. That was never the conflict.

    The conflict is between reason and revelation. It always was.

    Bringing the term “faith” in to it allows for stupid arguments like “You have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow morning” to be used. Strictly speaking, any notion you have about a future event, no matter how well grounded, is based on “faith”, if only the faith that physical laws will continue to function and not spontaneously fail.

    1. The conflict is between reason and revelation, and the central question is:

      Do we get information about the world by looking at the world and examining evidence, or do we get knowledge about the world by waiting for a holy man to receive a communication from a supernatural realm and write it down?

      That’s the real question.

      There is a qualitative difference between having “faith” that gravity will not fail ten minutes from now and believing that David Koresh is getting direct personal messages from a deity beyond space and time. Sorry. You can’t make the latter idiocy more respectable by trying to compare it to the former.

      1. My fucking retardedness totally makes me smarter than the rest of you who believe in stuff that can’t be empirically proven, because it allows me to believe in logical positivism, which is self-refuting because it can’t be empirically proven.

        1. Revelation is when you think the earth was created in seven days because a holy man got a message from God saying this was the case and he wrote it in a book.

          A religion is a belief set based on revelation.

          Any other definition is deliberately seeking to confuse the issue.

          I don’t even like the term “empirically proven”, because the concept of “proof” applies the wrong standard to knowledge.

          There is a box in front of me. I want to know what’s in the box. Do I:

          1. Open the box and look in it

          2. Meditate and wait for God to tell me.

          If I do #2, that’s religion. If I do #1, it’s not religion.

          Saying, “Ah-hah! But you have to have faith to think that there’s a box at all! 11!” is not really a compelling counterargument to me.

          1. Stop confusing me with facts and logic, you fucking retards!

  55. If atheism is a religion, than nudity is a brand of clothing.

    1. Threadwinner.

      “Atheism requires a god not to believe in”

      Actually it requires one not to believe in any god, divine entity, toothfairy, whatever. Not even an A for effort.

    2. Some fucking retard never heard of the clothing optional lifestyle, which is indeed a marketable brand not just of clothing and fashion, but of living space as well.

  56. Teaching evolution and the Copernican model are not the same as evangelizing for Allah or Zeus. I can prove through independent observation and experimentation that the the scientific models above are valid; Allah and Zeus can not be proved by independent, double blind experimentation. (But if they could be, I wish they would kindly do so soon, ’cause I’m getting mighty sick of this frakin argument.)

  57. “I contend…but at least you admit there’s a TV.”
    No, I don’t admit there’s a TV. That’s the point. God is not “at the center” of how Atheists explain the world. God is absent from that explanation, and irrelevant to it. The subject of God keeps coming up because religious people keep offering up God as an explanation of how the world works (creationism etc.) or invoking “the will of God” or religious maxims as reasons for passing bad legislation or furthering unsupportable prejudices (Like using Leviticus to bash gays.) The God hypothesis is continually thrown up, and atheists may choose to ignore or engage those who offer up such a hypothesis, but God needn’t be in any way central to an atheist’s world view. Merely absent from it.
    Atheism is not a system of belief. Rationality is, and rational inquiry leads many people to become atheists. Atheism is not a system.

    1. Chris, best one yet! Thanks! GT

  58. I guess for some people it can be a substitute for religion, but I don’t think it necessarily is. While yes, some people do get a little zealous, that’s common in politics too. Unlike libertarianism, which acknowledges the existence of the state, we just want to reduce it’s power, atheism doesn’t actually acknowledge the existence of a god. I think it’s more of that we wish to fight the idea of God, not God himself. While destroying an idea is impossible, you can at least fight that idea out of government power, and of course reducing power of government is always good.

    1. I like Stirner’s quote “Our atheists are a pious people.” I don’t think he was necessarily calling atheism a religion, but he realized that people like Marx had simply replaced their faith in God with a faith in central planning. So to be completely non-religious, you would have to separate yourself from every ideology completely. But that’s a philosophical point, and he was using an overly-general definition of religion on purpose. As for everyday life, to kill all ideologies would be pretty difficult, so it makes sense not to apply religious labels to anything that requires belief. My opinion is that atheism falls into that definition, where it might be like a religion, but never actually is.

  59. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

  60. Takes just as much faith to say “There is no God” as it does to say “There is a God”. Neither are scientific statements, since science never says “yes” or “no”.

    1. Science does too say “yes” and “no” to things. We’ve got a scientific consensus that says “yes” to anthropogenic global warming, and “no” to denialism.

  61. While I hate to be seen as aligning myself with Maher, I’m forced to agree: Kennedy is a moron.

    1. Must be related to the political Kennedy’s.

  62. “So, whether you make sense of the world as an atheist… big blob of gray Jell-O in our skulls is like a giant arrow pointing us in the same direction. I believe that is delicious. And religious.”

    Nope. If the “arrow” in your skull is pointing you toward God, if the way you attempt to explain and understand the world involves supernatural explanations or a belief in a supernatural being, that is Religion. If you prefer falsifiable, testable, non-faith based ways of understanding the world – if you care about the testable truth of your hypotheses about the world and how it works – that is not Religion. The urge to understand and explain the world may be universal: that urge is not religion. Religion is a particular sort of explanation of the world, that involves God and the supernatural. There are better explanations of natural phenomena than those offered by religion.

  63. This article is fucking retarded. According to its definition, science is a religion.

    Makes the definition so broad that the word becomes absolutely useless. Pathetic.

  64. Let’s say we go with Kennedy’s notion of religion as a way of making sense of the universe. This would mean that neither theism nor atheism is a religion. They are starting points. Belief in the existence of a deity doesn’t provide any understanding, it’s the specific set of beliefs about that deity (a vengeful versus a loving god or multiple gods with human failings) that provides a framework for understanding. Conversely, disbelief in a deity doesn’t provide any understanding either. For that, atheists adopt another framework such as scientism, humanism, or perhaps stoicism.

    1. Or they adopt fucking retardism, as I have.

      1. Yeah, but there are plenty of theists that have adopted that framework as well.

  65. We seem to blithely stand by and debate this issue with the Judeo-Christian concept of God as one end of the scale and Atheism as the other, and that is the way that it should be. If we raised children from the start without exposure to religion, never ever even mentioning it in any regard, what would happen? Would they develop a version of monotheistic religion independently? Could you honestly call the result of that a religion? The only thing that we would still struggle with in that world is the metaphysical question we all struggle with, death. Being self-aware we all have to deal with the notion that our existence is going to end, and that is terrifying, unless of course you have come up with a system that alleviates that fear and tells you that you will continue on and on. (Continued…)

    1. (..continued)Religion is a construct to control the most powerful notion ever devised, that your existence is not going to end, so long as you obey the gatekeepers, who will dictate how you should behave in the here and now, for surprisingly earthly ends. What is truly amazing is that here in the 21st century any 8 year old child with an internet connection has access to a hundred times more information than any of the greatest thinkers and scientist of the past, yet instead of saying “change the world for the better my child, come up with that invention, that theory, that system that allows your fellow man to live, learn and coexist in a better fashion. Learn as much as you can, challenge every convention and make the world a better place” so many would rather have them fret over what the Invisible Sky Daddy might get upset about. That is the travesty in all of this.

  66. “This also helps explain… Atheism, on the other hand, is about God and proving such an overpostulated supernatural being does not exist.”

    No, Atheism is not about disproving the existence of God. It is simply a lack of belief in god. Some atheists do spend a lot of time trying to refute Religious claims, because the decisions of religious people affect our lives and our communities. The burden of proof lies with those who insist that there is a god, not on Atheists to prove a negative. Of course Hockey and Libertarianism aren’t religions either – except to the extent that a hockey fan might be described as attending hockey matches ‘religiously’ as a metaphor to indicate fanaticism or intense devotion . Religion is a belief in a supernatural god or gods. Easy enough definition. Atheism is a lack of such belief. It isn’t “about” anything.

  67. “When atheists rail against theists (as many did on my Facebook page), they are using the same fervor the religious use when making their claims against a secular society. By calling atheism a religion, I am not trying to craft terms or apply them out of convenience. I just see theists and atheists behaving in the same manner, approaching from opposite ends of the runway.”

    Using the term “religious” to describe a state of fervor isn’t the same thing as defining something as a religion. The Hockey fan may follow his team with “religious” devotion, an Atheist may be equally fervent in promoting his worldview as a religious person. That doesn’t make atheism a religion, any more than Hockey is a religion for the fervent hockey fan.

  68. “The entire discourse about religion stems from those who think they know more than the other guy. But what we really know is that we don’t know much. And we seem to share the same mechanisim in our brains that drives us to make claims of faith and rationalism as a way of making sense of the great unknown.”

    But we do know things. We know a lot more now than we knew in years past. We’ll learn more things, via rational inquiry. Rational inquiry reveals actual truths about the world. Religion does not – and it discourages people from learning actual concrete truths. The two approaches are not equal. They are not equally valid or equally effective ways of understanding the world. The claims of faith do not hold the same merit as the claims of rationalism. Thor is NOT as good an explanation of what lightning is, or how it acts, as theories about meteorology and static electricity.

  69. “You can call atheism a belief system….claims.”

    I wouldn’t call atheism a belief system. There isn’t enough to atheism to call it a belief system. It is possible to have different belief systems, that bear little resemblance to one another, that do not contain any reference to god or the supernatural. I don’t know what you mean by “superhuman agency” – atheists do not invoke superhuman agents. Religious people do. Not all atheists are “devoted” to the idea that there isn’t a god – they simply don’t believe in him. There ARE many fervent atheist activists. They are “religious” in exactly the same way a devoted hockey fan, who is fervent in his devotion to hockey and self selects other hockey fans to hang out with, is religious. Which is to say, not religious at all – because hockey isn’t a religion, no matter how ‘devoted’ the hockey fan may be. And neither is atheism.

  70. What would you consider a “fitting” definition of religion? Here’s mine: Religion is an untestable, unfalsifiable claim that a God, Gods, or other supernatural (or superhuman) agents played a role in the creation of the world, or in other natural processes, and have an interest in the moral and ethical behavior of people. If you don’t believe in a god, you do not have a religion.

    1. Sorry, Buddhists. I don’t recognize your beliefs as a religion.

      1. I didn’t type the above statement about Buddhism. Someone else did, using my name. Weak. If that person wanted to challeneg or correct me about the Buddhist religion they could have done so directly.
        I don’t actually know much about Buddhism, but concepts like Karma and Reincarnation sure do sound like untestable claims, and I’d describe them as belief in supernatural forces. I’d say Buddhism qualifies. This is not a compliment or endorsement of Buddhism.

  71. The claim that atheism is a religion offends many atheists simply because the claim is false. I’m not personally offended by it, anymore than I’d be offended by someone calling me a fire hydrant or a cheetah. I am neither of those things, and only a very silly person would try to claim that I am. Some atheists look down on religious people, and may be insulted by the comparison because they believe their belief system is superior to that of religious people. Some atheists look upon the term “religious” as an insult. They don’t like being called “religious” because they don’t like religious people. Atheists are no more immune to snobbery or prejudice than other people. They just don’t use “god” to justify their snobbery or prejudices.

    1. I doubt that anyone at all is offended because the claim is false. After all, Chris, you just explained how little power there is in any sort of false claim simply because it is false. No one cares.

      What is insulting is when there is an investment in personal identity going on. Then it matters. Then people get mad.

      And using the rejection of god as the basis of snobbery and prejudices is just as holier-than-thou irritating as anyone who thinks they are better because they believe the right things.

      If someone gets really mad when someone else suggests they behave in a religious way about their atheism, if they’ve invested that much in their personal identity as *valuable* because they’ve rejected unreason…

      Well, the shoe sort of FITS.

      Don’t it.

      1. Prejudice and snobbery are lamentable whether practiced by Atheists or theists. In the example Kennedy gave about CASH, there’s a two step equivocation designed to get around the separation of church and state:
        The redefinition of irreligious (ie, making no mention of religion)content as an endorsement of a specific “atheist” religion, then the insertion of Christian dogma into curricula in the name of “equal time.” That’s what I consider a harmful effect of the incorrect labeling of Atheism as a religion.

        1. And that’s why attempts to rebrand atheism as a religion need to be answered. IMO.
          Flat out prohibiting religious speech in the public square would be as egregious a violation of the first amendment as .gov endorsement or mandating a particular religion, as would ‘requiring’ students to practice atheism. I don’t see such prohibition happening, except in the minds of religious zealots (there are atheist zealots too. Zealotry alone does not a religion make) panicky because state funds cannot be used to teach specific flavors of christianity in public schools.

  72. CASH began with an Alabama school textbook court case, where a judge ruled atheism was a religion that was overwhelming the school system and that Christian families deserved equal time in the classroom.

    “OK, in that Alabama case it seems that a Christian judge was using the ‘Atheism is a religion’ canard to undermine separation of church and state and use taxpayer money to allow religious indoctrination in public schools. That’s pretty damn offensive. Zappa wasn’t acknowledging that atheism was a religion. He was, as you said, calling Alabama’s bluff, not agreeing with the ruling.

  73. I’ve noted of late the direction the religio-trons are trying to take this discussion: that atheism is a religion, just like their religion! Therefore, atheists are religious and their arguments have no merit! It’s a pathetic and cowardly way for the religious to try and explain their own superstition and bullshit, and then literally say “you’re just as stupid as us!” as a counterargument.

    FUCK YOU.

    1. DON’T TALK SHIT ABOUT JESUS!

      1. I’M TOO PISSED TO GIVE A SHIT!

        1. THAT’S MY ASS!

          1. WHO WRINKLED MY RANDY TRAVIS POSTER, PISSED THE SEAT, AND HID MY KEYS! SHIT!!!

    2. Therefore, atheists are religious and their arguments have no merit!

      The circle is now complete.

      1. They’re literally using the atheist argument against them against atheists. It’s a fucking amazing headspinner that makes no sense until you understand that they’re already retarded, because…they believe in voices in the sky.

        1. Episiarch, STFU, you fucking retard.

          1. HAHAHA DISREGARD THAT I SUCK COCKS

            1. That’s not me spoofing Southerner, but I have to admit that I suspect that he sucks all the cock he can get.

              1. I SUCK CUNTS TOP THAT YOU FUCKING RETARD

                1. … Isn’t that a good thing?

            2. How you doin?

        2. Yeah, once someone starts talking relgio-psychobabble my brain just kind of shuts off to prevent damage. Kinda like going into shock.

          1. You know you’re not talking to someone who understands reason, so what do you do? Just get away as soon as you can.

            1. But, Episiarch…I believe…there’s this, you know, energy in the universe. You know? I’m not religious, but I’m definitely spiritual.

              1. CRYSTALS HAVE ENERGY FROM GOD

                1. Dude, I need to get ahold of some of those to sell.

            2. You are forbidden by law from getting away from us. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

  74. Why do atheists care? Seriously, I want to know.

    I’m a Christian. I have pretty strong beliefs. And I couldn’t give a fuck what other people say or think about my faith and my beliefs. They’re mine, and they’re personal.

    That’s why I have such a problem with douchey people like Rick Santorum trying to ram his religion down others’ throats. And yes, most fundies of any religion do it, be they Christian, Muslim, Joo, Hindoo or whatever. But there are also fundie atheists. And they play the same game of ramming their disbelief down others’ throats through derision and mocking condescension. Fortunately, they are not most atheists, and the same is true for most theists as well.

    Anyway, the overall point is: who fucking cares? Self-identity should be way more important to people that what others think. People need thicker skin.

    1. I had an argument online once when a believer who insisted that the authors of the four gospels were the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

      I was at pains to point out that the church never claimed that the gospel authors were the apostles, that these were common names, and that in the case of Luke and John the non-apostle identities of the evangelists are well known.

      But she just couldn’t be budged.

      In such a situation, you can do one of two things:

      You can shrug your shoulders and walk away, or you can escalate the argument bringing in more and more evidence and piling more and more hostility on her stupidity.

      Which do you think I did?

      If theists wouldn’t say such stupid things, I wouldn’t be forced to employ derision and mocking condescension. If theists could admit when they’re caught in an obvious historical, scientific or logical error, these arguments wouldn’t escalate.

      1. I called her a fucking retard and she blocked me, the cunt! How dare you fucking retards accuse me of hypocrisy for accusing others of escalating hostility!

        1. I sure hope this is a spoof. Otherwise, my estimation of you was a gross miscalculation.

        2. Dude, the relevant escalation here was not that she was hostile.

          It was that she refused to admit to an obvious error.

          I openly admit to being the one who escalated the hostility.

          Most Judeo-Christians have a half-ass level of knowledge about their own holy books, the history of their sects, and the philosophical and theological underpinnings of their own belief systems. They also refuse to admit that they’re wrong even when it’s obvious and inescapable.

          So if sloopyinca wants to know why atheists don’t just go with the flow, my answer is that I’ll go with the flow when people who are wrong start backing down as they ought. Until then I will be a huge dick. And proudly so.

          1. I’ll go with the flow when people who are wrong start backing down as they ought.

            Until their incorrect beliefs start infringing on my liberty, I will generally just not associate with people I know to be wrong, especially if they refuse to listen to reason. You choose to continue being a huge dick.

            Your faith in your belief system must be quite strong to openly mock those with a different, and equally unprovable, one.

            1. Everybody on here needs to know how fucking retarded they are for disagreeing with me!

              1. So you want to give Ken Shultz more evidence in support of his proposition?

          2. I will be a huge dick. And proudly so. But I’m totally not compensating for anything, you fucking retard!

      2. Which do you think I did?

        I’m sure you walked away. I can’t remember you ever being a smug dick on here just for kicks.

        If theists wouldn’t say such stupid things, I wouldn’t be forced to employ derision and mocking condescension. If theists could admit when they’re caught in an obvious historical, scientific or logical error, these arguments wouldn’t escalate.

        That’s a pretty wide net you’re casting. Especially since: Historical accounts are often not based in fact, but in the opinion of the winner. Scientifically accepted theories are always changing (the earth as center of the universe was accepted by believers and non-believers for millennia. And logic is a constantly evolving thing.

        Now, that lady was factually inaccurate. That doesn’t mean we all are.

        1. I would add “statism” to that list, sloopy.

    2. I care because bad laws are passed and bad policy enacted based on religious belief, because valid scientific theories are being pushed out of public school curricula in favor of religious indoctrination, and atheists face prejudice from the faithful based on our rejection of their superstitious beliefs. The debate about religious faith matters, because the American people are electing Santorums.

      1. Then address the laws and policies. Until the religion itself is imposed on you, it’s just coercion. And trust me, there’s a lot more stupid shit that gets rammed through our legislatures based on a love of the state and humanism than on religious grounds…by far.

        Look at the least religious centers in America.* They have the heaviest hand of government on the throats of the people.

        *San Fran and NYC come immediately to mind.

      2. and atheists face prejudice from the faithful based on our rejection of their superstitious beliefs.

        Prejudice? OK. Who gives a fuck? Are you saying people shouldn’t be able to associate with who they want, where they want and when they want? Until this “prejudice” turns into an infringement of your rights, suck it up and deal with it.

        1. I do address laws and policies that I disagree with. I also try and address the spurious arguments used to bolster the passage of such laws, such as the “Atheism is just another religion” argument. Kennedy even gave an example, late in her essay, of that argument being used to justify religious proselytizing in tax funded public schools.
          Prejudice does translate into infringement of rights. Atheists are denied custody of children in divorce cases based on religious prejudice, atheism is used as a slander in elections, my state has a law on the books (yet to be challenged) forbidding atheists to hold public office – blatantly unconstitutional, but yet to be challenged in court. Atheists are subjected to crude attempts to silence them by threats, violence or ostracism when they speak out on political issues, and are denied services and speech in public venues.

        2. I do address laws and policies that I disagree with. I also try and address the spurious arguments used to bolster the passage of such laws, such as the “Atheism is just another religion” argument. Kennedy even gave an example, late in her essay, of that argument being used to justify religious proselytizing in tax funded public schools.
          Prejudice does translate into infringement of rights. Atheists are denied custody of children in divorce cases based on religious prejudice, atheism is used as a slander in elections, my state has a law on the books (yet to be challenged) forbidding atheists to hold public office – blatantly unconstitutional, but yet to be challenged in court. Atheists are subjected to crude attempts to silence them by threats, violence or ostracism when they speak out on political issues, and are denied services and speech in public venues.

      3. Bullshit.

        Name one law that was passed in the last fifty years because of religion belief.

      4. All laws are based on people’s arbitrary morality.

        Why get overly concerned just because some people base their morality on religion as opposed to some other random reason?

        1. Morality isn’t random or arbitrary. We do not decide, arbitrarily, what behaviors are good or bad. We use standards to evaluate and assign moral values to a behavior based on that behavior’s consequences. We can disagree about which standards to use and what constitutes desirable or undesirable consequences, and our conclusions aren’t always perfect – I would suggest that there are BETTER standards to use than “because it says so in the Bible” – but morality is NOT random or arbitrarily derived.

          1. In your very post, you expose why all morality is arbitrary. The choice of which standards to use is arbitrarily made. Hence, everything that follows from that choice is also arbitrary.

            Moreover, your choice of criteria you use to determine which standards are “BETTER” than others is also arbitrary.

  75. When intelligent design proponents try to make equivalencies between evolutionary theory and ID, they use one of two arguments – they claim ID is a scientific theory (it is not. It fails the scientific method test) or they claim that evolution is just as much a religion as ID, because it’s accepted “on faith.” It is not (it fails the religion test.) The claims of creationists and intelligent design proponents are religious claims. Evolution is not a religious claim, it is a scientific theory.
    I could see forbidding schools to explicitly promote atheism as a first amendment requirement. Teaching that a religion – or all religions – are false is still a violation of the separation of church and state. That doesn’t mean atheism is a religion.

    1. Picking of nits:
      “Evolution is not a religious claim, it is a scientific theory.”
      Not sure that “evolution” qualifies as theory; it’s been shown about as well as any historic process can be.
      What is “theory” is specifically what drives evolution and how it does so.

