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Is Atheism A Religion?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/25/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 566 times Debate No: 87219
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (1)




Atheism is in absolutely no way a religion.

1) A religion uses a method of faith and makes the assumption about what cannot be observed. Atheism is observation within the natural world.

2) Religions are inherently deistic

3) Religion is the belief of something, Atheism is the lack of a belief of something. The two are opposites.


I thank you for the opportunity to debate Atheism as being a religion or not being a religion.

I will argue that Atheism is a religion.

Here's to a productive and informative debate.

Debate Round No. 1


Before we begin, I would like to thank my opponent for agreeing to hold this discussion with me.

Once again, I am in rejection to the premise stating Atheism is a religion

Contention 1. Interpretation

First, we must identify religion:

"the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods." -Oxford Dictionary

Now, lets identify Atheism:

"Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods." -Oxford Dictionary.

Obviously this can't just be a debate over dictionary definitions of Atheism and religion. There is no way we can hold a debate on such an issue with that in mind. This is however the interpretation of Atheism I hold. Oxford Dictionary is likely the most unbiased and scholarly dictionary source. Merriam Webster is HORRIFICALLY biased toward more conservative viewpoints. I choose to contend that Oxford > Merriam

Contention 2. Fundamentalism

I identify a fundamental difference in the way religious people look at the world versus Atheists.

This difference is the assumptions made by those who are religious. Religion is the use of faith-based knowledge that creates assumptions for a natural phenomena. By definition they believe in a SUPERHUMAN power. As of yet, there has yet to be presented evidence suggesting that religion is observation of anything outside of faith-based doctrine.

Atheism on the other hand relates to that which is observed within the natural world. When any person is looking at the stars or conducting science, they aren't practicing a religion whether or not they believe in a God or not. Atheism doesn't make assumptions for beings outside of what is observed.

Contention 3. Religion-like Actions

I will defend that a religion is the belief in a God, and assuming that actions commonly held by religions which are shared by atheism is a logically fallacious assumption. Specifically a false equivalence.

If someone conducts a practice similar to that of religion, for example, meeting in a certain location, holding a belief, having an organization, etc, that does NOT make them a part of a religion. If you were to assume that it DOES make them a part of religion, any group activity that meets once a week and has a center for which to gather would be as well.



My first argument concerning Atheism being a religion is that it takes a stance reguarding god(s).


"A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God."


"A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods."

What Atheism is not is a neutral stance. What Atheism is not is a claim to not know. Agnostic is the claim to not know. Atheism is to take the stance that God does not exist. Agnoticism is to take no stance as to whether God(s) exist.

There are two in-use definitions of the word 'atheist':

1.) A person who lacks belief in a god or gods. People who use this definition categorize atheists as either negative (or implicit or weak) atheists or positive (or explicit or strong) atheists. Negative atheists, while they don't believe in a god, do not positively assert that no gods exist. Positive atheists, however, do.

2.) A person who believes that no god or gods exist.

Those who consider themselves atheists (who are positive atheists) tend to define 'atheist' using the former definition, and those who believe in a god or gods tend to define 'atheist' using the latter. In both cases, this seems to be a demagogic practice intended to classify either as many or as few people as atheists as possible. Negative atheists are referred to as agnostics.


Here is the Cambridge Dictionary definition of the word "religiously".

-If you do something religiously, you do it regularly.

-Used in a sentence:

He visits his mother religiously every week.


Many Atheists gather at Atheist churches.

-(excerpt from an article about Atheist churches)

"The number of so-called “atheist churches” more than doubled this past weekend.

On Sept. 28, 35 towns around the world launched new Sunday Assembly groups for secular humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, atheists and agnostics who want a sense of community -- without having to deal with any of the God stuff.

The central idea we have to spread is that we have only one life, which means that life has to be lived to the fullest,” Mano Singham said to a newly-formed godless congregation in Strongsville, Ohio. “There is no second chance, no opportunity to have a do-over, there is no afterlife where wrongs are righted and cosmic justice meted out to the evildoers.”

The U.S. has been a particularly fruitful ground for this type of thinking, with 16 new congregations starting last weekend.

The meetings are filled with songs--Bon Jovi, Journey and Monty Python seem to be favorites--readings, and even a moment of silence where congregants are left alone with their own thoughts.

Some of the congregations intend to organize small groups, where a few people can gather to read books and discuss philosophy."


In my opinion, Atheism is a philosophical/ideological belief or decision. Much like typical religion, it has different sects similar to how Christianity has Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Pentacostal, Holiness, Jehovah's Witnesses, 3rd Day Adventists, Mormons, etc.

