The Instigator
Illegalcombatant
Con (against)
Winning
29 Points
The Contender
medic0506
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points

Atheism is a Religion

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 11 votes the winner is...
Illegalcombatant
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/29/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,311 times Debate No: 25340
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (141)
Votes (11)

 

Illegalcombatant

Con

medic0506 has said recently a few times that "atheism is a religion".

Now this has being said by medic in forums with some arguments/claims to go with it. I have not being impressed. But such is the nature of forum threads is that they usually have a lower standard of rigor than debates, as among other things debates tend to keep the subject in focus and is harder to derail and more time can be spent on the arguments and counter arguments.

As such I would like medic to enlighten us all as to what compels him to believe and tell others that "atheism is a religion", and see how these claim fair against some scrutiny.

I won't be making any arguments in round 1, to compensate I ask that medic not put any arguments in the last round.
medic0506

Pro

I'd like to thank IC for the challenge on the issue of atheism as a religion. I look forward to the opportunity for an in-depth discussion on this issue. I agree not to argue in the last round, as requested, and ask that no new arguments be introduced in the top half of that round. Con wants to get to the bottom of why I say that atheism is a religion, so let's take a look.

One reason I believe it is that atheists themselves, argue for their religion
in court. In the linked example, Kaufman, an atheist, submitted a form entitled "Request for new religious practice", to prison officials, which was denied. Kaufman sued, using the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The court found in his favor, recognizing atheism as a religion, and saying that the prison violated his right to free exercise of religious beliefs. In the court's decision, there are also other precedents that support protection of atheists religious rights.[1] So there are only two possible options.

1. Atheism is a religion, because atheists admit it, and the court concurs.


2. The court was wrong, and atheism should not be allowed to use the Free Exercise Clause, since it isn't a religion and doesn't have religious beliefs. This would mean that atheists are knowingly and deceptively molesting the spirit of the First Amendment of our constitution for their benefit. The Free Exercise Clause was intended to protect religious freedoms, so benefiting from it if you know you aren't a religion can't be argued as anything other than deception and intentional misuse.

Which do you prefer??

The legal argument and its implications are compelling, and certainly a good argument, but I don't depend solely on legal criteria, for my claim. I think it important to answer some other questions.

Deciding what atheism is, I suspect, is going to be a subject of contention in this debate. Having had many discussions before this one, I anticipate that con may posit that atheism is nothing more than a "lack of belief in God". If you buy that, and are not willing to look at what atheism REALLY is, then read no further. You've already decided that con has won. In doing so though, you also have to give up any claim that theists have a BoP in the God debate. Theism is nothing more than a "belief in God", and a belief carries no BoP. If we simply hide behind our definitions, then there is no rational means for any intelligent discussion. The discussion ends here UNLESS we're going to take a more reasonable approach, and look at the truth claims made by both sides. This is the only logical way of determining what theism or atheism REALLY is, and without it discussion is impossible.
In other words, if atheism hides behind the definition, then they have essentially said "nothing". We cannot have a discussion if "nothing" is said by atheists, and theists have nothing to prove.

But are you really going to buy that atheism is silent on the issue and does not actively argue?? A short look around the internet, or at YouTube, shows active argument from atheists.[2,Video] You can't actively argue without making truth claims of your own. This is proof that atheism is not saying "nothing", and hiding behind the definition is intellectual dishonesty on a grand scale.

Go to link #2, and scroll down, reading the titles of some of the links provided by that atheist site. God is imaginary, Evil Bible, Bible is crap, Evidence Jesus never existed, The will of God is messed up, are just a few of the links provided. I could provide numerous other examples but we all know the vast amount of resources available on the subject. This is active argument by atheists, and truth claims are being made. This is not saying “nothing”, atheism does indeed claim that God does not exist.

Theists could hide behind the definition too, if they want, but intellectual honesty requires us to admit that we are indeed claiming that God exists, right?? That same principle applies to atheism. Sure, it's possible for atheists to do nothing more than "not believe", but that requires silence on the issue. Once they enter into the discussion and begin to argue in support of atheism, or against theism, they are indeed saying that God does not exist, and are making truth claims. This removes them from the protection that "lack of belief" provides, and bestows upon them a responsibility for any claims they might make.

Now that we know that atheism does indeed have something to say in the God debate, and that atheists do actively argue their point, we can begin to look at some of the claims being made. Doing this requires looking at what atheists say during discussions, and what denying God’s existence logically implies. This helps establish that atheism isn’t just a lack of belief, but a system of both positive and negative beliefs. Let’s look at some other critical truths about atheism.

If man had no concept of God, atheism would not exist. As such, atheism is a belief system based on God. It argues that God doesn’t exist, and does so to the exclusion of other beliefs about God. Christians argue that they have the truth, Muslims that they have the truth, Atheists that they have the truth, etc.

Atheism argues that the universe created itself, or has always existed. It claims that
what we call fine tuning in the universe, which allows for life, is nothing
more than random inevitability, chance, or some similar argument. It claims
that existence itself was brought about by purely natural means, abiogenesis
and evolution, or similar claim. It argues that man is capable of establishing
his own moral code, and that that code proves a benevolent God cannot exist. These
claims are necessary with denial of a creator, and are the very arguments that
atheists make during debate. They are also seen throughout the many forms of atheist
propaganda. There can be no denial that atheism claims all these things.

