The Instigator
lordjosh
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points

Atheism is a religion founded on faith.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/13/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,780 times Debate No: 6909
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (4)

 

lordjosh

Pro

Religion: b4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. Websters Seventh New Collgiate Dictionary,1969

Athiest believe that there is no diety. It should not be contested, as this site is full of examples, that Athiest use lack of evidence and modern scientific knowledge to defend their beliefs and challenge pro diety religions. Yet any scientist worth their salt would hold the position that the lack of proof of something does not negate its existence.

Darwinism v. Creationism

Modern science has observed that animals(including humans) have evoled over a period of time, through genetics, leaving the best equipped to survive. A change in environment can almost immediately cause change in species adapting to such change. In England, the peppered moth changed its color from white to black in order to comouflage themselves from birds on soot covered trees at the turn of the last century. Once soot output was diminished, the liken grew back and the moths changed back to white. Domestic pigs that escape to the wild, not only change the color of their coat from pink to brown, but also their tusk will grow in order to feed on roots and for defense. My point is we humans have the ability to effect the evolutionary process. So it is safe to say, that so could a diety, if one exist.
Most religious people today do not take Genesis for word. The earth has been around for a little longer than 6000 years. However, the theory of evolution leaves plenty of room for an "unearthly" force to control the evolution, either in part or as a whole. Its existense has neither been proven or disproven.

If it walks like a duck......

Religion has certainly had it's effect on scociety. Most notably the struggle for dominance in thought. Atheism is now fighting(and winning) for dominance in public thought just as any other religion has. Most notable examples would be the restrictions on public displays and thought in public classrooms. Evolution without intervention of an unknown is a theory. Yet the athiest seek to ban any examination and discussion in the classroom. The church used to control thought. If it talks like a duck......

The belief in a diety is based on faith and has not been proven.
The belief that no diety exist is based on faith and has not be proven.
Both are forms of religion.
RoyLatham

Con

1. Disbelief is Not a Belief

"If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."

Pro failed to define atheism explicitly, and his implicit definition is wrong. From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary http://www.merriam-webster.com... :

1 archaic : ungodliness, wickedness 2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity

The primary non-archaic definition is "disbelief." Pro's argument rests upon using the secondary definition, "the doctrine that there is no deity." But there is much beyond either of those definitions. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org... elaborates: "Most recently, there has been a push in certain philosophical circles to redefine atheism as the "absence of belief in deities", rather than as a belief in its own right; this definition has become popular in atheist communities, though its mainstream usage has been limited."

So what is the likely definition used by a person who calls himself an atheist? "The more common understanding of atheism among atheists is "not believing in any gods." No claims or denials are made — an atheist is a person who is not a theist. Sometimes this broader understanding is called "weak" or "implicit" atheism. There is also a narrower sort of atheism, sometimes called "strong" or "explicit" atheism. Here, the atheist explicitly denies the existence of any gods — making a strong claim which will deserve support at some point." http://atheism.about.com...

I think it perfectly fair, in a serious discussion, to allow atheists to define what atheism is, just as it is fair to allow Christians to define what Christianity is. The atheist definition is "not believing in any gods." this includes Buddhists who follow the teaching not to even consider the question of whether or not there are gods. They don't believe, so they are atheists.

What is Pro's position on the existence of leprechauns? Is he a believer, an agnostic, a weak atheist, or a strong atheist. An agnostic would say that leprechauns are neither proved nor disproved, so he holds neither belief or disbelief; it is an open question. A weak atheist would say he does not believe leprechauns exist, but acknowledges the theoretical possibility that they might. His lack of belief might stem from a perceived lack of reliable sightings. A strong atheism argues along the lines of "leprechauns perform magic; the laws of nature do not permit magic, therefore there are no leprechauns." So where does Pro come down on the leprechaun issue? If he has any position other than belief, has he joined a religion of leprechaun non-belief?

There are at least 2500 gods cataloged by students of religions, and no doubt many more. Christians are usually strong atheists with respect to 2499 of the alternative gods. Atheists tend to be more generous. Allowing, for example, that the Deist god of Jefferson cannot be disproved. The Deist God created the world and will one day return in judgment, but in between does nothing, Since Christians are generally stronger in their non-belief than atheists, have Christians therefore subscribed to the most powerful form of atheist religion at the same time as being Christians?

