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.

Sort of.

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.

About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

8 responses to “I’m pretty sure you don’t know what you are talking about”

  1. Albatross says :

    As an atheist, I agree atheism is not “a religion.” We don’t have an Atheist Pope (although that could be cool, especially if it were a robot). We don’t have an Atheist Creed that must be followed to demonstrate proof-of-atheism. We don’t have atheist priests buggering little atheist altar boys. NOT a religion.

    Atheism IS (in my opinion) a “faith.” But it’s faith in rational things, like logic. The reason atheism has to be a faith is simply that one CAN’T prove a negative. God can always be hiding from us behind the NEXT quark or quasar.

    But our faith gives us things like Occam’s Razor, which suggests that given two equally likely explanations, the simpler is more likely to be true. So the argument

    Where’d the Universe come from? > God > Where’d God come from? > I dunno

    Is LESS LIKELY TO BE TRUE than the argument

    Where’d the Universe come from? > I dunno

    Because the latter is simpler.

    So, I can’t PROVE there are not gods, but I live my life AS IF there are no gods, because I have faith in reason and logic that suggest this is the case.

    Which, IMO, makes a lot more sense then having faith in a heavily-edited and redacted anthology of agrarian folklore assembled in Nicea 1700 years ago.

    • Petsnakereggie says :

      I think that faith in the framework of atheism is tempered by the fact that most atheists say “if someone can prove to me that god exists, I’m on board.”

      There is, I suppose, a faith in logic but it is a faith in results rather than suppositions.

      You can say that a tsunami is the wrath of god and I can’t definitively disprove that statement. Logically, however, that argument is filled with fallacies and can be dismissed. I supposed that it takes faith to believe in the logical arguments against such a supposition but I don’t think it is the same kind of faith.

  2. Blue Kasasagi says :

    There are some atheist that do act like they are in a religion. They meet in groups to talk about religion and god and how they don’t believe in it. The talk to others about not believing in a god and how it helped them and can help you too. There is even an atheist symbol that can be placed on veteran grave maker. If you talk about it all the time you still have god in your life, and you may just be trying to convince your self of something that you don’t really yet believe. Try not talking about god or your beliefs for a month or so you may find that what you believe is not in any way a factor in your life, then you are truly an atheist.

    • Petsnakereggie says :

      Wait – so a Catholic isn’t a Catholic unless they can go a month or longer without talking about Catholicism? Or does your statement apply only to atheists?

      I talk about it because it interests me. So do movies. So does comedy. So do many other things. And I talk about them because they are parts of who I am and parts of what I think are important. That doesn’t make the opinion that there is not a god religion.

      I’m not trying to convince myself of anything. I’m quite confident in what I believe.

  3. CaptainHeck (@CaptainHeck) says :

    I had a similar argument way back in high school when I was a member of the local Humanist/Atheist organization and he gave me a word for word spiel directly from his local Catholic church that Humanists and Humanism (which is an atheist philosophy) was a cult. By naming it a cult, it was actually worse than saying it was a religion because at least a religion would be respected through his catholic eyes. I then insisted that we look up the dictionary definition of ‘cult’ (and yes, this was way before the internet so we had to get an actual book) and showed him that any cult involved a belief in the supernatural and thus wondered how any atheist group was a ‘cult’. Interestingly, he stuck to his guns on this argument the way many religious people do when given contradictory data and in some ways that kind of defines them right?

  4. Ears says :

    Related non-related… When talking about discrimination and stereotype, people will say they don’t discriminate based on belief. But that leaves out the Atheists/Agnostics. I tend to say “belief or non-belief” but that can get a little wordy. Also, it doesn’t flow well, and we all know that’s the most important. Have you encountered a word, phrase, something that is all-inclusive and not 80 gamillion words long?

    Side note: this is also why I call “the father of my child” my babydaddy. I’m lazy.

    • Petsnakereggie says :

      I’m sure other atheists/agnostics will see it differently but I feel that “belief” is sufficient. My personal “belief” is that god does not exist. I think it is different than the absence of belief.

  5. Jena says :

    I thought I was logged in. Awkward.

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