I confess that I get irritated just reading that: "Is atheism a religion?" Well, if you twist the definition of religion to a sufficient degree, my love of dogs and your fondness for chocolate could well be a religion too. But the New York Times blog "Room for debate" is running a series on atheism, with that title. In it, there are contributors from the atheism and the religion side as well. In reality what they are asking is not whether atheism is a religion but rather whether atheism can replace religion, as a community. Many are well known, such as Penn Jillette, Jason Thorpy from the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, as well as Christian thinkers (one of whom is so unoriginal as to claim that atheism "kills mystery"). Read the blog, it's though-provoking, and it is a good sign that in the US, atheism is no longer an irrelevant force or philosophical position. Read the reader's comments, too, some of them are very good.
Here are some excerpts to whet your appetite:
Atheism is the absence of religion. We don’t really need atheism. We just need to get rid of religion.
It doesn’t matter whether atheism is a religion, and atheism doesn’t have to replace religion. What matters is that we as a society of many beliefs can welcome and embrace atheists as a newly visible part of the diversity in America.
Cord Jefferson (Editor at Gawker)
Unfortunately, a great number of atheists do seem to cling to heterodoxy the way the most toxic of believers cling to orthodoxy, turning their irreverence into a stubborn religion unto itself. These are the people you see in online forums calling churchgoers “morons” or “brainless,” displaying the same hubristic arrogance they claim to despise when it comes from the other side. Still, I think the lion’s share of the new era of atheists understand that atheism should be less about the degradation of religion and more about a celebration of the power and potential of the human being sans any omnipotent higher authority.
The fear of death can also be equated to the fear of the unknown. Man realises that death is inevitable but what most people are even more scared of though is the fear of the unknown. Since no-one has come back with data to help guide us to know what lies on the other side of death so therefore since it is a really big unknown people fear it more than the actual thought of not existing on this side of death.
When I was growing up it was not the fear of death that scared me but the thought of not growing up and living my life as an adult doing the things I dreamed to do!
I'll pay that one Bill!
Robert Merrihew Adams in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews:
"Why tolerate religion?" The question is raised by someone who thinks there is something wrong about religion as such. To tolerate, Brian Leiter emphasizes, is to "put up" with beliefs or practices that one regards as "wrong, mistaken, or undesirable" (p. 8). His paradigm case of principled tolerance is one in which a "dominant group has the means at its disposal to effectively and reliably change or end [a] disfavored group's beliefs or practices, and yet . . . acknowledges that there are moral or epistemic reasons . . . to permit the disfavored group to keep on believing and doing what it does" (p. 13). Forcibly changing or ending religious belief has commonly been extremely difficult or impossible to achieve by any means short of total extermination or banishment of the disfavored group, as history shows, and is therefore a really scary project. With his stated paradigm in mind, we might think that Leiter's statement that "the contemporary problem, at least in the post-Enlightenment secular nations, . . . is why the state should tolerate religion as such at all" (pp. 14-15), would be ominous indeed if it were an accurate reading of political reality.
Fortunately and sensibly, Leiter does not hold that "the protection against intolerance [is] exhausted by a mere prohibition on annihilation or imprisonment of those with the disfavored beliefs and practices" (p. 109). The book's thoughtful and interestingly argued discussions of particular legal issues about tolerance (found mainly in the last of its five chapters) are generally not focused on questions of forcibly ending or fundamentally changing religious beliefs and practices, except for the most blatantly intolerable practices. Rather they concern public policies that (intentionally or unintentionally) limit the scope for exercise of the practices, or more generally disadvantage religious beliefs and practices or their adherents.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 05:54 PM | Permalink
Only a decade ago, it seemed horrifyingly certain that the United States was the exclusive realm of screeching old white people who defined themselves by their consumption of guns, gasoline and corn-syrup anusburgers. The president was a blue-blooded Yale (and Harvard!) man who successfully acted like a moronic Texan suburban cowboy who was always either giggling over his ability to execute retarded people or crying about Jesus. A once smart nation seemed to be operated entirely from shoddily constructed stucco megachurches on the exurban fringe of the world's ugliest sunbelt sprawl. It was depressing, but it was also probably the peak of all that awful bullshit. The "Nones"—people who follow no organized religion—hit 46 million adults in the United States last year.
Church attendance is plummeting as the Reagan generation of old people finally started falling off their Medicare scooters and into the grave. People under 30 arequickly abandoning the shallow and bizarre American theology of Jes... as they realize it's all nonsense and their prescription-drug-addicted homophobic racist parents are idiots who owe $275,000 on a $90,000 tract home a half-hour's drive from the nearest job.
Perhaps most striking is that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation. When comparing this with previous generations under 30, there's a new wrinkle, says Greg Smith, a senior research at Pew. "Young people today are not only more religiously unaffiliated than their elders; they are also more religiously unaffiliated than previous generations of young people ever have been as far back as we can tell," Smith tells NPR Morning Edition co-host David Greene. "This really is something new."
More than half of U.S. congregations shrank during George W. Bush's second term, and have probably plummeted since then because of continuing death and disappointment. Overall, only 20% of congregations gained people, and conservative Protestant congregations had the biggest losses. And this study only goes as far as 2008, when the presidency was handed to a wine-drinking yuppie Hawaiian atheist who unconvincingly mentions God now and then, when he gets re-elected or has to deal with another gun massacre.
The "No inverted pink triangle" on Jesus's toga cracks me up.
That book sounds interesting.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 10:27 AM | Permalink
that is FUNNY!
The causes of autism are not clear but it is not social conditions, at least not exclusively, but like you say, this is a subject for another discussion. You can start one if you like.
I'm afraid that people think that atheism is a religion because marxist made look like that..
Ignorant theists think of marxism and atheism as a same thing.
Last time when Richard Dawkins appeared on Aljazeera , he labeled marxism as a dogmatic belief.. He was so true!