It argues that science, logic, and reason, support it’s claims, and that same
science disproves the possibility of miracles and other supernatural claims.
Yet it also argues God un-falsifiable, as science CAN'T prove or disprove the
supernatural. What that really means is they have no empirical proof to support
any of their claims. So if science can’t prove their claims to be true, or can’t
disprove God, then that means that their conclusions are taken on “faith”. Science, logic, and reason, can't be proven to be on their side. This is dogma, folks.

These claims deal with the same subject matter that religion does, and can't be proven. Therefore, it qualifies as “religious dogma”.[4]

What’s missing from atheism that most religions have? Worshipping a deity? That isn’t
necessary to be a religion. Confucianism, Scientology, Some Buddhist sects, New
Age, etc., are considered religions but worship no deity.

Atheism is a system of beliefs that has God as the centerpiece, it reaches its
conclusions using faith in that which is unproven or un-provable, it has its own
religious dogma, it’s followers proselytize, propagandize, and preach it’s virtues
in order to gain converts, it argues a better world if everyone converts, it
argues that other beliefs about God are irrational and harmful, and it cannot
prove it’s claims. Since we know that worship of a deity is not necessary to be
considered a religion, what more do you need to show that atheism qualifies as
a religion??

Add all this to a full confession, under oath, in a court of law. The logical
conclusion is that the resolution is affirmed. I expect, however, that con will
not capitulate so I look forward to his response.

Debate Round No. 1
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Pro for his opening argument.

Pro makes false claims about atheism

I will argue that atheism in its most inclusive form is the absence of belief/non belief in God/s. But even if Pro wants to claim that atheism is the belief/claim that no God/s exist, then what Pro says about atheism below is still false. Atheism in of its self doesn't get you to anything more than well atheism. With that in mind consider the following claims made by Pro in regards to atheism.....

Pro says..."Atheism argues that the universe created itself"

Pro says "It claims that what we call fine tuning in the universe, which allows for life, is nothing
more than random inevitability, chance, or some similar argument."

Once again, are there atheists who make these claims ? sure, does atheism its self get you to these claims ? No. On a side note atheism by its self doesn't get you to chocolate is better than vanilla either.

Pro says..."Atheism is a system of beliefs"

No it isn't. I sense medic has trouble drawing the line between atheism its self, and what other beliefs atheists may have and is therefore concluding, oh well all those other beliefs are atheism too.

To give an example, just because a theist has the belief that God incarnated himself as his own Son, or that the Quran is the perfect word of God doesn't mean that theism its self is those beliefs too, are we clear here ?

Pros court case

Pro refers to a court case where "atheism" was found to be a "religion", okay and was there a reason/s given for this decision ? If Pro think the courts reasoning justifies his claim, then I invite Pro to share with us what the courts reasoning was. Until then I don't think pointing the finger at athiests in one case and making nasty remarks about "deceitful" athiests is gonna cut it.

So what are we arguing about here exactly ?

The question here today is if atheism is a religion. Two obvious questions arise from considering such a claim, at least in my mind in order to make this link that atheism is a religion those being.....

1) What is atheism ?
2) What is a religion ?

Please note, complaining about atheists in general does nothing to help answer these questions and I do get the feeling that Medic digresses into rants about atheists in general. Here is a huge problem from Pros side they never told us what religion is and thus how the link is made to justify the claim that "Atheism is a religion"

What is Atheism ?

Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists. [1]

Christopher Hitchens elaborates on this point in a debate with William Craig at Biola University where he explains..."There is a terminological problem here which may conceal more than just terminological difficulty: The proposition that atheism is true is a misstatement of what I have to prove and what we believe. There's an argument among some of us as to whether that we need the word at all. In other words, I don't have a special name for my unbelief in tooth fairies, say, or witches, or in Santa Claus. I just don't think that they're there. I don't have to prove "atoothfairyism"; I don't have to prove "asantaclausism"; I don't have to prove "awitchism." It's just, I have to say, I think that those who do believe these things have never been able to make a plausible or intelligible case for doing so. That's not agnosticism because it seems to me that if you don't think that there is any evidence you're wrong to take refuge in saying you're neutral. You ought to have the courage to answer the question which one is regularly asked, "Are you an atheist or not?" Yes, I will say, I am. You can't tell anything else about me. You can't tell anything else about what I think, about what I believe, about what my politics are or my other convictions" [2]

What is a religion ?

Pro asks the question..."what more do you need to show that atheism qualifies as a religion??"

Well I have an answer, how about a definition and or criteria to draw the line between what is and what is not a religion, instead of just pointing to certain things and saying, hey that's a religion cause I say so.

"There are numerous definitions of religion and only a few are stated here. The typical dictionary definition of religion refers to a "belief in, or the worship of, a god or gods"or the "service and worship of God or the supernatural".However, many writers and scholars have noted that this basic 'belief in god' definition fails to capture the diversity of religious thought and experience." [3]

Let's take that definition of religion, under this definition its clear that atheism is not a religion, even if you use different definitions of atheism it doesn't help, cause all of the definitions of atheism have in common are the absence of belief in "God", and thus obviously the absence of the worship and service of a "God".