      1. Well, Sevo, scientists use “theory” to mean something like “a well-founded set of principles that explains a given phenomenon,” so I’d say that evolution is indeed a theory (and a true one).

  76. “Secular humanism is defined as reason rejecting dogma and supernaturalism, which is a fancy way of saying it’s atheists who believe in people and not God.”

    Right. That “dogma and supernaturalism?” THAT’S religion.

    1. which is a fancy way of saying it’s atheists who believe in people

      Like I said, this whole article is just retarded. One does not have “faith” in something which clearly exists.

      1. People do not “clearly” exist. An autonomous immutable “self” cannot be proven to exist, so neither can any collective of these “selves” such as “people” be proven to exist. You do have to have faith to believe in yourself and others.

        1. Ontological arguments in a religion thread!? Say it ain’t so!

          1. Religion, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and ideology all deal with a lot of the same questions? No!!! THIS CANNOT BE!!! I am MELTING! MELTING!!! AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!

            1. Well, at least we can see that you use your religion relieve you of the burden of proof. Thanks cockmunch.

              1. I have self and free will because I say so! Fuck you, you cockmunching fucking retard!

  77. “I am down with reason, and although I think I have psychic powers that allow my friends’ dead parents to take over my emotions, I respect those who don’t believe in the supernatural.”

    If you believe that you have psychic powers and that dead people can exert conscious control over your emotions, you are certainly not “down with reason.” If you truly respected those of us who don’t believe in the supernatural, you wouldn’t call us ‘religious.’

  78. I think her interpretation of the TV channel analogy is fundamentally flawed, or at least fundamentally debatable. The program on the channel could be God. The channel is the pathway to the program just as religions claim to be the pathway to their God. In this interpretation we could absolutely reject God’s existence just as we could reject the idea that there is a program on every given channel.

  79. Let’s have a video of a religious idiot.

    “The whole universal mass can be collapsed down into the size of a bowling ball. So, if you take E=mc^2, you can throw out mass!”

    1. Winning comment:

      Wouldn’t a homeopathic lecture? involve saying a single word followed by several days of silence?
      petrie911 3 months ago 26

  80. Hi Kennedy,

    I want to hit on many things but I decided to just answer your question “Why is it offensive to call atheism a religion?”

    Religion typically makes extraordinary claims about humanity and the nature of reality on bad evidence, religious belief usually requires “faith”.

    Atheism is the rejection of the claim that there is a god. Saying that atheism is a religion because it has a view of god is akin to saying that god exists because people are trying to disprove him. Those people are confusing the concept of a god with the existence of a god.

    Back to the claim. The claim of god is an extraordinary claim with very little evidence. As an atheist, I don’t claim absolute knowledge of whether god exists or not. I can only say that the claim “there is a god” has no good supporting evidence, empirically or logically and therefore is not to be believed.

  81. “The universe is just a little too darn ORDERLY to be a big accident!” – Oliver Wendell Jones

  82. Atheists: Please explain the beginnings of the universe. Include notes.

    1. I can’t, I don’t have enough evidence to make a claim.

      1. If the universe had a beginning, which your beloved empiricists insist it does, then it must have a creator. It must. It is self evident. Res ipsa loquitur.

        Educate yourself and read some Descartes instead of watching Family Guy.

        1. If the universe had a beginning, which your beloved empiricists insist it does, then it must have a creator. It must.

          Not true.

          See: Quantum fluctuation.

          1. So a god you make up named “Quantum fluctuation” is better than my God? Maybe so but it is still a god with all the mystery and power that only gods wield.

            You have no empirical evidence for quantum fluctuation, only a psychological need to fill God’s place with Not-God (also a god)

            1. Actually, as much as it pains me to admit it (I would much prefer a Newtonian universe myself) quantum phenomena are pretty well-attested by experiment.

            2. I believe in God so you’re wrong.

              1. You believe in God, so you’re a fucking retard!

          2. He should see “begging the question” first

        2. Who created the creator?

          Or, alternatively,

          Why, yes, the universe had a creator. And this guy just told me the creator wants us to kill all Christians. Can you help me out and prove that’s not true?

          Thanks.

          1. I still don’t get why these guys believe that “something” “MUST” have created it.

            “WAAAAHHHH! I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW IT HAPPENED SO GOD MUST HAVE DONE IT!!!111one”

            1. WAAAAAAAH! I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THE UNIVERSE HAPPENED SO I INVENT UNPROVABLE REASONS TO AVOID FACING THE FACT THAT I AM NOT THE MOST POWERFUL THING IN THE UNIVERSE!!!! WAAAAAH!! WAAAAAH!!! I WANT ALL THE POWER!!!! I DON’T WANT TO BE A PATHETIC MORTAL!!!! WAAAAAH!!!

            2. “WAAAAHHHH! I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW IT HAPPENED SO GOD MUST HAVE DONE IT!!!111one”

              Is this what you really think of people like me? Because we have faith in how something happened…that you can’t explain either? Tell me, what beginning of the universe do you have faith in?*

              *Because you cannot prove your beliefs are true either.

              1. Is this what you really think of people like me?

                Yes.

                You take an event that you have no understanding of and substitute God as the reason and abandon all hope of ever understanding it.

                Whereas, while I’ll readily admit that I don’t know, I’ll still attempt to understand.

                You basically get to a certain point and say “Fuck this, it’s too hard.”

                1. Bull fucking shit. And this is the thing that pisses me off. You are equating my faith with laziness or lack of intellectual curiosity. And you’re just so fucking certain that there is no God (without any supporting evidence, I might add) that you want to make sure those who disagree are disparaged.

                  1. . And you’re just so fucking certain that there is no God (without any supporting evidence, I might add) that you want to make sure those who disagree are disparaged.

                    No, I just think you’re intellectually lazy. It’s evidenced by how upset you are that I’ve basically called you out on it.

                    I don’t care if there’s a God. It’s irrelevant. I do care if you proclaim that the universe was created by God and therefore warrants no further scrutiny. I do care when the zealots use their religion as the basis for support of certain laws. I do care that most religious organizations are basically governments.

                    So, in short, I don’t care what you believe in, just don’t think that your belief in “God” isn’t more than an excuse for laziness.

                    1. I don’t care if there’s a God. It’s irrelevant. I do care if you proclaim that the universe was created by God and therefore warrants no further scrutiny. I do care when the zealots use their religion as the basis for support of certain laws. I do care that most religious organizations are basically governments.

                      I care when zealots of any stripe use their beliefs as a basis for certain laws.

                      And the fact that most religious orgs are like governments shouldn’t mean w fucking thing to you, since they’re voluntary. Mind your own fucking business.

                      So, in short, I don’t care what you believe in, just don’t think that your belief in “God” isn’t more than an excuse for laziness.

                      Funny, that. I dismiss certain unprovable claims, just as you do with others, and you call me lazy but yourself curious. How do your own farts smell? Flowery, I bet.

                    2. My farts smell like fresh cinnamon buns.

                    3. No, I just think you’re intellectually lazy. It’s evidenced by how upset you are that I’ve basically called you out on it.

                      I don’t care if there’s a God. It’s irrelevant.

                      I’m not upset by that at all. But it’s a specious argument. Saying me being upset that you said something about me just proves your point, right? If I called you a child rapist, would you be pissed about it? If so, it just proves you are one! Idiotic argument and a weak strawman.

                      I do care if you proclaim that the universe was created by God and therefore warrants no further scrutiny.

                      Please point to where I said anything remotely approaching this.

                    4. If I called you a child rapist, would you be pissed about it? If so, it just proves you are one! Idiotic argument and a weak strawman.

                      Actually, I wouldn’t care. Call me whatever you want; most seem to prefer “Asshole.”

                      Anyways, you expressed a bit of anger. This is a symptom of cognitive dissonance; which suggests that you know I’m right and are holding two conflicting beliefs.

                      It’s only a piece of evidence, but it fits.

                    5. Wow. Just…wow. I haven’t seen such a compelling argument since Obamacare was trotted out.

                  2. Why do we need supporting evidence that there “isn’t” a God? That’s backwards. There’s no supporting evidence that there ISN’T a flying spaghetti monster. If I were to claim such a monster existed, I would be expected to offer evidence of it’s existence before anyone would believe me. It would not be persuasive for me to say “well, where’s your supporting evidence that there ISN’T a FSM?” Evidence must be mounted to support a claim, not to prove a negative. Why should claims about the existence of God get a pass?

              2. *Because you cannot prove your beliefs are true either.

                I’m not making any assertions. You’re asserting a God created the universe. I’m not. I’m simply saying I don’t know. I don’t have to prove anything because I’m not arrogant enough to proclaim that I know how the universe was created.

                1. I don’t have to prove anything because I’m not arrogant enough to proclaim that I know how the universe was created.

                  I’m not arrogant enough to, either. I have faith that it happened a certain way. You, conversely, have faith that it didn’t or couldn’t have happened a certain way.

                  In other words we are both discounting certain possibilities on how the universe came to be. And we both lack concrete evidence to support our beliefs.

                  1. I’m not arrogant enough to, either. I have faith that it happened a certain way.

                    In other words we are both discounting certain possibilities on how the universe came to be. And we both lack concrete evidence to support our beliefs.

                    I’m not discounting any possibilities. Maybe there is a God. I don’t know and that’s the proclamation I make.

                    By your “Belief” you limit yourself. You’re arrogant enough to claim that it happened in a certain way somewhere down the chain.

                    1. So, you’re an agnostic then? I didn’t know that.

                    2. No, I’m not agnostic. I don’t believe in any deity, but that does not preclude the existence of one. I can be wrong. I frequently am. However, I make effort to not actively believe in shit that is 1: irrelevant and 2: unprovable in either way with our current technology.

                    3. shorter anon: I’m not agnostic, but I believe that I might be wrong and God may exist.

                    4. However, I make effort to not actively believe in shit that is 1: irrelevant and 2: unprovable in either way with our current technology.

                      1: If it’s irrelevant, you’re spending a lot of time on it.
                      2: Who’s being lazy now?

                    5. 1: If it’s irrelevant, you’re spending a lot of time on it.

                      Yup. Waiting for the pool hall to open, and arguing on the internet is entertaining.

                    6. It sure is. And it’s also a wonderful intellectual exercise. Thank God I can do it with people I respect, and who will not try to impose their belief systems on me, just as I will not try to impose mine on them.

                      Have a nice day, man.

          2. I certainly cannot prove that is not true. And you can sure try. I think the Crusades speak for themselves, pantywaste.

            1. “pantywaste.” -100 sp

          3. My neuro-chemical processes predetermined me to be a fucking retard and stink up every thread with my fucking retarded posts!

            That was fucking retarded of me, but arguably, I couldn’t help myself.

        3. Voice of Raisins|3.10.12 @ 1:40PM|#
          “It is self evident.”

          Shorter ignoramus: “Everybody knows…”

          1. Mmmm… so close, but not true. Self evident does not mean “everybody knows.” The latter is an appeal to the to the crowd (ad populum fallacy.) The former is the INDUCTIVE logic which Francis Bacon structured the scientific method around (empiricism.) DEDUCTIVE logic was defined by the Greeks and argued brilliantly by Rene Descartes.

            Who hates science now?

            1. Who created the creator?

              How would anyone go about deciding what the creator wants?

              1. The fucking retarded universe created itself, which is one of the most fucking retarded things that ever happened. That’s why the universe is so full of fucking retards like me. Don’t you fucking retards dare tell me anything is eternal, because believing in eternity is fucking retarded!

              2. Oh that’s an easy one. You see, there are these animals on earth where we live who speak and communicate. Some of them claim to speak for the Creator. Their claims are contradictory. Look at the works of those who claim authority with the creator. Based on their works, see who is the most creative (as in creation opposite of destruction)and listen to them. Whoever is most destructive, do not listen to them.

                1. Look at the works of those who claim authority with the creator. Based on their works, see who is the most creative (as in creation opposite of destruction)and listen to them. Whoever is most destructive, do not listen to them.

                  When did the creator say he liked creative creations?

                  It ultimately doesn’t matter whether the universe was “created” or not, unless you can demonstrate knowledge of that creator’s desires, or even that he has any.

                2. Shorter vor:
                  Listen to voices in your head!

        4. Did the Creator have a beginning? If so, what created the Creator? Or is it possible that the Creator always existed? If the Creator could always exist, why couldn’t the universe have always existed? If the Creator could have come into being without the aid of some other intelligent Creator, why could the universe itself not have arisen sans a conscious creator or designer? There will always be limits to what we know. Those limits aren’t static: it’s possible to learn and discover new things. The religious argument has always placed God right at the ,i,it of human understanding, saying “we don’t know how this happened, therefore god must have done it!” Once upon a time the best explanation for why it rained was “the Rain God!” No more. Whenever actual human knowledge has advanced, we’ve discovered that “God di it!” was not the correct proximate explanation. I’m betting it never will be.

    2. I just thought up a term called “The Big Thang Theory”, but it needs to be fleshed out. Contributions welcome.

      1. Yeah, but the next question’s gonna be “WELL WHERE DID THAT COME FROM!@?!?!?!?!!!?” which leads to “I don’t know.”

        Not knowing is not the same as believing in something not known.

        1. Damn conundrumage.

    3. I love collecting old books. I have a “scientific” book about the universe which is over 100 years old. In it it states that the idea of a Creator is folly because who says the universe had a beginning? It has simply always been. The poor religious minds who seek a beginning and therefore a Creator are stuck in the dark ages. A static universe proves no God!

      Fast forward a few decades and witness the wonder of Red Shift. A whole new “Creation” story is fabricated- with zero evidence- and swallowed whole cloth by the God-haters. This new Creation story features a new god with magical powers named “Infinitely-small-dust-from-nowhere-in-particular” who grows up to become “Infinitely-large-matter-and-energy.” Where Infinitely comes from and how he made his transition are secret magic. But there’s absolutely nothing religious here. An expanding universe proves no God!

      1. “A whole new “Creation” story is fabricated- with zero evidence- and swallowed whole cloth by the God-haters”

        Nope.
        It was the Easter Bunny haters.

      2. I’m taking a poll:

        There is a box in front of me.

        How do I find out what’s in the box?

        1. Open it and look in.

        2. Pray and wait for God to tell me.

        3. Read a book where other people who prayed a long time ago wrote down the messages God sent them about what’s in the box.

        Please pick one.

        Thanks.

        1. Sweet strawman, Fluffy. Especially since the answers to the big questions aren’t in the box anyway.

          1. It’s not a strawman.

            This is actually the issue. The REAL issue.

            You only think it’s a strawman because it’s been centuries since the forces favoring revelation were utterly discredited. So thoroughly discredited that you no longer even realize such a battle was fought.

            The forces of religion used to assert the utility of revelation for all questions. Not just “the big ones”.

            Advocates of religion used revelation to explain what made rain fall, what made seeds germinate, how women got pregnant, how people got sick, etc.

            Religion fled from those questions after getting its clock cleaned by empiricism. Religion is hiding among “the big questions” now because it’s harder for revelation to get so completely disgraced there.

            But the revelation question is still the central question of religion.

            1. The forces of religion used to assert the utility of revelation for all questions. Not just “the big ones”.

              Citation Needed

            2. Bull Fucking Shit.

              Religion has embraced empiricism. You’re arguing in bad faith.

              Oh, and I don’t ever remember reading where Christians have used revelation to explain what made rains fall or seeds germinate. Could you please give me a link showing where that happened?

        2. If the box only existed 14 billion years ago and its entire contents and packaging eaten and shat out 100 million times in galaxies you will never reach, I think you should probably pray.

          1. The overwhelming majority of claims advanced by Judeo-Christianity aren’t so remote.

            1. Gee, I thought this was a discussion about theism vs. atheism. Not how Christians and Jews piss you off. Sorry about the struck nerve.

              1. If the box only existed 14 billion years ago and its entire contents and packaging eaten and shat out 100 million times in galaxies you will never reach, I think you should probably pray.

                Still, strictly speaking, this may mean that it will be very difficult for me to figure out what’s in the box by looking.

                But of the three options, looking is the only one with any remote chance of working.

                Gee, I thought this was a discussion about theism vs. atheism.

                Actually, I’ve spent most of the thread trying to channel the discussion over to reason vs. revelation, in part because I think circular Prime Mover arguments disguise the real issue.

                1. If I keep attacking other fucking retards’ unprovable foundational premises, it keeps me from having to defend my own fucking retarded unprovable foundational premises, such as that the universe is eternal and uncreated and that one “should” (i.e. is somehow morally compelled to) follow certain rules of reasoning in the first place.

  83. SWEET!!!

    http://dudeism.com/

    I’m joining this one!

  84. “I am down with reason, and although I think I have psychic powers that allow my friends’ dead parents to take over my emotions, I respect those who don’t believe in the supernatural.”
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH
    AHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA
    HAHAHA

    wow, I fucking laughed. What a dumb cunt.

  85. Atheism is self worship. We all serve a master, and the name of that master makes the religion. For Christians, it is Christ. For Jews it is Hashem. For Taoists it is the Tao. For Branch Davidians it was David Koresh. For atheists, it is the self. They are beholden only to their own whimsy. Today killing is “wrong” but tomorrow maybe not-so-much.

    1. Voice of Raisins|3.10.12 @ 1:20PM|#
      “Atheism is self worship.”

      Spoof? Ignoramus?
      You decide.

      1. Wait, some asshole was claiming it was state worship. I’m confused now.

      2. Sevo: Angry self loathing masterbater? You decide.

        1. Voice of Raisins|3.10.12 @ 1:43PM|#
          “Sevo: Angry self loathing masterbater? You decide.”

          Got it.
          No spoof, just real, live ignoramus.

          1. No, really, how many times have you masterbated to WATCHMEN?

            1. You seem to have an issue with masturbation. Did your skydadddy say “No! No!”?

              1. You seem to have an issue with “ignoramuses.” Did your earth-daddy say you were dumber than shit? Considering you also love to say “skydaddy” you may have an issue with fathers in general, maybe you don’t have one. Did yours reject you?

    2. Would you like to subscribe to My newsletter?

    3. Does the possibility of NOT having a master ever occur to you?

  86. Just so you know; Krugabe cannot (or will not) recognize the connection between government subsidies for “higher” education and runaway inflation of tuition costs.

    (you know where to find it.)

  87. Debating whether atheism is a religion is likely to confuse the real issue since the word “religion” has so many overtones, lead to red herrings like “Hey, Buddhism’s a religion, so atheism is too”. What matters is the underlying claim, which is something like “there is no better rational justification for atheism than for theism.” It’s odd, though, to equate the two. While you can’t “prove a negative,” it is certainly more rational in many cases to believe in the lack of X than in X. After all, it is more rational to believe that there is no squirrel in my refrigerator than that there is, but my only evidence for believing in the lack of squirrels is that I haven’t seen any. If you believe that squirrels move in mysterious ways in the crisper drawer, you are less rational than I. The real question is, I guess, In what decisive way(s) does the squirrel case differ from the God case?

  88. Why do atheists care?

    Excellent question. I cannot even be bothered to label myself.

    I confess to finding any proselytization, whether spiritually religious or politically religious, to be infuriating.

    1. I confess to finding any proselytization, whether spiritually religious or politically religious, to be infuriating.

      So do I, Brooksie. And like I said above, religion is personal. I hate the dicks who try to impose their beliefs on me and my family, whoever they are.

  89. “The enemy is not religion, the enemy is faith. Believing something without proof is a fuck you to all the other people on earth.” Really! What is Penn Jillette’s measure of proof? How many times have you read where science had proven something only to find out 10, 15, 20 years later they were wrong?

    Individual proof can go only so far as our individual intelligence will allow us to understand the proof we are given by the scientific community, everything else has to be taken on faith in the scientific community itself. Is believing in scientific proof without being able to fully understand the proof you have been given and accepting it on faith a big fuck you to other people on earth?

    1. How many times have you read where science had proven something only to find out 10, 15, 20 years later they were wrong?

      I’d rather be wrong than retarded.

      1. When a jury hears scientific evidence (proof) in a trial it must put its faith in the science and scientist presenting the evidence as they do not have sufficient time to learn and understand it. So the jury must have faith in the science and the people presenting it. Yes faith can be the enemy but it is not limited to faith in a deity or a god. Twelve of your peer’s beliefs in flawed but accepted science could get you killed. Proof could get you killed just as easily as faith. Faith requires just that, to have faith in something. But to have proven something carries far more weight and can be far more dangerous when it’s wrong.

        1. Bullhead|3.10.12 @ 2:25PM|#
          “When a jury hears scientific evidence (proof) in a trial it must put its faith in the science and scientist presenting the evidence as they do not have sufficient time to learn and understand it.”

          Yes, and?
          The fact is they could take the time to understand it *on evidence*.

        2. But to have proven something carries far more weight and can be far more dangerous when it’s wrong.

          Don’t most religions believe in eternal life or some bullshit?

          I’d say that the consequences of me being wrong while relying on evidence are far less severe than if you chose the wrong religion to follow blindly.

    2. When all you have is bullshit, why, claim that’s all anyone has.
      “What is Penn Jillette’s measure of proof? How many times have you read where science had proven something only to find out 10, 15, 20 years later they were wrong?”
      You just answered your own question; the fact that science *does* accept proof that a theory is incorrect.
      Fail; ‘argument from ignorance’.

      1. Fuck, it’s almost like religious organizations are completely made from clones of Tony.

        1. Incredible assessment, especially considering Tony is basically a worshipper of the state.

          1. It’s exactly the same thought process though. Can’t you see it?

            Step 1: Rely on bullshit claims.
            Step 2: Back bullshit claims with more bullshit.
            Step 3: Have bullshit claims refuted.
            Step 4: ????
            Step 5: Move on to another thread for PROFIT!!!

            1. Step 4: Call everyone who disagrees with my bullshit claims a fucking retard.

            2. It’s not even remotely close to the same process. Religion is faith-based, whereas Tony’s (or the state’s for that matter) are based on actual events. The difference is, they want to perform the same actions and get a different result. Those of us with faith generally understand there are questions that cannot be answered, and we accept that. Big difference.

          2. “basically”?

