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.
That's pretty hilarious, nothing like comedy pointing out hypocrisy.
Defending religion is a bit of a Sisyphean task - I just want to make sure you actually want it. ;)
I think your reply was a good one. Calling atheism a religion is just another way of claiming that we have the burden of proving god doesn't exist. Pointing out that the religious can't prove that other people's gods don't exist is a good way to de-bunk that idea.
(Though I should add with regard to the cartoon that the Muslims believe that their god is the same as the Christian god--they just believe different things about Jesus and Mohammed. It is good to know this beforehand in case some educated Christian happens to bring it up. Though in my experience even the educated ones seem totally unaware of this.)
I don't think of Atheism as a religion. I think of it as a non-belief in a supreme spiritual being, or any spiritual being for that matter. If I categorized every belief I have as a religion, my belief that the Earth is round, that my saxophone is made of brass, or that when I die there nothing after that moment for me as an individual, and all similar beliefs would become religions, and I don't think that's very rational. I prefer to answer "none" when asked which religion I follow. In fact, I'm anti-religion in so many ways, why would I want someone to tag me as being religious because I don't believe in something?
Just my two cents...
Here's some of my take on it:
It is suggested by many people that atheism is a religion. Before we can examine why atheism is sometimes defined as a belief, it is important to understand who defines it as such. Rarely, if ever, will you find another atheist, agnostic, freethinker, humanist, secularist, etc., putting the definition of religion in the context of atheism. Almost without exception, it is the religious who do so. The reason is simple. The religious are are so caught up in their own beliefs that imagining another person without having any religious beliefs is largely incomprehensible. Those who claim that atheism is a religion do not only lack a clear understanding of what atheism is, they also tend to use religious terms to describe atheism.
The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviors, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures.
...Atheism has none of those, therefore cannot be considered a religion.
If we go by your definition of religion, then fans of a band can be considered a part of a religion.
HOWEVER, atheism is protected under our first amendment, our right to freedom FROM religion.
It is wrong to define atheism as an absence of belief because when you negate something, you automatically affirm its opposite. Unlike what most people assume, there is not only one opposite of a belief in an existence of one god, so it is debatable which belief an atheist affirms when denying the belief in god. Whatever that may be, it must be a belief of some kind.
Just to make things straight, a belief is a very broad term and includes our belief in the sensory data we gather from our senses, belief in their interpretation as it is done by our brain, etc. Therefore it is necessary to accept certain things without evidence to even be able to function on a day-to-day basis. However, it is much easier to take our sensory input and interpretation of it at face value than it is for an abstract, invisible, omniscient and all-powerful god. To get back on the subject...
Having beliefs is necessary. If I want to claim I do not hold any beliefs whatsoever, I need to believe what I`m saying. In other words, I believe that I do not hold any kind of belief, which is a contradiction.
There is the other possibility of assessing that the existence of god cannot ever be proven by any scientific method and should be, therefore, moved aside "until more evidence is available". But it is, again, a belief (that god`s existence can, or cannot, be proven). Maybe we are in need of a different word because belief is too strongly associated with religion. But if you consider it in a broader context (as I have shown earlier) you will see that every person which states something expresses some kind of a belief.
So, being an atheist can include some or all of the following:
1. A belief that God does not exist
2. A belief that God cannot be proven to exist
3. A belief that Religion is unnecessary
4. A belief that God is unnecessary
5. A belief that we should not bother ourselves with any of it (which is the closest to the "absence of belief" mentioned in the earlier posts)
There could be more, but you get the point.