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Todd Bowden

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Is atheism a religion?

There has been a lot of debate over whether atheism can be classified as a religion, or whether it is excluded from being a religion.

What do you think?

Topics: atheism religion
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    Jun 17 2011: No
    Or at least, Atheism does not have the common characteristics of a Religion, just for example....
    - A prophet (s)
    - Commandments passed down from God via said prophet
    - Sacred texts
    - Denial of the individual in favour of the commonwealth
    - Pre-determinism
    - Services, rituals etc
    - A place of worship or defined format of worship
    Etc
    +Edited, Matt ;)
  • Jun 19 2011: atheism is seeking truth for who are not blind followers of their fathers.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jun 20 2011: Dear Jim,
        all fathers should be respected.
        I mean following religious beliefs of fathers with no research.

        "All forms of theism make claims that are unfalsifiable."
        claim is not important. proof is important.

        I agree you. but please do not forget death and until the afterlife is not disproved please consider at least possibility of Hell and God and do not speak certain.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager
      • Jun 21 2011: "Feel free to ignore the following if so."
        About beliefs Fathers are perhaps true or perhaps false.
        Each human individually should seek truth regardless of beliefs of others like father.

        Also mothers. Take it easy. Usually mothers follow father. Father has more power in family.

        "Actually, you make all sorts of claims where the only "proof" comes from the Koran."
        No, I use rational and scientific proofs also. But I consider koran 100% truth. I have done a long research on Koran and you do not know my background research about Koran. But I can challenge you In Koran. I claim Koran has not human source and is from God. Can you disprove it?

        "There is absolutely no objective evidence that any humans in the past had longer life spans than we have today."
        yes. but it is not also disproved or impossible by science. Do you think long life is impossible when before science?

        "factors that limit biological longevity now also applied 5000 and 10000 years ago. "
        Agree. But there is always exceptions. You can see exceptions also in animals and nature. Nature is amazing and has many exceptions.
        Also if we assume God created human then easily can give long life to any human wants.
        Important note is that science has not proved long life is impossible.

        "The Koran does not do this in any meaningful way. It makes predictions about existence after death, but there is absolutely no way to test these predictions. Such claims are absolutely useless."
        Disagree. Have you read Koran? If no what you say? Its like I write a critical review about Matrix movie before I watch it.
        Koran has any thing. From medicine to food and agriculture, chemistry and all fields.
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          Jun 21 2011: Hi Jim

          "There is absolutely no objective evidence that any humans in the past had longer life spans than we have today."
          Depends where you look .
          http://www.blinkx.com/watch-video/the-truth-about-ancient-man-dr-jack-cuozzo/vQJeP51PQxLcOI3pZJwUsw

          :-)
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          Jun 21 2011: notice the word 'objective' before evidence...
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          Jun 21 2011: Hi Matt

          1Hr. to notice the post, watch a 1hr. video, and reach an objective conclusion on the evidence. You have my admiration.

          :-)
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          Jun 21 2011: That's right Pete, I didn't watch it. Life's too short to waste on Creationist poo. The word Creationist suffices for me to know that there will be nothing objective about the video.
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          Jun 22 2011: Hi Jim

          I hear what you say, but is it not the same for the materialist ? Everything must be explained in material terms; there is no room for anything spiritual or non-material. So IF a spiritual dimension does exist, then the materialist is not going to find it. Surely then it is wiser to keep an open mind on the possibilities.

          For the record; I was 35 when I first encountered the bible. Until then my pursuit of knowledge had been material via evolution, panspermia etc. I set out to prove the bible wrong to 'educate' my newly baptised wife. The bible is just too intricate to have been written without 'outside' help. So in many ways my trust is grounded in material facts. It seems to be an observable fact that neanderthal youth's skulls have the same configuration as pre-birth children of today. This could be interpreted as an elongated life cycle in humans of the time. There is also a lot of stuff about giant creatures which may well be big because they lived for longer, but I guess if it didn't fit the evolution hypothesis you wouldn't be interested.