      2. Nothing can possibly prove the scientific theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming incorrect for as long as we have consensus. Therefore, unfalsifiable assertions are science.

    3. There’s a difference between X having been proven and it being more rational to believe that X is true than not. Just because science might turn out to be wrong about X doesn’t mean it is not more rational to believe X than not. Also, just because a person doesn’t understand all the scientific complexities underlying a given belief, it is reasonable to believe that the scientists do. This is actually a major difference between science and religion: while scientists know more about what they study than the rest of us do, clergymen do not know more about God or morality than the rest of us do. That’s why it is rational to accept the word of scientists, but not the word of the Pope.

      1. 1. Scientists are human
        2. Scientists lie
        3. Scientists often have an agenda apart from “discovering truth”
        4. “Appeal to authority” is a fallacy as much loved by materialistic naturalists as by the most devout Christian Fundamentalist.
        5. Scientists aren’t any less subject to group think than other humans.
        6. Religion has to do with the human experience; with human relations, motivations. Science is concerned with the study of natural processes. The scientific method cannot “prove” anything, it can only show that a particular theory has not yet been falsified.
        7. The proposition of a self-creating universe is not logically sound.

        1. 8. Claims concerning events and phenomena that supposedly occurred in the unobservable past do not constitute actual scientific “proof” (also, see #6).
          9. The existence of information in biological systems provides support for the “Intelligent Design” hypothesis (information being, when elsewhere encountered, the product of intelligence).
          10. You’re a big ‘ol, bed-wetting doody head.

          1. 8. Not by themselves, no. But scientists don’t use only that as evidence.
            9. Nope. Not even close. Question: aren’t you appealing to an authority in coming up with #9? You certainly didn’t figure that out by your own research. So it’s okay for you to get your opinions from fringe science, but the rest of us can’t rely on science that enjoys a solid consensus? You’re an idiot.
            10. Well, by your own logic, the past isn’t proof of the future, so I’ll believe the opposite of #10. Off with the rubber sheets tonight!

        2. 1. Scientists are human, true. They are also experts. I am not arguing that there is never error, but rather that it is more rational to believe in the conclusions of science than in claims that contradict them.
          2. Yes, sometimes. Mostly not, however. Peer review is designed to catch the liars.
          3. Yes, sometimes. See #2.
          4. You misunderstand the fallacy. An appeal to authority is a fallacy when the authority you appeal to is not an expert on the question at issue or when there is not a general consensus among experts with respect to the question at issue. Otherwise it’s fine and we do it all the time quite rationally.

          1. 5. Actually, they are, since they have standards of justification and methods to see if they are being met.
            6. Actually, scientific theories can be confirmed. Can they be proven beyond all possibility of doubt? No, but nothing can. That is an unreasonable (and irrational) standard.
            7. False. There is no logical contradiction in saying that reality came from nothing.

    4. “How many times have you read where science had proven something only to find out 10, 15, 20 years later they were wrong?”

      Not really. A lot of pre-scientific ideas like alchemy and phlogiston were, as I said, pre-science, so science never prooved them. And ideas which were proven scientifically, like Newton’s laws of motion, were not disproved, they were simply found to not apply to all contexts, and are special instances of broader principles, like relativity.

  90. If Atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    1. And not buying health insurance is economic activity.

      Oh wait.

      Well, at least we know Obama believes in God and thinks Atheism is a religion.

      1. What does that even mean and why bring Obama into it?

        1. If Atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.

          And not buying health insurance is economic activity.

          Same concept. Try to keep up.

    2. Well, trying to prove that stamps don’t exist and that people who believe in them are idiots is a hobby.

      1. Stamps actually do exist and it would be idiotic to say they didn’t.

        1. No, it’s fucking retarded of you to say they do!

  91. In my religion there are no teachings and there is no worship. There are no rituals that must be performed, no funny robes or hats. No rules on what to eat and when. No need to trade a faith for a favor and best of all no church to feel guilty for not attending.

    1. So, dude, do you leave your basement, like, ever? And how have you managed to stay out of jail while not obeying traffic lights, not wearing clothes, and not responding to legal summons and not paying your bills because you just don’t feel like performing those silly rituals?

  92. I haven’t read the entire thread, but it has some interesting commentary, along with some highly original invocations of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    I think that, when atheists hear “you’re religious,” it sounds like “you’re irrational!” since that’s their definition of religion. If we define religion as the sum of all villainies and falsehoods, then we won’t want to be called religious, will we?

    1. I think that, when atheists hear “you’re religious,” it sounds like “you’re irrational!” since that’s their definition of religion.

      To the extent that religion employs revelation, it is “you’re irrational”.

      Are you advising us to use observation and analysis to find God? Because then we could do so rationally. If we’re supposed to pray, or read the Bible, or meditate and wait for an oceanic emotional experience, or listen to our hearts, or what have you, to “let God speak to us”, then you are explicitly asking us to employ tools of cognition that are not reason or the senses – you are asking us to be irrational.

      1. I know this because Daddy (who was also an atheist) told me so: all people who believe something just because somebody told them so are fucking retards.

      2. Strictly, we’re not here debating the truth of particular belief systems, we are discussing what to call these belief systems.

        If we’re looking for a definition of religion, it would be best to
        think of a neutral not a polemical definition – this is not only important on the Internet, but in the law as well.

        We have laws protecting religious freedom? Are atheists entitled to the benefit of these laws? If so, then we need a definition of religion which includes atheists.

        1. Strictly, we’re not here debating the truth of particular belief systems, we are discussing what to call these belief systems.

          Talking about whether something is “irrational” doesn’t address its truth. It addresses its method.

          You may get the right answer to a question on the SAT by rolling a 20-sided die. But your method would be a non-rational one.

          1. “I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m simply saying that my belief system is more likely to lead me to the truth than your belief system. When you reach the truth it’s just a coincidence, whereas when I reach the truth I’m correctly applying my principles!”

            Don’t you see a value judgment here?

            1. I sure do, and I value knowledge over superstition.

              1. Suppose we had a law protecting “the free exercise” of “religion.” Would you classify atheism as a religion for purposes of such a law?

              2. AND FOR THAT YOU’RE A HEATHEN BLASPHEMING FAG SEVO!!!1111one

                /sarc

  93. If an adherent of X can write a thick book on ethics without mentioning X, then X probably is not a religion (for that person), in my humble opinion.

    1. It would be better to say that either (a) the adherent isn’t very religious, or (b) he’s not disclosing his fundamental assumptions, even though they influence his views on ethics.

    2. Its definitely not the center of his belief system.

  94. Atheism is a religion just like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    1. What about someone who tweets and posts constantly about how he hates stamp collectors and all their evil ways? Doesn’t that get to hobby status eventually?

      1. What about someone who tweets and posts constantly about how he hates Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians and all their evil ways? Doesn’t that get to hobby status eventually?

  95. This is like the worst chat room ever.

  96. Somebody upthread said basically that all religious people are irrational. That’s about the only correct assessment that’s been made about us. Because we are irrational. There is no concrete evidence that God exists. And a part of being rational demands evidence to support beliefs.

    I’m fine with this. I don’t mind being irrational when it comes to God. I don’t use my irrational beliefs to infringe on anyone else’s liberty, so why should you give a fuck? Do you discount all irrational peoples’ opinions and work out of hand? If so, you would be discounting the opinions and work of many scientists.

    1. Oh, I’m not saying I care. It’s just the equivocation of an irrational belief system with a rational belief system that I find a bit offensive.

      Personally sloopy, I don’t really care what you believe one way or the other, as long as you aren’t trying to rape me or something because “GOD TOLD ME TO!”

      1. And that’s different than someone saying they’re going to rape you because “THE STATE TOLD ME TO”? or “VOICES IN MY HEAD TOLD ME TO”?

        Fuck me. It’s the action you should be worried about, not the reason for the action.

        Or do you support hate crime legislation as well?

        1. And that’s different than someone saying they’re going to rape you because “THE STATE TOLD ME TO”? or “VOICES IN MY HEAD TOLD ME TO”?

          So the ends justify the means? I don’t think so.

          I like how you’re equivocating religious people with insane people though.

          1. I like how you’re equivocating religious people with insane people though.

            Nice deflection there to avoid the point I was making. And I’ll repeat it: motivation is irrelevant. Concern yourself with the actions of others. If someone rapes you, they raped you, period. That is the crime, not that it was because you are an atheist, or because you are black, or white, or a woman, or a gimp.

            You concern yourself with what goes on between other peoples’ ears when you should be more concerned with what goes on in relation to you.

            You’re a busybody that hates people with belief systems other than yours.

            1. And I’ll repeat it: motivation is irrelevant. Concern yourself with the actions of others. If someone rapes you, they raped you, period. That is the crime, not that it was because you are an atheist, or because you are black, or white, or a woman, or a gimp.

              Right… Religions frequently try to “rape” me via their proposed pieces of legislation running through congress, all in the name of their “lord and saviour.”

              Ok, perhaps rape is too strong. But what I’m saying still stands: Don’t force me to accept arbitrary regulation based purely on an irrational belief. Freedom of religion means freedom from religion, too.

              1. Ok, perhaps rape is too strong. But what I’m saying still stands: Don’t force me to accept arbitrary regulation based purely on an irrational belief. Freedom of religion means freedom from religion, too.

                It sure does. Now point me to this legislation that’s been proposed in the name of anyone’s lord and savior. Include the link as well, please.

                1. I offer Rick Santorum, Jesus-champion elite.

                  1. You made a direct claim, and I want to see if you can support it. Name me any legislation that has been proposed in the name of anyone’s “lord and savior.”*

                    *Except where it is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, of course.

                    1. http://www.sltrib.com/csp/cms/…..d=53341059
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_amendment

                      Also, any abortion law ever proposed.

                      Just google a bit and you’ll come up with something like 3 million examples. Everything from Sharia law to specific state laws prohibiting whatever their religion deems is a vice.

                    2. Also, any abortion law ever proposed.

                      I know plenty of atheists opposed to abortion. Try again.

                    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_amendment

                      A movement a century and a half old that never got any real traction? That’s what you got?

                      and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_amendment

                      It was subjecting a moral code, and while I find imposition of moral codes reprehensible, it is lobbying by an interest group, which was covered by the 1A, IIRC. Why do you want groups barred from petitioning the government?

                    4. the second was directed at your other link.

                    5. Just google a bit and you’ll come up with something like 3 million examples. Everything from Sharia law to specific state laws prohibiting whatever their religion deems is a vice.

                      Says the man whose google search turned up a 150 year old example that never got traction and what amounts to a lobbying effort by an interest group.

                      What the fuck, man?

                    6. Says the man whose google search turned up a 150 year old example that never got traction and what amounts to a lobbying effort by an interest group.

                      You said provide an example. I’m not doing your work for you, fuck you.

                      If you don’t think people are motivated to act on their religious beliefs then you’re retarded.

      2. Has that happened to you much? The ritual rape I mean? I’m so sorry, it explains a lot.

        1. Happens in Muslim countries very frequently.

          1. And there’s the rub. You are so brainwashed into your phony multicultural euphoria that you cannot stand back and make an honest assessment: Islam is worse than most other religions. At least Maher has the fucking balls to say it. But, then, he’s never been repeatedly raped by The Prophet. I can see why you’re afraid.

            1. And there’s the rub. You are so brainwashed into your phony multicultural euphoria that you cannot stand back and make an honest assessment:

              Er, what?

              How is this even a topic?

              We’re talking about religion in general here. Islam is a religion; their religion permits rape.

              1. Yes, and smearing all religions based on the actions of one sour one is a logical fallacy and it’s dishonest.

                I postulate that any moral human being should dislike Islam more than Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity or Judaism. If one cannot bring themselves to make that obvious condemnation I think it is because their real god is the Anti-Racist Multicultural god. We could never besmirch a half of a continent of brown people, therefore we must besmirch all religious people (95% of the planet.)

                1. Yes, and smearing all religions based on the actions of one sour one is a logical fallacy and it’s dishonest.

                  No, it isn’t. Religions have oppressed and exercised violence against and for their worshippers for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. It’s Islam today, and abortion tomorrow.

            2. Shorter vor:
              My skydaddy can lick your skydaddy!

              1. Shorter ver: I’m sorry for being white/American

    2. sloopyinca|3.10.12 @ 2:05PM
      I don’t mind being irrational when it comes to God.

      “Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it, which is thinking?that the mind is one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide of action?that reason is an absolute that permits no compromise?that a concession to the irrational invalidates one’s consciousness and turns it from the task of perceiving to the task of faking reality?that the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind?that the acceptance of a mystical invention is a wish for the annihilation of existence and, properly, annihilates one’s consciousness.”

      1. I’m not a Randian cultist, so one woman’s opinion really doesn’t matter all that much to me.

        1. Reason (rationality) is not a cult, but whatever makes you feel better about your childish beliefs…

          1. Yes it is, especially over at Socrates’ Pondertorium.

          2. What seems cultish to me is the slavish devotion to one woman’s beliefs and the constant quoting of her as if her words are truths.

            Seems like she’s your prophet or messiah or something.

            1. “Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it.”

              Try again.

      2. Didn’t she also think that the only real property is intellectual property?

        Why should I embrace the words of a nutbag like that?

        1. dn’t she also think that the only real property is intellectual property?

          No.

        2. Hope this helps:

          “The right to life is the source of all rights?and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.

          Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.”

          1. “Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.”

            1. The Randian Cultists sound a lot like crickets today.

              1. The real world is not a “cult.”
                Hope this helps.

                1. Ignoring Rand’s own words, I see.

                  1. Ignoring reality, I see.

                    Try again.

              2. Possibly because you are not listening. Your calling them cultists is more evidence of your lack of any attempt to understand.

            2. Amazing she wasn’t sued for plagiarizing; I believe I had read in an old issue of Liberty that Atlas Shrugged was remarkably similar to a novel written in the 1920s. Also, some of the speeches from Atlas and Fountainhead were heavily influenced by Austrian economics or the ideas of Isabel Patterson and others. Take Francsisco’s money speech for example. Rand’s problem is that her assumption is that ideas, of an alleged firsthander like herself, are immaculately conceived; but its obvious that everyone, including her, are highly influenced by other people and works before.

              1. Did she ever deny that she learned a lot from the Austrian economists and Isabel Patterson?

    3. If someone has a personal experience that leads them to believe in God, who are we to say their belief is irrational? They have subjective data to which we don’t have access.

      I think the best we can say is that they appear irrational to us.

    4. I like how you try to “compartmentalize” your irrationalities. It can’t be done–the irrationalities will always bleed into other “compartments,” and the inconsistencies will be obvious to rational individuals–but it’s precious that you try anyway.

  97. If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.

  98. I’m an atheist, and I most definitely did not rant on your Twitter feed or on your facebook. Hope you don’t consider me part of the group that did, nor the millions of other atheists that also did not respond to you. Thanks.

  99. Religion is primarily concerned with making sense of the metaphysical world, and of its confluence with physicality. Its organization as a social and historical phenomenon is secondary to this basic function – and so I would treat atheism as being religious in the fundamental sense.

    The assignment of the ‘null hypothesis’, a scientific concept, to religion is based upon this sort of reasoning: ‘I have seen this means of making sense of claims function well in physics; it should work as well for metaphysics’. That may be, in the end, a good or a bad choice. But it cannot be definitively established as such: at base, every system of belief – including an absence of a specific belief, like God – proceeds from some ‘leap of faith’ about how to process information.

    1. “at base, every system of belief – including an absence of a specific belief, like God – proceeds from some ‘leap of faith’ about how to process information.”

      Uh, you mean like processing information in ways that makes airplanes fly? That sort of ‘leap of faith’?
      Bullshit. Fail on false equivalence.

      1. With respect, you’re making the false equivalence, between physics and metaphysics.

        Making airplanes fly depends on understanding *what* the laws of physics are. Religion is about understanding *why* the laws of physics, and other facets of reality, exist. You’re dealing with different types of question, and so have to establish different ways of dealing with each.

        Any metaphysical system relies on some matrix of unprovable assumptions. That isn’t to say all leaps are equal – any matrix of assumptions may be more or less germane to rational application to the physical world – merely that all metaphysical systems require that leaps be taken.

        1. “Religion is about understanding *why* the laws of physics, and other facets of reality, exist.”
          IOWs, it’s completely bullshit? Glad you admit that.

  100. I contend that if your system is about God?or about the non-existence of God?God is still at the center of the argument’s “aboutness.” In the spirit of that “off is a TV channel” comment above: God is the TV. Religions are the channels. If it is off, maybe he’s dead or disengaged, but at least you admit there’s a TV.

    By that logic, Christianity is about there not being the various Roman gods.

    Atheism, on the other hand, is about God and proving such an overpostulated supernatural being does not exist.

    False.

    I just see theists and atheists behaving in the same manner, approaching from opposite ends of the runway.

    Thinking that Richard Dawkins is a typical atheist is like thinking Pat Robertson is a typical theist.

    Why is it a problem if someone considers atheism a religion?

    By itself, nothing, But it’s a symptom of other problems.

    1. Don’t you other religions go horning in on our publicly subsidized dickishness, you fucking retards!

    2. At least Pat Robertson wants to legalize pot.

  101. ANYONE CARE WHAT I HAVE TO SAY?

  102. For fuck’s sake, boot this narcissistic woman out of Reason’s editorial offices. Why does Reason need its very own Kim Kardashian? Obviously a preening piece of flea poo, she’s a drag on your brand and your reputation.

    1. To be fair, I’m pretty sure that’s a dude.

      1. It’s not a dude. It’s Kennedy http://reason.tv/video/show/ke…..ouston-ade

        1. That’s not proof that it’s not a dude.

  103. For fuck’s sake, boot this narcissistic woman out of Reason’s editorial offices. Why does Reason need its very own Kim Kardashian? Obviously a preening piece of flea poo, she’s a drag on your brand and your reputation.

    1. Pretty sure she (Kennedy) is not an employee, but rather another pop-culture celebrity whom Reason, bizarrely, is pimping lately.

  104. First of all, Bill Mahr is a fucking turd. Second, well…. thats all I’ve got.

    Its the most important point anyway…

  105. It is a theistic position, but more about numbers than religion. That is, zero as opposed to one or two or three, or however many you’d like. . . Personally, I think a polytheistic stance gives you more to work with.

    1. get it, “a theistic” position . . . lol

      1. a polytheistic stance might be more stable too, eh?

  106. Meh. I suppose having a solid opinion about that which is almost self-defined to be unprovable might be considered a religion.

    I consider myself an apathetic agnostic with an assumed default position of atheism. Pretty much any story that invokes a great sky bully or a bunch of unknowable mysticism and imagery, typically strikes me as being the grownup equivalent of kids’ ghost stories.

    Something about getting together, telling each other a bunch of things that we cannot prove, and then all joining together in believing them is the big-brained monkey equivalent of small-brained monkey grooming each other for fleas. It makes us all feel like we belong in a group, which we enjoy.

    Kids do this when they tell stories about saying “Bloody Mary” into a mirror three times or even walking past a cemetery at night [insert mystic happening]. It is a kind of group bonding experience.

    1. not sure how anyone can be agnostic. If you don’t believe in gods, than you are an atheist by definition. It’s like if you don’ believe in the tooth fairy; would you consider yourself agnostic on the concept of tooth fairies? There might actually be one, eh?

  107. You hit the biological definition on the head, but you kept to the same old problem on the semantics. To use the “TV” analogy again, atheism is off and religion is on, but god is the tv. God being the actual electrical and chemical activity in the brain that both trigger. So, you can’t say atheism is a religion, because atheism and religion are polar opposites. As far as I know, there isn’t a name for the specific biological process that both trigger. Name that.

  108. Whenever I see someone trolling for attention on the Internet by claiming that a word’s definition is something other than its common usage, I am reminded of Humpty Dumpty from Alice in Wonderland.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”

  109. I was once having a dicussion with an atheist on another blog. He basically tried to dismiss the existence of God by saying that he doesn’t give the existence of God anymore creedence than say the existence of unicorns or lepricans.

    To which I responded: it is widely agreed that our planet revolves around a single star. This star is located in a single galaxy that contains hundreds of billions of stars. This galaxy, containing hundreds of billions of stars, is itself a part of an immense tapestry of galaxies, each one containing hundreds of billions of stars and countless planets. So you mean to tell me that admist these countless stars and planets, there isn’t one unicorn? The universe is so unfathomably large that it is entirely reasonable conclude that anything that logcially can exist, does exist somewhere in the galaxy, and that includes God.

    1. Atheists don’t obsess over whether unicorns, Santa Clause or God exists like theists do.

      Why do you care so much if there is a God? How can you profess to know how you should subject your will to his?

      Are you really just a slave that wants a master? Cause that’s what it’s looking like.

      1. Atheists don’t obsess over whether unicorns, Santa Clause or God exists like theists do.

        That would explain your lack of commenting on the matter today.

        1. Yeah, waiting for the billiards hall to open.

          1. And I’m waiting on Banjos to get her ass in gear so we can go to Lowe’s and get our garden started today.

            1. It’s all about us, dear.
              ? ? ?

            2. I’m waiting on Banjos

              Dude, I’m just as irrational as you, but the significant other thing going on here is kinda creepy OK? Just saying. Thx.

      2. I’m perfectly content with believing in God and the central tenents of Christianity. This involves no sacrifice of my own personal autonomy. I have no idea what God’s will is and really don’t care to know. Instead, I’m just going to live my life morally, not aggressing myself on others. Christianity, defined by me as simply one’s personal relationship with Jesus, is very much a libertarian belief system.

        1. I wish I had said the same thing earlier. Well put.

        2. I’m perfectly content with believing in God and the central tenents of Christianity. This involves no sacrifice of my own personal autonomy.

          One of these is inherently false.

          1. Um, what makes you, as an atheist, think you have free will? I assume you believe in a rational world where things can be explained empirically. This includes human behavior. How can you have free will if everything that goes on in your head are just random chemical reactions to physical stimuli?

            1. think you have free will?

              My exercise of it.