Unfalsifiable propositions, Dogma & Faith

An unfalisifiable proposition is a claim/s made that can not be proven wrong, even if the claim is false you still won't be able to prove it wrong.

Consider the claim that there is an alien in the same room you are in right now. You may point out well I don't think there is an alien cause after looking around I don't see one. But then I tell you, ahhh but you see, the alien is invisible. Now maybe you get some instruments like infra red to look for this alien, but then I tell you, ahh but you see, the alien is undetectable by any human means. And it goes on and on like this, no matter what objection you raise I have a rationalization/caveat to add in order to save the alien proposition from being falsified.

Would it be dogmatic for you to reject the existence of such an unfalsifiable alien proposition cause of all the caveats and rationalizations thrown in ? Would your denial here be an act of faith ? I don't think so, like wise, what about a God proposition that has so many caveats and rationalizations thrown in to make it unfalsifiable ? the atheist is being no more dogmatic or committing an act of faith to deny such an unfalisfiable proposition than you are to deny the above mentioned alien.

Sam Harris explains..."This whole idea of secular fundamentalism or atheist dogmatism is just a play on words. There is nothing you have to accept as dogma, there is nothing you have to accept on insufficient evidence in order to reject the biblical God or in order to reject the idea that the Quran or Bible is the perfect word of God.There is no dogma that you and I have accepted on insufficient evidence in order to reject Zeus and Poseidon and thousands of dead Gods that lie in that mass grave we call mythology." [4]

As such It is my argument that to claim that atheism and/or atheists are being "dogmatic" or are engaging in some sort of "faith" to not accept such an unfalsifiable God or Alien proposition is false.

Who is up for a game of not playing tennis ?

Most people I think would agree that playing tennis is playing a sport. But what about the claim that NOT playing tennis is a sport too ? this would seem unintelligible, the absence of playing tennis is a sport ? of course not. Now consider the claim that absence of belief in a God/s is in of its self a religion ? I submit for you judgement that it's just as unintelligible.

I look forward to Pros reply.

Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[2] http://hitchensdebates.blogspot.com.au...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[4] www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9zeGbkjKk8

Note you might have to put "http://" in front to see the video. I took it out cause I didn't want the video embedded in my post.
medic0506

Pro

Thanks to con for a timely response.

"Pro makes false claims about atheism"

Read con's source, the wiki page, and you have his entire argument, and he is asking you to accept that and make that the end of the story. What I argued in my opening was that there is more to the story. I asked you to consider what atheism is, in its totality. The totality of what atheism is, or any belief system, includes what its believers argue and what the belief itself means, from a logical perspective.

Why would a simple "lack of belief" require many organizations involved with atheism to require 501c3 status, if they aren't a religion?? They're tax-exempt because they are an educational organization, right?? Well, what are they educating us about?? Do we need to be educated on how "not to believe"?? Why would one need an educational organization, or many of them, if one has no beliefs or claims to educate people about??

American Atheists, one such group, defines atheism this way: [3]

"Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, which implies that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are "super" natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own."

Does this sound like atheism makes no claims?? Click on the link and scroll down, and you'll see some claims made in front of the SCOTUS.

Con argues that atheism doesn't get us anywhere other than atheism, but that's false. If there is no supernatural creator, then that logically implies that there is a natural explanation for the universe, and for existence, and this is born out in the arguments that atheists use. They do indeed argue for a natural explanation for the things that theists attribute to God. Which specific natural theory they prefer is irrelevant, as it's going to be natural.

Con wants to separate atheism from atheists, but how do you do that?? Isn't Christianity the sum total of the claims that Christians make, any logical implications that result from those claims, in addition to the definition?? Can't a reverence of Christ be logically implied from the definition of Christianity?? Same with atheism. I really think con's argument fails here.

Note, this isn't a complaint or a rant. It is support for the point that atheism is more than a definition.

"Court Case"

Con seems to be venturing away from the key points of this case, which are:

1. The atheist filed a form called, "Request for new religious practice". The atheist is asking to practice his "religion". There is no other rational interpretation of this request.

2. The atheist sued, using a constitutional clause meant to protect legal rights of religions.

3. The court recognized that atheism qualifies as a religion, and found that the atheists' religious rights were violated.

Pointing out the fact that an atheist who believes that he is not religious, but uses a clause or law meant to protect religion, is being deceitful, is not pointing fingers and making nasty remarks about atheists. It's simply pointing out the logical implication of that position, which is dishonesty and exploitation of something that he knows wasn't meant to deal with his beliefs. Obviously I believe that option #1 is true, or we wouldn't be here, so I wasn't making nasty remarks as con implies.

"What are we arguing about?"

Here con is totally misrepresenting my opening arguments. He states that I'm complaining about atheists and going on rants against them. This is not true. Reading my opening will show that my intent is not as con portrays it, but that I was providing support for the argument that I was making. Con's mischaracterizations are not supported.

"What is atheism?"

Again here, con wants the reader to stop at the definition, and not look any further. I think that anyone who does so is remiss, and is not considering the totality of what atheism is, and what it means. I believe I made a good argument in my opening, so I won't dwell on it here. It should also be noted, that Wikipedia is probably not the best place to go for facts and definitions, as I could go write an entire article then cite it as a source, factual or not.

