Atheism is a Religion
Debate Rounds (4)
I will argue that atheism is not a religion.
I will now define key terms. If my opponent would like to propose a change, please specify.
Atheism: a disbelief in the existence of deity/ies
Religion: the service and worship of God or the supernatural
(definitions from merriam-webster.com)
I encourage my opponent to make opening statements regarding any objections to the structure of this debate, otherwise he/she may state his/her first argument. I look forward to a civil, educating debate!
I will argue that Atheism is a system of religion and will provide adequate evidence to prove this statement .
My first clause will include the fact that you failed as many others who are trying to be persuasive to provide the full definition of a term this being religion as written in the Webster dictionary . To make this clear we must understand that words in the English language tend to have multiple meanings and with such stipulations we must include these details so our readers are informed accurately and come to an educated conclusion. In basic terms a change in the amount of definition you provided is not only a requisite but may surely annul your basis for your argument .
I will now provide both the simple and full definitions of Religion from the Merriam -Webster .
Religion simple definition :
1: the belief in a god or in a group of gods
2: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
3: an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group
Religion Full definition :
1 a : the state of a religious
b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3:archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
Atheism is in concordance with the fourth full definition and third simple definition of religion . I will prove this by including the definition of Atheism from the Merriam -Webster dictionary .
1 archaic : ungodliness, wickedness
2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
According to definition of 2 b of atheism and definitions four of the full definition of religion and three of the simple definition of religion Atheism being a doctrine fits the characteristics of a religion .
For us to be sure of this let me provide the definition of Doctrine from the Merriam - Webster dictionary .
Doctrine full definition :
1 archaic : teaching, instruction
2 a : something that is taught
b : a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief : dogma
c : a principle of law established through past decisions
d : a statement of fundamental government policy especially in international relations
e : a military principle or set of strategies
Doctrine simple definition :
1: a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true
2: a statement of government policy especially in international relations
In correspondence with the fourth full definition of Religion and third simple definition Atheism as described in definition 2 b is a doctrine . A doctrine according to its first definition is a set of ideas which Atheism is a set of ideas or system of beliefs . With this information one should ultimately conclude that Atheism is a religion .
I hope for an expedient and resourceful reply from my opponent .
With Regards - Khayil
I personally find the first definition of atheism ("archaic : ungodliness, wickedness") quite derogatory and misleading, and I am confident in stating that very few atheists would define atheism this way. I understand that my opponent simply copied the MW definition and that isn't necessarily their view of atheists, but I think it is important to address.
My opponent states "Atheism is in concordance with the fourth full definition and third simple definition of religion," thus making atheism a religion. If we actually look at what these definitions are saying, we will see that atheism clearly cannot be classified as a religion.
The fourth full definition of religion, "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith" simply does not apply to atheism. Let's dissect this definition. Atheism is not a "cause." Atheists do not have an ultimate purpose or agenda; the word atheism simply communicates their disbelief of gods. Next, atheists do not all share a "principle", defined by MW as "a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions." The only belief which applies to all atheists is that there are no gods. Atheists do not find their "moral rules" through atheism, but rather through methods such as rational thinking, the Golden Rule, etc. Atheism is not a "system of beliefs." Atheists only share one belief: there are no gods. That statement is too simple to be called a "system." Lastly, atheists' disbelief in gods is not "held to with ardor or faith." Ardor is defined by MW as "a strong feeling of energy or eagerness." Atheists generally do not run around telling people that they do not believe in gods the same way that people bring up their fascination with CrossFit. People usually share things they believe in more often than what they don't believe in. And atheists do not require faith to identify as atheists. Usually, people call themselves atheists precisely because they do not have faith in the same way that religious people do.
The third simple definition of religion, "an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group" is so vague that it could encompass almost anything. Music is very important to me. I am interested in it and I know for a fact that there are others who also view music as important. Yet I (and most of the people I know) do not consider music a religion (at least no more than when people jokingly say that football is their religion). Anybody can claim that something is very important to them, yet that doesn't usually compel them to instantly deem it as their religion. Besides, to use such broad terminology to define religion seems demeaning to people who are very religious. To people whose lives have been completely shaped by religion since their birth, telling them that their way of life is simply an important, shared belief seems a bit disrespectful and detracts a lot of meaning.