              1. Really? You reject the a priori belief in God, but accept the free will axiom the same way?

                1. There’s zero evidence for God. I have lots of evidence that allows me to accept free will.

            2. “How can you have free will if everything that goes on in your head are just random chemical reactions to physical stimuli?”

              For one thing, those actions aren’t “random”.

              1. Seriously, do you even know what you’re attempting to argue?

                How can a REACTION be random? The entire concept of a reaction demands that there first be a cause to initiate the effect.

                1. Further, “random” itself is debateable.

              2. For one thing, those actions aren’t “random”.

                I was going to make this argument but refreshed my screen before posting it. Then I was too lazy to type it out again. Thanks.

                1. You guys are trying to ignore A Serious Man’s point.

                  It’s not free will if it’s merely the result of probabilistic and deterministic chemical reactions. Your perception of free will is an illusion (or delusion).

                  1. It’s not free will if it’s merely the result of probabilistic and deterministic chemical reactions.

                    Someone would pay you a lot of money if you understood how the brain worked.

                    1. I study neurochemical reactions for a living. The pay is not bad, but I wouldn’t call it a lot of money.

                      Unfortunately, understanding those reactions does not address the question of how consciousness and will arises from the milieu of reactions that are constantly occurring in the brain.

                    2. Don’t bother friend, I appreciate you standing up for me, but anon is incapable of admitting that his libertarian beliefs require the same amount of suspect reasoning as theology. Saying that your natural rights are self-evident is no different than saying the existence of God is self-evident, neither are empirical and rest on ontological proof.

          2. If he chooses to live a certain way, he has made no sacrifice.

            But thanks for telling us how we should live. DU is right around the corner.

            1. One of the central tenets of Christianity is that the bible is the word of God, and the bible is right on everything. If he fully believes in the central tenets of christianity, as he stated, he either hates gays & abortion or doesn’t fully believe in the central tenets.

              More semantics than anything I guess.

              1. The central tenent of Christianity is that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected so that whoever believes in him shall have everlasting life.

                As far as the morality of abortion and homosexuality goes I’ll just let God judge those things, it certainly isn’t in my power to do so.

                he only exception I make is in cases where the immoral action causes harm to another, which is why I am pro-life since I consider the fetus to a person with rights and that’s hardly an unlibertarian position as any abortion thread on this site will show you.

          3. Put simply: it doesn’t matter what you and I beleve in, either we have free will or we don’t because we’re both in the same boat. But that’s a separate debate.

            Now, I may not think its moral to drink or fornicate, but there is nothing physically stopping me from doing those things. I choose not too because those are my scruples. I’m sure you have your own moral code that prohibits you from doing things like hurting others. So really, ALL moral codes result in sacrifice of personal autonomy since they keep us from doing whatever we want.

            So if you really are a libertarian and not some statist, you will abide by the non-agression principle and not initiate unwarranted force against others. So how am I being slavish to my religious beliefs and you not to your libertarian beliefs, especially when our beliefs clearly overlap?

            1. So really, ALL moral codes result in sacrifice of personal autonomy since they keep us from doing whatever we want.

              I see your moral code as lifted from a book written 1400 years ago; you put far less effort into understanding why you avoid acting against your morals than I do, and hence I feel are more likely to abandon your morals for a perceived end.

              I really don’t care that you choose to accept Christianity’s preset moral code. I just think you’re being lazy, like I thought with Sloopy earlier.

              1. Are you suggesting “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is outdated because it was uttered 2000 years ago?

                Again, irony: you rightly scoff at statists like Ezra Klein who say that the Constitution is outdated because it’s like 100 years old, and yet you use the same criticisms against the teachings of Christ.

                1. Are you suggesting “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is outdated because it was uttered 2000 years ago?

                  No, I’m saying that accepting it without contemplation is stupid. Most people adhere to a religion’s teachings without contemplation of why acting against their morals is bad for them, or even without contemplation of what their morals *are*.

                  “I did it cause jesus said so” just isn’t good enough for me, and shouldn’t be good enough for anyone.

                  1. Also, Jesus lived 2000 years ago; nothing was written about what he “said” until 600 years after his death. This is kinda what I was implying about “Jesus” and his “teachings;” I was not suggesting that they were outdated merely because of their age.

                    1. Huh? Wanna tell me where you got the 600 year figure?

                    2. *Also, Jesus lived 2000 years ago; nothing was written about what he “said” until 600 years after his death.*

                      http://www.errantskeptics.org/…..lOrder.htm

                  2. Have I given you any indication that I haven’t contemplated Christian beliefs? I would think the fact that I am both a libertarian and a Christian should give you an indication that I am a rational person.

                    But at any rate, I don’t really need to defend concepts Jesus taught like humility, kindness, mercy, and loving others because they tend to speak for themselves and most people would agree that people with those qualities are good, decent people.

                    1. Have I given you any indication that I haven’t contemplated Christian beliefs? I would think the fact that I am both a libertarian and a Christian should give you an indication that I am a rational person.

                      But at any rate, I don’t really need to defend concepts Jesus taught like humility, kindness, mercy, and loving others because

                      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

                      Oh the irony.

                      Yes, it’s exactly shit like this that makes me abhor religion.

                    2. Okay, we’ve gone from having a reasonably intelligent discussion to you just being am immature dick. But like most atheists I don’t expect you to be capable of arguing in good faith or fairly characterizing the position of a person that doesn’t agree with you. You got a lot of growing up to do pal.

    2. Winner winner chicken dinner. That concludes the argument. Those who continue to squabble in the face of that truth just love the sound of a clacking keyboard.

      1. shorter vor:
        I’ve got no argument, so I’ll just claim I won.

    3. The problem is that you assume ” If it can exist, it does.” You can’t prove that claim, so we’re back at square one.

      1. I can’t say with absolute certainty anything exists. I concede that. But this is purely a matter of mathmatical probability given the size of the universe. In a universe so incomprehensibly large there are probably a lot of things that exist that many people don’t think are possible.

        The real issue is whether or not God, as the concept is understood monotheistically, can logicially exist. That is can there be a being that is omnipotent, omniscient, and benign?

        1. I can’t say with absolute certainty anything exists

          And yet you post this in a chat room.
          Classic!

        2. The accepted notion of God is that he created it all! All those unicorns in galaxies far, far away, and man and beast here on earth.

          That is a concept I can not accept absent some evidence beyond Genesis.

    4. That’s a VERY good point. I allow the possibility that unicorns exist. I don’t make the same allowance for God.

  110. I don’t believe in monsters. Does that mean that monsters exist–since reality requires monsters for me to NOT believe in? Silly rehashing of the ontological argument for god.

    1. Have you not yet heard of STEVE SMITH?

    2. Fuck dude, I haven’t checked under my bed for monsters for decades. Now I have to freaking start checking again? Goddamnit, I hate you.

  111. Kennedy….mind if I jizz on that big forehead? Drink! Arse! Girls!

  112. Regardless of whether Atheism is a religion or not is frivilous to debate. Atheism is what it is, regardless of how people see it. What a silly thing to get upset over.

  113. I should call myself a polyatheist then, because there are thousands of gods i don’t believe in.

    1. … I don’t think you understand how words work.

  114. Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, greatest Orthodox troll since Photios of Constantinoople?

    1. She’s up there with Fat Indian’s debut.

  115. “And I remain convinced that atheism is, in fact, a religion. ”

    And you remain wrong. Just because there are Bill Maher-level douchebag atheists like every other subset of human philosophy or creed does not magically turn the absence of something into the representation of something.

    0 is not a whole integer, not playing baseball isn’t a sport, and the absence of religion is not and never will be religion.

    Learn the damn difference between “philosophy” and “religion”

    1. 0 is not a whole integer

      YES IT IS! YOU CAN’T HAVE HALF OF ZERO!

      /sarc

  116. I opened a biblical floodgate of ridicule, name-calling, and abuse.

    Yes that is the knee-jerk reaction from liberals who can not back up their claims logically because they feel they do not need to back up their claims or arguments, they are the real intellectuals, and everything they claim is automatically true, and if you do not agree, you must be a fucking idiot.

    (Fuck. How’s that for a run-on sentence? Time for another glass of wine.)

    1. Or… you’ve just made an assertion so dumb that it warrants public mocking and derision.

      Then again, what else does one expect from a VJ?

      1. Because public mocking and derision is an acceptable response to any argument regardless of its validity.

        You’re a poopy head!

        1. Because public mocking and derision is an acceptable response to any argument regardless of its lacking validity.

          ftfy.

  117. Wow, this is all amazingly, um, dumb. Just one request.

    I, and I think many of my former co-religionists, would prefer if you didn’t drag the Jews into your farcical “Judeo-Christian” construct.

    We’ve had enough trouble with the Christians in the past and would prefer not to be included in your culture war arguments with atheists, etc. Even if you mean well by it and are just trying to be nice, no thanks.

    1. You’re coming with us, and you’re going to like it.

  118. “If there is a God we must see Him, if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is better not to believe.” http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/…..troductory

    I have had some experiences that have caused me to believe there is something to this universe beyond what we perceive through our senses.

    But before that I was an atheist. I wasn’t fervent – I just didn’t believe in anything and I thought people that did were misguided. It wasn’t a religion to me. I just didn’t believe.

    Now I do. But I still don’t affiliate myself with any specific religious belief. They all have serious problems as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Definition of AGNOSTIC
      1
      : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
      2
      : a person who is unwilling to commit to an opinion about something (political agnostics)

      Or, there is not enough evidence to make an informed decision one way or the other.

  119. Kennedy, with a silly quip and a short essay, just made my ag-care-stic (I don’t care) beliefs seriously hard-core. Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it, Randians!

  120. But you see, that’s just is. Religion doesn’t admit there’s a god! So the analogy of the TV being a god can’t hold true. You’re saying that a god (TV) exists. Atheism would say that God (TV) doesn’t exist so, since while it can be proved that a TV exists, it cannot be proved that a god exists. Comparing the channel being off to atheism is would be saying that atheism is just the act of simply turning off belief. But this is not the case.

    If we turn the TV off, the TV is still there. The channel is still being broadcast, just not viewed. As far as atheism is concerned, the TV nor the channel would exist. Atheism is not about proving gods don’t exist. Atheism is just the simple statement that no gods exist. Atheism is not a religion. It’s the absence of religion.

  121. “And I remain convinced that atheism is, in fact, a religion”

    And I remain convinced that you are, in fact, an idiot.

  122. Oh, I’m sorry. I thought this was Reason Magazine. Huh? Isn’t this Reason Magazine? I’m sorry. I thought this was Reason Magazine.

    1. We, the commentators at Reason.com, are not picky. We are a Big Tent. We are accepting of all opinions, races, sexual preferences, religions, alternate universes, conflicting realities, metaphysical inconsistencies, epistemological impossibilities…to wit: libertarianism is not about a rigid lifestyle or a provable reality, but rather a do-your-own-thing hippie feel-goodness. As long as you’re not a librul hipster. Or a deep-dish-pizza aficionado. Or a cheap-beer drinker. Or a Michael Bay fan, you loser creep, or a disbeliever in The Cause.

      Hope this helps.

      1. I thought we were OK with cheap beer. If this has changed, I didn’t get the memo.

      2. I thought we were OK with cheap beer. If not, why didn’t I get the memo?

      3. Just sayin’. This article doesn’t seem o live up to the publication’s title.

        1. This article doesn’t seem to live up to the publication’s title

          That’s what makes us commentators so fascinating!

        2. Every time you reply to Rather’s troll, a whore gets syphilis.

          1. Every time you reply

            1. Fail, I replied to the replier, not to the whore.

  123. If atheism is a religion, there must be necessary overlap between the definitions of the two words.

    World English Dictionary
    “Atheism: rejection of belief in God or gods”

    (This is lack of faith in a god, not denial of the possibility. Even Dawkins only says that there is “almost certainly no god.”)

    Does this NECESSARILY overlap with any modern definitions the WED gives us for religion?

    “1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny”
    No.

    “2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief”
    No.

    “3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers”
    No.

    “4. the way of life determined by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience entered upon by monks, friars, and nuns”
    No.

    “5. something of overwhelming importance to a person”
    No.

  124. So every human is religious, even those who say they’re not, don’t believe in deities, etc. And if I say I don’t believe in astrology or the Higgs boson, I actually sort of do? It’s neat arguing with someone who gets to tell you not only what they believe, but what you believe, too. Very relaxing. Could have been a lot shorter column though. I had to read a lot before I got to the part that said it was humorous. I didn’t think so, but that just proves that I did. Ah. Ha.

  125. Atheism is a religion as much as not believing in Santa Claus is a religion. Of course, the non-belief in Santa is inextricable of the very concept of Santa. The same applies to every bullshit based on faith rather than reason and experience.

  126. kennedy is right. this is also an argument i have seen AT LEAST a dozen times on the intert00bs.

    at least when it comes to strong atheism (god does not exist) it is a religion. weak atheism (i don’t believe in god) i do not think is a religion, in contrast.

    good for kennedy. yet another example of the firestorm that you get when you use common sense, and props to her for sticking to her guns

    this is usually when flying spaghetti monsters, santa analogies and other such stuff are trotted out by those who disagree with kennedy.

    of course the issue here is that existence IS. it’s natural to ask why. either there is something/one behind it OR there isn’t.

    those who make a leap of faith in either direction(strong atheism/theism) are engaging in just that.

    1. Not many atheists “have faith.” The typical atheist certainly doesn’t.

    2. You’re just playing with semantics. For most practical purposes, saying “I don’t believe in Santa” is equivalent to “Santa doesn’t exist”. The meaning is ultimately the same: that one doesn’t believe in the existence of Santa for there’s absolutely no evidence or reason to do it. I hope you are as diligent to discuss with people who say “Santa doesn’t exist” rather than “I don’t believe in Santa”…

      1. How about “I don’t believe the car keys are in the drawer” vs. “The car keys are not in the drawer”? Sound pretty different to me.

        1. Sure, it sounds different because it’s an easily verifiable statement. If the car keys were invisible and intangible objects, it wouldn’t sound so different.

          1. I don’t think that’s it. One has a much more certain and authoritative connotation (and plain meaning) than the other.

            1. You’re saying that if I tell you that my invisible and immaterial car keys are in your drawer right now, there’s a significant difference between you saying “I don’t believe your car keys are in my drawer” rather than “Invisible and immaterial car keys don’t exist”? You see, that’s exactly the significance of distinguishing weak atheists, strong atheists and agnostics. Mental masturbation over semantics.

              1. No, I’m saying that in everyday coversation, statements of (purported) fact such as “the keys are not in the drawer” means something clearly distinct from statements of belief such as “I don’t believe the keys are in the drawer.” This is made clear if the drawer is searched and no keys are found: the first sentence is shown to have been false, but not the second one. There’s no good reason for us to suddenly interpret words and sentences differently just because we’re talking about Higgs bosons or deities instead of lost keys.

                1. I’ll ask you again: do you honestly see any practical difference between saying “I don’t believe that leprechauns exist” and “leprechauns don’t exist”?

                  Actually, there’s a very good reason why people don’t distinguish these two sentences in everyday conversation: the existence of leprechauns isn’t falsifiable, let alone verifiable. It’s pretty safe to say that they don’t exist. The same applies to unicorns, fairies and gods. The fact that you wish people distinguished these kind of sentences doesn’t change the empirical fact that they don’t.

                  1. To your first question: yes, because there’s a (very practical) difference in general between claiming to know something and not making such a claim. To express a belief, which might be mild or strong, is not to claim knowledge.

    3. I agree that strong atheism could be considered a religion because “There is no god,” could be considered a faith statement.

      But it seems strange to me to say that this means that atheism is a religion because almost all the atheists I know of are weak atheists. Even Bill Maher says that he preaches the doctrine of “I don’t know.” And Richard Dawkins only goes so far as to say that “there is almost certainly no god.”

  127. I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

  128. Saying ‘I find no evidence of the supernatural’ is one thing; going on to say ‘therefore, the supernatural does not exist,’ is another. It is a simple question of probability; in making the second statement, one irrationally (given that one does not possess complete knowledge of everything) attempts to dictate the realm of possibility itself. The logical position is that of the deliberately agnostic.

  129. Yet another theist who is incapable of understanding atheism. He must instead rebrand it as some type of religion. The ignorant rantings about how non-belief requires faith are so old.

    Please educate yourselves. Learn the difference between “beliefs” and “claims”. Theists hold beliefs on which they base their claims. They use these claims to beat the rest of us over the head with.

    So I happen to have a world view based on evidence. I have learned how to interpret that evidence using scientific methods and logic. I definitely think this is better than the fantasy-brigade. I am certain the Earth is round. Flat-earthers disagree. I think they are dumb and willfully ignorant. Is this bad of me? I don’t think so.

  130. Atheism — the flat denial of God or something like it — is a religion, as it is equally unprovable and based on faith as the opposite position. Agnosticism, however, is a true non-religion, because to say “I don’t know” is not in any way a profession of belief.

    1. No it is not. See posts above.

    2. Saying “I don’t know” is compatible and consistent with saying “I don’t believe.” That’s as true with regard to the existence of deities as it is to the location of car keys.

  131. I like how libertarians try to prove reality–absent a discussion of metaphysics and epistemology–in a chat room.

    Discuss.

    1. Discuss.

      *barf*

      1. barf

        You could have said, “Burn the heretic!”

        I guess that’s “progress,” in Liberturdia.

  132. yet again, people fail to distinguish between “i don’t believe in god”, which is merely lack of belief

    AND

    “god does not exist” iow strong atheism

    the latter is the religion

    1. Define religion then, because you seem to be saying all beliefs are a religion.

      1. Are you “heller” or “Barfman”? Which of these pseudonyms should I believe? Or is reality ever-changing?

      2. The theist professes belief in an unprovable fact, and the atheist in a falsifiable one. Apply whatever labels you wish — what can be said without qualification is that they are both irrational.

        1. How is a (falsifiable) lack of belief in god an irrational belief if it’s what the evidence most strongly supports?

          1. Lack of belief in the unlikely is not irrational; disbelief in its possibility is.

    2. excellent distinction dunphy, but whether or not something is a ‘religion’ depends on the definition of the word religion.

      You are on the money that those ‘god does not exist’ firebrands behave like fundamentalist evangelists, which I think was your point? Whether or not it is a religion is settled by agreeing on a definition.

  133. The concept of god is nothing but. It is just a concept. The religious believers have committed a logical fallacy do to indoctrination. Would you believe everything I say if I cant back it up with evidence? The burden of proof is not on us atheists to disprove god, but on the religious to prove god exists in the first place.

    Its as simple as this: No god/gods exist until proven otherwise.

  134. “It has often been noted that a proof of God would be fatal to religion: a God susceptible of proof would have to be finite and limited; He would be one entity among others within the universe, not a mystic omnipotence transcending science and reality. What nourishes the spirit of religion is not proof, but faith, i.e., the undercutting of man’s mind.”

    1. “Patents and copyrights are the legal implementation of the base of all property rights: a man’s right to the product of his mind.”

      Some deep thinker there. Thinks all rights derive from IP rights.

      1. Your inferiority complex is touching. I like how you switch topics, hoping that nobody will notice. Still butthurt over your infantile religious vestiges? What’s is like to be a Christian lifer in a predominately atheist (or more appropriately–given the elastic nature of libertarian metaphysics–a safe agnostic) chat room? It must be hell! How do you manage to reconcile these apparently irreconcilable differences, and still maintain your snarky libertarian credentials? Faith?

        1. I haven’t changed the subject once, troll.
          And Christianity is innately libertarian. That’s how I reconcile the two. The idiots that preach hate and violence and love of the state in the name of my God do not represent my beliefs. Hell, I sleep fine at night.

          1. Christianity is innately libertarian. (Protestantism, more so than Catholicism, but not exclusively so.) Salvation is to the individual. Individual repentance and individual responsibility and at the end, answering as an individual to God.

            Collectivism is inherently anti-Christian. Virtue and Charity controlled by others, making it so that no individual is responsible for what she does or what he doesn’t do.

          2. “Troll”? Nice. Why are you responding to me, if I’m a troll? But that’s a rhetorical question.

            Christianity is innately libertarian

            Winner!
            If by “libertarian” you mean a subjective, anything-goes reality.

            1. See above, peckerhead. You haven’t a clue what Christianity is about, just like I have no idea what atheism is about. The difference is, I don’t try to tell you what you think and who you are. Have a nice day! (Now, fuck off.)

              1. Now, fuck off

                Awesome reasoning! Might I add, LOL?

  135. My six year old son has no idea who or what God is supposed to be.

    Does that make his religion atheism?

    Is his non-belief in Superman also a religion?
    What about Thor?

    The author is simply wrong. Religious people imagine what a fictional character would say or want. An atheist may just imagine what Confucius would say, or King Tut, or their long dead grandmother. It doesn’t matter if the person was real or not or even if the person’s perceptions of what that person was like are accurate.

    They are just using their imagination.

    1. My six year old son has no idea who or what God is supposed to be. Does that make his religion atheism?

      A six-year-old is not the same as an adult. Hope this helps.

      1. At what age does his non-association with religion become a religion?

  136. The fact that we as humans have a biological component driving us to make sense of the world means we’re all “religious?” What a non-sequitur. The author can play semantic games all he wants, but the traditional definition of “religion” denotes religious vows, belief in god(s) and the supernatural, and a system of faith and worship. Atheism involves none of that and is much more accurately “non-religious.” The author did nothing to contrast the two and instead focused on silly, minor similarities, like both are involved in trying to make sense of the world. When the subtitle is that atheism “at least it requires a God for you not to believe in,” you can’t expect much more than sophistical nonsense.

    1. “The author can play semantic games all he wants”

      I “don’t believe” Kennedy is male. Please don’t take my lack of belief in her Y chromosome as some sort of new genetic religion. Though I did hear that her Y chromosome was killed on a cruciform-binding protein.

