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.
Dictionary.com includes the following definition of religion
something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience.
But that is not the definition we're concerned with here, is it? If it is then there is no point to this discussion. Going by that definition the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Software Foundation & the followers of these two organization could be clubbed as two religions.
I think we are concerned with the theistic definition of religion here.
"Also, atheism has nothing to do with ethics or conscience."
Hitting the nail squarly there. It's merely a whole sale discounting of a school of thought. It's more like Chemistry to Alchemy, Science to Pseudoscience. Atheism doesn't set out as a rulebook in itself, it just claims that the other guys aren't right because their evidence is weak.
If anything, atheism points to rationalism, which is a school of philosophy in it's own right as it rests on much more assertions than one, to provide answers about ethics and conscience. Atheism just say that religion is not the right way to go if you want to reach enlightenment, it doesn't specify any correct way.
Sorry I removed that part. Wasn't a valid argument concerning Jared's point, though a valid point concerning this whole debate.
Man shouldn't sleep in the afternoon, screws my head up.
I think the nature of debate is it's randomness. I hate sticking to the point all the time if I think a related point can be made. :)
Ideally atheism would not be a religion, but for many atheists it is - it has its own precepts, mantras, priesthood and rituals
Okay, there is the church of atheism, but the reason it was started was to ordain atheists so that atheists could perform ceremonies like marriages. The founders, when they got married didn't want any references to god or religion in their wedding ceremony, but the non-denominational minister they had put references to god in the ceremony & they had to cut it all out. It is like Norway - most people belong to the church, but not for religious reasons. That inspired them to start the organization. http://firstchurchofatheism.com/index.php/about/
Its in a way similar to Norway where most of the population doesn't believe in a personal god, but belong to a church for
to be able to use services such as baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial, rites which have strong cultural standing in Norway.
I don't think that atheists performing & taking part in such ceremonies is enough to classify atheism as a religion.
Do you have any examples of self described atheists organizing themselves as a religion?
Calling yourself atheists doesn't necessarily mean you're atheists, just like calling my self brave doesn't necessarily mean I'm brave. I have to act bravely to be brave.
As stated earlier, it might be useful to look at this as what people believe versus what they do not believe- religion is a belief system- atheism is not and says nothing about what anyone believes- it simply means they do not believe in a god.
Perhaps Humanism is close to an atheistic version of a religion. When Humanists start burning witches, blowing themselves up in the name of Humanism, etc., perhaps you can put them right up there with religious fanatics.
Now, if you want to say that non-belief in a god is actually belief, that is another point. If an atheist simply refuses to believe in god no matter what, then they may be similar to those with religious beliefs who are unwilling to accept anything that contradicts their religious beliefs. But I believe atheism allows one the ability to explore all possibilities, hopefully with a willingness to accept reasonable claims based on evidence. As far as I can tell, religion does not offer the ability to have a dynamic view based on evidence. Most "religious" people I know simply believe what they are told about the bible or another so-called "holy" book- adhering to religious beliefs without question, typically because the bible says so, is very different than not adhering to particular beliefs due to lack of evidence.
If there were reproducible, credible evidence for the existence of a god (not the gods that exist in peoples' minds), it would only make sense that we should believe in such a god. But I know of no such evidence. To me, this is significantly different than believing in a god simply because a book says god exists. But you're right, if I started killing people because of my non-belief, then I would be just like religious fanatics.
Ultimately, the greatest human atrocities have been caused by systems that led to viewing others as inferior and/or not being worthy of life (for whatever reason). Religion, by far, has been the greatest "system" fitting this bill. And for a predictable inquiry at this point- the Holocaust happened thanks to the hatred of the Jews that was perpetuated by Christians for centuries prior to the Holocaust, and Stalin killed, for the most part, those he thought threatened him or the state (his "God" equivalent) and those who opposed collective farming- I am not aware of evidence that he killed people because they refused to give up their religion or a belief in god.
So, when Humanists, freethinkers, etc. start burning witches, blowing themselves up in the name of Humanism, freethought, etc., start concentration camps, etc., perhaps you can put them right up there with religious fanatics or the likes of Stalin. Religion, or an equivalent, seems to be the most significant factor contributing to these things. But, if atheists see fellow humans as inferior to the point of being unworthy of life, for any reason, they certainly will be capable of commiting similar human atrocities to those that have typically been carried out by religious groups and justified based on religious beliefs.
Yes, but only beyond a reasonable doubt.
I have reasonable doubts to my ability to breathe in interstellar space. Anyone claiming otherwise without some pretty spectacular evidence are just plain unreasonable. Deism and theology are unreasonable at this level.