The Instigator
Dave_82
Con (against)
Losing
19 Points
The Contender
arturo
Pro (for)
Winning
30 Points

Should atheism be considered a religion?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 13 votes the winner is...
arturo
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/25/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,469 times Debate No: 13742
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (60)
Votes (13)

 

Dave_82

Con

I see it all the time, people capitalizing atheism in a religious context, atheist books in the religion section of a library or bookstore. I don't understand why people keep grouping atheism with religion is these ways and many more. Religion is defined as 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. (http://dictionary.reference.com...) Atheism is simply the lack of a belief in a deity with no set of beliefs that accompany it. I honestly don't see why some people seem to think it is a religion.
arturo

Pro

Hello everyone, today I will debating for the resolution - that atheism SHOULD be considered a religion. I accept my opponents definition of religion.

I would like for it to be acknowledged that the point of this debate is to debate what atheism is and if it's definition is in accordance with the definition of religion (and thus atheism should be considered a religion) or vice versa. My role in this debate will be to examine the characteristics of atheism and see if they are in accordance with religion.

And so, to begin:
What is religion? A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. Usually considered as the creation of a superhuman / supernatural agencies. (I will not continue to copy).

The focus of this definition for this debate should be on the supernatural characteristic.

What is atheism? Atheism is not the lack of belief in a deity. It is an active denial of the deity. It is a conviction against the existence of God. I will use the same source that my opponent use for the definition: http://dictionary.reference.com.... However, instead of just appealing to authority, I will explain in more detail.

My opponent made no case for why atheism is "simply" a "lack of belief". I will argue the former. There is no such thing as the existence of a lack of belief. Once you are conscious of the particular case in question, you are required to make the judgement whether you believe in something or not. In the comments section, my opponent argued, "if you don't believe in the alignment of the planets are you a non-astrologer? If you don't believe in aliens or unicorns what does that make you". It is precisely right that if you don't believe in aliens or unicorns you properly denote yourself using the term. If you've never heard of unicorns, you don't have a lack of belief properly speaking you have a complete lack of knowledge for the case.

Belief is properly defined as a conviction or opinion - or essentially speaking, a JUDGEMENT.

When Sam Harris or anyone else asks you, do you believe in unicorns - you reply very simply (based on prior knowledge, observation, reason, etc) YES or NO. Prior to asking this question if you had NO knowledge of what a unicorn was, you didn't have a lack of belief but instead, a lack of knowledge of the belief in question. Once you are aware, and conscious of the belief in question, you affirm or deny the belief. Once again, there is no "lack of" properly speaking but instead an active willed conviction to believe or disbelieve.

I'd like to make 2 arguments now for my side of the case.

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1) What is atheism?
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I've talked a lot about unicorns but let's talk about atheism. If someone were to come up and ask you, do you believe in God? Two things can occur

1) If you are aware of what the person is talking about you are able to JUDGE and DISCERN YOUR BELIEF. That is, you CAN say I BELIEVE or I DISBELIEVE.

2) If you have NO idea what the person is talking about - you CANNOT JUDGE. Your rational capacity demands of you to investigate and seek out more. When a person has reached their personal point of investigation - they can make the judgement whether there is evidence for God (theism) or there is no evidence for God and therefore does not believe (atheism). What my opponent is trying to say is that - the natural definition of atheism is not an active conviction but a passive natural state - if we don't have any knowledge of God we therefore don't believe in God. This is untrue and inconsistent.

What is a nihilist?
A nihilist is a person who believes in nothing. If atheism is a lack of belief in God, is nihilism a lack of belief in anything? Is this definition consistent? Absolutely not. A nihilist is a person who believes they are philosophically justified to believe in nothing. True that there is a logical contradiction here the thought process is clear and the same - if someone holds a position they have two options - belief or disbelief. It isn't just one option of "belief" and then "disbelief" meaning having a lack of options.

What is an amoralist?
If the nihilist example didn't appeal to you, I'd like to use morals as an example. An amoralist is a person who believes they are philosophically justified to believe that there are no morals or to rephrase, to disbelieve in any moral code. If atheism is a lack of belief in God, is amoralism a lack of belief in morals? Absolutely not. An amoralist is one who has a conviction against moral codes. An atheist - consistently speaking, is one who has an active conviction against the belief in God.

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2) What is religion?
================================
Averagely speaking, a religion usually consists of a doctrine that posits a supernatural cause for the universe. Religions can have many different flavors and sets of doctrines - pantheism, deism, or traditional theism. However, at their fundamental core - the cause is supernatural (or beyond the natural world).

Atheism however, is a denial of supernatural cause for the nature of the universe. Many different flavors of beliefs can stem from this. Either the universe was caused naturally or the universe was uncaused. However, at their fundamental core, the cause is NOT supernatural (there is no supernatural).

Does atheism have a set of beliefs? Certainly. While my opponent will make the case for why all these beliefs are negative (no God, no supernatural cause, no miracles - and here's why why why). I'd like to make a case for the positive. Atheism makes a case for evil. One of the strongest arguments against the existence of God is for the existence of evil. The atheist will say that if evil exists but if an all-powerful God who is all-good exists - there is an apparent contradiction. We KNOW that evil exists but we don't know that God exists. Therefore, God doesn't exist. Due to the atheist's POSITIVE BELIEF in EVIL - he is able to make the conclusion (among his many others) that God DOESN'T EXIST.

Thus, atheism has a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. Either the cause is supernatural or there is no cause at all. Accepting my opponents definition of religion we must thus recognize that atheism is a religion properly speaking.

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SUMMARY
================================
The purpose of this debate is to figure out the proper definition of atheism. If atheism is a lack of belief and religion is a set of beliefs (positive & negative) then atheism is not a religion. However, I have made the case for why atheism is not a lack of belief but an active disbelief and therefore a religion. I've done this in two arguments

1) WHAT IS BELIEF? Belief is judgement. It is either a positive or a negative judgement. Prior to knowledge, there are no beliefs. However, when we are acquainted with an idea we make a judgement. In regards to atheism - atheism is to become acquainted with the knowledge of an idea of God. We then judge whether or not this idea is TRUE or UNTRUE and whether to BELIEVE or DISBELIEVE. The idea of "lack of belief" is fallacious and inconsistent. I brought up two examples to demonstrate this: nihilism & amoralism.

2) WHAT IS RELIGION? If belief is judgement, what is atheism? Atheism is the judgement that there is no SUPERnatural cause to the universe. Two options are left - a natural cause or no cause. Thus, one disbelief carriers over to a necessary belief. I also made the case for why atheists don't just make negative assertions but positive assertions in their beliefs (the belief in evil). Summarizing, I demonstrate why because of the existence of beliefs in atheism - atheism must be a religion as my opponent properly defined.

With these points in mind and many more I hope to share in my next post, I proudly propose.

Vote Pro
Debate Round No. 1
Dave_82

Con

My opponent seems to think that atheism has a distinct set of beliefs concerning the cause of the universe, but this is not the case. One atheist might believe in the big bang, while another might believe that the universe was never created, but rather has always been there. Since these are two different beliefs about the universe that my opponent has already admitted atheists can believe, how can one say that atheism has a distinct set of beliefs about the origin of the universe?
Nothing about atheism in and of itself suggests any possible cause for the creation of the universe, therefore that fact disqualifies it as a possible religion. This is especially prevalent in this debate because my opponent has already agreed upon the definition of religion that I referenced. If a religion consists of a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, and atheism has no set causes then it cannot be a religion. It has nothing to do with the lack of a belief in God, because Buddhists don't believe in a god, but they do have a set of beliefs about how the universe was created. That makes it a religion. Therefore if my opponent agrees that that is the primary belief that defines something as a religion, then I challenge him to give an example of what atheists all believe is the cause of the universe. There is no common belief, no common cause, and considering that, it cannot be a religion. If my opponent fails this challenge and cannot give an example of the atheistic belief about creation, then I urge you to vote con.
arturo

Pro

Hello everyone, I was hoping for a much more consistent and interesting debate however my opponent has been unable to make distinct points for his side of the resolution. He has also ignored my distinct points (belief as a judgement) and instead focused on a minor example of mine to try and rebut my whole point.