  137. Indulgences on sale:

    Size | Time in Purgatory avoided in weeks | Example sins | Price

    S | 1 | stealing candy, raiding piggy bank | $4.95
    M | 4 | stealing candy from baby, raiding financial institutions | $49.95
    L | 26 | stealing baby, raiding small oil-producing countries | $499.00
    XL | any | stealing elections, raping & pillaging taxpayers | 0.49% of 1st year’s budget deficit

  138. Goddamn. Kennedy misspeaks one sentence, then writes an absurd defense to keep from having to say ooops, I read it, go to town for half the day and come home to find it is well on its way to 1000 comment thread.

    1. Dude! It’s what we do!

  139. Atheism, as practiced by activists, is indeed a religion. A singularly intolerant religion, that brooks no contradiction. Having no ceremonies, symbols, or celebrations itself it must chase those of other religions from public view; making at least as obnoxious as any Christian sect, with the possible exception of the Westboro Bab-tists.

    Or, to take another tack; atheism is the delusion that the atheist does not believe in any Higher Power, when in almost all cases he or she does. They believe in Vegetarianism, Political Activism, Renewable Energy, and/or a host of other faith-based ideals that they believe will bring about the Salvation of the World. They are almost exactly as reasonable about these beliefs as the followers of more conventional religions.

    1. “Atheism, as practiced by activists, is indeed a religion. A singularly intolerant religion, that brooks no contradiction. Having no ceremonies, symbols, or celebrations itself it must chase those of other religions from public view; making at least as obnoxious as any Christian sect, with the possible exception of the Westboro Bab-tists.”

      So let me get your logic straight. Your saying that atheism is a religion because we have a problem with religions being forced into our secular laws? Because we rally against nonsense and advocate for reason based logic? I guess you consider that logic you must think all activism is its own religion.

      1. I, an agnostic, am saying that Atheistical activists are, by trying to drive all public expression of other faiths from public view, attempting to force widespread adherence to their lack of symbols, ceremony, etc. By not admitting that their faith in the non-existance of a creator has no more evidence than any other faith, and that they are, therefore, just another religion, they seek to impose the outward signs (or lack of signs) of their faith on others.

        Which, for my money, put them on all fours with the obnoxious Protestant Christians of the 19th century who did their level best to impose their beliefs on all and sundry.

      2. Your saying that atheism is a religion because we have a problem with religions being forced into our secular laws?

        I’ll repeat here what I said earlier: the two most secular major cities in America are San Francisco and New York. And the laws, rules, regulations and policies of those locales are more restrictive that anywhere else in America I can possibly imagine. So don’t give me any of this “religions being forced into our secular laws” crap when the secularists are bigger fuckheads than the fundies ever could be.

        1. In my experience the most secular city has to be Las Vegas, which is pretty open to things like gambling, hookers and all manner of intoxicants (one of the only cities to show a decrease in drug arrests recently). Sometimes all once.

          In any case, there’s not a single major city in the US where less than two-thirds of the people claim to be Christian. That includes San Francisco with its large ethnically Chinese and gay populations, and NY with its large Jewish population (that is, even with unique demographics that tilt against Christianity).

      3. I think that for the atheists who attack religion, atheism is a religion in that it forms a belief system of a political kind. You see this most often in Marxist neo-coms, who have an abiding belief that an earthly utopia is possible. No secular polity can abide a competing moral system, so must try to destroy competing moral systems, aka religions.

        As for me, I don’t believe in supernatural beings such as unicorns and leprechauns, nor gods as defined by established religions. What do you call someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of unicorns? Does it really matter?

        1. However, I’m an Adult Sunday School Teacher, despite my atheism, because I reason that I cannot possibly dissuade my fellow men from their belief in a god, and their moral system is pretty good. So why not help them maintain that moral system and explore the philosophical and ethical underpinnings of their belief with them?

          In sum, Markus McNugen, I suggest that you do have a religion of atheism if you combat the contemporary moral system that is based on Christianity. Your religion is not a belief in no god, your religion is a belief that mankind can ultimately become purely rational, I guess something like on Vulcan. But then again, the purely logical Vulcans had their own ceremonies and trappings of what look like religion.
          For me, I just don’t think that we can ever evict the god gene from our DNA, so live with it.

    2. “Or, to take another tack; atheism is the delusion that the atheist does not believe in any Higher Power, when in almost all cases he or she does.”

      Really. Your telling me what I believe in? Atheism is explicitly the disbelief in a god or gods… yet your saying we believe in them without knowing it? What an idiotic statement.

      “They believe in Vegetarianism, Political Activism, Renewable Energy, and/or a host of other faith-based ideals that they believe will bring about the Salvation of the World. They are almost exactly as reasonable about these beliefs as the followers of more conventional religions.”

      You do realize that those are not religions or just beliefs right? There actually is data they can point to, to prove their points. Unlike religion. Your ignorance of what faith is is outstanding…

      1. If by religion one means an irrational belief that the holder feels compelled to spread, and which he will defend with the ferocity a rational person would reserve for the defense of minor children, then, yes, Vegetarianism, Political Activism, etc. are religions. And if you ask a professed atheist to describe the behavior of religious people, you are almost certain to be gifted with that definition by inference. And, no, there isn’t really evidence for most of their beliefs.

        1. This seems pretty obvious to me. “An irrational belief that the holder feels compelled to spread” is a pretty good definition. I like to say, “Something that someone uses to define their person-hood.”

          If it *defines* you, then disagreement becomes a personal attack.

          Explaining that *some* atheists have created a religion out of their atheism is perceived as a profoundly personal attack on them.

          Sort of like the ladies frothing at the mouth over the term “feminazi” a few decades back. Try to explain that it was pretty darn obvious that some of them *were* was like hate speech from flaming hell.

          1. Of course, by that criteria, lots of things are religions. Bridge, for example. Does anybody who has ever known some bridge players doubt that all it would take, in the event of Armageddon, to insure the survival of Bridge would be one player, who would spread the infection as fast as he could?

        2. Unfortunately for you that is not what religion is. You equated activist atheists to religion, which is ridiculous. From my experience, most atheists want fact based reason to be the basis for secular societal laws. The way in which we rally against ignorance in the public square does not equate us with religion. I am a professed atheist, and I would not use inference to describe religious peoples behavior. Its not inference if you recognize and know how the majority of religious based believers act and think. At least in terms of public law.

        3. I agree that there isnt really any data to back up vegetarianism besides a belief of not wanting to hurt another living being or consumer products produced in that way. However, political activism and renewable energy are not just beliefs. They have tangible evidence to back them up.

          1. I’m fifty. In my lifetime, the primary defining characteristic that makes an energy source acceptable to “renewable energy” believers is that there be no actual market demand for it.

    3. Why don’t you just say that , “Activism is religion” ? Then you could include feminism, and anti-death penalty crowds too.

  140. Dudes! Why won’t you let me reside in a world of irrational claims without pestering me over my logical inconsistencies? Religion is a dumb vestige of my childhood that I cannot get rid of. Why won’t you give me a pass on this one stupid belief, and take me seriously on all my other totally rational beliefs? It isn’t fair!

    1. Then I guess I’ll turn in my libertarian credentials. Have fun influencing the rest of the world, asshole, because there are a lot more Christians out there that ascribe to libertarian principles than there are atheists that do. Alienating those who support personal liberty because you laugh at one of their beliefs is idiotic.

      1. u mad bro?

        1. I know it’s just a meme, but I guess I am, actually. Acting the way you’re acting does libertarianism a disservice. After all, aren’t we all about letting people do what they want, barring that it effects someone else’s ability to do the same? Disparaging a massive part of that group over a belief that has no impact on your ability to take on faith that there is no God, serves the purpose of driving them back into the arms of Team Red.

          1. Acting the way you’re acting does libertarianism a disservice.

            Isn’t that what Rectal wants to do?

  141. I’ve never read an article that made me think about cancelling my subscription to reason; something I’ve maintained for more than 30 years now. Well, now I can’t say that anymore. I sincerely hope I can expect to see something more substantial and less of a childish attempt to troll in the future. Frankly, I think the editors who approved publishing this owe us all an apology – the standards for publishing in reason ought to be quite a bit higher than this. Equating atheism and religion is about as offensive to either side as equating communism and libertarianism, although with that at least both could accurately be described as political systems. Deliberately associating atheism and religion, and then feigning surprise when you find you’ve offended people is not only moronic (as Bill Maher recognized), it’s a pathetic attempt to grab spotlight without any real content or substance.

    1. Equating atheism [with] religion is…offensive

      Yup. Tho’ the editors here will never be so bold as to take such a controversial (and fund-raisingingly threatening) position. They prefer to “put it out there” and let us dweebs hash it out.*

       

      *Marketing trumps philosophy.

    2. Agreed. I have long held up Reason as the lone bastion of logical analysis in the world of journalism. I am very sad that I can no longer do so today.

    3. If this is something that you are so emotionally invested in that you can find it deeply offensive goes a long way to proving Kennedy absolutely correct.

  142. Yes, those oppressive atheists. Crazed fervor and all. I think you’ll be okay.

    You forgot the “”””religion”””” of “”””””free””””” markets. Because anything a particular atheist likes, is interested in, or promotes must be a religion. Nothing can just be a, you know, thing.

    I believe sharks are a higher power when I am swimming in the ocean. Doesn’t make it a religion.

    Maybe, since everybody is now religious (rendering the word useless), we need a new word for people who don’t believe in gods and such. I’m always finding perfectly good non-words in Wordfeud. I’ll start writing them down.

  143. If Atheism is what one looks to to find meaning in their life, then it’s a religion.

    Ditto, Environmentalism or Physical Fitness.

    A simple lack of belief in God isn’t religion. Making that lack of belief central to your person-hood, is. If you feel that your person-hood is attacked by a happy “Merry Christmas!” during the holidays, then you’ve got a religion.

    If you don’t believe, but happily answer back with happy wishes, then you don’t have a religion.

  144. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    1. I HAVE 8000 PAGEVIEWS PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD READ MY BLORG HAHA I AM RELEVANT

    2. You’re right. We need to boycott… or something… nah. It’d never work.

  145. Can we all agree, Christians, Jooz, Mooslems, Atheists, Hindoos, Sikhs and Dudeists alike , that this is infuriating?

    But according to a supposedly reliable source, they’re treated the same, nay more stringently by prosecutors and the courts than real people are.

    1. Can we all agree?

      “We” (in the collectivist sense) may agree that a faith-based philosophy is bogus, Schmoopy.

      How’s that? Good? Does that work for you?

      1. “We” (in the collectivist sense) may agree that a faith-based philosophy is bogus, Schmoopy.

        Well based on the number of commentators here that believe in God, I’d have to say your premise is wildly incorrect.

        1. based on the number of commentators here that believe in God

          So reality is based upon opinions?

          Awesome!

          1. So reality is based upon opinions?

            Oh, so you have facts now to support your views? Please share them with us.

            1. you have facts now to support your views?

              You made the assertion that polls (“the number of commentators here that believe in God”) determine facts of reality. So much for the “libertarian” concept of individualism.

              Shall I quote you again?

              “based on the number of commentators…”

              Really? Biggest gang wins? Wow.

              1. Talk about a comprehension failure. I have merely pointed out that there are a lot of libertarians that have religious beliefs. And that it is foolish, as some here derisively say, for the atheists that ascribe to libertarianism as well to cast us out or disregard our desire to spread individual liberty just because we have a belief in God.

                I never said “biggest gang wins,” but I guess it’s easier to argue with somebody when you put the words you wished they would say in their mouth.

                1. “when you put the words you wished they would say in their mouth.”

                  Like Kennedy?

    2. Didn’t you know that you get one “Get Out of Jail Free” card when you become a cop.

  146. The title is like saying “a unicorn needs to exist for us to even begin talking about it.” It exists, yes, but only as an idea. That is, it’s imaginary. The same goes for your deity. I’m surprised this article made it on “reason.com” I’m a forth year philosophy major and there’s nothing REASONable or rational about the writer’s thesis.

    1. I’m a forth (sic)year philosophy major

      KTHXBAI

    2. That is, it’s imaginary. The same goes for your deity.

      [citation required]

      1. Burden of proof. Saying something is real does not make it so unless you can prove it first. So yes, it exists only as a concept and nothing more.

        Simply put: Religious deities do not exist unless proven otherwise by measurable means.

        Ergo, no citation required.

        1. And therein lies the difference in you and me. I have faith that there is a God and you don’t. Period. Of course, I’m not going to ridicule you and laugh at your belief system that cannot explain about 99% of the universe’s questions. There’s another glaring difference between you and me. Thank God.

          1. I dont have a belief system, I have logic, reason, and evidence. I use the scientific method to understand the world around me and make informed decisions that allow me to grow and understand those 99% of questions. You just throw your hands up in the air and say it must have been god.

            Where is your drive to learn? To reason about the universe and its natural processes? Did I ridicule and laugh at you? I remember humbly disagreeing and present my logical reasoning to support my point. Thats the difference between you and me, Thank Science.

            1. You just throw your hands up in the air and say it must have been god.

              No I don’t. And neither do the overwhelming majority of Christians I know. Your assumptions of what I believe are false once more.

              And as far as the scientific method goes, here’s a little nugget from Francis Bacon: “It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.”

              1. Actually that is exactly what most Christians do. I was christian, almost all of my friends are christian. They almost all use god of the gaps reasoning. If we cant explain it, then it must have been gods doing. Im sorry if I insulted you, that was not my intention.

                Although with how many times the bible has been proven false, the torah as well, you practically have to be willfully ignorant to continue to be christian and believe the bible is the word of god.

                Your quote of Francis Bacon means nothing. Although a practitioner of the scientific method, he lived 500 years ago when the understanding of the world was nil in comparison to now, and atheism was equated to satanism and the possibility of death and house arrest.

                Your not going to win an argument of reason using the scientific method against faith based religion by quoting Francis Bacon or his beliefs.

                1. Fine. Discount Bacon then. We can use more contemporary scientists like Mendel, Kelvin, Planck or Einstein, who said “I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.” and “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

                  1. Can you clarify exactly what point your trying to make with these quotes? Yes, scientists can continue to believe in the concept of god while remaining analytical of their surroundings with the scientific method. This still proves nothing more than some great minds had a concept of god that they fit around there scientific research.

                    Im not saying the concept of god cannot conform to someones personal view of the world, rather that it is illogical to assume one exists for no reason.

      2. I think you argue excessively for a man who is confident in his philosophy. What are you tying to prove?

        1. I’m just defending my faith against ignorant attacks. That, and I’m trying to point out that purity tests and mocking derision of those who do not share the views of atheist libertarians won’t expand our philosophy very far.

          1. defending my faith

            “Faith.” “Defending” it. Do you not comprehend the logical contradictions in your statement?

            1. Um, no I don’t. Do you defend libertarianism to skeptics who challenge your principles? Sorry, no logical contradiction at all.

              1. Do you not comprehend the definition of “faith”? Or are you making up your own, subjective definitions of words to suit your own philosophy?

                1. faith/f?TH/
                  Noun:
                  Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
                  Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

                  -and-
                  de?fend/di?fend/
                  Verb:
                  Resist an attack made on (someone or something); protect from harm or danger: “we shall defend our country”.
                  Speak or write in favor of (an action or person); attempt to justify: “he defended his policy of imposing high taxes”.

                  Please explain to me the logical contradiction with defending one’s faith.

      3. That is, it’s imaginary. The same goes for your deity.

        [citation required]

        You are a child molester. Prove me wrong.

        1. The difference is: I can prove that I am no child molester. If you were able to view each moment of my life, it would show that I wasn’t. You can’t say the same about God.

          1. “If you were able to view each moment of my life…”

            Nobody can view each moment of your life, especially those past moments. That means you can’t prove it.

  147. In my opinion, a pretty decent working definition of “religion” in a practical, modern sense would be “Anything you believe so strongly that it moves you to hate and/or violence when it is questioned”. In the case of atheism, vis-a-vis the article, QED. The same could be said for many modern political movements – environmentalism, egalitarianism, collectivism, socialism, etc. It’s interestingly coincidental that, as another recent Reason article pointed out, the atheist “movement” as it were is collected around a set of statist orthodoxies that tend toward exactly the same type of fundamentalism as church-based religious institutions. It’s not so much that atheists have no faith, but that the majority have simply replaced one kind with another.

    1. Fundamentalism and coherence to tangible evidence and fact based reason are not the same as faith in a concept that was never proven true in the first place. Your redefining of religion is incorrect and frankly idiotic. Religion has and always will be the belief in a supernatural concept.

      I think your forgetting that our statist orthodoxies are supported by the constitution with the seperation of church and state. Practice religion in public, do it wherever you want, but the government can not advocate religion.

      According to your reasoning, anything that pisses me off is a religion. Thats just preposterous. I understand what your getting at but religion is not the correct word to use.

      1. Markus, I don’t think you’re pissed off because someone somewhere has an irrational belief in a supernatural being, what pisses you off is what someone’s god is telling them to do (and not what YOU want them to do).

      2. What scientific study ever “proved” (as if this were possible) that egalitarianism was superior to meritocracy or that preserving static environmental conditions was preferable to exploiting environmental resources? People become attached to all kinds of ideologies without applying the scientific method to their beliefs in every conceivable area of life. This is necessary because the scientific method is inadequate for examining certain types of questions – including anything in the realm of philosophy. Whatever point you’re trying to make doesn’t appear to me to have any relation whatsoever to anything I actually said. In particular your comment about the separation of church and state, which is a total non sequitur. The separation of church and state was and remains a restraint on the state – or exactly the opposite of statism, which is the elevation of the state and its authority.

        1. (continued due to character limit)

          According to your reasoning, anything that pisses me off is a religion.

          Not at all. What I said is that anything that drives you to hate and/or violence when it is questioned is, for practical purposes, your religion.

          I prefer Pepsi to Coca Cola. If someone told me “Coke is better than Pepsi”, I would have to respectfully disagree, but it would not drive me to hate or violence. My devotion to Pepsi is not religious. On the other hand, there are Muslims who, if you disagree with their beliefs about their prophet, will destroy property and take life. There are Christians who, if you disagree with their beliefs about homosexuality, will direct vile vitriol towards you while you are grieving at a funeral.

        2. (continued due to character limit)

          Similarly, there are environmentalists who, if you disagree with their beliefs about resource preservation, will burn down your under-construction housing development or destroy your oil-extraction machinery. There are egalitarians who, if you disagree with their beliefs on equal social outcomes for all people, will take to the street in violent riots, destroy private property, and assault police. That type of devotion to an ideology – a worldview, or systematic way of thinking about an issue – is virtually indistinguishable, in practicality, from religion. And, as a matter of coincidence, it happens to be those quasi-religious ideologies with which the more vocally irreligious tend to identify.

          1. @Mishenabo No, what angers me is when religion rears into our secular law and corrupts our secular society as well as our youth. I say youth only in the sense of I.D. being taught in public education. Im all for religious freedom, just not its involvement in government.

            @PM After reading your replies I now realize that I completely misunderstood what you were saying to begin with. I agree with you for the most part. I also do agree that atheists do replace one faith system for another however. I myself have placed my faith in humanity and the reliability of the scientific method. Something much more tangible… either way, I enjoyed your comments 🙂

  148. Just out of curiosity: those atheist libertarians that mock and laugh at us Christians as unworthy of being taken seriously; how many of you will be voting for Ron Paul in the election? How many of you voted for him in the past? How many of you will vote for Gary Johnson?

    Those men are both devout Christians. Can they still be taken seriously?

  149. “In my opinion, a pretty decent working definition of “religion” in a practical, modern sense would be “Anything you believe so strongly that it moves you to hate and/or violence when it is questioned”. ”

    So the Jains, St. Francis of Assisi, the Quakers, Rev. Martin Luther King, etc. weren’t religious?

    1. The latter two people in your example were animated to take action against other people as a result of their belief system. See the replies to my original post for further discussion of the parallels between violent devotion in religion and in secular ideology.

      1. Can you give examples of religious hate or violence by Rev. King?

        You can find examples of Quaker hate/violence – after all, Nixon was a Quaker.

  150. This entire discussion, in all its forms, would be a lot less fucking annoying if people would stop debating semantics and actually debate something substantial, formally and as objectively as possible.

  151. Some of you people are on here arguing just for the sake of arguing. I guess I’ve fallen into the trap as well. And with that, I bid you all adieu.

    But in leaving, I will say that purity tests of principles that expand personal liberty are one thing. It’s the essence of libertarianism. But purity tests on one’s religious beliefs (or disbelief), when those beliefs do not impact one’s desire to grow personal freedom are fucking idiotic, and they set our cause back every time we perform them.

    1. Don’t assume that that’s everyone’s cause. Personally I think it’s a great cause, but of course it isn’t the entire substance of my life, or anyone else’s. You’ve engaged in plenty that did not advance the cause of individual freedom.

      My advice: relax and enjoy life, however you want. That’s all that matters.

  152. Let me repeat a question which I posted above, but without getting a reply:

    Suppose we had a law protecting “the free exercise” of “religion.” Would you classify atheism as a religion for purposes of such a law?

    1. I don’t believe laws should be necessary for such freedoms. They should be natural rights.

    2. Eduard van Haalen|3.10.12 @ 8:19PM|#
      “Let me repeat a question which I posted above, but without getting a reply:
      Suppose we had a law protecting “the free exercise” of “religion.” Would you classify atheism as a religion for purposes of such a law?”

      The reason you haven’t gotten a reply is that it’s a leading question.
      When did you stop beating your spouse?

      1. Sigh – it’s the First Amendment, folks. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

        And, Ryan, the Founders thought religious freedom *was* a natural right – the Bill of Rights was supposed to be declaratory.

        So let me cast aside my previous coyness and ask: Does atheism qualify as “religion” for the purposes of the First Amendment. If not, then how does the First Amendment protect an atheist’s free exercise of his beliefs?

        1. Concrete example from the days of the draft: The law exempted conscientious objectors from being drafted into bearing arms, but only on condition that the CO’s beliefs derive from belief in a “Supreme Being.” Is this constitutional?

          (The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an atheist conscientious objector, but couldn’t agree on the reasoning – one Justice thought that the “Supreme Being” clause violated the First Amendment, while other Justices ducked the issue and interpreted the term “Supreme Being” so as to be consistent with atheist beliefs)

          1. OK, that was based on Establishment Clause.

            But suppose a Church of Atheism seeking tax exemption as a church, but denied because atheism isn’t a religion, so there’s no free exercise issue.

