The Instigator
alexiskay1110
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
dj21
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points

Atheism is a religion.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
dj21
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/17/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,053 times Debate No: 36767
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (16)
Votes (2)

 

alexiskay1110

Con

Atheism, by definition, is disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings. Religion, by definition, is an organized set of beliefs based on the existence of deities or a super-human figure. So how can atheism be considered a religion when it is the exact opposite: it is disproving the notion of religion entirely. All religions can be put under a category of believing in something intangible simply by the faith of that person. So how is it that atheism could be the only religion that doesn't fit that quota? Atheism is not simply the one end of the religious spectrum, it isn't on the spectrum. It is simply the lack of a religion.
dj21

Pro


alexiskay, thank you for the opportunity to debate.

You are opposing the contention that “Atheism is a religion”


My argument will be quite short and simple.

A. Merriam-Webster defines atheism as “a disbelief in the existence of deity” or “the doctrine that there is no deity.” [1] This aligns with your definition, and I would not contest it.

B. Almost all modern branches Buddhism believe that “this world is not created and ruled by a God”, and “There is no almighty God in Buddhism.” [2]

C. In a “world religion” poll conducted by Pew Research, over 7% of the world’s population identify themselves as “Buddhist.”


It follows:

Buddhism, which is by definition atheist, is a religion.



[1]: http://www.merriam-webster.com...

[2]: http://www.religionfacts.com...

[3]: http://www.pewforum.org...







Debate Round No. 1
alexiskay1110

Con

I do agree, your point is valid. However, religion is not only motivated by believing in a supernatural being, according to http://www.thefreedictionary.com..., religion is also "4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion." This may be an opinion-based statement, but I believe atheism is not something one peruses or is devoted to for the most part, it is simply a lack of a belief system based on teachings from a spiritual leader, a church (which Buddhism has), or a deity. While I agree it may be challenging or controversial to place Buddhism under the category of religion, it is only logical to not classify as atheist as one, because it is comparing apples to oranges. Thank you for your argument.
dj21

Pro


Thanks for your response alexiskay.

For the purpose of the debate, I stand by my original argument. Buddhism (specifically Theraveda Buddism) is (a) atheistic [1], (b) a religion [2], and as such Buddhism is an example of atheism as a religion.


You have conceded this.




Informally addressing the question of “what is religion”, you cited the free dictionary definition of “a cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.” I would suggest there are many western atheists who would fit that criterion as it pertains to their atheism. When Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris publically debate some Bible-thumper on the existence of God, are they not attempting to advance “a cause, principle... with zeal or conscientious devotion”? I would suggest they are. They care about their belief and are seeking to convince others that they are correct. Call it atheistic evangelism, if you will.

Personally, I would equate religion with the idea of a value & belief system. Atheism does not claim a particular one, and perhaps that is at the core of your contention. But neither does Theism itself. Both atheism and theism are the foundational premise upon which a value & belief system is built. The value & belief system is what is called “religion”. All Theistic value & belief systems that I can think of fall into the category of “religion.” But on the atheistic side, Secular Humanism could be considered a religion [3] in the sense that it has an official organization, has an official crede, etc. And as I have noted and you have agreed, Theraveda Buddhism is definitely a “religion”. and is definitely built on an atheistic premise.



[1]: http://www.beliefnet.com...

[2]: http://answers.yahoo.com...


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

Debate Round No. 2
alexiskay1110

Con

alexiskay1110 forfeited this round.
dj21

Pro

Extend all arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
alexiskay1110

Con

alexiskay1110 forfeited this round.
dj21

Pro

Con stated "Atheism, by definition is disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings. Religion, by definition, is an organized set of beliefs based on the existence of deities or a super-human figure.""

I readily acknowledge that there is false equivocation in there, but I am debating on the grounds set by Con.

To the extent that Theism (the belief in God) "is a Religion." (Deism, Pantheism, Panenthism too)
So too Atheism "is a Religion" in the form of Theraveda Buddhism.

Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by dj21 3 years ago
dj21
Correct dawn, and as you understand if you read the arguments, the Pro position is not asserting otherwise. Atheism and Buddhism address completely different questions. There is overlap, but they are not synonomous. As Atheism is not Buddhism, Theism is not Christianity. In both cases, one is a propositional statemet about the existence of God, the other is a value and belief system. They can overlap, but are non synonmous. This debate was an exercise in refuting the false notion that religion and God are necessarily corrolated. They are not, as exemplified Theraveda Buddhism.
Posted by dawndawndawndawn 3 years ago
dawndawndawndawn
Atheism is not Buddhism
Posted by MysticEgg 3 years ago
MysticEgg
Indeed! Definitions and phrasing are very important, I've found.
Posted by MysticEgg 3 years ago
MysticEgg
Indeed! Definitions and phrasing are very important, I've found.
Posted by dj21 3 years ago
dj21
Totally agreed, MysticEgg.

If Con had defined it beforehand, I would not have debated. The premise he alluded to was a notion that religion necessarily involved God.

"Religion, by definition, is an organized set of beliefs based on the existence of deities or a super-human figure"

That was why I felt compelled to debate. By the strict interpretation, Theism (the belief in God) is not a religion either. Nor is pantheism, panentheism, etc. They are premises about the existence of God upon which religions (or value & belief systems) are built. And, as we see, religions can be built upon an atheistic worldview just as easily as a theistic worldview.
Posted by MysticEgg 3 years ago
MysticEgg
Isn't dj using equivocation?

Buddhism is classified as a religion. Buddhists do not believe in a God.
Atheists do not believe in a God. Therefore, atheism is a religion.

Buddhism is only a religion in its (religion's) secondary definition.
By assumption, one would assume that you two should be debating of religion in its primary sense. Shame Con didn't define religion beforehand, or it would have been an easy, straight up win.

Also, it's funny how people only use religion in its secondary sense to twist around the problem that religion in its first sense and atheism are literally opposite definitions. Or, if they're talking about a "philosophical religion".
Posted by MysticEgg 3 years ago
MysticEgg
Isn't dj using equivocation?

Buddhism is classified as a religion. Buddhists do not believe in a God.
Atheists do not believe in a God. Therefore, atheism is a religion.

Buddhism is only a religion in its (religion's) secondary definition.
By assumption, one would assume that you two should be debating of religion in its primary sense. Shame Con didn't define religion beforehand, or it would have been an easy, straight up win.

Also, it's funny how people only use religion in its secondary sense to twist around the problem that religion in its first sense and atheism are literally opposite definitions. Or, if they're talking about a "philosophical religion".
Posted by dj21 3 years ago
dj21
dawn, if your question was "what is the goal in calling atheism a religion?" There is none. Any more than there is a goal in calling theism a religion. It is what it is.
Posted by dj21 3 years ago
dj21
Dawn, I am not clear about your question. Can you clarfy?
Posted by dawndawndawndawn 3 years ago
dawndawndawndawn
dj21, WHAT in the goal is calling atheism a religion?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by calculatedr1sk 3 years ago
calculatedr1sk
alexiskay1110dj21Tied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: I liked the fact that Pro aknowledged the equivocation he was making, and he did a fine job of outmanuvering his opponent. Con could have tried to argue that his resolution does not require that no atheists can be religious, merely that atheism itself does not meet the critera of being a religion. If imagining it as a venn diagram, some atheists can be in the group religious, and some religious can be in the group atheist, so the two only overlap. In fact, if there are multiple distinct atheist religions, then atheism clearly is not a religion even by the definitions given here. Con played it badly by just agreeing with Pro and ffing rather than using a line of attack like the one I proposed above. Not a great debate because it was semantic and one sided, but at least that makes the voting decision easy.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
alexiskay1110dj21Tied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Ff