I got asked the question a few weeks ago. You know the question, right?
“Isn’t atheism just another form of religion?”
I gave the flippant answer right away: atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.
Atheism is the absence of religion. I have no deity guiding what I do.
“Yeah, but isn’t science your religion?”
No. Because if new research shows conclusively that the prevailing scientific paradigm is wrong, I’ll change my view. If the existence of ghosts could actually be proven, I’d totally believe in ghosts.
If I believe in the Abrahamic god and someone presents me with proof that what I believe is wrong, I would most likely ignore it or come up with an explanation for the dichotomy without providing proof to back up my claim.
Why are there dinosaur bones in rock strata dating to millions of years before the creationists claim god created the Earth? Because the devil put them there!
See how easy that was? I didn’t have to prove a damn thing.
Prove to me that it wasn’t the Devil!
Religion ignores contradictory evidence. Science examines contradictory evidence and, if it proves correct, embraces it.
Here’s the overarching problem I have with the question, though. If believing in god is a religion and not believing in god is a religion, what isn’t a religion?
Would it only be the agnostics who have no religion? The fact they steadfastly say “I don’t know if there is a god or not” means they are the only ones who can definatively be said to be free of religious belief?
I don’t even think that works because most self identified agnostics steadfastly state that they don’t know whether there is a god or not. They are still professing a belief on the subject of god and they can, therefore, also be called religious.
I think that’s just silly. The presumption that any belief system that takes a stand on god is a religion completely devalues the word.
In fact, I don’t think being a theist necessarily means you are religious. What if you believe in god but reject all forms of organized religion? Are you religious simply because you say you believe in some sort of god?
Religion, I believe, is driven by dogmatic views that dictate not only what god is but how we are expected to relate to him/her/it.
Atheism dictates only one thing: there is probably not a god.
Heck, it doesn’t even dictate that we believe in scientific evidence. You can be an atheist and ignore scientific evidence if you want. You can be an atheist and believe in ghosts. You can be an atheist and believe in ancient aliens.
If you are going to call yourself an atheist, the only thing you can’t do is believe in god. That just won’t work out.
You don’t have to listen to/agree with Dawkins or Myers or Watson or me to be an atheist. You don’t have to read “The God Delusion.” You don’t have to tell anyone you are an atheist. There is no complex ritual involved. You will never be expected to attend a meeting. Ever.
There is no right way to be an atheist. The only way you can do atheism wrong is by believing in god.
In order for the word “religion” to matter, you have to make sure it means something other than “a view of reality that professes any opinion on the subject of god.”
Because if that is your definition, everyone is religious and the word is a useless qualifier.