Con then goes on to post Hitchens arguing that he shouldn't have to prove atheism. That isn't applicable to this debate though. When I point out in my opening that atheism and atheists can't prove or disprove anything, I'm obviously talking about the claims made by the belief system and its adherents, claims such as natural explanations for the universe etc.

Unless atoothfairyist organizations are granted 501c3 tax exempt status by the IRS, like religious and atheist organizations are (see video round 1), and recognized as a religion for legal purposes, I don't see any applicability for Hitch's argument in this debate.

"What is a religion?"

I was running out of character space in the last round so instead of putting an entire section in trying to define religion, I opted to draw some parallels between atheism and accepted religions, and list some defining characteristics that most would agree are common to religions, faith, dogma, etc.

Sure, asking what is a religion is certainly a valid question, I'll concur. Defining exactly what a religion is though, is a goal that evades even the experts. Pro quoted a passage from his source that points out the problem, but he then went on and asked you to use the definition that involves worshipping a god anyway. Nevermind the fact that the problem with that definition was pointed out. Let's just use it anyway. It's not that easy, not all religions worship a god so that isn't the end-all criteria.

Con's source lists a few religions that do not have faith in a god, some Buddhism sects, Jainism, Shinto, for instance. I could make an argument for atheism being a denomination of any religion that emphasizes nature as the explanation for all that is. This would not be possible unless atheism also had some other characteristics of religion.

Con says that I can't simply point to some things and claim that's a religion because I said so. By the same token, he can't just point to his preferred definition, when so many exist, and say it's NOT a religion. Let's look at the etymology of the word itself.

"According to John Bowker, the etymology of the word religion comes from the Latin words relegere and religare. Relegere means to "gather things together, or to pass over the same ground repeatedly" while religare means to bind things together (2000, Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions, p. xix). Thus "religion binds people together in common practices and beliefs: it draws them together in a common enterprise of life" (Bowker, 2000, p. xix)…" [2]

Ninian Smart gave us probably the best chance of coming to some decision with his "Seven Dimensions of Religion". Atheism qualifies under six of the seven dimensions. Due to space limitations, I'll have to go in depth next round. For now I'll just list each dimension and say whether atheism qualifies, and there's a link if you want to read a little more.[4]

Narrative, yes
Experiential, yes
Social, yes
Doctrinal, yes
Ethical, yes
Ritual, no
Material, yes

"Unfalsifiable Propositions"

I don't have the space to go in to this in depth but it doesn't need much. In spite of the cute analogies, con is presupposing that all answers must be natural, but yet he hasn't proven that all answers are natural or that the supernatural doesn't exist. It's still an unproven claim regarding religious matters, thus it's religious dogma. My point remains unrefuted.

I look forward to the next round.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://libraryguides.mdc.edu...
3. http://atheists.org...
4. http://creation.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Pro for their reply.

Atheism is not the same as other beliefs atheists do or might have

The huge problem with Pros argument is that it's more directed to atheists. Atheists this, atheists that, but what Pro must argue for and show is that atheism is a religion. Not that atheists have other beliefs (this is not in dispute), not that atheism is compatible with other beliefs (this is not in dispute either), but that atheism is a religion.

I would also like to point out that Pro is free to argue anything he wants, but to just preempt a line of argument, say the argument that atheism is the lack of belief in God by saying such things as..."If you buy that, and are not willing to look at what atheism REALLY is, then read no further."...&..."Again here, con wants the reader to stop at the definition, and not look any further. I think that anyone who does so is remiss, and is not considering the totality of what atheism is, and what it means"

This is just poising the well by Pro..."Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say" [1]

Pros court case

Pro says..."The court recognized that atheism qualifies as a religion"

And on what basis did they make that determination ? What is the criteria they use to determine what is and what is not a religion ? and what was the "atheism" that was being argued for as a religion ?

Pro has not presented the courts reasoning in their case. As such I will argue my own reasoning. The freedom of religion includes within it the freedom of not having a religion just as the freedom to vote includes the freedom too not vote and the freedom of speech includes the freedom to not speak. As such the freedom to talk/discuss/argue atheism is although not a religion its self is covered by freedom of religion.

What is Atheism ?

Pro presents a definition of atheism as..."Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity..."

I would point out up to this point, this is what I have being arguing for, but then this definition goes on to say..."which implies..........xyz"

Pro says..."Con argues that atheism doesn't get us anywhere other than atheism, but that's false."

Allow me to clarify here, what I mean is that atheism by its self doesn't conclude by logical necessity to something else.

I'd like to point out, what something "implies" is open to debate. Also Pro may be surprised to know that under even their provided definition of atheism the non existence of the supernatural does not follow with logical necessity. I also think its worth pointing out for my side here without the added opinion of what atheism implies provided by Pro as the lack of belief of a deity is what I have been arguing for from the start.

Pro asks the question..."Con wants to separate atheism from atheists, but how do you do that?? "

Well go back to my first round here on that matter. Some theists are Muslims, as Muslims they believe the Quran is a book from God. Now once again, does this mean that theism its self are these beliefs ? No. Like wise does the fact that atheists have beliefs including such things as...(insert beliefs here) mean that atheism its self is those beliefs ? No.