One particular sect of Atheism is those who practice Buddhism for meditation and look at "inner self", a "spiritual experience", not founded on a god(s).

There are "Christian Atheists".

"The inference from these claims to the "either meaningless or misleading" conclusion is implicitly premised on the verificationist theory of meaning. Most Christian atheists believe that God never existed, but there are a few who believe in the death of God literally."


In the world there are different groups such as "feminist Muslims", which disreguards certain verses from the Quran, stating that they are confident that Allah realizes the world has changed since 600 AD.

There are "homosexual Muslims" who feel simlar to this viewpoint, and sometimes saying that times have changed and I can prove scientifically that there is nothing I can do about my homosexuality. God created science, so He knows this.

And then there is the "Atheist Muslim". Some Atheist Muslims believe Allah created us, but now He is dead.

The point? There is a certain amount of "cherry picking" that happens in each "stereotypical" religion, and it happens in Atheism as well. Just as many Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus have varying beliefs and lack of beliefs, so does Atheism, in my opinion.
Debate Round No. 2


SkepticalAtheist forfeited this round.


A religion doesn’t have to offer a god who must have an identity or be worshiped. Some religions are polytheistic such as Hinduism and Mormonism. Some religions are monotheistic including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And some religions are not theistic such as Buddhism. I pose that Atheism as a religion is anti theistic with a religious tone and context.

Atheists have their own worldview called Materialism which is the view that the material world is all that there is. This is the scope through which Atheists view reality.

Atheists are many times not the "follow the evidence wherever it leads" thinkers they claim to be. They interpret all data within a very narrow worldview of materialism. Many are guided by strong confirmation biases, accepting anything that supports their position and rejecting anything that does not.

Atheists have their own orthodoxy. Orthodoxy being a set of beliefs generally accepted by a faith community. Just as there are orthodox Christian beliefs, there is an atheist orthodoxy too. This is a philosophy that generally states that everything can be explained as the product of unintentional, not directed, without purpose evolution. I have offered Atheists many different kinds of evidence and philosophical constructs that challenge their ideas, but most Atheists I present to don't even consider it. This shows it as a deep engrained belief/desire, a way of thinking, a philosophy that is not to be challenged, an ideology with an agenda and an ideological motive.

Atheists have their own brand of apostasy. Apostasy being to abandon one’s religion. Antony Flew was for many years one of the world’s prominent atheists teaching at Oxford. But one day he changed his mind on the issue. If Atheism was not a religion, I imagine the response of the “open minded, tolerant” Atheists would have been neutral or mildly annoyed, but in real life, Flew was turned into a villain. The Atheist evangelist, Richard Dawkins accused Flew of “tergiversation.” This is a synonymous word for apostasy. Apparently, Flew had abandoned their faith it would seem. Flew had become an apostate.

Atheists have prophets. For example, Nietzsche, Russell, Feuerbach, Lenin, Marx, etc.

Atheists have a messiah, Charles Darwin. Darwin, in the Atheistic view, killed some of the heart of theism by providing an explanation of life that they believe never needs God as a cause or explanation, despite the Kalam argument, the Firmi Paradox, and DNA coding/language staring it in the eyeball.

Atheists have their own preachers/priests/evangelists. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens are/were not out to ask that atheism be given some small platform. They are/were out seeking conversions. They are preaching a gospel, if you will, calling for the end of theism, despite being unable to disprove God or prove God does not exist. That is exactly what faith is.

Atheists have faith. I know Atheists get mad when you say it, but they do.They want you to believe the opposite and maybe they honestly believe the opposite. But, their writings ridicule and condemn faith. They don't only propose an idea. They denounce other ideas as if all other religions are a cult, seeing they are contrary to Atheism. Harris’s book is called "The End of Faith". But this philosophy is faith based in and of itself. The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven. To deny it takes faith. Evolution has no explanation for why our universe is orderly, measurable or predictable. In reality, evolutionary theory has no rational explanation for why there is such a thing as rational explanation in the first place. There is no accounting for the things they hope you won’t ask like Why do we have self awareness? Why are we conscious? From what do we get an objective sense of right vs. wrong? They just take such ideas on faith. Atheism is not only a religion, but a religion on the prowl for converts and offerings paid by buying their evangelists books.

Here is a video of a young earth creationist offering Richard Dawkins fulfillments of prophecies, but Dawkins will have none of it. I don't personally prescribe to a "young earth", but nevertheless, the creationist's prophetic offering shuts down Dawkin's mind from even considering it. Dawkins has a belief. It will not and cannot be challenged. Not only can it not be challenged but it brings him to frustration, irritation, and beligerancy.