What is comes down to is that disbelief is not a backhanded form of belief. Disbelief is no more than disbelief. Not collecting stamps is not a hobby.

2. A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe

Pro has looked to the fourth definition of religion in his dictionary to try to find one that suits his purposes. That's the definition that applies to statements like, "Pittsburgh fans have made a religion out of football." That's not the definition that applies to a discussion of atheism is comparison to traditional religion. Dictionary.comhttp://dictionary.reference.com... provides

"1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions."

Note that not all religions involve deities. Buddhism is a religion because it concerned with "the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe" However, there is no belief in gods involved. http://www.religionfacts.com...

Atheists have one thing in common, a disbelief in gods. However, there is no "set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe," nor is there a "set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon," nor is there any "the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices." Atheists as a group cannot be counted upon to have any beliefs or practices in common. As demonstrated above, disbelief is not a belief for the same reason not collecting stamps is not a hobby. Moreover, even if one supposes disbelief is a belief, it is only one, and not the set of beliefs required to meet a reasonable definition of religion. Thus the Dahlia Lama and Christopher Hitchens have atheism in common, but they are not part of a common religion. Even on this site there are Conservative atheists (me) as well as Libertarian and Liberal atheists. There is no set of binding beliefs and practices.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 1
lordjosh

Pro

Thank you Roy for taking this debate.

An examination of my opponents rebuttal will prove my point.

My opponent suggest that someone who makes "[n]o claims or denials" regarding the existence of a diety, falls under the definition of Atheism. This is not true. To disbelieve in something leaves no room to grant the possibility. At least until convincing evidence surfaces which would change one's mind. Someone who neither believes or disbelieves leaves it as an open question. This does not fall under the definition of "2a; a disbelief in the existence of a diety". We call this Agnostic. Atheist groups do seek the enlistment of Agnostics to help further their cause without erasing the distinction between the two. Ironic that my opponent proclaims that "it[s] perfectly fair,...to allow Atheist to define Atheism" while falsely tring to define other peoples' beliefs as atheistic. If we were to try to explain the teachings of Buddism, I would say that it is more agnostic than atheistic.

http://webspace.ship.edu...

The Four Wisdoms of Budda; #2: Suffering is due to attachment

The Eight Fold Path; #2: Right aspiration is the true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness

Buddist do not attach themselves to a belief in a diety nor to a belief that there is no diety. My opponent proclaims that "Buddhists who follow the teaching not to even consider the question of whether or not there are gods[,]....don't believe" in a god. This is not true. They only choose not to ask.

In my opponents contrasting argument, he presents a distinction between what he calls a "weak" and "strong" Atheist. A weak atheist being one who leaves open the "theoretical possibility" that a god may exist. In my first round, I argued that the belief that a god doesn't exist is theoretical. Observing a theory while acknowledging that the theory may be wrong is to hold faith in something you acknowledge cannot be proven. Christians acknowledge that they cannot prove there is a god but they have faith that there is. Atheist cannot disprove that a "higher power" may be responsible for our existence, yet they choose to believe that we are products of chaos, notwithstanding any ackowledgement that they could be wrong.

My opponent claims that because there is no "set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon," that Atheism cannot be a religion. Atheism does meet this criterion. Besides what is agreed upon,("Atheists have one thing in common, a disbelief in gods")there is not much distinction between various websites that pop up when Googling Atheism. They rest their faith in mondern science("concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe") and they are agreement with the idea of seperation of church and state. We could certainly find more distinctions between different sects of Christiananity than we would find in any teachings of Atheism, nothwithstanding political affiliation. Does a Catholic who believes in a right to abortion negate Catholicism as a religion?

