Atheism is a DOGMA! Get over it!

I recently had a long argument with an atheist who not only openly disagreed with all religions, but insisted that all religious people were delusional, stupid, even insane, while totally denying that he was himself promoting an unproven belief of his own.

What is atheism? There appear to be two kinds:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity

b : the doctrine that there is no deity

By the first definition, I am indeed an atheist, but I reject that term for myself because I know that people assume that atheism is about outright denial of God’s existence (the second definition) and nothing else. By contrast, I question God’s existence and do not deny it at all. My position is a neutral one regarding that specific issue.

And that is why Thomas Huxley in the 19th Century coined the term agnostic to describe himself and his beliefs, or lack thereof.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic

1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
Thus by the first definition one can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist, though most people only know of the first kind (because that is consistent with the second definition) . What one cannot be is lumping all people who are religious into the same category of irrationality, delusion, and stupidity and then be nondogmatic at the same time. Not only are you being dogmatic, you are being a BIGOT.
: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
And any atheist who does that is no better than someone who is a religious bigot.
Atheists say that the burden of proof should be on the religious person to support the claim that God exists. But producing such proof is exactly what the religious person does when he produces the Bible, the Quran, or some other religious text that is the basis for a God-centered religion. You can say that the proof is insufficent to establish belief in God beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is still a proof. And religion by definition requires faith, not absolute proof. If belief in God could be established beyond a reasonable doubt, it wouldn’t be part of religion. Conversely, atheism also cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt, because there is no way to disprove the existence of God. Atheism is a dogma, not an objective point of view.
When an atheist says that the Bible is no more credible than the Harry Potter books, he is not making an objective statement at all, but giving a subjective opinion. That’s exactly what a DOGMA is!
Does this mean atheism is also a religion? It depends on your definition of religion. I say no, because you don’t need faith to be an athiest or agnostic. Faith involves belief in something that cannot be directly detected. But you do have to make a choice to be an atheist, agnostic, or theist. Belief in the non-existence of God is as much a religion as not playing chess is a form of gaming. But one still makes a choice if one refuses to learn how to play chess.
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6 thoughts on “Atheism is a DOGMA! Get over it!

  1. I agree. And by the way many atheist are behaving these days, I am also beginning to agree that atheism is a religion of non-belief in gods and the supernatural. I have dropped that label myself. This is a good read but many atheist are so hardened emotionally they don’t find it useful:

    Why people believe what they believe:

    http://williamjhopper.com/05/19/how-to-kill-faith-and-win-arguments-with-religious-zealots

    Why Atheist activism will fail:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=rational-atheism

    • Thank you, Nick.

      I think Richard Dawkins did a lot of damage to his credibility when he wrote his book “The God Delusion”, because while he was able to argue against the dogmatism of religion, he NEVER proved that belief in God was a delusion. A delusion is something that is beleived contrary to the evidence. Young Earth Creationism is a delusion. Holocaust denial is a delusion. The claim that the moon landings by NASA were fake is a delusion. Theism is NOT a delusion because there is NO evidence that conclusively debunks the idea of a Supreme Being. All you can fairly say is that his existence has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Beleiving in God anyway is not a delusion. Otherwise, my belief that O. J. Simpson killed his ex-wife and Ron Goldman must also be a delusion. But in fact, there was plenty of evidence to make a good case against O J; the prosecution merely screwed up the case and he got off because a cop involved in the case was shown to use racist slurs, among other issues. And courts of law are not used to judge religious claims anyway.

      • Dale Husband,

        A delusion is something that is beleived contrary to the evidence. Young Earth Creationism is a delusion. Holocaust denial is a delusion. The claim that the moon landings by NASA were fake is a delusion. Theism is NOT a delusion because there is NO evidence that conclusively debunks the idea of a Supreme Being.

        I agree, well said. A person can be sensible and rational whether they believe in God, or doubt his existence.

  2. Here is a more detailed version of my argument, as written brilliantly by writerJames:

    http://cubiksrube.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/atheism-is-a-belief-system/

    {{{Yep. I’m an atheist, for those of you who hadn’t picked up on that, and atheism is a belief system.

    Even this is apparently controversial among many atheists, who insist that their position is simply a “lack” of one particular belief, but I don’t know why the idea of a “belief system” is something so many people find off-putting. Presumably anyone who believes anything in any non-random fashion has a system of some sort. I know I do.

    I’ve seen some atheists get unnecessarily defensive in asserting that their position isn’t a positive claim. I say “unnecessarily” because there’s nothing shameful about making positive claims about the nature of the universe and things beyond. I positively consider the idea of a creator god very improbable, and the likelihood of the Christian god as described in the Bible to be negligible. But even if I were just to say that I am without god-belief, this doesn’t get me off the hook from having to defend my position.}}}

    There’s a lot more there, so I encourage you to read it. Another point I’d like to make is that if atheism really is “the lack of belief in God”, then all people are born atheist, because all babies are born with NO beliefs at all. But if that is true, then there is no merit to be an atheist whatsoever. I think every single atheist becomes one by choice and the idea of a baby born in a family of Christians being an atheist by nature is just nonsense. And that, in turn, discredits the notion of atheism being “a lack of belief in God”. It must be something more.

  3. Pingback: Misdefining terms for purposes of propaganda « Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

  4. Pingback: “Classical” Atheism vs. “Contemporary” Atheism | Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

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