Pro remarks..."Con then goes on to post Hitchens arguing that he shouldn't have to prove atheism. That isn't applicable to this debate though"

But there is something Hitchens says in my last post which is very applicable. He talks about the unbelief in say witches or santaclausim or as he calls it "asantaclausism" & "awitchism." There are plenty of such people who we could call asantaclausists or awitchistists, and these people of course have beliefs in all kind of other things, say for example creationism or evolution. Does that mean that awitchisism is a religion too ? of course not, and if some one claimed but awitchism is a religion, look at all the beliefs that all those awitchitists have, its a religion I tell ya !!! what could you do ? maybe tell the person you are confusing the lack of belief in witches with other beliefs those non believers in witches have, and what if that person still insists, no, awitchism is a religion, its a religion I tell ya, what can you do ?

What is a Religion ?

Pro remarks that my definition of religion is problematic, I am open to a better definition/criteria. But what I am not open to is some one claiming that atheism is a religion when they didn't tell use what they meant by religion in the first place, or for that matter what their definition of atheism is.

Pro seems to respond to my prompting to give a criteria to evaluate what is and what is not a religion. This is welcome, as it sure beats Pros previous arguments about pointing to those damm atheists and what other beliefs they have then claiming that's religion folks on his say so.

Let's look at this criteria when judging whether say the The National Basketball Association (NBA) [2] is a religion or not.

Narrative, If by just having stories, then yes, the NBA is full of stories.
Experiential, yes People do seem to get quite excited when their team wins.
Social, yes, Well of course the NBA is social. Or if by social you mean does it have a power structure then yes, David Stern. [3]
Doctrinal, No, The NBA is not a religion so doesn't have religious doctrines coming out of it, either does Atheism.
Ethical, yes
Ritual, Yes/maybe Some NBA players have rituals, some even pray to a God.
Material, yes, the NBA has many buildings.

So how many yes boxes does one have to tick to now proclaim the NBA as a religion ? Should we know declare the NBA as a religion ?

Unfalsifiable propositions, Dogma & Faith

Pro retorts that in my example naturalism is presupposed, that would be a great refutation if that was my argument but it wasn't. What I did argue for is that its not dogmatic or an act of faith to deny a proposition such as God or the Alien in your room that has so many caveats and rationalizations thrown in to make it unfalsifiable.

As I explained before..."Consider the claim that there is an alien in the same room you are in right now. You may point out well I don't think there is an alien cause after looking around I don't see one. But then I tell you, ahhh but you see, the alien is invisible. Now maybe you get some instruments like infra red to look for this alien, but then I tell you, ahh but you see, the alien is undetectable by any human means. And it goes on and on like this, no matter what objection you raise I have a rationalization/caveat to add in order to save the alien proposition from being falsified."

"As such It is my argument that to claim that atheism and/or atheists are being "dogmatic" or are engaging in some sort of "faith" to not accept such an unfalsifiable God or Alien proposition is false. "

Atheism is a religion is unintelligible

I did make an argument here that to say atheism is a religion is like saying not playing tennis is a sport. I take it Pro dis-agrees here but that's only cause they refuse to separate what atheism is (and even by their definition it IS the absence of belief in deity) and what other beliefs those damm hell bound, sneaky, deceitful atheists do or might have. As such it is still my argument that the claim that atheism is a religion is unintelligible.

In closing I leave you with this question, if atheism is a religion, then what isn't a religion ?

Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
medic0506

Pro

As earlier agreed, this is my last round for argumentation so I may not be able to go as in-depth on some things as I'd like.

7 Dimensions

I'll start by looking at the "7 Dimensions" that I alluded to earlier, but didn't have space to elaborate. A belief system is not required to meet all dimensions to be a religion. Some may only meet a few, but are heavy in those areas so they qualify.

Narrative- Evolution, Big-Bang, etc. Natural theories about matters involving origins.
Experiential- Liberation and peace once released from the confines of God. Watch the video, this guy describes his liberation almost as one would describe being in God's presence. Science saved his soul. I like this guy, btw.[2]
Social- Atheism has a social component and atheists feel secure being around atheists. They seek to gain converts, just as any missionary would.
Doctrinal- Basically the Humanist Manifesto
Ethical- Atheism uses morality to argue that God is immoral.
Ritual, no
Material- No real objects of worship, but sometimes nature, and mostly mankind are treated as sacred.

"Poisoning the Well"

Con says that my heading off of his argument is unfair, but then he tries refuting the dimensions, that he knew I'd argue this round, before I get the chance to make my point. He also uses "damm hell bound, sneaky, deceitful atheists", as an attempt to garner sympathy votes. Seems to me he's trying to get a conduct point on a technicality but turning around and doing the same thing himself. His claim is refuted by his own actions.

"Court Case"

Plaintiff wasn't suing for freedom from religion. He sued to gain permission to actively practice his belief system. Free Exercise is a clause to protect the right to religious practice. Why would Kaufman sue under that clause if he didn't consider atheism his religion?? Why would he file a form called "Request for New Religious Practice", if he wasn't asking to be allowed to practice a religion??

A further comment from the court, found in the same decision…"Atheism is, among other things, a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics. As such, we are satisfied that it qualifies as Kaufman's religion for purposes of the First Amendment claims he is attempting to raise."

A comment on "atheism doesn't get you there". Here's a guy who wants to build a series of atheist temples. Atheism is the root of what got him there, it certainly wasn't his theism that inspired it.[1]

"Atheism"

Con says that atheism is not the beliefs of individual atheists. That is ludicrous. Christianity is indeed composed of the beliefs of Christians. The two cannot be separated if you are to have a serious discussion about what atheism or Christianity really is.

He is sticking to definitions, and seems to imply that, in agreeing with the definition of atheism, I'm proving his point, but that is not the case. It's clear that I contend several points here. That atheism can't remain under the protective umbrella of "lack of belief", unless it is silent. It can't argue for itself or against theism without making some kind of claim. Atheism is more than just a definition. Let's go to con's own thread, in his OP…

http://www.debate.org...

"I don't think atheism has a monopoly on depressing thoughts and conclusions."

Here con admits that atheism does have thoughts and conclusions, thus is more than just a definition.

"Now lets consider theism is true, if theism is true among other things this means....."

He then lists 4 things that follow from that claim. This is con using the same concept of "logical implication" that he is now arguing against.

"Religion"

Now con is claiming that he "prompted" me to look at what religion is. I explained in the previous round, why I didn't put in a full section on that particular question and I explained what I did do to address that issue, within the space that I had left. To imply that I would accept a debate on this issue when I hadn't even considered that question, or didn't have anything to back up my claim, is quite frankly just asinine. No, I don't have a definitive answer that everyone will agree with on the issue of what a religion is. However, con issued this challenge to find out why I claim that atheism is a religion. I have shown that there is indeed good reason for my claim.

"Aliens"

Con's alien analogy is not valid, he's making presuppositions and calling it a comparison. Our beliefs are in the Bible, and well known. They have been for a long time. When science can prove an alternate explanation that differs from ours, then I will have no reason to say that his conclusion is faith or dogma because it'll be proven. Until then it remains no more likely to be true than theist theories. Con could also prove me wrong about this by proving his omniscience, which in the absence of empirical evidence to support his conclusions, is what is required for him to not be using faith.

"Tennis"

Con says that "Atheism is a religion is unintelligible". That should be changed to "Atheism is a religion is unpalatable", because that's his motivation for denial. It doesn't really matter what I say in this debate, he's going to call the idea nonsense because he doesn't like it. To that I can only say that if he could refute my reasons for believing it then I'll come over to his side. Hitchens, aliens, not playing tennis, and trying to hide his faith behind a definition just isn't cutting it.

Using Con's own words, and other resources, I've shown the following…

1. That he knows that atheism is more than just a definition, he admits that it draws conclusions. A simple "lack of belief" does not get you to a conclusion.

2. Arguing against theism means that it has taken the position that God does not exist. Atheism must remain silent in order for con's definition to protect it. "Awitchism" is a good example of lack of belief, it's silent, we do not hear about awitchists nor do they argue anything even though they obviously exist. They do not have tax exempt educational groups, they don't write books and participate in debates at universities, they don't seek to gain converts, they do not use the court system to suppress any signs of belief in witches from the public eye, etc., you get the picture. Essentially, awitchism is something that seemingly doesn't exist, it's nothing, but most of us are awitchists. That's an example of a lack of belief, and it isn't a religion. Atheism should mirror awitchism, if it's just a lack of belief, but does anybody buy that it does?? It is far from "nothing" and its existence as a belief system has logical implications for its adherents.

3. The claim that there is no supernatural Creator means that they are saying that the universe and existence has a natural explanation, there is no other possibility. They can't prove that explanation though, therefore, their conclusion is taken on "faith". Their belief on religious matters that is taken without proof isn't just faith, but also qualifies as religious "dogma".

4. Atheism is recognized as a religion by a number of entities including the U.S. legal system, the IRS, the military, and even some atheists. This isn't just my claim.

5. A look at other religions proves that a worship of a deity is not required to qualify a belief system as a religion.

6. I gave an expert's best attempt to provide a means for defining what a religion is. Though not perfect, it is certainly a valuable tool for defining something that experts can't come to an agreement on. Atheism meets 6 of those 7 dimensions, thus easily qualifying. Con made a joke of it, but even so he doesn't refute its effectiveness. Nor does he give anything more concrete than his preferred definition of religion.

1. http://www.guardian.co.uk...
2. http://www.youtube.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Illegalcombatant

Con

My last response is going to be kind of rushed. But I hope this doesn't make a difference, we have been going over the same ground alot anyway.

Some remarks by Pro

Pro says..."The claim that there is no supernatural Creator means that they are saying that the universe and existence has a natural explanation, there is no other possibility."

An atheist could leave the options open that there is no explanation at all, or a supernatural explanation (although not a personal creator one) or that asking about what caused the universe is an irrational question (time and causation issues). But in anycase Pros claim that the atheist has no other possibility is false.

Court Case

Now Pro presents a reasoning from the court. I would point out here Pro hasn't presented a sustained argument on the courts reasoning but only now uses a reasoned argument.

Lets have a look at the reasoning of......"Atheism is, among other things, a school of thought that takes a position on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics"

1) It's not clear here what definition of atheism the court is using here.
2) Atheism doesn't have a code of ethics, in the same way that "awitchsim" doesn't have a code of ethics.

What is Religion & Criteria of religion

Pro says I was joking to use the NBA, in once sense I was, but in a more fundamental argumentative way what I was showing is how flawed this criteria is cause it results in the NBA being declared a religion.

Pro once again uses his old line of argument. Atheists do this, atheists do that, atheists believe this, atheists believe that, therefore all those things are atheism too. For the billionth time............No.

What is atheism ?

Pro says..."Con says that atheism is not the beliefs of individual atheists. That is ludicrous"

And here it is again..............

Pros definition included that atheism is the lack of belief in a deity.

Pro presents a thread of mine, thanks for reading I guess, suffice to say I don't agree with his characterization here. I invite anyone to read it if they want. My precision of what atheism is or isn't wasn't a concern of mine since I had some points I wanted to address and what those points become obvious once the thing is read.

What logical necessity follows from atheism ? not even the non existence of the supernatural follows with logical necessity from atheism.

I refer back to what Hitchens has to say on this matter..."You ought to have the courage to answer the question which one is regularly asked, "Are you an atheist or not?" Yes, I will say, I am. You can't tell anything else about me. You can't tell anything else about what I think, about what I believe, about what my politics are or my other convictions""

Unfalsifiable propositions, Dogma & Faith

Pro says..."Con's alien analogy is not valid, he's making presuppositions and calling it a comparison."

Oh cmon, I just addressed this last round.

I made it quite clear that my argument here was about how it isn't dogmatic or an act of faith to deny a proposition that is unfalsifiable due to all the caveats and rationalizations thrown in. Gods/Aliens in your room/Fairy's/Living in the matrix take your pick. Presuppositions of the existence or non existence of the natural or supernatural or super super dupernatural don't even come into play.

Atheism is a religion is unintelligible

Pro says..."Con says that "Atheism is a religion is unintelligible". That should be changed to "Atheism is a religion is unpalatable", because that's his motivation for denial. It doesn't really matter what I say in this debate, he's going to call the idea nonsense because he doesn't like it. To that I can only say that if he could refute my reasons for believing it then I'll come over to his side. Hitchens, aliens, not playing tennis, and trying to hide his faith behind a definition just isn't cutting it."

Utter rant plus throw in some ad hominem for good measure. I have given many reasons why I think its non sense, at least in regard to what Pro has argued for and their justification for it.

What is atheism ? Shut up atheists

Consider where Pro talks about..."Essentially, awitchism is something that seemingly doesn't exist, it's nothing, but most of us are awitchists. That's an example of a lack of belief, and it isn't a religion. Atheism should mirror awitchism,"

You had better not argue against a religious proposition otherwise that makes your denial of that proposition a religion ? No.

Consider for example that there are awitchists that argue against the claims of witchcraft, which in some forms plays it part in children being tortured to death because of accusations of witch craft [1]. Does this mean that non witchcraft and awitchists are practicing a religion by arguing against such claims ? of course not, like wise so is the case for atheists.

Conclusion

In the first round I pointed out two critical questions, when considering is atheism a religion, those being.....

1) What is atheism ?
2) What is religion ?

I maintain that after some back and forth that Pros concept of atheism beyond the definition they gave is untenable, and Pros idea of what counts as a religion results in the NBA being declared a religion.

So that's it for me.

Vote Con, vote early, vote often.

Sources

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk...
medic0506

Pro

This is not a forfeited round as we agreed that I wouldn't present arguements in my last round, so I'll just close with a summation.

Thanks to con for the opportunity to debate this issue. I believe I've given good reasoning for my claim that atheism is a religion, and I've backed it up with something solid. I've included criteria for determining what a religion is, as well as presented evidence that other entities have determined that atheism qualifies, as well. I've shown that one does not have to worship a deity for their belief system to qualify as a religion. Con has given nothing other than his preferred definition of religion. It all boils down to, what is atheism. I've presented arguments, reasoning, and sources showing that atheism is more than a definition, including con's own words. Con is simply standing strong on his insistence that you accept a simple definition, as the totality of what atheism is.

Ultimately, the answer lies with you, the reader. I ask that you consider what you've read in this debate, and vote pro.

Thanks again to IllegalCombatant, and thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 4
141 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by devient.genie 3 years ago
devient.genie
Its a No Brainer. Tax churches and make them play fair or better yet, close every single poison factory in the country that goes by the name church or any other synonym of religious institution, in laymens terms, Grow the F up America, 44% of you believe earth is no more than 10,000 yrs old, its embarrasing to be dumber than 8 yr olds on anything that important :)

We the People who advocate intellectual honesty, are tired of religions incessant need to stick your bible thumpin' nose in our politics and attempt to deny human rights, either to African Americans like the aryan nation lunatics would love to do, explaining their point thru scripture from the bible to justify their wishes, or gay americans like the christian nation lunatics would love to do, explaining their point thru scripture from the bible to justify their wishes :)

True Scripture has what is good, truth :)

Misogyny 7:2--Religion be damned, if men could get pregnant, not only would abortions be legal everywhere, there would be abortion clinics on every street corner :)

WAKEUP 12:12--Purpose is not invented by religion. Purpose is invented by each individual. Imagine AND Create purpose. Take responsibility and be accountable for your actions and quit blaming the devil :)

Despicable 9:38--What is a surefire way to slow down the growth of human conciousness on society as a whole? You admonish scientific, mathematically sound evidence, instead favoring one of thousands of religious texts from thousands of years ago as a better way of viewing reality and you are guaranteed divisiveness which leads to violence :)

EVOLUTION 3:5--You dont need an airbag to survive a car crash, its just that the air bag drastically improves your chances of survival. Just like you dont need to teach kids science if you want them to be smart, it just increases the chances of a higher intelligence :)
Posted by errya 4 years ago
errya
I believe that atheism in itself is not a religion, but atheists act like it is.
Posted by michael1010 4 years ago
michael1010
I started originally agreeing with con on this point but pro did change my mind. I also think that it would be a good thing for atheist to be protected legally as a religion.
Posted by Manbearpanda 4 years ago
Manbearpanda
lol. Keep denying what I've already shown. You asserted that some atheists believe in a god. Keep digging. And your definition of 'agnosticism' is wrong. Why would you use a non-OED definition? Derp.
Posted by CriticalThinkingMachine 4 years ago
CriticalThinkingMachine
@manbearpanda

"Already gave the direct quotation"

Yes, you did give the direct quotation, but you made the quotation up. You quoted me as saying "Atheists can believe in a god or gods. Derp." in the comment section of this debate, but I never said that. You fabricated it. Many might say that this is the equivalent of plagiarism.

"No one is paid to lack the belief that..."

Nice straw man! I never said that anyone was paid to lack belief in God. A professional atheist is conventionally understood as an atheist who makes a career out of his atheism (among other things possibly). There are professional atheists and professional theists.

You say I don't understand what agnosticism is. Well, I'm just using the dictionary definition, but if you'd like to use your own made-up definition, then go ahead.
Posted by Manbearpanda 4 years ago
Manbearpanda
Already gave the direct quotation. And there is no such thing as a 'professional moment' in that sense; no-one is paid to lack the belief that at least one god exists, as far as I'm aware. And you still don't understand what agnosticism is. Derp.
Posted by CriticalThinkingMachine 4 years ago
CriticalThinkingMachine
@manbearpanda

Still waiting for evidence of your claims. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting...

@wiploc

Your definition of negative atheism differs from how professional atheists define it. [1] We can use words any way we like, but your definition is not the conventional definition. The definition you gave for weak athiesm is actually one of the the two definitions for agnosticism.

When I said that positive atheism is the denial of God, I mean what you say too. We were just using different words for the same thing. I agree with your definition of positive atheism.

atheism: 1- the lack of belief in God; 2- the belief that God does not exist

---negative atheism: the lack of belief in God

---postive athesim: the belief that God does not exist

agnosticism: 1- the position that knowledge concerning some area is unattainable; 2- the position that one cannot reasonably come down on either side of a certain issue

[1] Martin, Michael Atheism: A Philosophical Justification 1990 Temple University Press
Posted by george.cataloni 4 years ago
george.cataloni
My main selling point (besides already siding with Con from the start) was that Pro never truly got to the heart of Con's claim of theism and Christianity being separate ideas. I'm sure Pro would agree, but he doesn't identify that it's not applicable to the atheism and big bang theory connection. He basically missed the point.
Posted by lovedebate11 4 years ago
lovedebate11
i so agreed with con and now i agree with both..
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
CriticalThinkingMachine wrote:
: All atheists, except you I guess, define negative atheism as the the lack of belief in God,

Not believing that god exists is atheism, not weak atheism.
Weak atheism (negative atheism) is believing _neither_ that gods do exist or that they don't exist.

: and positive atheism as the denial of God.

Positive atheism is the belief that gods don't exist. If you hold that belief, but you keep your mouth shut so you don't deny nothing, you are still a strong (positive) atheist.
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Tonak22 is obviously votebombing, so counter.
Vote Placed by imabench 4 years ago
imabench
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: countering WSA for being a dumba** as usual
Vote Placed by badbob 4 years ago
badbob
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Plain and simple.Pro won!
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Having the BOP to prove that I have a wheelchair doesn't make having a wheelchair a religion. Derp. Counter Zaradi.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 4 years ago
Zaradi
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: I'll be frank, medic is just right. Say what you want, but to argue a position, any position, whether you are arguing for a lack of belief in something, requires a truth claim. A truth claim necessitates proof to prove it to be true. That requires a BOP. To argue against that only further proves the point, as you're trying to make truth claims to disprove you're making truth claims. This means beliefs, which entails religion as Medic said. Counter if you want, idgaf. He's just right.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's argument is that advocating a viewpoint about religion makes atheism a religion. That's wrong. Pro failed to respond to Con's point that non-belief in the tooth fair or Santa Claus do not convey a religious standing, so there is no presumption that advocacy equates to a religion. Well-argued by Con.
Vote Placed by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct because Pro argued in the final round, contrary to the agreed rules of this particular debate. Persuasion because Con refuted Pro's claims. Both sides could have been more organized, clear, and succinct.
Vote Placed by Tonak22 4 years ago
Tonak22
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Ultimately, it was a very debate. The very core of the issue for me is that what is religion really? I believe that the Con has given a more in depth definition and the Pro does not have that. But nonetheless, it was a great debate.
Vote Placed by The_Fool_on_the_hill 4 years ago
The_Fool_on_the_hill
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 4 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
Illegalcombatantmedic0506Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's case seemed to be dependent upon bending the definition of atheism and religion in order to make the two jive. Con showed that this is not the and, and if it where it brings up several additional problems.