If we consider how many religions there are around the world and how the definition of what it means to be religious changes from person to person, we must accept that religion is too complex to be defined by a few words in a dictionary. The initial definition I gave of religion was what I felt a simple place to start, but not one to stick with. If I was an alien coming to visit earth and I read their dictionary definition of religion, I would still be very unclear about what it actually says about the people to be religious. To fully understand religion one must actually observe those who identify as religious and compare and contrast their habits with those who identify as atheist. This includes how they go about their lives and their views on the universe. Let's take a look at some extremely common aspects of the religion.
-holidays (ex. Ramadan, Yom Kippur)
-sacred texts/symbols (ex. Bible, Quran, the cross)
-places of worship (ex. church, mosque, temple, monastery)
-praise of central figures (ex. Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha)
-portrayal of an afterlife (ex. heaven/hell, reincarnation)
While not every single religion conducts all of these practices, they are very widespread among religions around the world. Now, if atheism is truly a religion, it must share at least one of these elements, right? Let's take a look.
It appears that atheists share absolutely none of the above aspects of religion. Not one. True, some atheists may still believe in heaven, but whether they do or not is a separate matter from their disbelief in gods. A lot of people see atheism as something a lot more complicated than it actually is. It is really quite simple: the disbelief in gods. That is the one, single common view that all atheists share. I believe that I have already demonstrated that simply sharing a belief with other people is too general to be called a religion.
Atheism is not a religion and doesn't share the central traits of one.
I await my opponent's reply!
Atheism tends to have two main arguments shared among most maybe even all Atheist . The first would be that there is insufficient evidence of a God or Gods . The second would be that the idea of a God or Gods is a ridiculous notion . These ideas both express common ground between Atheist showing a system is evident . There are some other basic attributes I will list such . Along with there being no existence of a God there is no existence of a devil . The realm of the supernatural is non existence in the eyes of the common Atheist . Miracles are nothing an Atheist would concur with . Humanity does not "sin" because to sin you would offend a God and as such sin is not coexistent with Atheism . Atheist tend to argue evolution as fact and with such this is apart of Atheistic common ground. These common characteristics of Atheistic belief is proof of a set of ideas being contemporary .
All religions are not the same and as such Atheism should not have to live up to the standards of the common religion but I will provide instances in which Atheism has religious characteristics . Taoism does not believe in a God just as Atheism does not . It is a school of thought held so deeply that it is religious . This same principle can be applied to true Atheist . Atheism is not only the disbelief in a God but the disbelief in almost any spiritual realm or thing thus allotting it to be a system held with ardor and faith .Ardor differs from person to person and as such the eagerness does not have to be to tell someone that is a poor generalization as a believer of Tengriism does not have an eagerness to tell someone of their beliefs neither does a Confucian but they do have an ardor to find out more just as most Atheist have . Faith being the complete trust and confidence in something means that Atheist have to have the complete trust and confidence that there is no God without the complete trust and confidence in that or faith they would simply be agnostic . All religions do not Holy Days and prayers and things of such those ideas you provide are sweeping statements and example of this would be a Buddhist. Pray is not mandatory and as such can be excluded if a follower wished not to do so . Would he then not be considered a Buddhist ? According to the Huffington post at least 14% of non religious people prayed at least once a month . Yet they are still considered non religious . Atheism does not have to share the common characteristics you mentioned to be a religion .Atheism does share different common characteristics with religions which should show you its religious nature . You closing statement has proven to be false as Atheism surely does share the traits of a religion .
If we are going to say that religion is to complex to be defined by the dictionary and that it changes from person to person we must come to common understanding of what a religion is to define it .MW an accredited source surely should be enough for us to use in this debate . Anything can be too complex if we decide it .Also this statement " Anybody can claim that something is very important to them, yet that doesn't usually compel them to instantly deem it as their religion. Besides, to use such broad terminology to define religion seems demeaning to people who are very religious. To people whose lives have been completely shaped by religion since their birth, telling them that their way of life is simply an important, shared belief seems a bit disrespectful and detracts a lot of meaning." Does not change the facts . There way of life being an important shared belief whether that hurts their feelings does not change it from being true .
Atheism Surely is a religion and should be recognized as such .
I hope for a resourceful reply
My opponent asserts that most if not all atheists believe "the idea of god is a ridiculous motion." Pro is applying a general attitude to a large group of people and thereby misinterpreting their views. The only objective statement one can make about atheists is that they lack a belief in gods. The idea of a god does not have to appear "ridiculous" to somebody in order to be an atheist. What if someone finds the idea of a god appealing, but they simply can't find any satisfying evidence or logical reason to support their belief? I believe my opponent has come to the conclusion that most atheists view the idea of god as "ridiculous" because of people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, all known as atheists who were/are very open about their anti-religious views. They believed/believe that the idea of a god is ridiculous. But, it is imperative that people realize that not all atheists are like this. In fact, most aren't.
Pro writes "Taoism does not believe in a God just as Atheism does not." Taoism/Daoism defined by MW is "a Chinese philosophy based on the writings of Lao-tzu..." and according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "In religious Daoism, Laozi is revered as a supreme deity" (http://plato.stanford.edu...). I felt this was a small fact worthy of acknowledgement.
My opponent stated "Atheism is not only the disbelief in a God but the disbelief in almost any spiritual realm or thing..." This statement is simply false. It exemplifies a point I brought up earlier; people too often give new definitions to atheism and try making it so much more complicated than what it actually means. The word atheism has to do with one thing and one thing only: the existence of gods. Atheism alone has nothing to say about an afterlife or other spiritual realms. There are atheists who believe in a heaven. There are atheists who believe in ghosts. They simply do not believe that the presence of gods must coincide with their beliefs. I will say that most atheists do not believe in the supernatural, but one cannot assert that anybody who identifies as an atheist cannot believe in anything supernatural just because they do not believe in gods.
Shortly after the previous statement, my opponent continues and says "Faith being the complete trust and confidence in something means that Atheist have to have the complete trust and confidence that there is no God[.] without the complete trust and confidence in that [(or faith)] they would simply be agnostic." Once again, my opponent is misusing the definition of atheism. Atheists say they do not believe in gods. The term atheism by itself, the crux of this debate, does not assert knowledge. It does not state there is definitely no god. The assertion of knowledge has to do with gnosticism. While theism pertains to the belief in gods, gnosticism pertains to knowledge, certainty someone claims to possess regarding their beliefs. Placing the prefix 'a' in front of each term signifies the lack of something, be it the lack of a belief in gods (atheism) or the lack of knowledge (agnosticism). From what I have observed, most atheists are agnostic atheists. These are people who don't believe in gods and admit they do not know for sure. There are also gnostic atheists who don't believe in gods and claim to know that there are no gods. Agnostic theists believe there are gods and admit they don't know for sure, and gnostic theists believe there are gods and claim to know for certain that there are gods. People may identify as either one or the other as well as a combination of both. But it is crucial to note that atheism does not assert knowledge, it is just a position on a belief.
My opponent continuously assumes that common traits of atheists are expressed in the name of atheism, making it a religion. Atheists usually argue evolution as fact. Atheists usually do not believe in a supernatural realm. But these tendencies are not done for atheism, rather atheists just tend to like science and reason. Atheism has no doctrine or teachings that its adherents must follow. It is not a religion.
So if my statement ""Atheism is not only the disbelief in a God but the disbelief in almost any spiritual realm or thing..." that means Atheist have to believe in some kind of God or Godly thing . Why ? Because a spiritual realm implies just that . These are things you cannot hold or touch or be proven to exist as they are incorporeal . Spiritual as defined by MW is "of or relating to religion or religious belief." Yet the endowment of this information will surely be discarded by a notion that changes thing from fact to speculation .