            You don’t even have to believe in tax exemptions for churches to see that, if such exemptions are available to theistic religions, they should be available on equal terms to atheistic religions. Unless atheism isn’t religion after all.

            1. Such are the loopholes of a human system of law. I would say anyone who calls its beliefs a religion should be protected as other religions are, but who gets to decide what a religion is? If our system were moral, it would be individuals (because otherwise it would be giving preferential treatment to the ‘real’ religions), but in reality it’s arbitrarily decided.

              1. So at least for legal purposes, perhaps we should have a neutral, non-polemic definition of religion – as suggested above, views concerning at least our ultimate purpose and our fate after death.

                Defined polemically, religion is limited only to beliefs in some kind of deity/deities, plus maybe belief in some Buddhist-style spiritual principle. And there are practical legal consequences to this.

                1. For legal purposes, I can’t imagine any real justification for the protection of a ‘religious belief’ vs. the protection of any other kind of belief.

                  It’s just a silly distinction. The gov’t should not justify special treatment based upon religion. That’s all there is to it.

                  I’m not in the mood to discuss the best way to do something that shouldn’t be done anyway.

                  1. Well, to quote the Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger, “” Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment but that is what they did…”

                    http://bit.ly/yKl7nY

                    1. The problem is that they interpret “free exercise of religion” to include the freedom to demand special favors which other citizens may not. This implies that religious citizens are somehow more deserving than others for tax breaks, and there’s no case for that.

                    2. Actually they are free to make demands, but the gov’t should have no authority to meet demands based upon the religion or lack thereof of the demander.

                    3. If we define “free exercise of religion” to include free exercise of atheism, then we’ve defined atheism as a religion.

                      If atheism isn’t a religion, on the other hand…

          2. I think it is constitutional, but it’s derived from a (perhaps necessary) flaw in the constitution, which gives special treatment to people based upon their having a religion.

            1. There are actual atheist churches which have obtained tax exemptions because they’re religious. As you say, deny that atheism is religious and say good-bye to the exemptions.

              1. There’s no justification for making atheist organizations tax exempt based on Atheism being a “religion.” The secular humanist alliance Kennedy made reference to in her essay was founded, I think, as a protest against a bizarre Alabama supreme court decision defining Atheism as a religion. It was a way of calling that courts bluff, and taking advantage of a bad court decision.

                But, I don’t understand why actual religious organizations get to be tax exempt anyway. I’d be happy to see tax exempt status for churches repealed altogether. Better yet, just repeal onerous taxes on everybody.

        2. The religion clause seems to just be a special protection based upon the strong conflicts between different religious groups, but atheism should still fall under the ‘everything else’ that the 1A protects.

          Your question presumes that the exercise of an atheists’ beliefs needs extra protection, but it’s already covered… There’s no law against not believing in God.

            1. In the real world, if atheism isn’t a religion, then guarantees of freedom of religion wouldn’t shield atheist groups from discrimination – like the denial of tax exemptions as discussed above.

              I presume that people will respond by “tax exemption for religion OMG that’s so evil,” but imagine that it’s a tax exemption for opposite sex couples from which same-sex couples are excluded.

              1. The fundamental issue is whether the government should decide how much money to steal from whom, and if so then upon what premise is the decision made?

                I don’t know of a time when our system of government has ever truly been fair. I’m morally disturbed by the fact that it’s okay to take $1,000 from guy A and $100,000 from guy B simply because guy B makes more.

                Our government doesn’t share the same scruples.

                1. But given the context of flawed tax laws, should the govt be allowed to “steal” more from an atheist church than a God-believing one?

                    1. The First Amendment already prevents this, if we define religion to include atheism.

                      Do you want to give up a slam-dunk constitutional argument to make a point?

                      What am I saying? I forgot which forum I was posting on for a moment.

                  1. “an atheist church”
                    ^ ?

                    1. Well, there’s the Ethical Culture Society, recognized as a church despite not teaching any belief in a Supreme Being (though individual members can think this on their own):

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W…..challenges

                    2. Another non-theistic church granted a religious tax exemption:

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S…..of_Alameda

                    3. Eduard van Haalen|3.10.12 @ 9:52PM|#
                      “Another non-theistic church granted a religious tax exemption:
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S…..of_Alameda”

                      Oh, oh! Look! EvH can find some whacko group to……..
                      What? Prove that EvH can find whacko groups?
                      Did you read the article? Do you agree or disagree?

                    4. There was an article?

                      Seriously, I say define religion to include atheism. Such a definition entitles atheists to the protection of the free-exercise clause of the 1st Amendment.

        3. Eduard van Haalen|3.10.12 @ 9:10PM|#
          “Sigh – it’s the First Amendment, folks. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

          So you admit it’s a leading question? Good.

          1. It was snark which I thought people would recognize a direct quote from the First Amendment, just as people here recognize quotes from South Park.

            1. Eduard van Haalen|3.10.12 @ 9:40PM|#
              “It was snark…”

              OK, but what’s the point? I’m an atheist, I don’t go to an ‘atheist church’, nor do I support tax-free existence of various propaganda organizations.
              What are you getting at?

              1. I’m getting at a practical definition of “religion” which includes atheism. That definition may not benefit you, but it helps other atheists. Solidarity!

                1. Sorry, snarky again.

                2. Well, the thing about practical definitions is that they don’t apply to religions. It’s pretty much fucking anything.

                  So, again I would say it’s a religion if the people believe it’s a religion.

                  1. it’s a lot like art

                    1. I can define art for you:

                      If you can tell whether it’s hung upside-down or not, it’s art. If you can’t tell, it’s some idiot angling for a grant for a dumb rich person.

                    2. If you can’t tell, it’s some idiot angling for a grant for a dumb rich person.

                      That’s probably what it is in the first case too.

                    3. Exception: MC Escher.

                  2. “So, again I would say it’s a religion if the people believe it’s a religion.”

                    Uh, no.
                    Stamp collecting is *not* a religion, regardless of anyone claiming it to be so.
                    To claim otherwise is to ignore any use of language at all.

                    1. Of course stamp collecting isn’t a religion. That’s a noun-verb phrase.

                      Sttampism, however, is definitely a religion.

                    2. with two t’s.

                      if it’s one t it’s not a religion.

                    3. Not by your definition.

                    4. Yes, you are right. And you have a lame sense of humor. But at least you are right.

                    5. Ryan|3.10.12 @ 10:16PM|#
                      “Yes, you are right. And you have a lame sense of humor. But at least you are right.”

                      Sorry, I presumed you had some point in mind.
                      Next time I see your handle, I’ll know you’re randomly hitting keys.

                    6. Hey Sevo, I just looked up “religion” in another dictionary (M-W 3rd College Edition). This one is even worse for you. Definition #4 defines “religion” as “any object of conscientious regard and pursuit.” By this definition, stamp-collecting can be a religion, too. I recommend writing a new dictionary, one that would only define “religion” in such a way that the word can never be applied to atheism or stamp-collecting.

    3. So your asking whether atheists want to be free to be atheists. Except you worded it in a way that would make it seem like atheism is a religion. Nice try, tard.

      1. I had no idea religion was such a touchy issue!

        1. Next thing you know, people will be killing over it!

    4. “Free exercise” would imply the option to refrain from such exercise altogether. In the US, we are afforded free exercise of religion, at least insofar as the state is not allowed to force us to, or prohibit us from, participating in any religion or hold any particular religious beliefs. Unlike failed states that tried to prohibit religious exercise (Stalinist Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, etc. all lacked a separation of church and state.) Atheism would not need to be classified as a religion for the purposes of such a law. To compel an atheist to practice a faith he prefers to reject would be a violation of such a law.

  153. Like others here, I think it is just semantics. Kennedy recognizes key parallels and similarities between atheists and believers, particularly passionately outspoken ones, and sees them on opposite ends of the same spectrum.

    The mistake she makes is then flippantly referring to atheism as a religion to try to express this. It’s an important detail if you give a damn about words mean and not obfuscating productive discussion.

    1. it is just semantics

      Nope. Reality is real. Existence exists. Words have meanings. A thing cannot be itself and something else at the same time. “A” is not “B.”

      Hope this helps.

      1. Words have meanings that are determined by people’s chosen usage of them. In fact, words have multiple meanings, thus making such words themselves and something else at the same time.

        Communication entails the expression of multiple meanings, generally with an attempt at mutual understanding. This is necessary because people have different beliefs. Semantics is essentially the study of those different beliefs, through the analysis of people’s chosen language.

        Hope this helps.

        1. Ryan|3.10.12 @ 8:43PM|#
          “Words have meanings that are determined by people’s chosen usage of them. In fact, words have multiple meanings, thus making such words themselves and something else at the same time.”

          And sophistry really doesn’t help communication.
          Religion = “faith”. Faith without evidence.
          Hope this helps.

          1. That’s not the point.

            1. Ryan|3.10.12 @ 8:54PM|#
              “That’s not the point.”

              That’s my point. What’s yours?

    2. The mistake she makes is then flippantly referring to atheism as a religion to try to express this. It’s an important detail if you give a damn about words mean and not obfuscating productive discussion.

      Unfortunately, obfuscation is inherent in communication.

      The clearest language is mathematical or dry, scientific stuff strictly based upon cause and effect with an adequate explanation of one’s premises.

      That kind of communication is generally difficult and time-consuming. Few people choose to engage in it for regular discussion.

      But if they did, that’d be awesome.

      1. Ryan|3.10.12 @ 9:01PM|#
        “Unfortunately, obfuscation is inherent in communication.”

        In the communication of those who try to obfuscate.

        1. People have different beliefs. There are no unique words to express unique beliefs. Therefore, people use words which can be interpreted in multiple ways, and therefore are inherently unclear.

          Hopefully you can grasp the concept, now.

          1. “Hopefully you can grasp the concept, now.”

            Yes, the concept is sophistry. I got it.

            1. Yes, the concept is sophistry. I got it.

              No, it’s: obfuscation is inherent in communication.

              Obfuscate – 2.
              to make obscure or unclear:

              and the reason is:

              People have different beliefs. There are no unique words to express unique beliefs. Therefore, people use words which can be interpreted in multiple ways, and therefore are inherently unclear.

              And now you look like an idiot.

              1. “And now you look like an idiot.”
                Ya know, if that came from someone who wasn’t intent on proving their own idiocy, it might mean something.
                Yes, people have ‘unique beliefs’, and unless they are communicable by objective standards, they are voices they hear in their heads.
                So what? The guy on the street corner with the sandwich board has a belief. And he’s due all the derision I’d bother to waste on him. Not much.

                1. “Yes, people have ‘unique beliefs’, and unless they are communicable by objective standards, they are voices they hear in their heads.
                  So what?”

                  So what I said is true.

                  QED

                  1. “So what I said is true.”

                    Nope.
                    What you’ve proposed is that any word has whatever meaning any individual chooses.
                    So, by your definition, I can simply say “no” and that’s correct.
                    QED

                    1. So, by your definition, I can simply say “no” and that’s correct.

                      Depending on what you mean by it, it could be. But you won’t convince anyone that way (not that you’re convincing anyone already).

                    2. “(not that you’re convincing anyone already).”

                      Those who presume evidence is irrelevant won’t be convinced by anything. They are bleevers.

      2. Unfortunately, obfuscation is inherent in communication.

        Only in the mind of an ESL Sophist.

        1. proof or stfu

  154. “Atheism, on the other hand, is about God and proving such an overpostulated supernatural being does not exist.”

    This is where Kennedy makes her mistake. An atheist would never try to PROVE God doesn’t exist. The statement is absurd on it’s face since anyone with slightly above intelligence knows one cannot prove a negative.

    If you are interested in where God comes from I highly recommend “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicarmel Mind” by Julian Jaynes. Basically, long ago, the two hemispheres of our minds were not fully integrated. This caused a situation were the creative side would signals that the logical side would interpret as a “sense of the gods”. People would have hallucinations were they actually heard or saw the gods. Unfortunately when our minds fully integrated such foolishness lingered on and has stunted our advancement ever since.

    1. But it’s not as bad as public schools.

    2. You realize Jaynes was merely hypothesizing and no neuropsychological data actually backs him up?

      1. I believe he was actually theorizing. He does provide some interesting evidence for his case. BTW, it took many years for there to be data on general relativity. That doesn’t mean Einstein was wrong.

    3. I heartily agree – Julian Jaynes had it exactly right, and I approach the study of religion from that perspective. But there’s no getting rid of it as long as the schizophrenic gene complex is present in the gene pool.

      I would rather though, prefer if most people were religious, just like Voltaire did – he hoped his maid had religion, as the moral precepts she gained from that kept her from stealing his silverware 😀

      1. I would think the fear of being killed or imprisoned would have kept her from stealing silverware… It’s hard to say.

      2. Mishenabo|3.10.12 @ 9:44PM|#
        …”I would rather though, prefer if most people were religious, just like Voltaire did – he hoped his maid had religion, as the moral precepts she gained from that kept her from stealing his silverware :D”

        The presumption here is that religion ‘invented’ morality.
        By all evidence, religion is an invention of man, as are the mores (or moral precepts) which were ‘adopted’ by those who gained from the codifying the mores: Don’t eat dirty food, don’t covet your neighbors property, don’t kill (those who are of your tribe), etc.

  155. This does not prove God exists, but it does show humans are wired or biologically predisposed to believe in something.

    Our brains are wired to believe all kinds of irrational things. So what?

  156. lol, I think that dude is smoking some serious crack!

    http://www.Got-Privacy.tk

  157. Wow, this was a waste of time. I got so accustomed to reading reason on reason that I forgot how insanity looks like online.

    Kennedy confuses activism, which is a proven strategy with any social minority or group seeking social change, with the concept and ideas of atheism.

    So, Kennedy, because you are an afairist (if not then truly insane) I must conclude that the effort not to believe in fairies proves afairism is a religion, or that you/they/us at least recognize fairies in order to deny their existence.

    Thankfully, there aren’t any nutjobs running or trying to influence the government based on their personal communications with the fairy godmother, otherwise those afairists would be throwing tantrums and being rude to those kind and loving fairists. right?

  158. “I have yet to hear a cogent response to this question: Why is it a problem if someone considers atheism a religion? How does that hurt the atheists’ claim?”

    Because it’s wrong. That’s just not the definition of religion. I mean there’s no blatant wrongness beyond that. There are no common ethical principles, no mythology, no common set of beliefs. Only non-belief towards a god and usually a non-subscription to any theism. You’re really pretty blatantly wrong in your wildly broad definition of “religion”. I can’t embrace it not because it really cheapens atheism in any way but because it’s literally just wrong.

  159. Atheism is another name for Judaism. Ever wonder why so many Jews were atheist?

    1. Robert|3.10.12 @ 11:04PM|#
      “Atheism is another name for Judaism. Ever wonder why so many Jews were atheist?”
      ^?

  160. I would take my understanding of Atheists in a different direction.

    I do not believe most of the Militant Atheists, and those that sent you the Hate Tweets, are Atheist at all.

    When you deal with the Venom and the outright Malevolence they spew it becomes clear that, in their hearts, they, in fact, Hate God!

    Since it is Impossible to hate that which you disbelieve the existence of, I contend they are in fact Anti-Theist not Atheist.

    1. You sir may be mixing up a hate of god, and a hate of religion… at least for some.

    2. “they, in fact, Hate God!”
      Uh, hard to hate which doesn’t exist.

  161. The Wikipedia definition is pretty good: “Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values.”

    Atheism is none of those things. Atheism is just a single belief: the rejection of theism. Atheists have nothing else in common. Atheists may be physicalists, Buddhists, shamans, Confucians, or hold many other views. But even the single belief that atheists share isn’t based on faith; it doesn’t require faith to believe that something that you have never observed doesn’t exist.

    Perhaps you could argue that physicalism is a religion, but atheism just isn’t.

  162. Hey Kennedy! Hey Bill Maher! This is a non-issue. Just grab a dictionary and read the possible options for “religion.” The one above my desk lists four options. #1 and #3 would not fit for atheists. #2 and #4 would. In fact, #2 even lists humanism as an example. And if religion is defined as “4. a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor or zeal,” then atheism would qualify — at least some of the more enthusiastic expressions of it.

    Presently, the best arbiter for What Words Mean is the dictionary. As long as it is, than the most accurate thing that you can say regarding this dumb fight about whether or not atheism is a religion is: “It depends upon which dictionary definition of ‘religion’ you have in mind.”

    1. “And if religion is defined as “4. a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor or zeal,” then atheism would qualify — at least some of the more enthusiastic expressions of it.”
      So if you find someone who is tired of being called a ‘religionist’ when in fact they have no religion, you get to call them a religionist?
      Stuff it.

      1. Sevo, your logic is faulty. According to dictionary definition #4, anyone who holds to a cause or principle with ardor or zeal has a religion. So, according to this definition, atheism is a religion if you hold to it with ardor or zeal. Obviously, you hold to your no-religion with ardor and zeal — otherwise you wouldn’t still be posting comments to Kennedy’s blog — so by the dictionary’s definition (#4) you have a religion. Sorry to break the news to you. Your only recourse at this point is to disagree with the dictionary’s definition.

        1. so by the dictionary’s definition (#4) you have a religion. Sorry to break the news to you. Your only recourse at this point is to disagree with the dictionary’s definition.

          My “religion” states you’re an idiot and should be executed; this is now backed by the first amendment, so …

          1. Dear anon, you are apparently new to these kinds of discussions. I will give you a tip. Those of us who have been doing this kind of thing for a while, and who consider it a sport of sorts, all recognize that the first person to stoop to an “ad hominem” attack has, in so many words, admitted that they have lost the argument. By calling me an idiot, you have in fact declared yourself unwilling or unable to match wits with me. Better luck next time!

      2. Stuff it?

    2. It says “system of beliefs”. Atheism is a system of non-belief.

  163. Ken (immediately above): Wikipedia? Really?

    1. What’s wrong with wikipedia?

  164. This is such a strawman argument. It’s like what kind of asian are you? Some might say Chinese or Japanese, but if you’re European, you’d say “none”.

    Being an atheist is a “none”. It’s not a religion. It’s like saying I’m a “none” type of Asian.

  165. Atheism newsgroups distinguish between “strong” and “weak” atheism, respectively the belief that there are no gods, and the absence of belief in any gods.

    Even theism (belief in a god or gods) is not a religion, but only a trait of some religions e.g. Hinduism and not others e.g. Buddhism.

    So atheism (in its “weak” sense) denotes the *absence* of that belief, and thus would be a trait both of the non-theistic religions like Buddhism *and of the non-religious*.

    It follows that atheists may include both the religious (e.g. Buddhists) and the non-religious, but that atheism in itself cannot be a religion, nor a trait only of religions.

    “Strong” atheism is at least a *belief*, but it is not the only kind of atheism there is.

    For an actual religion in this spectrum, look at “Religious Humanism”:
    http://www.americanhumanist.org/
    http://www.iheu.org/

  166. The fact that Bill Maher acted like a baby when his belief system was classified as a ‘religion’ just proves he’s just as sad as the devout christians he interviewed in Religulous. Einstein once said, “The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.”

    I just wish the crusading atheists like Maher could see the hypocrisy that’s gushing out of their mouths. And judging from his show that asshole hardly understands science. Therefore he’s putting an awful lot of FAITH in that BELIEF that we’re here for nothing.

  167. Sevo, your logic is faulty. According to dictionary definition #4, anyone who holds to a cause or principle with ardor or zeal has a religion. So, according to this definition, atheism is a religion if you hold to it with ardor or zeal. Obviously, you hold to your no-religion with ardor and zeal — otherwise you wouldn’t still be posting comments to Kennedy’s blog — so by the dictionary’s definition (#4) you have a religion. Sorry to break the news to you. Your only recourse at this point is to disagree with the dictionary’s definition.

  168. More fun with dictionary definitions (for Sevo)! Religionist – “one who exhibits religious zeal, esp. when excessive or affected.” Therefore, I propose a new word: Nonreligionist – “one who exhibits nonreligious zeal, esp. when excessive or affected.”

  169. A-Cthulhuism Is a Religion

    Or at least it requires a Cthulhu for you not to believe in.

    A-Thorism Is a Religion

    Or at least it requires a Thor for you not to believe in.

    A-Kaliism Is a Religion

    Or at least it requires a Kali for you not to believe in.

    A-Chernobogism Is a Religion

    Or at least it requires a Chernobog for you not to believe in.

    A-Quetzacoatlism Is a Religion

    Or at least it requires a Quetzacoatl for you not to believe in.

    A-Samediism Is a Religion

    Or at least it requires a Samedi for you not to believe in.

    Kennedy, how many religions do you have?

    1. Raven, funny. And agreed. Kennedy’s logic on this point is lame. A good use of reductio ad absurdum on your part.

  170. In your TV analogy if religion is the channel and the tv is God, when it is off and never to be turned on again the tv becomes a paperweight.
    A religion is an organization based on unsupported claims supported by faith, belief and superstition. Atheism may be more organized than it was, but it’s based on reason and evidence. Thus, not a religion.

    1. I love how you (like many others here) offer your own definition of religion and then use your definition to prove that another’s definition doesn’t apply. There’s this thing called a “dictionary.” Dictionaries feature the painstaking work of PhD-level linguists and rhetoricians for the purpose of offering consensus definitions. Many words have multiple shades of meaning. “Religion” is one of them.

      1. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion

        re?li?gion? ?[ri-lij-uhn]
        noun
        1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
        2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
        3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
        4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

        1. 5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
          6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
          7. religions, Archaic . religious rites.
          8. Archaic . strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one’s vow.

          1. How are any of these sufficient definitions for religion that they would include atheism but not decidedly non-supernatural beliefs like faith that the sun will rise?

            The most common definition of religion — remember, PhDs decided it was first — is 1. Atheism lacks divine agency, rituals, devotionals and even a moral code. In 2, there is no “set of fundamental beliefs,” only the single belief that there is insufficient rational basis to adhere to a particular religion.

