I’m pretty sure you don’t know what you are talking about
As an atheist, I get furious any time someone dismisses my point of view as “just another religion.”
I think such a statement fails to recognize what atheism is and further fails to understand religion in general. The statement, ironically, is typically uttered by agnostic/non religious people as a way to imply their point of view is “superior” to the more “Dogmatic” atheist perspective. Those who are religious seem to immediately realize they are in a glass house the moment they observe that what someone else believes is “just another religion.”
So, here is the primary definition of religion according to Dictionary.com
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.
I’ll use this as a starting point but it isn’t the sole source of my argument.
The definition above says that religion most frequently involves a view of the universe that included a “superhuman agency or agencies” although it leaves the door open for belief systems that do not include such a perspective. I will concede that such a broad definition could include atheism.
Except that it mentions that the belief system includes beliefs about the “purpose” of the universe. If you don’t believe in a god or gods, the only purpose there is to the universe is simply to exist.
Things don’t happen for a reason. They just happen.
In looking up other definitions for religion, the word “faith” is almost always used and it is where I think the entire argument that atheism is like religion falls apart.
In order to believe in god – any god – you must have faith. God doesn’t hang around with great beams of light coming out of his or her head handing out really obvious miracles all the time so there would be no doubt as to his or her existence. No matter what religion you follow, god is pretty cagey. You have to have faith for the whole thing to work.
Atheism says “I need some proof, thank you very much.”
The counter argument becomes that an atheist has “faith” in science and that ignores what science represents.
Let’s take the recent report that suggests the possibility of particles that travel faster than light. If true, this discovery would require scientists will have to re-think Einstein’s theory of special relativity. That is a pretty big deal.
But the point here is that they will re-think that theory and revise it to fit the extant facts.
More importantly, if you read the article you will see that the scientific community is extremely skeptical of the results. Even the scientists who have done the initial research are skeptical. At this moment, there are several studies underway attempting to duplicate the initial results and unless they report similar findings, those results will be rejected as false.
You can’t do that with religion.
You can’t go out and find a bunch of guys who claim they are the messiah, crucify them and then wait three days to see if they come back from the dead. Even if you did, the parameters of the experiment would be extremely suspect.
It isn’t that I’m unwilling to believe in a god. I’m unwilling to believe in a god without compelling evidence and to this point in my life, I have seen no such thing.
The most dogmatic thing about my belief system is that I choose to call myself an atheist rather than an agnostic. Most atheists are at least partially agnostic in that we accept the possibility that some sort of god exists.
The reason I call myself an atheist, though, is because I simply can’t find any evidence for god.
In fact, the more we learn about the universe and the human brain, the less likely god seems to be.
Faith in science is not what led me to what I believe. I’m not a scientist. I’ve often stated that the main reason I accept evolution is because in addition to all the scientific evidence in favor of evolution, it just makes more sense. I’m a logical person at heart and to me, there is nothing logical about believing that the Earth is 6000-10000 years old because you have a book that tells you so.
I reiterate my stance that I have no problem with people who believe in a god as long as they don’t push their belief on me. Faith can be a very good thing so the fact it is required to believe in a god is not in itself a bad thing.
But faith does separate those who are religious from those who are atheists.
I think most religious people actually get that.
I think that some agnostics do not. They feel more superior in saying “I don’t know what I believe and anyone who does know is just fooling themselves.”
The trick is that atheists may know what we believe, but our belief is open to revision. A blurry picture of the virgin mary in refrigerator mold, however, is not going to cut it.