The crux of my point seems to have been missed by my opponent. It is a matter of faith to believe there is no diety. The subscribers to this religion now act as other classical religions have acted and continue to act today. Their desire to rid any public acknowledgment of an existence of God can be easily compared to the censorship by Old Europe Christianity or modern day Muslim of the thought that there is no god. They demand science be taught without the examination of possible interference by yet unknown forces, unless those forces do not involve a diety. A scientist may theorize that dark matter exist because without it, the universe would be unbalanced. He cannot theorize, in a public classroom, that because we are missing links in the evolution of man, it may be possible that something not fully understood may have contributed.

Atheism falls under the definition of a religion and they are acting as many other religions have.
RoyLatham

Con

1. Disbelief is Not a Belief

Pro did not offer any logical rebuttal to my claim that disbelief is not a belief. He merely asserted that it is. Does he really believe that not collecting stamps is a hobby? Not doing X does not imply that one is doing not-X as an activity of the same type as X. In order to pin down Pro's logic I asked him a series of questions, asking if he believed in leprechauns, and ultimately asking if he did not believe in leprechauns, did that mean he had joined a religion of non-leprechaun believers. Pro did not answer any question posed. We are left to suppose that he knew that he had no answers logically consistent with his support for the resolution. I challenge Pro to answer every question I have asked, and to attempt to rationalize his answers with his support for the resolution.

I gave references to Buddhists being an atheist religion, with the Wikipedia article in turn providing more references. See also, http://www.religionfacts.com...:

"As seen in the Basic Points of Buddhism, one doctrine agreed upon by all branches of modern Buddhism is that 'this world is not created and ruled by a God.' .."

Pro provided a reference to a site defining Buddhism. That site makes no reference to any deity as being a basis for Buddhist beliefs. It confirms my contention that there is none. That leaves Pro asserting that Buddhism is not an atheist religion without any support from scholars or from Buddhists. The virtually universal scholarly verdict is that the Buddhist disbelief is atheism. This means that scholars adopt the definition that weak atheism is atheism.

Con's opinion relies upon the false assumption that "disbelief" means that a negative conclusion has been reached. If I ask the average person if they believe the Higgs Boson or the Ivory Billed Woodpecker exist, most people would say they haven't considered the question. That status does not bond them to a tribe of non-believers. Nonetheless, they disbelieve; they definitely do not believe.

Pro states, "My opponent proclaims that 'Buddhists who follow the teaching not to even consider the question of whether or not there are gods[,]....don't believe' in a god. This is not true. They only choose not to ask." I challenge Pro to clarify how "not considering the question" differs from "choosing not to ask."

"In my first round, I argued that the belief that a god doesn't exist is theoretical. Observing a theory while acknowledging that the theory may be wrong is to hold faith in something you acknowledge cannot be proven." Does Pro have a theory about the properties of the Higgs Boson? I will assume not. So does that imply that Pro has made a leap of faith in particle theory? I say, not at all.

"The crux of my point seems to have been missed by my opponent. It is a matter of faith to believe there is no deity." I understand Pro's point completely. His point is wrong, because the does not understand that "disbelief" is a fundamentally different animal from "belief." It is exactly like "not collecting stamps" is not a hobby, because it is in a fundamentally different class of things. "Not a hobby" is not in the class "hobby." "Not believing" is not in the class of "believing." I challenge Pro to use the stamp collecting analogy to explain why he thinks they are in the same class.

2. A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe

There are, for example, certain beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe in order to meet the definition of the Catholic religion. It is not the cause that a majority of Catholics believe in the divinity of Christ; it is a requirement inherent in the religion. It's true that not every Catholic believes in every tenet of the religion, but nonetheless there is a substantial body of belief to which Catholic must subscribe. To find out what is required to be a member of the faith, one can access the church canons.

So what are the body of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe that Pro claims that are common to all atheists? He implies, "Their desire to rid any public acknowledgment of an existence of God ..." and "They demand science be taught without the examination of possible interference by yet unknown forces, unless those forces do not involve a deity." Those two things are unrelated to "the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe" nor are they common to all atheists. I don't know of any atheists who object to "public acknowledgment of an existence of God." None to my knowledge would in any way restrict any public acknowledgment done in churches or on private property. The controversy arises with respect to separation of church and state in state-sponsored activities. In those cases it is most-often ACLU types who actually are believers, but who also have adopted a code of political correctness. I took an informal poll at an atheist forum on the web and found that about 90% had no objection to saying "Merry Christmas." Similarly, few had objections to public Christmas Trees and such.

