The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
1 Points

Atheism is a Religion

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/25/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 460 times Debate No: 85507
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




I welcome my opponent and thank him/her for entering this debate.

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

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 would first like to thank my opponent for providing an interesting topic to 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 .

Atheism :
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
Debate Round No. 1


Hello and thank you for accepting!

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!


Thanks for your skillful 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
Debate Round No. 2


First off, I would like to address a subtle yet important mistake I made. I previously defined atheism as the "disbelief in gods." This is inaccurate. Disbelief is defined by MW as "a feeling that you do not or cannot believe or accept that something is true or real." This presumes that there is a god and atheists refuse to accept its existence. Many people, including myself, mistakenly interchange the words "disbelief" and "lack of belief." The latter is the accurate terminology I should have used. I apologize to any atheists who may have felt that I initially misrepresented your views. From now on I will use the correct terminology and properly define atheism as the lack of a belief in gods. Unless my opponent comments, I will assume we are in agreement.

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" ( 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.


First off I would like to address Taoism . Laozi is worshiped in some sects of Taoism . It is not excepted as the main God by all sects and one cannot come to that conclusion with the information you provided . Laozi also was just a philosopher to most sects of Taoism just as Confucius was to Confucians a writer pertaining to moral code. Though some sects may worship him he is not accepted widely as there supreme God.

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.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent writes that common attitudes of atheists such as arguing evolution as true and expressing the belief that there is no supernatural realm "are done in the proof of atheism not in the name." The proof of atheism? This statement is meaningless because atheism does not assert anything that must be proven. Atheism is neither trying to be true nor are atheists asserting that they possess the truth.

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.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by RantNRave 9 months ago
This is a very interesting debate.

I think Atheists are fanatical and very religeous about their atheism.

Though I have met VERY few Athiests.

I asked a dude once, why are you an athiest?

He replied that "if there was a god he would'nt have killed my sister."

WOW! he was pissed at the very idea. pissed at something he did not believe? or pissed at something he hated? I wondered how you can hate something you don't believe in ;-)

His idea of a "god" was so primative it was almost christian in it's fervor. Other athiest I questioned hated the idea of religion more than the idea of god.

He wanted a god that was not just, but showed favortism, that meddled in each and every aspect of his daily life. That didn't allow anything bad to happen.

ROTFLMAO. Like we would tolerate a "god" like our parents who meddle in everything. we want to do and learn for ourselves.

I'm more agnostic... can't prove it, can't disprove it, and don't really care.

I find it vastly entertaining to watch the two sides fight like children in the back seat of a car.

Before the world was proved round, people used to accept or deny it as well.

The world is round... the world is flat!

nyah nyah... lol
Posted by Khayil 9 months ago
The Pro has a lot up his sleeve the debate is not over just wait lol.
Posted by Ubergenius 9 months ago
Was expecting some serious discussion.

Dictionary definitions seem to follow fashion , not history, and as such often serve as strawmen that are easily knocked down.

That we have certain beliefs, say that the Earth revolves around the Sun, or 2+2 =4, there is God, Or conversely, there is No God, appears to be true prima facia.

Further doxastic Involunteerism , the idea that we can't force ourselves to believe something that is against the evidence (controversial statement I know) . Perhaps if true, we would understand that two identical twin orphans separated at birth and leading very different lives and experiences could come to opposite conclusions on the truth value of the statement, "there is a God."

Atheism vs Theism, produce radically different answered to the questions, "What is our origin, what is our purpose in life, how ought we live our life, and what will happen when I die?

So perhaps the debate question should not be about definitions as much as it is contrasting the world views.

Defining it as "religious" is supposed to suggest what? That there are some presuppositions that are denied by those holding the view? Is the Pro accepting the strawman definition of faith implicitly and waning to associate the atheist with similar epistemic limits of said strawman?

Remember the reason we trust the U .S. Marines in a battle is because they have a 200+ year tradition of blindly choosing beliefs in battle situations that don't have any evidence to support those beliefs.

Semper Fidelis !
Posted by Palidenseye 9 months ago
it is a religon
Posted by raskuseal 9 months ago
atheism and religion are completely contradictory ideas. You can be one, but not the other. There is no such thing as atheism being a religion because then it cancels itself.
Posted by vi_spex 9 months ago
why dont you believe in unicorns?

religion=to rely on, while self is one
Posted by canis 9 months ago
Atheism has nothing to do with belive/disbelieve. It is long past that. Not believing in unicorns is not a religion...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by condeelmaster 9 months ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
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Total points awarded:31 
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.