In your closing statement you said those things I identified are not done in the name of atheism . They are done in the proof of atheism not in the name . No atheist argues creationism . You cannot prove that they are not truly done in the name of atheism just as most sects of Christians claim Sunday as their Sabbath yet the Sabbath is the seventh day according to their holy book . It is not done in the name of Christianity but in the name of tradition and thus becomes a trait of Christianity and can identify most Christians with such . We are speaking upon generalizations of a particular group (Atheist ) and comparing them with many general groups . When I speak upon Atheist the Con must remember I do not speak upon every existing atheist but the general majority .
Atheism definitely shares common ideology and this is surely what makes it a religion . Skeptics surely do not have ground in their belief or lack of belief but Atheist surely do .
The problem in this debate is not whether Atheism is a religion but what religion is in consensus . This will make the debate difficult and one must come to agreement on what this term truly is and what it is not.
Pro claims that Christians do not observe the Sabbath (aka attend church services on Sunday) "in the name of Christianity but in the name of tradition." Where does that tradition come from, if not their sacred text, the pinnacle of their belief system? They absolutely do observe the Sabbath in the name of Christianity. They are compelled to do so in the Ten Commandments, one of the most well known parts of the Bible. Exodus 20:8 states "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (King James Version). This demonstrates what separates atheism from religion. Atheism does not have a set of rules, or subsets of beliefs hidden behind it. In fact there is nothing hidden behind atheism. Later, Pro writes "Atheism definitely shares common ideology and this is surely what makes it a religion." I bet that Pro and I share the common ideology that water is wet and that water often falls from the sky. But my opponent and I most certainly do not consider this a religion. Why must we consider something so basic a religion rather than just "common ideology"? Likewise, what sense is there in placing atheism under the umbrella of religion?
Pro has continuously attempted to transform the definition of atheism from its simplicity to something completely different. Pro has asserted that atheists think the notion of a god is ridiculous, that they cannot believe in the supernatural, that they must have faith in there being no gods and that atheism is a deeply held school of thought. Atheists do not believe in gods. What is so deep about that? How can one assert atheism is a religion if one does not comprehend the definition of atheism?
A pattern has arisen from my opponent's arguments. Pro has bundled together common attitudes of atheists and attempted to apply them to all of atheism. This logic is equivalent to equating correlation with causation, which is a fallacy in and of itself. Pro notes that many atheists (often found in Youtube videos) are very outspoken about their anti-religious views (ex. the idea of god being ridiculous), and makes the correlation that the majority of atheists musts be like this. The reason certain atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are famous is precisely because they do NOT represent the majority of atheists. Their views are more extreme than the average atheist, which is why they receive attention. If Richard Dawkins were to appear on camera and only state "I'm an atheist, I do not believe in gods," nobody would care. In reality he says much more than that, much of which my opponent has brought up as some of the stereotypical attitudes and beliefs of atheists. Most atheists keep to themselves and go about their lives.
While I have highlighted many of my opponent's flawed arguments, Pro did make a wise point at the end of round three, saying that the crux of this debate is not whether atheism is a religion but how we are supposed to define religion. So perhaps in addition to pondering whether atheism can be viewed as a religion, I move that we ask if atheists consider atheism a religion. My opponent wrote about a Buddhist who chooses not to pray and asked if we can still call him/her a Buddhist. I would say who are we to tell others how they are allowed to identify themselves? Pro stated "When I speak upon [atheism] the Con must remember I do not speak upon every existing atheist but the general majority." The general majority of atheists do not consider atheism a religion, thus we should not call them something they do not claim to be.
Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. It is a single stance on a single belief. It is not a religion.
I thank Khayil for a respectful and educating debate. I hope we have succeeded in promoting thought and reason among both theists and atheists alike.
Khayil forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by condeelmaster 9 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This is an obvious win for Con. The debate was unwinnable. As said in the first round religion is related to the worship of a god or gods, and atheism is the disbelief of the existence of a god/s. Pro tried to attack Con's definitions but in a misleading way. Anyway I should give the conduct point to Pro for entering in an unwinnable debate and making an effort to win.
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