What I will do in this part of the round is provide the audience with a refutation of what my opponent said.

================================
REBUT 1)
================================

Firstly, "that atheism has a distinct set of beliefs concerning the cause of the universe, but this is not the case. One atheist might believe in the big bang, while another might believe that the universe was never created, but rather has always been there. Since these are two different beliefs about the universe that my opponent has already admitted atheists can believe, how can one say that atheism has a distinct set of beliefs about the origin of the universe?".

There is a huge misunderstanding here about distinction and beliefs concerning the cause of the universe. I said very clearly that there are many different beliefs that flavors of atheism and theism alike share. I gave two examples for each (pantheism / traditional theism for THEISM) and (uncaused universe / naturally caused universe for ATHEISM). In his original definition of Religion, my opponent said:

"Religion is defined as 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".

There is no clause in regards to distinct or particular beliefs. So long as the specific worldview in mind HAS beliefs (which I have proven to be the case over and over again) they are considered to be a religion. It is even more specific because it contains beliefs in regards to the nature of the universe which the definition of atheism implies.

Ultimately, what my opponent is considered mute. He attempts to challenge me to find a "common cause" in regards to religion. However, this is a complete contradiction. There are many different religions with different doctrines (that sometimes completely oppose each other - are complete distinct from one another). The purpose of this debate is to see whether or not atheism is considered to a BELIEF or a SET OF BELIEFS. If it is so, then it follows naturally (based on how my opponent has defined it to be) that it is a RELIGION.

================================
REBUT 2)
================================
My final rebuttal is in regards to the following statement, "If a religion consists of a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, and atheism has no set causes then it cannot be a religion. It has nothing to do with the lack of a belief in God, because Buddhists don't believe in a god, but they do have a set of beliefs about how the universe was created.".

In fact, to trim it down a bit more "It has nothing to do with the lack of a belief in God, because Buddhists don't believe in a god, but they do have a set of beliefs about how the universe was created."

And finally once more (since I have characters to spare) "It has nothing to do with the lack of a belief in God".

This completely contradicts my opponents initial definition of atheism - "Atheism is simply the lack of a belief in a deity".

My opponent rightly described Buddhism as a religion which disbelieves in the existence of a deity. Hence why Buddhism is considered an ATHEISTIC religion. It is a perfect example of a distinct set of atheistic beliefs that my opponent is looking for.

================================
SUMMARY
================================

My opponent has demonstrated utter failure in his attempt (or lack thereof) to rebut my points. He attempts to take one specific point I made (that atheists have different flavors of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe) to skew it for his side. In short, what my opponent said is that unless I find a common ground on beliefs that all atheists agree on then it is a religion. "I challenge him to give an example of what atheists all believe is the cause of the universe." However, to compare it to religion, there are many theist religions that completely disagree with each other. Therefore, it is completely unnecessary and also unrelated to demand me of this to support his case.

Ultimately, my opponent has completely contradicted his case, "atheism has no set causes then it cannot be a religion. It has nothing to do with the lack of a belief in God," and I personally have no idea where this debate is going to go.

My points on the fact that belief and disbelief are judgements and therefore atheism as a disbelief in God can be considered of a religious type still hold.

My opponent has not made any valid case for atheism to not be considered a religion and has contradicted his original case by bringing up Buddhism as a self-described ATHEISTIC RELIGION.

For this, I proudly propose.

Vote Pro!
Debate Round No. 2
Dave_82

Con

When my opponent says that "there are many different religions with different doctrines (that sometimes) disagree with each other - are completely distinct from one another" he is correct, but what he didn't mention is that none of them disagree with themselves. Christians believe the universe is created a certain way. Buddhists believe something else. Pagans believe yet something else. The point is, within every religion is a solid belief about how the universe was created. This is not the case with atheism. A rejection of the other beliefs is not a belief in itself. There is no absolute belief that all atheist share, and that is what makes a religion. Therefore it cannot possibly be considered one. Atheism, in a broad sense, is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[2] Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. http://en.wikipedia.org... My opponent stated himself that "if atheism is a lack of belief and religion is a set of beliefs (positive & negative) then atheism is not a religion.If atheism is a lack of belief and religion is a set of beliefs (positive & negative) then atheism is not a religion". Look at definition number 2 and see why I rest my case.
arturo

Pro

"When my opponent says that "there are many different religions with different doctrines (that sometimes) disagree with each other - are completely distinct from one another" he is correct, " - Ok my opponent has conceded this point. "but what he didn't mention is that none of them disagree with themselves." This is actually untrue- within almost all prominent religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism etc) there are many disagreements.

"A rejection of the other beliefs is not a belief in itself." I have made the argument as to why it is and my opponent has not disproved it - this is just an assertion fallacy - he has not explain why its not a belief in itself. I made the case for why the disbelief is essentially a kind of belief (a negative belief). "atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist." - it's not an absence of belief. An absence of belief is an unconsciousness towards deities or lack of deities (as I have said). Disbelief is a conscious awareness that there is a lack of something - therefore, atheism is a type of belief (and because it is a type of belief - even negative) then it is a form of religion (as outlined by my opponents definition).

Ultimately, my opponent has not made any substantial arguments as to why lack of belief is not a belief (he simply asks us to assume based on what he's said) and he keeps regurgitating that atheism is a strict lack of belief in the existence of deities - but there is more - to get to this disbelief - we must have reasons. I gave an example of a BELIEF in the PROBLEM OF EVIL. Because the existence of evil contradicts the existance of an all-powerful God, many atheists will make the conclusion that God doesn't exist. If this is untrue - there is a DISAGREEMENT and this still concedes the initial point my opponent made "but what he didn't mention is that none of them disagree with themselves.".

In summary, I have made subsantial argumentation as to why atheism should be considered a religion while my opponent keeps making assertions without backing them up with arguments.

I close this debate with a confidence that I am the victor.
Debate Round No. 3
60 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by arturo 6 years ago
arturo
Please view Round 1 argument What is atheism? for my treatment on atheism's lack of belief as incoherent when its an active, willed, negative judgement.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
"Religion is defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe ..." To be a religion, atheism must have an identifiable set of such beliefs. There is none. That's the consistency issue.

I'll grant that Con didn't press the point as strongly as he might have.
Posted by arturo 6 years ago
arturo
Way to put atheism under a huge umbrella term.

Con was being pretty clear in his definitions, I made the link between the two.

There was no talk about philosophical consistency or anything of that nature.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
I didn't see this debate in time to vote on it, but I think Con should have won. Atheists include people who believe in the supernatural, those who choose not to consider the God question, and a host of others. Pro's error was in assuming there is some philosophical consistency in the nature of atheism. Con didn't make his arguments as clear as he could have. He should have cited definitions of religion that point to the necessity of having a belief system to be a religion, which atheists do not have. Still, what Con said was correct and sufficient.

"If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."
Posted by Marauder 6 years ago
Marauder
If there was a point for an argument simply looking more professionally typed, it would go to arturo this debate. I wonder if that at all fit's with spelling and grammar?
Posted by daniel_t 6 years ago
daniel_t
I find it hard to vote for this one. Pro's arguments were pretty weak, but on the other hand, con didn't do a very good job of pointing out the weaknesses.

One thing I would like to say is that Pro's pathos was better developed, I found myself caught up in his delivery, and his entreaties to declare him the winner almost worked!
Posted by Ds201049 6 years ago
Ds201049
It is greater to exist outside of time to exist within time, therefore god mussy exist outside of time
Posted by arturo 6 years ago
arturo
!!! TY very much for your vote.
Posted by Hound 6 years ago
Hound
There's no way you should be losing.

You clearly won. Great job.
Posted by Hound 6 years ago
Hound
Ah, then welcome to DDO :D.
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Marauder
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