Pro is further making the mistake of narrowing his perspective to American culture, even at that an inaccurate stereotype. A recent poll in Japan showed over 60% to be atheists, yet virtually no one objects to official state-sponsorship of Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines. (Shinto has many deities.) They value tradition more highly than belief or non-belief.

Most of the old-style Soviets were atheists who believed in authoritarian Communism. Many contemporary American atheists (I wouldn't say most, but many.) are Libertarians. These are radically different world views.

With respect to science being restricted to science, that has little to do with atheism. Most scientists are not atheists, yet virtually all scientists insist that science be restricted to science. The scientific consensus on Evolution is 99.86% affirming it, so it is established science. So there is an educational consensus as well; it is the same reason that flat-earth and an earth-centered universe are not offered as alternatives to round earth and heliocentrism. Neither the restriction of science to science nor the decision to teach according to 99+% consensus are religious beliefs of atheists; they are common to believers as well.

Note that Buddhism has a different theory of earth's origins, one of endless cycles of reincarnation, that is both atheist and not evolution-based. It is not true that all atheists have the beliefs ascribed by Pro.

Pro notes "A scientist may theorize that dark matter exist because without it, the universe would be unbalanced." However, dark matter is subject to experimental verification, so it is science. Religion is not subject to verification, so it is not science.

I challenged Pro to make a list of the body of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe that Pro claims that are common to Christopher Hitchens and the Dahlia Lama, two prominent atheists. He did not reply, of course. I'll now add Stalin, Mao, Einstein, Mark Twain, and Bill Gates to the list. Remember, it is a "body of beliefs" and the beliefs must relate to the "cause, nature, and purpose of the universe." Belief in gravity doesn't count, for example, because does not meet the second criteria. My point is that Pro needs to get beyond the first page of Google hits and understand the larger perspective. It would be unfair to generalize about Christianity from the first page of Google hits either.

Non-belief is not a belief and atheists have no body of common beliefs that define a religion. The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 2
lordjosh

Pro

Thanks again, Roy, for taking this debate.

Disbelief is not a belief

This is a lame argument one can find in any Atheist forum. "I don't believe in God", "I believe God does not exist"
"I believe modern science disproves the existence of god". Petty and not worth much attention in my opinion.

A hobby requires an action, so no, not collecting stamps is not a hobby. To be a religion requires " a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." ie. Faith that modern science disproves the possibility of some form of diety. What would you think about a stamp collector mocking a bottle cap collector?
I could not find any leprechaun movements. No one is fighting for seperation of leprechaun and state. No students, to my knowledge, have asked to have leprechaun prayer time in school. Even if I didn't believe in leprechauns, I would not claim to be offended if my town hall placed a "pot of gold" on public property. My opponent obviously still misses the point.

Concerning Buddist, I will paste a qoute from the first page of the link, Religion Facts, that my opponent provided.

"On the other hand, the Buddha did not explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods"

Show me an American Atheist who does not "explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods", and I'll show you an Agnostic.

>>>Pro states, "My opponent proclaims that 'Buddhists who follow the teaching not to even consider the question of whether or not there are gods[,]....don't believe' in a god. This is not true. They only choose not to ask." I challenge Pro to clarify how "not considering the question" differs from "choosing not to ask."<<<

It doesn't differ. Not considering or not asking does not equate to disbelieving. No Buddist claim that modern science disproves the existence of a diety. No American Atheist believe in reincarnation.

"2. A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe"

And the faith Atheist have in modern science fits this criterion perfectly. My opponent claims that not all Atheist believe in modern science. His claim of proof is Buddism. Even if I were to concede that Buddist are Atheist(I don't), it would be no different then the different sects of Christiananity or the differences in all deity based religions. So yes, I am speaking of the sect of Atheism that subscribe to the "tenents" of modern science. My opponent has succesfully proved that there are different sects of true Atheism also.