Debate Round No. 3


SkepticalAtheist forfeited this round.


Many of us know Atheism is a religion, just not typically the atheists themselves. When, they own that they do belong to a religion, then we the religious, can debatr as to who the true religion. For Atheists to attempt to claim to be neutral, concerning God, is a cop out and intellectually dishonest. They have certainly picked a side, otherwise they are Agnostic. They choose their religion based on what they believe is proof of their presuppositions. All people have confirmation biases. A Christian sees a chip that looks like Jesus, so maybe it's a sign? Or a Muslim sees light reflecting off of the Kaaba stone and believes it was an angel. Atheists do the same thing. I have had Atheists toss up links of "proof of Evolution", as though that is their way of disproving Creationism.

I looked at the whale evolution illustration, and hey, it looked pretty convincing. Look, the creatures look similar with gradual change! was a picture. So, I looked up the actual finds and interviews on the finds. In one particular find, we had Ambulocetus having a rare "intermediary" call Rodhocetus. In the interview with the paleantologist he was asked what he had used to illustrate that Rodhocetus had a fluke tail and flippers. It turned out he had "assumed" they were there. After more research and digging they found that it had a normal tail like a cow and legs. This was a confirmation bias similar to religious people who see obscure prophecies as fulfilled if a breeze blows parting their soup. He had seen what he wanted to see and rejected anything inconsistant with his world view.

Atheists denying what they believe to be true may be an easier thing for them to accept, but they are only attempting to convince themselves. The fact is many Atheists do not want a god to exist. Why do I say this?

If you look on the religious debate forum of you will notice topics like "If the Christian god exists he is immoral", "Proof the Christian god is evil", etc. This shows there is an Atheist motive to come after God from any direction possible, even to the point of attacking His character, if that's what it takes to convince themselves. If the Christian god's character comes into play in Atheist arguments it shows a desire for Him to not exist. There is a motive to renounce Him. This is a belief. Atheism is 100%, undoubtedly a religion.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by thebestdebate 5 months ago
Great job brontoraptor!
Posted by matt8800 7 months ago
@Beckadd where did you find that definition or did you just make it up?
Posted by Normerican 7 months ago
"By definition they believe in a SUPERHUMAN power..." - Very specific, isn't it.
Posted by SkepticalAtheist 7 months ago
Normerican, that's pretty false. I identify religion to be the belief in something involving the supernatural. If you believe in anything that is supernatural you are religious. There are hundreds upon thousands of religions that hold a supernatural belief involving a deity or a spirit world. These things are based upon faith.
Posted by jglass841 7 months ago
Atheism is the literal opposite of a religion.
Posted by Normerican 7 months ago
Your definition of Religion is an overwhelming exception of such degree, that, only three of the known religions would meet the criteria.
Posted by missmedic 7 months ago
Many Christians seem to believe that atheism is a religion, but no one with an accurate understanding of both concepts would make such a mistake. Atheism lacks every one of the characteristics of religion. At most, atheism doesn"t explicitly exclude most of them, but the same can be said for almost anything. Thus, it"s not possible to call atheism a religion. It can be part of a religion, but it can"t be a religion by itself. They are completely different categories: atheism is the absence of one particular belief while religion is a complex web of traditions and beliefs.
Posted by SkepticalAtheist 7 months ago
@BeckAdd, That's a false equivalence fallacy. Atheism literally just means that you don't believe in God, it doesn't create a premise for the cause of the universe. There could be Atheists out there who don't support evolution, the Big Bang, etc. Also a belief is NOT something that is accepted in confidence, faith, and/or trust. A belief CAN be something that is in confidence, faith, and/or trust, however a belief can also be the acceptance of something based on thought and evidence. I believe that the earth is a sphere. The use of the word "belief" represents your own representation of something in the same way you can say "Everything I believe has factual evidence" which would disprove the premise that belief MUST be that of confidence, faith, or trust.
Posted by BeckAdd 7 months ago
Since a religion is defined as a belief concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, and a belief is anything accepted in confidence, faith, and/or trust, a religion is accepted by faith concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Because atheism has no absolute, indisputable evidence proving its falsehood or its validity, it can be considered a belief, as it is something accepted without absolute evidence and by faith (in other words, one cannot prove that there is no god). Because a religion is accepted by faith, and atheism is accepted by faith, atheism is a religion.
Posted by SkepticalAtheist 7 months ago
And Jayshay, There is no way someone could tie that into a religious assertion. In the debate I'll probably get into that
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by JustAnotherFloridaGuy 7 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture.