Why does it seem that Atheism is mostly focused against Abrahamic religions?

I have been wondering this lately as my girlfriend and I were talking (She is into Wicca which i think is cool its not like she is trying to end the world with or anything though) She asked me what as an Atheist (and Secular Humanist) I thought of Wicca and I said, "To be honest from what I have read and seen, nothing, you keep to yourselves do your rituals and don't force it down my throat..It seems more like its Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that I'm against." Is it just me or does it seem Atheism is more against Those three and not all religions as a whole?

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Comment by Bob MacVay on January 14, 2012 at 5:56pm

In other words, atheism is a rejection of a belief in the existence of deities and the supernatural,  while secular humanism (or Humanism -designated with a capital H) involves atheists who have adopted a moral code based on human values and needs. Therefore, all atheists are not Humanists but all Humanists are atheists.

Comment by Bob MacVay on January 14, 2012 at 6:30pm

I agree Nelson.I think some people find it easier to avoid the atheism label and the questioning surrounding the "how can you have morals without a god" thing. By saying you are a Humanist you can put the morals question to bed, but shouldn't be ashamed to say by definition, you are also an atheist.

Comment by James on January 14, 2012 at 7:44pm

It is true that we focus on the Abrahamic religions, but I'd say that it's more a product of the fact that they're the ones that are front and center, highly visible and trying to control, and we see it almost every day. In America, we focus of Christianity because they are the ones in the majority and are frankly inescapable.  When it comes to other religions, we'll typically agree that we don't believe other religions either. But the thing is that they are largely passive, whereas the big ones are loud and proud. My wife is actually a Wiccan. I don't believe in her god or goddess, and don't think she can do any magic. She knows this and we respect what each other believe and are open an honest. Quite frankly, it has never been a conflict. I feel that a big part of it is that while I think it may be silly, Wicca and Wiccans aren't trying to make laws on their religion, use their religion to control what others can and can't do, don't proselytize, etc. So while we aren't vocal about the smaller religions, it's not that we're giving them a free pass. It's just that they aren't the ones that are relevant in our daily lives.

Comment by Barry Eckert on January 14, 2012 at 9:51pm

It's a cultural thing. The Abramic religions are the most common in western cultures, so they get the most heat. I live in the Bible Belt (Nashville TN) but rest assured that if I lived in Mumbai instead, I'd be saying a lot more about Shiva than I do.

Comment by Alice Browne on January 14, 2012 at 11:35pm

I find religions as a whole damaging because they discourage critical thinking, promote an us vs. them mentality, and enjoy a privileged status that they do not deserve. I think others have covered the topic of why the Abrahamic religions are especially focused upon.

In my opinion Wicca, Paganism, New Age, and that ilk do just as much damage in the form of encouraging fuzzy thinking. Since they are so grassroots and nicey-nice, though, they don't get as much attention. There are relatively benign forms of this harm, such as bilking someone out of money for pretty rocks and scented candles, but then you get down to the "natural is GOOD!" crowd and you get homeopathy and anti-vaxxers. That's probably another discussion, though.

Comment by Suzanne Olson-Hyde on January 14, 2012 at 11:54pm

I am confused. I know next to nothing about Wicca, but I thought Wiccans worshipped a God and a Goddess. Or is this only some sections, as in the many breakaways of other religions? If they do, for me it is codswallop.

I do think the clothes and jewellery are interesting :) It is like catholic priests dressing up.

I think a lot of these people like the ceremony, the little community of 'close friends'.

As with catholicism and buddhism, ceremony is very big, and can be quite awesome.  If that is the case, just have a High Tea, or come to Mardi Gras, now that is 'Ritual Extraordinaire'.

Alice is right - then comes psychics, crystals, past life, re-birthers, and frigging homeopathy.

I personally don't separate morals and ethics from Atheism. I would trust an Atheist before I would trust a xian.

The same with Buddhism - actually know very little about it. Buddhism has hungry ghosts??? once again, is this only in certain breakaway groups, or whatever.

Once again, codswallop.

One can revere nature, have morals and ethics without going down the path of religion of any sort, or supernatural anything. When the opportunity arises - I say what I am,  a proud Atheist. I wouldn't hide behind any other tag.

Comment by Dennis Smith on January 15, 2012 at 7:19am

With regard to the original question, the three Abrahamic religions are the ones most prominent in the West and the ones most vocal and proselytizing with the exception of Judaism which does not seem to proselytize. Both Christianity and Islam maintain they have the absolute truth (which includes the existence of a personal deity) and if you don't believe it (including especially the personal deity part) you will suffer eternal torment. They make a point of making THAT point whenever possible and condemn anyone and anything that disagrees with their perspective. THAT, IMO, is why atheist in the West focus on the Abrahamic religions. I suppose it might be different in Eastern countries. Personally, I include skepticism along with atheism because I regard atheism as an expression of skepticism about religion.

As a result, although, for example, Buddhism does not have a personal deity, you can still be an atheist with regard to Buddhism or Hinduism or Shintoism and so on. It is true that in some of the aforementioned religions there is the belief of some in bodhisattvas and other praeternatural entities. Even though these are not monotheistic and the entities do not share the same qualities of the monotheistic Abrahamic religions, they still can be argued they believe in "divine" entities like angels and saints who have "powers" to act on your behalf.

I suppose Skeptic would be a more inclusive word as it opposes all forms of superstition and non-rational belief, a category into which I would place Wicca. Wicca also, at least as I understand it, has beliefs in divine entities of some sort even if they are regarded as sort of metaphorical representations of human qualities. Like some forms f Zen there may be a belief in some sort of "force" like Mind or Tao which could be considered in the same category, although different in quality, as a personal deity. There are so many different ideas regarding "god" even within the Abrahamic religions it's hard to confine atheism to the very strict definition of not being a monotheist.

So, "no belief in any god or gods of any sort" would come close. Although what do you do with belief in "Mind" or "Tao"? Both of those could be equality "superstition" and non-rational.

Comment by 52X Max GT on January 15, 2012 at 7:48am

All of you make very good points, but in the end I think it all comes down to a geographical situation. The western world consists mostly of abrahamic religions, so it's most likely that we should come from christian, jewish or islamic upbringings. Being exposed since early childhood and raised to believe in these religions makes them a very important part of our lives even after we've stopped believing. It's usually the same religion practiced by friends and families, and it's so ingrained in our society, that we feel the need to denounce its evil ways.

In other parts of the world where the predominant religion is something other than those 3 religions, I'm sure atheists think about it the same way we think about abrahamic religions; it's just that we don't hear about it so often.

Just remember Socrates.

Comment by Albert Bakker on January 15, 2012 at 7:57am

You are right Ian Beveridge. General Relativity is a liberal conspiracy.

Einstein didn't know diddly squat, and other scientists are even more stupider.

As a brilliant electrical engineer mr. Henderson is sure to know what is really true about gravity, ontologically and everything. And that he has been on it, writing books exposing the stupidity of Einstein since 1972, and still isn't taken seriously by anyone who is taken seriously by anyone who is to be taken seriously by anyone, is about as conclusive as evidence of a conspiracy can get.

But fortunately the really, really bright people know what's going on: http://spectator.org/archives/2009/09/17/can-we-do-without-relativity

Even if stupid science people try their best at damage control inflicted by these far superior minds: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/11/06/absolutel...

Comment by Barry Eckert on January 15, 2012 at 8:05am

Albert, thanks for the link to Conservapedia. I knew that those people who write the drivel on that site were idiots, but had no idea that their abysmal ignorance extended quite so far.

"More stupider"? Did you crib that one from a fundamentalist Teapublican?


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