"virtually no one(Atheist in Japan) objects to official state-sponsorship of Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines. (Shinto has many deities.) They value tradition more highly than belief or non-belief."

This is a huge distinction between Japanese and American Atheism. My opponent sites his own poll and claims that "few(Atheist) had objections to public Christmas Trees and such. I am very much in doubt that "and such" includes Nativity Scenes, Crucifixes, The Ten Commandments, etc. All common traditions in America. After all "He is the reason for the season".

My opponent claims that lawsuits concerning the false doctrine of "seperation of church and state" are brought by "ACLU types who actually are believers". The ACLU can't act without a willing participant with standing to bring a law suit. Here are a few lawsuits brought by Atheist according to Athiest Empire;
>>>>
The U.S. Supreme Court stepped into the thick of one of the nation longest running First Amendment cases " the dispute over the Mt. Soledad Christian Cross. Atheist Phil Paulson has been fighting for 17 years to have this religious monument removed from public land. Government and religious groups, however, have resorted to every conceivable ploy to keep this enormous sectarian symbol standing."

American Atheists filed suit in federal court on Friday over a case involving "prayer bullying and conspiracy to violate the rights of an Atheist family in Oklahoma. Chester Smalkowski and his family have been taking a stand for freedom from religion, and now charge a battery of local officials with illegal behavior and conspiracy.

American Atheists files suit in federal against the City of Jacksonville, Fla. which used over $100,000 in public money to host a glitzy prayer day rally. The suit calls for an end to such government-sponsored religious events, and the return of the money to the taxpayers.<<<<<

American Atheist act much like other religions have.

Here is one example of Atheist acting like any other religion, pushing there beliefs as the path to salvation;
http://www.findingdulcinea.com...

Con claims,
"The scientific consensus on Evolution is 99.86% affirming it, so it is established science. So there is an educational consensus as well; it is the same reason that flat-earth and an earth-centered universe are not offered as alternatives to round earth and heliocentrism. Neither the restriction of science to science nor the decision to teach according to 99+% consensus are religious beliefs of atheists; they are common to believers as well."

Scientific consensus is not proof and there is no established science. Heliocentrism, in it's birth, claimed that the universe revolved around the sun. Everthing science which has been considered established science eventually gets overturned with new findings. Eat raw eggs, don't eat raw eggs. eat raw eggs, don't.. Many scientist around the world do not exclude the possibility of "Inteligent Design". Therefore their is no reason not to introduce the theory in public school science programs. Yet it seems that every time a town wishes to do so, some athiest seeks to ban it. Since the theory is the same as any other theory taught in science class, it seems that Atheist are practicing censorship in the same manner as other religions have. If it walks like a duck.......
Con says,
"Pro notes "A scientist may theorize that dark matter exist because without it, the universe would be unbalanced." However, dark matter is subject to experimental verification, so it is science. Religion is not subject to verification, so it is not science."

The experimental verification of dark matter is no different than the experimental verification of Intelligent Design. The former may be more excepted than latter, yet neither have been verified.

Closing my argument

The modern day American Atheist movement falls under the criteria both I and my opponent claim to constitute a religion. (a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith./ set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe)
The censorship sought by the American Atheist movement is just more proof that Atheism has taken the form of a religion.
RoyLatham

Con

1. Disbelief is Not a Belief

Pro agrees, "A hobby requires an action, so no, not collecting stamps is not a hobby." A religion requires action, "ardor and faith," but disbelief does not require action. We all disbelieve gods that we do not know others have postulated, and we disbelieve without ardor or faith. Therefore atheism is not a religion.

I challenged Pro to come down hard on the leprechaun issue. I challenged him to say whether he was a leprechaun believer, or a leprechaun atheist, or a leprechaun agnostic, or what? He would not say if he thought he had conclusive proof of the non-existence of leprechauns or if he held it to be an open question upon which he was undecided. I suggest that the reasonable answer to the leprechaun issue is that there is no conclusive proof that leprechauns do not exist, but nonetheless neither Pro nor I nor most people believe in them. We are all leprechaun disbelievers. That's because with respect to leprechauns we all accept that disbelief is the default position; that we disbelieve for no reason beyond lack of a reason to believe. That is exactly the position of most atheists.

I asked Pro if disbelief in leprechauns meant if he had joined a religion of leprechaun disbelievers. He said only that leprechaun disbelievers had not banded together, so the non-believers were not a religion. In other words, disbelief alone does not make a religion, it takes something else. That's what I've been saying. Suppose I discover, somewhere in the Emerald Isle, a small band of leprechaun-atheist advocates wishing to promote disbelief. Would that make Pro part of the anti-leprechaun religion? The answer, of course, is "no." Joining the cause is completely optional. There is nothing inherent in atheism that bonds one to a cause.

Pro repeats his contention that Buddhists are not atheists. He relies solely upon his definition, and apparently cannot find any scholar who agrees with him. I gave references to atheists who say quite clearly what they believe, and that most certainly atheism includes mere disbelief, known as weak atheism. Pro contradicts atheists themselves in stating what atheists believe, and claims that all atheists are strong atheists. I asked Pro if it would be fair for atheists to be allowed to define what Christianity is. Pro ignored the question.

Pro challenges "Show me an American Atheist who does not "explicitly rule out the existence of a God or gods", and I'll show you an Agnostic." Nonsense. I am an atheist, and I have said in previous debates that I did not see any way to disprove the Deist God (of Jefferson, et al). Do I believe in the Deist God? No. I pointed out that Christians disbelieve many Gods; that doesn't mean they claim to have disproved each one. They nonetheless disbelieve.

"2. A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe"

Pro acknowledges that Buddhist atheists are not part of what he characterizes as the cause of "American atheists." Pro separately acknowledges that Japanese atheists are not part of what he characterizes as the cause of "American atheists." I gave Pro a list of noted atheists and asked what common cause characterized their beliefs. Pro came up empty. With these concessions, Pro has conceded the debate. He explicitly limits his case only to the certain atheists who fit his stereotype. The resolution was not whether the atheists who fit Pro's stereotype fit his stereotype. The resolution was whether atheism, meaning all of atheism, is a religion. Pro has acknowledged it is not.

Suppose I proposed a debate on the resolution, "Christians want to kill infidels." I could cite some Christians who do, ranging from the Inquisition to abortion clinic bombers. Would Pro, or any reasonable person then favor the resolution? No, because the resolution implies that there is something in the definition of Christianity that requires every Christian kill infidels. It would suffice to show a significant number of counter-examples to disprove the contention. Similarly, I have shown hundreds of millions of atheist Buddhists, tens of millions of atheist Japanese, and many noted Western atheists who clearly do not hold a common belief system.

Pro supposes that American atheists hold a common belief system, and he cites belief in strict separation of church and state and belief that science teaching should be restricted to science. If it were true that all American atheists believed these things, then it would still not define atheism as a religion, because neither belief deals with "the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe." This is amply demonstrated by the large numbers of theists who believe exactly the same things. Belief in science means no more than that the scientific method is a valid procedure for advancing knowledge.

Pro attempts to rebut by claiming that it is necessary to find a person who has standing for the ACLU to bring a lawsuit. "Standing" means that the plaintiff must be affected by the action, e.g., as a taxpayer, parent of a child in the school, or in some other category in which the person whose rights might be infringed by the action that is the subject of the complaint. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the person is an atheist or not. Sometimes the ACLU finds an atheist, but more often they find someone who bows to the god of political correctness.

Incidentally, "American Atheist" is an organization that represents only a tiny percentage of the atheists in America. They have a right to their views, but they are atypical in many respects. Most atheists are not involved in any organized activity. They are couch potatoes like most Christians.

Even though the scientific consensus on the Theory of Evolution is 99.86%, Pro is correct that does not prove it true. There is no law or theory that is beyond all doubt. However, what is taught to students is reasonably restricted to the 99+% consensus, no matter that it might be wrong. There are thousands of religious creation stories. It would be ridiculous to offer them all as potentially viable. The point is that teaching the 99+% scientific consensus is scarcely a faith-based belief of atheists; it is common sense.

For the record, dark matter and dark energy are heavily supported by experimental evidence, perhaps at the 90+% level of certainty. String theory, for example, is not. To my knowledge, neither theories are taught in public K-12 schools. If they are, they shouldn't be.

One cannot make a religion out of atheism, because disbelief alone cannot assert "the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe." It is possible for atheists to step over the line and attribute too many of the world's ills to religious belief. That's a mistaken cause that involves a non-religious faith that all ills derive from religious belief. It's akin to racism, wrong but not religious of itself. Such overstepping is certainly not necessitated by disbelief in gods.

Pro is defining atheism according to his personal stereotype, and then denying all evidence contrary to what he has assumed. He even grants that his stereotype does not apply to millions of atheists, but insists that fact should be ignored in favor of his limited stereotype. Scholars and atheists themselves do not accept his definition of atheism, but he claims that he alone has the power to make the definition. Even within his stereotype he insists that belief in separation of church and state and belief that science classes be restricted to science are derive from atheism. Neither is so derived, as most of the people who believe those things are theists, and moreover they say nothing about the the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.

If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby. Atheism isn't a religion. The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Meganrihanne1992x 7 years ago
Meganrihanne1992x
ahah sorry i havent heard more misleading Bull in all my life...

your statements were on the complete contrary
Athiesm is got nothing to do with religion in the slightest... or theology
you should really look into facts before you try and debate something as stupid as this :l
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
dtclark, You say a "weak atheist would be someone who didn't ever think about the existence of a deity." Well, certainly not on a day-to-day basis in the way that some Christians regularly think of God. However, keep in mind that there is long list of gods to be considered. Some can be disproved empirically and others cannot. Volcano gods are disproved empirically, so that's one in the strong atheist column. The argument from evil (AE) disproves the classic omnipotence, omniscient, and good formulation of the Christian God, but Christians can fix that by slacking off on the omnipotence a bit with a Devil. The Deist god survives empirical tests.

There may be less to the distinction between strong and weak atheists than you suppose. Philosophers want to classify religious belief for purposes of discussing. At the top level are theists (god-believers) and atheists (not god-believers). Under "atheists" there are those who claim to disprove and those don't claim to disprove. But, oops, the single word "atheist" has been used. so we'll classify "strong atheists" (disprovers) and "weak atheists" (nondisprovers). It's a like ornithologists classifying birds. Crows end up as "songbirds." A person told that a crow is a songbird may wonder if there is some definition of "song" that has gone astray. But in fact the explanation is simpler than that, the group was name after some of its members and its just a tag not a pronouncement.

I think you are probably right that strong atheists reject all explanations that cannot be empirically verified. However, I think weak atheists at least sometimes are also unsure of the distinction between what can and cannot be empirically verified. Suppose a god appears and performs what appears to me miracles. Is that empirical verification of theism or proof of unknown physical laws? A weak atheist, I think, allows the possibility of gods being verified, while a strong atheist does not.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
lordjosh, I see the confusion. Garner didn't say that anyone who believes [for any reason] is a believer, I said that. Gardner believes, so he is a believer.

As to atheists wanting to count agnostics as atheists, that's not true in the atheist circles I know of. It's a little like supposing that dedicated right-wingers or dedicated left-wingers want to count moderates in their numbers. In fact, "moderates" are viewed by the hard over as confused. That's no doubt unfair, but seems to be the case. Check out one of the forums, like the about.com one, and I think you'll see that too. Atheists are such a small number in the US that they don't worry much about their numbers. I'd say that Christians rarely see much need to distinguish infidels, unless they have some training in philosophy.

