If you really think about it there are fanatics on both sides. Religion is really only

a group of people believing in a certain way. Atheism to me is the same way

my beliefs and the right to them. I like to live my life with my own beliefs

so I do not begrudge anyone else in their beliefs.

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atheism has no dogma or doctrine...there is no moral code, there is no faith or leadership....it is nothing like a religion because there as no such thing as being a "devout" atheist, no matter how many times i've read the phrase.


like someone has already said..atheism is the lack of believe in a god...not the belief that there is no god. and that is the difference.

Fanaticism is another term that needs defining. Apparently Churchill said that a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. It entails the inability of self-criticism and often involves the preparedness of the threat or use of violence to silence dissent.

Now there is a difference with being convinced and bringing good arguments to the table that the opponent is unable to refute, while relentlessly pointing out the flaws in theirs. This might drive people with irrational ideas crazy and call their opponents "militant" or something bordering on a reductio ad Hitleram, but it that is not fanatical.

Fanatical would be something like shooting people point blank in the face because they act not in accordance with your beliefs, like Christians from the "pro-life" movement. It would be like beheading people for burning a book the other side of the world. Are there atheist equivalents? No, on the side of atheists Christian people usually designate as the most militant, the most unreasonable fanatic to be around a soft spoken evolutionary biologist with an English accent by the name of Dawkins and then a while nothing and then in his wake Harris, Hitchens, Stenger, Susskind, Dennett, Myers and so on.

So I don't know if I would agree with a statement like there are fanatics on both sides, that seems to suggest some kind of symmetry that in all reasonableness is just plain counter-factual.

I would disagree, the term fanatic is already well defined by all, it is "atheism" where it is not. The symmetry you do not see in the discussion is relating expressly to the misunderstanding of what an atheist is, once I clarified that for Allie I believe she now better understands the perspectives that should be used within such debate.

There is a clear misguided perception among many religious people that atheist covers fanatics from the anti-theist movements including many fascist regimes that understand how religions degrade the power of a state authority and do unspeakable things to put any such resistance to rest, there are many examples of intolerance toward the religious, obviously not as many as you can find of intolerant religious groups, but just as brutal and murderous.

So it is entirely reasonable given their misunderstanding of atheist definition to understand where a perceivable symmetry can emerge. So it is not needed for an atheist to highlight the abhorrent behaviour of the religious extremists, most religious people know of such atrocities, all we truly need to do is reshape their perception and make them aware of the real definition of atheism so they can quickly come to the correct conclusion that the term does not belong in such a comparison.

Yes I see, thank you. You mean something like China's crackdown on Falun Gong, or old Soviet Empire politically expedient and selective policies vis a vis different religions in the territories or Albania perhaps (immense successes there.) I didn't even occur to me that a theist in debating an atheist would identify your average friendly neighborhood atheist with Stalin himself.

But there does seems to live some kind of highly artificial persecution complex with some within the dominant Christian majority in the US at least, where it just is utterly misplaced and farcical. And if you can prevent such misunderstandings by clearing up what atheism means and divorcing it from the negative connotations they have, then yeah that might be the easiest and most practical way forward.

Yes, those examples are ones that I had in mind, I came to the conclusions recently after a long winded argument with a christian on YouTube of all places. After arguing for a huge number of posts due to the short character count of comments eventually I sent the user a long letter to ask his real point of view in a balanced and respectable manner. Turned out the character count meant I was never able to notice that his real issue was he had no idea what a real atheist is.

Once that understanding of atheism was established, I went on to explain and define why Dawkins was correct from a technical definition regarding delusion when referring to people who said there "was" a god rather than just believing in one, I was sent a response that shocked me! Turned out he totally agreed with me about creationists and fundamentalist religious groups and himself was a moderate protestant, but he argued against me purely out of a lack of understanding of the argument itself!
There is an adage that states “Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby”. It is useful for its impact when first used. Just be careful not to devote too much time to not collecting them :-)

The other common accusation is that it requires as much Faith not to believe in god as it does to be an Atheist. Doh!!

Not recognizing that there are definitions of words and concepts is a big handicap to discussions in the United States. Definitions exist; these may vary from common usage to academic or scientific rigor, but they exist.

Personal opinions or stray thoughts are not definitions.

Here's a definition of religion from one of the great students of mythology, Joseph Campbell: Religion is the ritual presentation of the culture myth. This would include nationalism, patriotism and other -isms like Nazi-ism, but I'm not acquainted with any atheist culture, myths, or rituals outside enforced state political systems such as communism.  


Actually, whatever your "meta theory" is, can be considered your religion.  Whether it be alcoholism, drug addiction.....or anything else.

Bravo, well said and thought provoking.

I may fall into your last category. I value individual freedoms, but I also value those of the collective/tribe. Occationally these don't agree, can I still be concidered a champion of human rights if I sometimes wish to permanently limit them for the greater good? (i.e. Gun control, excess taxation and regulation of harmful goods, etc)

My dictionary defines it as

religion |riˈlijən|
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods : ideas about the relationship between science and religion.
details of belief as taught or discussed : when the school first opened they taught only religion, Italian, and mathematics.
a particular system of faith and worship : the world's great religions.
a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance : consumerism is the new religion.


Unless you try to stretch the meanings, no way. Or in that case, watching TV and shopping would be religions for most folks too. Or attending their offspring.

If atheism is a religion, then doing no sports ever is a form of sports, and abstinence is just a form of having sex.

Would you consider swapping those examples, please? Your order of reference makes atheism look like the less attractive option.

You are equating lack of physical action to lack of belief. Not really the same thing.

But I agree with the TV & shopping example.


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