            1. You are correct, Amakudari, in pointing out that the #1 definition for religion typically denotes belief in a god or supernatural higher power. Atheists are in the right when they insist that according to the MOST common definition of Atheism, our commitments do not constitute a religion. However, our commitments would certainly fall under #6 of the dictionary you quoted.

              1. Ironically, the dictionary you chose seems also to allow for Atheism to be included in the #1 usage. Note how it says that religion is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe…” and only then does it say “especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency…” In other words, according to your dictionary’s top definition, “religion” refers to god-belief only “especially” but not exclusively or solely. So I (and you, presumably) would have a bone to pick with the PhDs who compiled your dictionary.

                In any case, you have only strengthened my contention that when ALL of the dictionary’s options for “religion” are considered, atheism qualifies. Not only that, you appear to have found the ONE dictionary that finds room for atheism in its FIRST (i.e. most common) option. Nice work!

                1. Wait, seriously? No, I have no bone to pick with the PhDs, who would undoubtedly agree that atheism is as much a religion as not playing baseball is a sport. “Especially” is used to refine meaning. There’s no point to such a clause (or the “usually” and “often” parts) unless they allow you to exclude items that are an ambiguous fit. Without them, we could equate, say, Big Bang theoreticians with Catholic bishops.

              2. Atheists are in the right when they insist that according to the MOST common definition of Atheism, our commitments do not constitute a religion. However, our commitments would certainly fall under #6 of the dictionary you quoted.

                There’s a difference between “believing” something and observing its existence (or lack thereof).

                1. Science would be nowhere if it wasn’t for visionaries who, based on what they observed, BELIEVED the evidence pointed toward a certain as yet undemonstrable reality. It took later scientists, with better tools and methods, to establish (or deny) the reality originally posited. See E=MC^2 for starters. Or, a more current (and related) example: scientists have until recently believed that nothing traveled faster than light. This belief was rooted in Einstein’s theory as well as in observation. The neutrino question is now challenging our beliefs about light speed. For goodness sakes, atheists, lets not make belief a dirty word just because theists also use it. Instead, let’s insist that it’s not worth believing unless there’s sufficient and substantial evidence.

                  1. Neutrino question already debunked. You may now resume your regular conversation.

                2. Forgive me; I wasn’t clear. I was referring not to the first part of Amakudari’s definition #6, which uses that naughty word “believe.” Instead, I had in mind the second, separate part: “a point or matter of ethics or conscience.”

    2. Atheism isn’t based on reason or evidence. It’s just based on disbelief. And for something to be evidence it has to be evident. But it’s neither evident or evident that is a God or no God. And reason is only based on the conclusion following from the premises, and both atheism and theism would be based on reason. It’s not that hard to make a conclusion follow from a premise.

  171. Yet more fun with dictionary definitions. I checked another dictionary here in the house, and this one defines religion as “4. any object of conscientious regard and pursuit.” Holy crap, by that definition, just about anything can be a religion. Even atheism. Better take a black marker and cross that one out. Or write the folks at Merriam Webster and ask them, for the next edition, to rewrite the “religion” entry so that NONE of the options can be applied to atheism. That should settle the matter once and for all.

    1. By some definitions, you’re in the “proving that atheism can be defined as a religion” religion. But she wasn’t making a semantics case really. Not enough people begin these conversations with defining “God,” and defining “Religion,” but she was just trying to ignore the arguments against theism by implying that it’s all just a matter of faith. False equivalency. Atheism is not a religion unless you use a definition of religion that can be applied to almost any idea, and then it doesn’t matter.

      1. K, you are right. It doesn’t matter. So why not let the theists call atheism a “religion” and then engage the conversation by insisting that our “religion” is superior because it’s based on things like evidence, observation, measurement, etc.?

    2. Which would also make paying bills on time a religion. This is not even close to what anyone means when they say “atheism is a religion,” especially when the above article carries on about God, neurotheology,

      Either we emasculate the meaning of the word (which, by using one definition of “emasculate,” we may deduce that everything has testicles) or we keep all the holy books, rituals, baubles, gods, creation myths and divine edicts and find atheism an inappropriate fit. Some atheists are Buddhists and others are fundamentalists, where you could appropriately describe them as religious, but it’s just a label that doesn’t make sense unless you strip all of the connotations people who say “atheism is a religion” want to bring along.

      1. Amakudari, I see that you are commenting on my comment that had fun with the dictionary defining religion as “any object of conscientious regard and pursuit.” That comment was actually an addition to earlier comments that were treating the issue of dictionaries in which religion is (also) defined as something synonymous with “world-view” or “zealously-held understanding.” That is, while dictionaries do refine the word religion to god-believers, the same dictionaries clearly do not limit the word “religion” to god-believers. If this is not something you are in favor of, then take it up with the folks who write dictionaries.

      2. Semantics aside, here’s what I think is going on. The “atheism is a religion” crowd is not trivializing or downgrading atheism by calling it a religion. Instead, by insisting that atheism is a religion, they are inadvertently admitting its seriousness as a threat to their world view. By engaging the battle at the level of how “religion” is defined, we allow ourselves to get distracted at the very point at which we have them up against the wall. I believe (oops, wrong word)…I perceive that I am correct about this. But I’d be interested in the thoughts of others.

        1. I disagree heavily. This is what it looks like when, uh, anti-atheists call atheism a religion. Or this.

          It’s plainly an attempt to say that all the arguments atheists make about religion are true of atheism as well. They dumb down terms like “faith” or “worship” or “belief” to include atheism and then bring back in the host of connotations that would make atheism no different from Christianity than any other faith based on a holy book written by the mouthpiece for the One True God.

          Conceding that point only allows the discussion to go further down the rabbit hole. Atheism is a single philosophical point — there’s insufficient evidence to believe in a particular god — and that’s it.

  172. I personally interpret the definition of a religion as a belief system with one or more rituals with which those beliefs are put into practice.

    By that definition atheism is not a religion. There is not ritual aspect of atheism.

    However, atheism clearly is a faith, a belief system. It is a negative faith, but a faith nonetheless. It is the belief in the non-existence of God. Whether one claims that God exists, without proof, or one claims that God does not exist, again without proof, in either case it is a belief, not a fact.

    Penn and Maher are right that atheism is not a religion, in the sense that it is not an organized religion with rituals to practice. However, if they were to argue that atheism is not a faith, not a belief system, they would be wrong.

    1. So claiming the Easter Bunny does not exist, WITHOUT PROOF, is a faith?

      Claiming that sparkly vampires do not exist, WITHOUT PROOF, is a faith?

      Claiming that Klingons do not exist, WITHOUT PROOF, is a faith?

      I could go on for ever. The burden of proof of existence is on the claimant. Has nothing to do with faith. An atheist doesn’t believe simply due to a lack of proof combined with a knowledge of physical probability.

      Show me God. Until them, I’m doubtful.

      1. n

  173. I’m an apatheist. Whether a divine power exists or not makes no difference to me right now. I have other things to worry about.

  174. Huh???????????

  175. “Atheism, on the other hand, is about God and proving such an overpostulated supernatural being does not exist.”

    Really, Kennedy? As someone who doesn’t believe in god(s), to me, my “atheism” isn’t about disproving God, it’s about being able to live my life without having to deal with the god delusion. Thank you for putting words in my mouth.

    1. The word “delusion” poisons the well.

  176. not all Faith is Religon

  177. This is nothing. You wanna see some comments, wait till there’s a post about circumcision.

    Or….*shudder*… New Yawk vs Chicago pizza.

    The HORROR…

    1. Not nearly as bad as a discussion on climate change.

    2. Chicago pizza

      There’s no such thing.

  178. Atheism ISN’T about God. Until you understand that, you can’t understand anything else.

    1. SO atheism isn’t about a disbelief in something called God? Interesting, because when I have a disbelief in something, that disbelief is based on that something.

  179. Let’s see: energy generated elsewhere powers life, every single instant, including the living beings so intent on denying there is an energy source. Chattering children denying their parenthood.

    1. Yes, this is why we worship the Sun.

      1. Forget that, I worship Joe Pesci. He can get things done!

  180. BTW, religion has little if anything to do with our creator and sustainer. Religion is a snare and a racket. Most religionists are “whitewashed graves, pretty outside, rotten inside.”

    1. You tell ’em brother! Praise the Sun-god!

      1. Helios also gives us skin cancer.

        Yea, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

    2. One can see “religionists”‘ empty, rotted cores when examining their resistance to Nazi and communist tyranny and selfless dedication to feeding the hungry, ministering to the sick, and educating the young. Obviously atheists have a better history in such endeavors.

  181. Religion is a system of beliefs or rituals.

    That being said, I would not call atheism a religion as it is not a system of anything. Theism is not a religion, but the belief of the super natural. Thus not believing does not constitute a religion. But I do think that atheists do have some form of religion, as they have their beliefs and rituals that they follow.

    1. Atheism is a personal opinion, that’s it. Anyone who takes it further than that is more than a mere atheist, maybe they are also a Humanist or similar, but atheism alone has no rituals, ethical system, etc.

  182. Atheism is nothing but a personal opinion based in reason. There are no scriptures, no rituals, no ethics, no laws, no prayer, no holy places, etc.

  183. I was hoping at least for a coherent argument. Is Reason actually paying this person with no first name to throw random words together?

    1. I was hoping at least for a coherent argument.

      Really?

      It’s like telling an 8 year old there’s no Santa Clause. You just have to work through the 5 stages of grief…

    2. I was hoping at least for a coherent argument. Is Reason actually paying this person with no first name to throw random words together?

      Yeah, for a magazine called reason….

      There sure are a lot of baby eaters around here.

  184. God and Jesus good. Atheists scary. Kennedy beautiful. Me jealous of Mr. Kennedy.

  185. Of course Atheism is a religion. I married my gay lover and four sheep in an Atheist Church last month.

    1. I am sure the sheep are good upstanding christians.

      1. “I am sure the sheep are good upstanding christians.”

        I don’t know about that. But they sure suck a mean Koch.

  186. This is like the best chat room ever.

    1. Dad!

  187. If you were born on a deserted island with no other contact or influence from anyone else what religion would you be?
    Answer: None = atheist

    1. “Crusoe” only applies to economics, pal.

      http://mises.org/daily/2459

      And to answer your question, I would probably be some type of Pagan.

    2. And, no, not these Pagans

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagan‘s_Motorcycle_Club

      1. Fucked up that link.

    3. Yup. The idea of a god must be taught, because it isn’t real or demonstrable or natural.

      1. Hmmm, imagination, what is it?

  188. Reality is a simulation. God is a 12 year old like douchebag hogging up a lot of interdimension bandwidth to see how many civilizations can destroy themselves within certain, finely tuned, parameters.

    1. It does not like that name.

  189. “I have yet to hear a cogent response to this question: Why is it a problem if someone considers atheism a religion?”

    Why is it a problem if someone considers 2+2 to equal 3? Why is it a problem if someone considers worms to be canines? Why is it a problem if someone considers Charo to be a (literal) fire engine, or a pizza to be a construction material, or coffee to be a hat? In all these cases, including considering atheism to be a religion, the statement is incorrect.

    Saying that atheism is a religion because it requires a god in which to not believe is a lot like saying that the color blue is a flavor because strawberries are red.

  190. “He added that you were a moron if you believed this (given what he’s called other ladies he disagrees with, I’m thinking I got off pretty easy).”

    you’re a lady?!

    1. It claims to be a lady.

  191. I couldn’t agree more with this argument. By definition atheism and theism are counter-thoughts to the same issue. They both make the leap from scientific understanding and questioning to belief. A true scientific view on the existence of a divine force is “I see no prof of a god, so my theory is that god does not exist, however I cannot disprove the existence of god, so I am open to new evidence to test against my theory”

    To me that is the most rational approach to the question of the divine.

    I really just don’t care. Maybe god exists, maybe it doesn’t, but who gives a shit? Even if there was a god and I knew it for a fact, I wouldn’t give it my devotion, I would rater die in hell fire than to give up my own free will.

    I don’t need a god or a government to know what’s right and what’s wrong, but I can tolerate them to function in a society full of idiots who do.

  192. You’re right, Atheism is a religion.

    The key question is this: ‘does God exist?’

    All proofs of God have problems, and so do all disproofs of God. Therefore, the rational approach is to not answer the question. But if you do, your answer is an assumption. At best it’s an answer weighted by all evidence you have available to you…

    1. Sam, setting aside that we disagree on “Atheism is a religion”….

      > The key question is this: ‘does God exist?’

      (1) Why “God”? Why not “Krishna” or “Kwan Yin” or “Allah”? Why not “do gods exist?” Isn’t your “key question” rather Christian-centered?

      (2) Given that the Sun exists, and we know people have worshiped it (probably still do), at least one god demonstrably exists. Voila! Issue settled!

      However, if I don’t worship that god or any other, then I am one who has no god, without-god, a-theos, atheist — the proper etymology of the word.

      So the “key question” really isn’t “existence,” and that argument is a waste of time.

      If the entity who commanded all the genocidal slaughter in the “Holy Land” were shown to be real rather than imaginary, he would qualify for the description “bloodthirsty demon” rather than “god” — and surely not merit worship.

    2. “having a religious like fervor” for a cause doesn’t make that cause a religion.

      And, Kennedy, not believing in the Easter Bunny does not require an Easter Bunny for me not to believe in.

  193. 1000+ posts for the easiest question in philosophy.

    There probably is no God just like there probably is no Santa Claus. Not believing in them is the rational approach until evidence points elsewhere. This is not a positive assertion and it certainly isn’t a religion, which requires belief in the supernatural, which atheism by definition rejects.

  194. I learned a lot about what atheist libertarians think about Christian libertarians from this thread. Some of it good and some of it bad.

    And all I’m going to say is this: the more purity tests we conduct, the smaller and less influential we get. Judge people on their views and actions that have a direct impact on you or the liberty of others and you’ll all be better off, whatever your beliefs are.

    1. And all I’m going to say is this: the more purity tests we conduct, the smaller and less influential we get.

      There is no “we.”

      My disagreement with someone in no way means that I’m trying to prevent them from doing it as long as it doesn’t hurt me.

      You have the right to be just as irrational as you want; just don’t try to get me to go along with you.

      1. You have the right to be just as irrational as you want; just don’t try to get me to go along with you.

        When have I, or why the fuck would I?

      2. You have the right to be just as irrational as you want; just don’t try to get me to go along with you.

        When have I, or why the fuck would I?

    2. Judge people on their views and actions that have a direct impact on you or the liberty of others

      Judge, and prepare to be judged.

      You seem reluctant to be judged by your epistemology. I understand why. Faking reality is nothing to be proud of. And yet you wish to be taken seriously. Amazing.

      1. You seem reluctant to be judged by your epistemology. I understand why. Faking reality is nothing to be proud of. And yet you wish to be taken seriously. Amazing

        I take it by your comments that you will not be able to take Ron Paul or Gary Johnson seriously or vote for them. Pity.

    3. Nah.

      Libertarianism doesn’t preclude Christianity. There is plenty within modern Christianity — as most Christians have found a way to dismiss many of the icky parts that deal with genocide, slavery, torture and penalties for adultery, homosexuality, theft and giving lip to your parents — that is consistent with basics like the NAP.

      But when people assert that not going to church or following such teachings is a religion, that atheists just “hate God,” that Christianity is under attack by atheists, or some other silly BS they deserve to be called out for it.

      1. But when people assert that not going to church or following such teachings is a religion, that atheists just “hate God,” that Christianity is under attack by atheists, or some other silly BS they deserve to be called out for it.

        They sure do. I wish both groups could leave this personal issue alone, be they proselytizing Christians or mocking atheists. They’re all assholes.

  195. Just because atheists can be religious, does not mean atheism is a religion. There are plenty of “atheist” religions – feminism, environmentalism, veganism and Liberalism come to mind.

  196. I saw the show and thought you were fabulous throughout the entire program!

  197. I understand religion as the belief in something outside reason, that is based on faith, that is: based on something not derived from the perceptions of the senses. In that way, no, atheism is not a religion.

  198. Feel free to email me at rctlfy@hotmail.com. Thanks guys.

  199. Do any of the atheist libertarians on this page see the obvious problem of trashing theistic beliefs while at the same time embracing the concept of natural law with regards to their supposed natural rights?

    Natural laws are not man-made, they simply exist. But where do they come from? If they are evolved traits, then libertarians do not have a moral leg to stand on since statism can thus be argued to be another step in the evolution of morality, the shedding of previous negative rights in favor of positive ones. But this is inadequate and dangerous to us, so we are left with the inescapable conclusion that the right to life, liberty, and property exist independent of evolved societal traits and are thus self-evident and universal. And if you believe that, then how can you scoff at theists that use the exact same reasoning to deduce the possible existence of God?

    1. Where do they [natural rights] come from?

      From nature. More precisely, from man’s nature as a rational, volitional creature.

      “Society” (and evolution) has nothing to do with it. We’re humans now, not apes.

  200. Awful piece of fallacious crap. And for what purpose, to establish street cred with backwater, Christian fundamentalists? The Southern Strategy within the libertarian movement to pander to the sociocon-religious zealots and Confederates is alive and well. It’s forced many of us to stop calling ourselves libertarians. There are many who could be attracted to a fiscally conservative, socially/culturally liberal philosoph but… then they find out it means linking up with anti-vaxer, hardcore Christian fundgies and also accepting that the Confederates were the good guys.

    Nice job. Again.

    1. I’ll bet you’re one of those people who thinks that your worldview is unique enough to merit a separate and better pejorative than “religion.” And as your argument is full of corrosive nonsense I assume that you have no interest in seriously engaging with people of different faiths. So I should probably just mock you until you go away…

      1. I assume that you have no interest in seriously engaging with people of different faiths.

        ftfy.

      2. I have no interest in engaging people of different irrationalities, other than to call the paddy wagon to haul them off to the nearest asylum. I would further mock your psychological woobie called religion, but you and your woobie do just as good of a job.

  201. I think you’re confusing an aspect of religion with religion itself. Atheism is just one part of millions of religions, as theism is. I do agree that anyone who says they “don’t have” a religion is playing semantic bullshit with you.

  202. The reason that atheists don’t want to admit that atheism is a religion is that they want to be able to dismiss opposing viewpoints while being allowed to advance their own. However, the logical principle of categorical equivalence works against them. If the statement (P) is a “religious” statement, then the statement (~P) is also a “religious” statement. Saying “I can state my beliefs on this subject but you cannot state your beliefs on the same subject” is the refuge of someone who is afraid to argue on the basis of reason and evidence.

    1. Or it’s because most atheists don’t attend church, don’t read dogma, don’t have an explicit moral code via atheism, don’t perform any religious rituals, and don’t do many of the things that people who consider themselves religious do. If we wanted to, we still have no priests (most atheists don’t read Dawkins or accept that he speaks for them), church, primary religious texts, etc., again, unlike the overwhelming majority of world religions.

      This is not a claim of neutrality or of the null hypothesis or an attempt to stifle debate. It’s just a simple observation that we don’t actually do anything anyone would consider religious.

    2. “There is (probably) no god” is not a religious statement, it’s an assertion of fact arrived at by using reason and examining evidence. It’s latched to religion only because a particular brand of irrationality called religion exists that disagrees with this particular assertion.

    3. What evidence?

      1. The existence of the universe. The existence of living things. The existence of consciousness. These things can not be explained in a atheistic metaphysic. Darwin’s theory was disproven by the test he himself set for it (the existence of irreducibly complex structures in living things) three quarters of a century ago. Yet it continues to be taught as if it were fact, with the caveat “We have no idea how this happened, but we are certain that it wasn’t God.” That’s not science, that revelation. Ask yourself how the balance of fibrogen to fibrogen’s antagonists came about in the bloodstream of mammals by random chance–in only one generation, since an animal with the wrong balance could never survive to breeding age. That’s just one example–there are literally thousands.

        1. So explain how a giant sky fairy came into being.

          1. I have no idea. Perhaps you should ask someone who believes in a giant sky fairy.

          2. Yeah, that’s how religious beliefs work. Come back when you’ve grown up 🙂

  203. I have rarely experienced such ferocious disgust as I felt watching Kennedy splatter the screen with the most vile, pompous and disrespectful mockeries behind the back of anyone she disagreed with, never letting anyone finish a thought without interjecting the most insulting and infantile bullshit, all the while insisting on the vastness of her intellect. This article is so devoid of logic or even the most juvenile understanding of religion that I can’t find the energy to do anything but dismiss it outright. I would expect this kind of logic from a freshman Philosophy 101 class at a community college, not a graduate of any worthwhile university. The strongest argument made in this article is that majoring in Philosophy, as Kennedy so boldy used as proof of her supreme intellect, does not guarantee the ability to reason or debate. The sincere absence of religion is not religion. period.

    1. You’re a moron. Educate yourself on how logic works before you act like you know it. Atheism is a religion. Semantically, logically, etc. period. Deal with it.

  204. Okay. Atheism is a ‘religion’ as long as you agree that all religions other than atheism are ‘cults’. That preserves the relationship between atheism and religion, if not the actual meaning of those words.

    As I’ve so often said, if you want to define atheism as a religion, you have to either change the definition of atheism in such a way that it no longer resembles actual atheism, or you have to fiddle with the definition of religion until it can describe pretty much any group of people. Either way, you’re arriving at a linguistic construct with little or no meaning, and you still haven’t changed what religion and atheism actually are.

  205. Atheism isn’t a religion, but it is a philosophical position whose most ardent adherents could easily be confused for the religious.

    1. Agreed, davidst. My favorite (but sad) example of this is when Bill Maher ends Religulous with, of all things, a shrill sermon–a sermon as intolerant, fundamentalist, and fear-mongering as the religionists he otherwise effectively mocks. What a setback.

  206. I suppose it’s asking a bit too much to expect that Kennedy would have a coherent philosophical view on the issue.

    By her view, anyone having preferences and beliefs has a religion – anyone with consciousness. By broadening her concept of religion to include atheists, she has broadened it to include anyone with a pulse. THat is not a useful concept of religion.

  207. Fine, atheism is the one true religion. As a rhetorical strategy this is rather pathetic for the pro-theists. “You and I are equally irrational!” Thus Christ lives doesn’t follow, I’m afraid.

  208. The TV analogy misses the mark, everyone can see and measure the TV. More fitting is to say that the Theist imagines the TV waves from god, but the atheist sees the waves as natural components of the cosmos. Your article is an old canard of the Theist, an ad hominem that tries and paint the Atheist as someone hating god, or refusing to accept god as real. Well, Theists do not have a god, they have a belief; and since there is no rational evidence for a god, I am by default an Atheist. Atheists do not believe in a god for which there is no evidence. That explains why the brain functioning is also not relevant, how we make sense of the world may stimulate the same brain cells, but the conclusion reached is what makes the religion, and Atheists are wanting more than a good feeling.

  209. This is a pretty ridiculous article. Firstly, the author is assuming the existence of a god in her definition of atheism (small “a” for a reason, ya know). See there is no god at the center of my worldview; for that matter, there are no unicorns, leprechauns, or dragons there either.

    The entire article complains about the author’s facebook trolls and atheists in a completely uninteresting, overused fashioned, and it somehow acts like a “No True Scotsman” fallacy in reverse (instead of excluding appropriate members from a group because of an overly narrow definition, it applies a label where it is inappropriate because of an overly broad definition).

    In short: Get a dictionary, get a life, and get over yourself.

  210. Strictly speaking, one could argue that generic “theism” isn’t a religion. There’s Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, etc., and the adherents to one or the other of these belief systems probably have specific ideas about the ultimate issues of human destiny, ideas which differ in some respects from one religion to another. But outside of a philosophy seminar, who organizes their beliefs around a generic, nonspecific “theism?” If someone’s spiritual beliefs begin and end with an Anthony Flew style acknowledgement of God in general terms, is that specific enough to be a religion?

    1. By the same token, “atheism” can be seen as just as generic/nonspecific as “theism.” There are various atheist belief systems around which some people organize their beliefs – Marxism, Objectivism, Ethical Culture beliefs, to name a few. But someone who is merely a generic “atheist” can be said not to have organized his beliefs with enough specificity to count as a religion. Whereas Ethnical Culture or Marxism is a religion with the trappings of explanatory worldviews, meetings, holy books, etc.

      1. I hope nobody will see my mention of Marxism as being in any way controversial 🙂

        1. PS – perhaps Anthony Flew is religious after all, if he’s a Deist as some say.

  211. What a bunch of crap, Kennedy. Atheism is a religion because atheists frequently confront the question of whether there is a god?

    Yes, and a-Santa-Claus-ism is actually holiday cheer because the aclausists so often find themselves explaining to people that there’s no fucking evidence that flying reindeer exist. They’re all talking about flying reindeer, see!

    Atheists can be rude and cliquish and dismissive of people who disagree with them. Atheists often display the tribalism inherent in human nature. These traits are not uniquely religious, and to pretend that they are… Well, if I were a religious person, I wouldn’t appreciate the lumping-in.

  212. So lets see, appeal to emotion (atheists are emotional and people said mean things to me!) check!

    Equivocation, belief and nonbelief are belief systems. Check!

    Circular reasoning, Check!

    Well, then. Where t start? How about the basics, atheism is a word used by religious people, self righteous closet belivers and smug inbetweeners to describe people that don’t believe in a super charged Santa in the sky that responds to begging. The word only exists because there are so many people that can’t fathom how someone couldn’t believe in their super Santa that they NEED to desperately label everyone else that doesn’t.

    We don’t have a word for people wo don’t believe in invisible unicorns, because everyone knows invisible uniorns are nonsense. But we have a word for people who don’t believe in invisible super Santa, because so many people believe in him/her/it.

  213. I love this idea by atheist that if we could just get rid of religion that would somehow end all human suffering and the bad things that happen in the world.

    1. Not all, but probably most.

  214. Why would any person purchase Wholesale Soccer Jerseys backpacks for youthful kids? Your toddler will feel crucial if she has her personal backpack to take together with her to Grandma’s residence for an overnight check out. My two-year old twin nephews who had been getting potty trained, wished “back backs” to carry their very own lunches for a journey to the zoo.

  215. Kennedy,
    Here it is in the simplest, most reasonable form. Speaking for myself, atheism is not a religion, for me. I’m an indifferent atheist. I give any religion as much attention as I give any atheist. I just couldn’t care less. Too many atheists (you have now met many of them) approach their atheism with the same frothing fanatism as any TV preacher. They define themselves as non or anti. This approach is as dependant on a god as any religion as you said. They are too shallow to just skip the under god line in the pledge. They will sue to have a reference to god removed from anyplace that is not clearly defined as private property. They are as sad & scary as any clergy. This quality is also why they can’t understand libertarianism. They just can’t imagine letting others alone to live as they choose.

    1. +1

      bonus points for correctly using “couldN’T care less”, which is refreshing.

  216. “I contend that if your system is about God?or about the non-existence of God?God is still at the center of the argument’s ‘aboutness.'”

    This is where you go wrong. My belief system is Objectivism. The center of this system is existence itself and my epistemological and metaphysical relationship to it. Atheism is just one of the vast number of conclusions based on that system. And it is a very minor one at that.

    You may percieve that God is at the center of atheists’ belief system because that is the most obvious difference between your religion and their belief systems. But that ignores the entire rest of their system.

    I’m sorry to hear about all the rude and abusive replies to your argument. Discussion of such subjects should be civilized.

  217. Seeing as how you were the one to start this little flame war, I think the backlash you received was well-deserved.

  218. The author shrouds this article in comic relief because he doesn’t have evidence to say what he really believes.

    1. When did Kennedy change her sex?

  219. God is the TV. Religions are the channels. If it is off, maybe he’s dead or disengaged, but at least you admit there’s a TV.

    So the only way to be non-religious is to have absolutely no concept of God? No wonder the forum went “full White Indian”.

  220. I believe I’m an atheist, I think I’m an agnostic, and I know I don’t understand. And I’m pretty sure I don’t care.

  221. That’s really interesting concept, thanks.

    1. …and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic…

  222. Kennedy doesn’t seem to understand what atheism is. It’s simply the word we use for anyone who isn’t a theist. No active belief in the nonexistence of deities is required. A newborn or a hermit who has never heard of deities is as much an atheist as the (rare) individual who claims that it is possible to prove there are no deities and that he or she knows they don’t exist.

    It is true that the WORD “atheist” would not exist in a world where nobody believed in a deity — but everybody in such a world would still have the quality necessary to be what we call an atheist. Similarly, if we lived in a world where nothing was symmetrical, we wouldn’t call things asymmetrical — but they would still have that quality.

  223. Neo-pagans keep insisting that Satanists are “really” Christians (e.g., Isaac Bonewits on “the christer Anton LaVey”) without being subjected to the Two Minutes Hate.

  224. Why is it that only the religious call atheism a religion?

  225. Wow. 1100 comments on this thread? Big who cares! Let’s all graduate from high school and argue about something more intellectually stimulating.

  226. Utterly retarded nonsense. If you just define things anyway you please than anything can be anything and it is pointless to even discuss. Kennedy doesn’t seem to understand a thing is not the same as the concept of the thing.

  227. kennedy…so hot…I have faith that she’s not wearing underwear…regardless, since it appears I must believe in something, I believe I’ll have another beer.

  228. Love the FZ reference, but why do we care what a washed VJ has to say about anything?

  229. I’d be happy to provide a specific definition of religion.

    Religion: the belief that some or all of the universe is controlled by an unknowable power through untestable means.

    It’s the difference between believing that the universe is discoverable by logic and testing vs believing that (at least part of) the universe is beyond human capacity for verification.

  230. Always gives me a laugh when religious people use the word religion as an insult. And 1000+ comments. Seriously? Why the hell do atheists have a monopoly on flame way incitement these days?

    Jews, Jews, Jews, Jews. Why can’t we go back to the good old days? Teh Jooz Waz 2 Blame Fo Da Commiez! Da Commiez Wer All Jooz!

  231. Religion seems like a poor word choice – faith is better. I part with Penn on this. Believing something that cannot be proven is faith. It is impossible to prove the nonexistence of God, therefore those who believe there is no God believe something that cannot be proven and are obviously faith based.

  232. The thread seems to be winding down, so let me put in this comment very quickly:

    Is there any way to discuss atheism without using the terms “Santa Claus,” “tooth fairy,” or “invisible orbiting teacup?”

    1. I think it’s kinda like ROADS and SOMALIA.

      So, no.

  233. ?”If atheism is a religion, then off is a TV channel” … well… you need a TV to have it turned off.

  234. Another reason to support The FairTax and end all tax deductions church based or not.

  235. United States Virgin Islands Republican caucuses, 2012
    Candidate Votes Percentage Unbound Delegates Delegates
    Ron Paul 112[3] 29.2% 1 1
    Mitt Romney 101 26.3% 6 7
    Rick Santorum 23 6.0% 0 0
    Newt Gingrich 18 4.7% 0 0
    Uncommitted 130 33.9% 2 1
    Unprojected delegates:[4] 0 0
    Total: 384 100% 9 9

  236. Atheism is not a religion, atheist does not believe in God nor does atheist have faith in anything other than themselves. Yet many cannot explain miraculous healing of someone from brink of death.

  237. Ok, you got me. I am a true believer in non-belief.

    I find it amazing how driven a theist is to make sure an atheist also has some form of “belief” attached to them. It must make them feel better about themselves. They can’t suffer a true non-believer can be anything but non-belief. Amen!!

    1. i dont beleive taht for a minute…

  238. The zeal that you argue atheists possess in the defense of disbelief is not really one of atheism per se; I think it is actually a political zeal. I think you’ll find that most people who defend their religious skepticism with malicious intent are really Liberals/Progressives who refer to anyone with a different opinion as stupid, crazy or racists.

  239. Another thought occurred to me is that if atheist are correct and there is no God, then religion is not religion for believing in something that doesn’t exist does not make it exist. Now my brain hurts.

  240. Say what you will about Kennedy’s exact wording, she has a valid point – which, I think, is similar to the point that South Park made in ‘Go God, Go’. Atheists treat atheism like a religion. They fervently try to convert the religious; they get angry about people disagreeing with them; and they devote enormous amounts of energy and money trying to get their message out there (Bill Maher’s Religulous, for example).

    1. We get angry, not because people disagree, but because of what they do. Many try to impose their views on everyone else with political action based on their religious morality. We also see a vast number of people duped by televangelists and face faith healers. We see all sorts of silly, destructive behavior motivated by faith in God, and we can’t help but speak out.

    2. however, the broadbrushing of *all* atheists as zealots is just as inaccurate as describing all religious people as fundie whackjobs.

  241. All I can say is that at least on the Bill Maher show, your vacuous comments were balanced somewhat by Bill’s equally vacuous straw man, “religion doesn’t allow for new information”. Unfortunately here, where you have the spotlight all to yourself, your flakey “reasoning” stands out as monumentally idiotic.

  242. Trolling at it’s finest. Congratulations.

    Not to say I’m very impressed by any outlet that prints such drivel, but regardless of the vacuousness of your assertions, you certainly know how to stir the shitpot. And I suppose that is a skill.

  243. Let me refine your television analogy.

    All of the world’s religions and sectarian variants have their own channel. The “off” position is used by the deist, who rejects all of them but has a TV set for no other reason but to support a potted plant. The atheist, on the other hand, doesn’t own a TV.

    You’re welcome.

  244. The Author is correct. Could there be Atheism without theism? It is a reactionary belief system. One is never just an atheist, one is a Christian Atheist, a Jewish Atheist, a Hindu Atheist, etc – its always a reaction to the predominate religion in ones culture.

    1. I would have put that the other way ’round: a Christian is theistic toward his own deity, and atheistic toward all others (the Hindu deities, the Norse deities, the Chinese deities, etc).

      The compleat Atheist just “goes one god [or pantheon] further” and believes in, or worships, none of them.

      But “could there be Atheism without theism?” Sure. It’s the “rest state.” Before anyone imagined a deity to believe in, there was atheism. Any population that hasn’t been taught to believe in a deity (and hasn’t dreamed up its own) is atheist.

      Nothing there to “react against” — until a theistic religion becomes the predominant religion.

  245. All this demonizing of “emotion” in this article and on Reason.com in general. Emotion is an extremely powerful value and judgment and decision system, folks working on AI are just now realizing they have to model emotion to build AI that can navigate a random world. You can list facts, and pro’s and con’s for ever and ever, but at some point you have to VALUE, and valuing is an emotional act.

  246. deciding to get out of bed in the morning is an emotional choice, it’s requires desire, that is you have to desire to get out of bed, or we might more commonly use the word “want” – thats why I always had a problem with Spock and Data – if they were really absolutely Rational, then what would they ever care enough about to do over the infinite other possible choices in any given moment?

  247. Kennedy said something dumb on Maher and is just doubling down in this article. All humans having the same neurology whether they are theist or atheist means precisely that it is not characteristic of either. And moreover, linking theism with neurology only makes the theist hypothesis less credible, as said belief then has a natural explanation that is not any god.

    Also, only a very small percentage of religious people or atheists EVER experience this “trance” phenomenon of the brain. 97% of Christians will not ever experience such trance, so to say that it is somehow characteristic of all religion is preposterous. And this mystical trance experience that can occur regardless of religion has absolutely NOTHING to do with the formation of beliefs anyway.

  248. No one believes more devoutly in defiance of all evidence than the committed atheist.

    1. “No one believes more devoutly in defiance of ?***all evidence***? than the committed atheist.”

      Your definition of “evidence” is obviously…absurd.

  249. “Atheism, on the other hand, is about God and proving such an overpostulated supernatural being does not exist.”

    Atheism does not require “proving” God does not exist. The burden of proof is always on the person making the positive claim (e.g., gods, unicorns).

    For instance, let’s say you were born into atheistic family who lived a secular life and scientific worldview. That is, the person was taught that truth and knowledge were acquired through logic and evidence.

    One day this person encounters a religious person, who introduces him/her to God. Does the atheist suddenly have to “prove” the non-existence of God? Is the atheist’s worldview suddenly predominated by having to disprove God?

    No, the burden of proof is on the theist. The atheist was living a life and possessing a worldview without even knowing the concept of God.

  250. Religion is the central belief system that a person subscribes to, and feels a desire to share his views to his fellow men, to degrees from very small conversations to forced conversion, regardless of extranatural entities. Athiests can indeed be very evangelistic. Part of the tyranny in Communist countries was to purge traditional religion as a competing idea, as well as those individuals who held on to those beliefs. For myself, I am athieistic since I do not believe in God, but not an Athiest, since it is not my central belief system. I am a Capitalist.

  251. This is precisely the sort of fallacy laden drivel one expects from a person with a little education in, but no talent for, philosophy. Kennedy needs to review her Ninian Smart and stick to spinning discs or whatever it is a D.J. does these days.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N…..ntribution

  252. If by GOD one means ‘whatever can’t be proven by science’, and if by EXIST one means ‘whatever is proven BY SCIENCE to exist’; then god has surely been proven to not exist (by definition). On the other hand, if by RELIGION one means ‘everything that atheism isn’t’; then, atheism isn’t a religion.

  253. The bottom line is neither atheism nor theism are religions; they’re just the designations we assign people based on whether they answer yes or no to the question “Do you believe there is a god?” If the word religion has any meaning at all, it has to go beyond the simple question of whether or not one believes in a god, because we already have words for that. Just think about the characteristics that define what we all agree are religions. They typically involve devotional practices/rituals, traditional holidays, ceremonial garments, and/or official theological positions on things like morality, our purpose in life, etc. No such things exist that unify all theists or atheists (e.g. no “if you don’t believe moral postion X or visit this location at this time, you aren’t a real atheist/theist” tests).

  254. Sigh… If you plop an atheist in a world that has no concept of religion, there’s no word for him-he’s just a person. If you plop a theist into that world, you have to come up with a word to define his unusual behaviors and beliefs. In the real world, with its theocentric culture, you have to come up with words to describe both sets of people; that’s sick to me. It’s like if daylight saving time came and went, and instead of setting the clock to the correct time once, you decide to mentally add an hour every time you look at the incorrect setting.
    It’s incredibly harmful to refer to atheists as adhering to a religion, because you dismiss them as people by dismissing the central pillar of their non-belief. ‘Oh, Jerry, that silly goose. He’s an atheist, poor thing: doesn’t agree with religion, but he belongs to a religion and doesn’t even realize it. Too funny!’

  255. Only idiots believe in something they can’t prove to exist and there is nothing you can do about it. See Forest Gump.

  256. What an idiotic definition of atheism. Imagine if no one in the world believed in a god, but we were all aware of the history of religions. Would we all be “religious” for having the “religion” of not believing in all that? These people would be atheists, and their TVs would certainly be off.

    Does not believing Zeus also mean I have a “religion”? How about 99% of gods? How about 100%? It’s as if you are deliberately trying to convolute the terms.

    It’s more like atheists don’t own a TV in the first place. I chucked my TV in the dumpster long ago. If God is the TV, then what I have is not a TV, you imbecile. What I own is a disagreement with other people’s TVs.

    It’s actually quite amazing that someone came to literally the opposite definition of what atheism means. How the rejection of all gods could somehow constitute still having a god. What a moron!

  257. Do children around the world share a religion with the belief in Santa?

    Once the lie is uncovered do these children then belong to a non believers of Santa religion?

    This would make it impossible to be in only one religion. Adult Christians would also be in the non believers of Santa religion.

    Would asking non believers of Santa any questions on anything help me to understand what all non believers of Santa believe?

  258. I would argue against her position, but I didn’t actually see any arguments. More like a fatuous string of non-sequiturs.

  259. Superb, brilliant article!

    Spot on!

    No other comments necessary. 😉

  260. Superb, brilliant article!

    Spot on!

    No other comments necessary. 😉

  261. Kennedy has every right to say atheism is a religion, it’s just plain freedom of speech and her point of view. On the other side, her point of view is simply unjustified, biased and lack of coherency. It is the effort of some lobbyists programmed to generate a trend that relations the faith to atheism. Remember, NO COLLECTING STAMPS is not a hobby.

  262. Viewing atheism as a religion just confuses meanings and pleases the religious, who wish to see non-belief as a wrong belief the same as believing the wrong religion. The challenge to define religion and explain its difference from atheism is not hard to answer if reasoning isn’t impaired. If we are discussing religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and nature worship, I think “religion” means an official set of beliefs about the universe and human destiny based on the assumptions that humans have an immortal soul and that supernatural immortal beings (usually a god or gods) govern the universe. The wording of this definition is based partly on the first 3 definitions at Dictionary.com. The word “official” seems important to distinguish a religion from a private belief that should probably be called a superstition or psychosis. These kinds of religion are also rigid systems of belief that go along with holy books, dogmas, and sacred rituals.

  263. To say that atheism is a religion just because it is about gods ignores what is generally understood by the term “religion,” or it conflates this meaning with the idea of belief in general (i.e., any opinion or rational judgment). It is as nonsensical as saying that any field of study dealing with humans is the same. For example, literature is anatomy, anthropology is philosophy, and economics is medicine. It’s also illogical to lump atheists in with religious people because they have strong convictions and can get emotional. You might as well say that every human being is “religious” in these ways. It has no meaning. Also, you are oversimplifying in the same way when you claim that all rationalizing about the world is basically the same mental activity using the same part of the brain, implying it can all be given the same name. By that logic, all scientific theorizing and any judgments about reality (e.g., about the existence of Santa) are religious thinking.

  264. For these reasons, calling atheism a religion is obtusely reductive, confuses the issues, and undermines rational discussion. If a person believes in an immortal soul and supernatural powers that govern the universe, he/she is religious. If a person does not believe in such supernatural powers, he/she is an atheist by definition. Beyond that, atheism cannot be strictly defined, since it is NOT a monolithic belief system like a religion with holy books, dogmas, and rituals. Similarly, people who do not believe in Santa are not adherents to a belief system requiring them to hold the same ideas about the universe and human nature. It may be true that most atheists also don’t believe in immortal souls, but the word for that belief is materialism–also not a religion, but termed a philosophy.

  265. Of course, any beliefs can be viewed as similar in some ways. For example, a guidebook for raising gerbils could be called a gerbil owner’s bible, and Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” could be called an atheist’s sacred book. The activities of reading such books and laughing about religion could be called rituals; and, as with people of different religious sects, atheists do not all follow and approve of exactly the same ideas and rituals. But these are just amusing analogies comparing things that are fundamentally different. A manual on gerbils probably doesn’t teach the worship of a god, and no atheist has a religious attitude towards books (i.e., believing they contain divinely inspired absolute truths that must be accepted on faith). I hope this attempted explanation helps a little to clarify matters.

  266. “Atheism requires a God for you not to believe in.” No. First, there are thousands of gods: Thor, Apollo, Isis, and the like. Atheists don’t believe in any of them. Christians don’t believe in any of them, except one. Does that require all those other gods? Of course not. I don’t believe there is a worldwide government conspiracy to control people through chemical contrails. Does that require chemical contrails for me to not believe in? Of course not. Atheists do not in some way mis-apply or re-apply belief to something other than god, they lack belief in regard to god.

    Religion hinges on belief, humanity hinges on faith. The words, used secularly, offer a distinction; religion often conflates the two. Faith is an unguarded and open search for the truth, and willingness to accept it, regardless of the consequences. In this sense faith underlies science, a quest (and test) for truth. Belief is a need, an expression of faith “without further ado” so to speak, where “truths” are inventoried, regardless of logical support or inconsistency. Stereotypes are beliefs. A belief is a stand on a topic.

    This distinction has Biblical support, if you are open to such a thing, and in fact elucidates it quite well. In the King James version of the Bible, Matthew 17:20 says “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

  267. I agree. Semantically, not just because religious people act similarly to atheists, it’s true. Though there isn’t one definition of religion, atheism fits all of them, or at least American atheism. Can’t claim to know about all versions of atheism, but by the definition of atheism, they all should fit.

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