I think the categorization of weak atheism including agnostics came out of academic philosophy. It's fairly obvious to sort religious believe into two categories, believers and disbelievers. Then disbelievers are further sorted into sub-categories. The common meaning of "atheist" has moved over time. Jefferson was popularly denounced as an atheist in his times even though he was a Deist, a believer. However it happened, the philosophical definitions have definitely become standard among most atheists and agnostics who discuss religious subjects.
Posted by dtclark2188 8 years ago
dtclark2188
You are absolutely correct. Let me revise my position slightly. I still hold that the strong atheist adheres to some kind of metaphysical position or meaning of language theory (i.e. verification theory of meaning etc.) that excludes the existence of supernatural beings or the sensibility of the claim of supernatural beings. To revise my position, the weak atheist would be someone who makes no claims either for the truth or falsehood of the existence of deities, and holds no metaphysical positions that automatically exclude the existence of deities. Therefore, he/she could be a Buddhist or empiricist or hold any other number of religions or metaphysical positions to be true that do not automatically exclude the existence of a deity. The weak atheist would be someone who didn't ever think about the existence of a deity, but if asked whether or not he/she believed in deity x, y, z... he/she would claim that, since he/she never acknowledges the existence of a deity, then he/she is an atheist. I don't know though. I guess my only reason for trying to come up with a stronger definition is because I don't like the ambiguity of the terms "strong" and "weak" when describing anything. Any assistance on a clarification of a "weak" atheist is encouraged and appreciated.
Posted by lordjosh 8 years ago
lordjosh
Sorry, I thought you implied that Gardner said,"The bottom line is simple: if you believe that some god exists, then you are a believer; if you think all gods are disproved then you are a strong atheist; if you have no belief but are not a strong atheist, then you are a weak atheist"

Nevertheless, This statement is untrue. It is an invention by Atheist who want to claim double the numbers.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
lordjosh, I said Gardner was a believer, not an agnostic. Are you contending something else?
Posted by lordjosh 8 years ago
lordjosh
I am an Agnostic, not an Atheist.
Posted by lordjosh 8 years ago
lordjosh
"Scientific American columnist Martin Gardener who says he believes "for aesthetic reasons." The bottom line is simple: if you believe that some god exists, then you are a believer; if you think all gods are disproved then you are a strong atheist; if you have no belief but are not a strong atheist, then you are a weak atheist"

Now come on Roy. Let Agnostics decide what is Agnostic. Mr, Gardner plays with words like a liberal Supreme Court justice. By definition he and therefore you are wrong.
Atheist like to claim Agnostics because it doubles their numbers. B.S.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
dtclark, No, weak atheists may have very strong metaphysical beliefs. The Dahlia Lama is a weak atheist but has more metaphysical beliefs than you can shake a stick at. At the end of long lecture, the Dahlia Lama concluded [paraphrasing], "I have told you that all that you experience around you is an illusion. You may then ask, 'If that is so, then who is giving this lecture?' The answer is that it is ... only me." Is that dripping with metaphysical implication, or what? Buddhist monks do not pray, they ponder metaphysical questions. The Bible is remarkably succinct; Daoism is said to have thousands of holy works delving into metaphysical questions without gods being a major theme. Wanting to know how the world works is, as you suggest, ubiquitous.

Disclaimer: I'm not pushing Buddhism. The reincarnation thing is ridiculous. However, if you want to understand religion as a phenomenon, its very important to get beyond the Christian framework.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Peleus, Weak atheism includes disbelief because (1) you have never heard of the god in question and have never had reason to take a position. For example, perhaps a person has never heard of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess and doesn't even know what kind of berries have to be offered to prevent offense to the goddess. (2) you deliberately decline to consider the question. The Buddha teaches, sort of: "Life is a challenge. It is like being shot with a poison arrow. Would you refuse to remove the arrow until you know who has shot it?" Neither of these positions are agnostic because they have not considered the question and thereafter decided that the question is unresolvable. Weak atheism also includes most agnosticism, so long as the agnostic does not believe in a god. However, there are people who consider the existence of god unprovable who nonetheless believe. An example is the long-time Scientific American columnist Martin Gardener who says he believes "for aesthetic reasons." The bottom line is simple: if you believe that some god exists, then you are a believer; if you think all gods are disproved then you are a strong atheist; if you have no belief but are not a strong atheist, then you are a weak atheist.

I understand that this is "inside baseball" and that many people do not consider agnosticism to be any kind of atheism. However, this in fact the way modern philosophy categorizes belief in gods, and the way that intellectual atheists use the terminology. For example, the Atheists and Agnostics forum on about.com has about 50,000 posts that explain and use the terminology as I have described it. The logic is that either you believe or disbelieve.
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