Atheism as Religion
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Dedicated to Richard Dawkins


Why is Atheism a religion? What characteristics of religion are inherent in Atheism? What are atheists wrong about? Can an atheist have meaning in life? This book tackles all these questions and a few other relevant topics.

As a worldview, Atheism is opposed to theism or, to put it another way, to the belief in the Divine. Atheists deny the existence of God and any supernatural beings and powers. Can such a worldview be called religious? Let us think about it.

The basis of any religion is faith. The basis of science is knowledge. But what is the basis of Atheism — faith or knowledge? The main tenet of Atheism says that God doesn’t exist, so let us first examine if such a statement is religious or scientific in nature.

As Creator of the universe, God must be outside of space and time. Hence God is transcendent and incomprehensible to our experiential knowledge or scientific inquiry. In other words, it is impossible to obtain objective proof of God’s existence or non-existence. And where there is no proof, there is no knowledge. In other words, this denial of God is not based on knowledge, but rather on faith. Atheists simply believe that God does not exist, even though they are unable to scientifically prove his non-existence. Therefore, Atheism is unscientific in its nature and is, essentially, a belief in the «absence of God,» which means that Atheism is a religious worldview.

But let us not be too hasty in declaring Atheism a religion. There are several other aspects that we must consider before drawing conclusions.

Chapter 1: Origins and types of Atheism

Atheism emerged at the very dawn of civilization. Philosophical schools of Atheism date back to the ancient world — cosmogony myths of the ancient East, Buddhism and Charvaka of ancient India, Yang Zhu of ancient China, the Ionians, Eleatics, and Diagoras of Melos in ancient Greece.

The early atheistic philosophies seem to have arisen as a reaction to Paganism. Indeed, for someone with an analytical mind, it was obvious that pagan myths were replete with fables and fictions, so it’s hardly surprising that intellectuals rejected them and pursued atheistic ideas instead.

It is not in the scope of this book to do a detailed analysis of how Atheism came about. A rather comprehensive (although incomplete) overview of this topic is given in Ivan Voronitsyn’s book The History of Atheism.

Of all the ancient atheistic philosophies, only Buddhism, commonly referred to as a religion, has survived to this day. But Buddhism, strictly speaking, is also a type of Atheism because it denies the existence of God. The logical question is: why do modern atheists recognize Buddhism as a religion but do not consider their own views as religious? After all, if one type of Atheism is considered religious, then its other types (Pantheism and Naturalism) must be stemming from the same root.

Pantheism denies the existence of a personal God and says that God and the universe are one and the same thing. As we see, this atheistic philosophy readily calls itself religion.

Naturalism is a doctrine that denies the existence of God and postulates that everything that happens in the world is of material nature. It is easy to see that the only difference between Naturalism and Pantheism is that the former does not poetically deify the universe.

Often, the term «Atheism» or, more precisely, «modern Atheism» refers specifically to Naturalism. In what follows, we will not distinguish between Atheism and Naturalism unless otherwise stated.

Chapter 2: The Ten Commandments of Atheism

When talking about religious commandments in general, the first thing that comes to mind is the Ten Commandments found in the Bible. They could very well be called the ten main religious statements. So, let’s review how Atheism deals with these ten maxims.

The first commandment of Atheism: there is no God

The rejection of the idea of God is the central tenet of Atheism and the basis for the atheistic creed. Of course, atheists will come up with various arguments to give their claims the appearance of science, but these attempts can hardly be called successful. We will discuss them later.

The paradox of Atheism is that it is impossible to scientifically prove «the non-existence of God». Yet, Atheism will not accept this fact. As soon as an atheist accepts the impossibility of determining whether God exists or not, he or she will immediately cease to be an atheist and become an agnostic, which is the end of Atheism.

The second commandment of Atheism: worshipping idols and images

Having rejected faith in God, Atheism has not escaped worshipping objects. Atheists have always bowed down to «idols and images» — famous singers, movie stars, scientists, composers, politicians, etc. In honor of those idols, they have opened museums, erected monuments, and created other sacred objects. People have brought them flowers, asked for their help, and have often done the most insane things just to get closer to their «star». Often, they create legends associated with those idols.

Inanimate objects can also become a cult — through obsessive attachment or Mammon-worship.

At this point, one might object that the cults described above are impossible in pure Atheism. But this is not entirely correct. First, Atheism has never existed in a vacuum, so in examining its characteristics we must rely on verifiable facts, not theories. Second, cults existed even in the most atheistic societies. For example, in the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin’s mummy was the object of worship for the whole nation. The worship of dead leaders is practiced in China and North Korea to this day.

The third commandment of Atheism: engaging in empty talk

The concept of the cultural norm is rather bendable in Atheism. So, profanity, vulgarity, toilet humor, etc. are widespread among atheists. Another form of empty talk is using filler words, swearing by God’s name, or even taking God’s name in vain blasphemy. If anything, blasphemy is one of the things that Atheism encourages.

The fourth commandment of Atheism: holidays

Every religion has its holidays, and Atheism is no exception. One cannot help but notice that some of the features of atheistic holidays correlate with religious festivals. «New Year’s Day» is a substitute for Christmas; «Independence Day» is a substitute for Easter, etc.

The fifth commandment of Atheism: neglecting your family duties

Atheists have a somewhat vague concept of family values. Therefore, atheistic societies predominantly consist of nuclear families with a focus on live-in relationships. In atheistic families, children have no respect for their parents (and vice versa), and it is not expected of them.

On the other hand, an atheistic society cannot just let things run their course without exercising some control. That is why they create nursing homes, boarding schools, orphanages, and juvenile justice institutions.

The sixth commandment of Atheism: legalized murder

In Atheism, murder is not seen as something immoral. Some atheistic societies legitimize certain forms of murder (such as abortion and euthanasia), and people have no qualms about it.

The seventh commandment of Atheism: condoning adultery

Atheistic morality does not preclude various forms of sexual immorality and perversions (prostitution, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc.). The scope of such practices is somewhat limited by society’s legal system. However, the law usually restricts only the most egregious travesties.

The eighth commandment of Atheism: it is okay to steal

Even atheistic societies consider stealing a criminal offense. But atheistic morality has its own slant. The typical reasoning goes like this: «You are not a thief until you are caught», «If you are going to steal, steal millions», «great capital cannot be created without breaking the law».

The ninth commandment of Atheism: lying is okay

In atheistic societies, politics is based on deception and hypocrisy. To a certain extent, the same is true of the lives of ordinary people.

The tenth commandment of Atheism: envy

Atheistic morality does not forbid envy. More than that, the so-called «admiring envy» is quite acceptable. In other words, there is nothing wrong with envying someone «in a good way».

Chapter 3: The rituals of Atheism

The religious nature of Atheism is most conspicuous in its outward rituals and ceremonies. Despite all the attempts to part with religion, the life of an average atheist is dominated by rituals.

Rituals of parenthood

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