          :-)
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          Jun 22 2011: You said in another thread that you used to believe in evolution and that this was why you assumed black people were inferior. I wish I was joking, but that is exactly what you said. Also, why would you single out panspermia? It's just some idea that has no experimental backing. Looks to me like you're making it up as you go along, like the Creationists on TV who say "I used to be an evolutionist but now"

          How is it possible for you to have not encountered the Bible in 35 years, is the part of Scotland you live in that remote? All sounds made up to me.
      • Jun 21 2011: Atheist's Wager is just plain silly:
        "If there is a benevolent god, he will judge you on your merits and not just on whether or not you believed in him."
        who can be sure he will judge you on your merits?
        God judge based his own rules. and has min req. terms for entering Judgement. many go direct to hell.
        prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
        the first thing the servant is asked is prayer. if accepted the other is accepted and if rejected all other is rejected.

        also God said:
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/2:80

        and Hell needs fuel:
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/2:24
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/66:6

        problem is it should be full:
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/32:13

        the God described in Atheist's Wager is only a deity. not true God.
        if any believe in such God will have such reply at judgement day:
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/16:27
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/41:47

        please do not make your beliefs based on some joke. is there any proof that If there is a benevolent god, he will judge you on your merits and not just on whether or not you believed in him? this God is made by human and is not real God. such God not exist.
        if you want to assume God at least assume God in Koran.

        "The universe is 13.75 billion years old. "
        God has 12000 universes.

        "If there actually is a single God capable of creating the entire universe, why would it go about setting up these conditions and then decide to make humans comply with capricious laws recorded in books thousands of years ago "
        the last updated (Koran) is 14000 years ago.
        because God was alone and wanted to be known. (God is not human nor material)

        "that are completely unverifiable through any objective means? "
        what?! proof about Koran? [again claims with no evidence.]
      • Jun 21 2011: "Why did this God just happen to wait the ~95000 years for humans to have just barely acquired written language to "reveal" his laws to a few select people, and then withdraw?"
        what you mean? (my language). all human always had message of God. why few?
        before Adam and Eve other humans existed.
        what is withdraw?
        message of God is available in Koran.
        "Why create Hell?"
        all the creation is to God be known. with no evil Good will not be known.
        God created good attributes and human and free will and Satan to "God be known"
        God is extreme good and this is way of God to be known. God created goods same as his attributes to be known by his attributes.

        "Why would such an incredibly powerful being be such a jerk?"
        to be known.

        "But take some time and study primitive cultures and you will see they all had various superstitions like these. "
        agree. they are deities.

        "The Hebrew Bible and the Koran are based on the myths of primitive people. I'm certain of it."
        agree about today deviated and changed Bible. not not about Koran. even one word of Koran is not changed.
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/2:79

        God promised protects Koran:
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/2:79

        none of great Arab poems could make a poem like Koran and no one could prove an error in Koran during 1400 years and never will can in future.
        please do not compare Koran with today Bible and Torah.
      • Jun 22 2011: Dear Jim,
        "They use Confiration Bias to reject objective evidence that contradicts their world view,"
        who rejected objective evidence?
        and what objective evidence? you call hypothesis evidence? evolution is a theory and includes some hypothesis. all the hypothesis are true?

        "then I will accuse him of being irrational and immoral."
        why God is irrational. God clearly said his laws in Koran.

        "and then taking pleasure in punishing his creation"
        why you think God takes pleasure in punishing his creation? who said this?

        "And you bow down and worship this abomination? Are you that fearful?
        "
        yes. when I could not die. I do not fear.

        "I do not have fear that I will be judged after death by such a god"
        are you sure no judgement day exist? proof?

        "There is no need to have fear about fairy tales".
        risk. its like insurance.

        "and they have no power over me."
        yes. but death and God have.

        "You believe it is the only perfectly transcribed message from God/Allah. "
        all holy books of God are truth. but today only the original version of Koran is available.

        "Before that we can be very sure that there was no written language attributed to God."
        perhaps. I do not know. so what? it can be oral by prophet.

        "then the messages people had before 2700 years ago would still be available today,"
        many things destroy during history.
        we have our own message. (Koran)
        important is God always sends his message to humans in any way. book or oral or in sleep dream or other way.

        "There are no such objective messages."
        yes. not available today. but not mean not exist in past.

        "are completely dependent on the existence of these holy texts."
        agree. today we have these for start. but more is available if you really want.

        "It is completely illogical to believe that "humans always had message of God". "
        why?
        God send 124000 messenger.

        "Try to imagine what you would think about the world if the Koran did not exist."
        useless. but Koran exist.
      • Jun 22 2011: "The Torah and the Koran are not objective evidence."
        today Torah yes. but Koran no.
        how you can prove your claim about Koran?
        have you read Koran?

        " Without them your entire world view about God collapses."
        yes.
        without your brain you will collapse.

        you can not neglect existence of Koran.
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          Jun 22 2011: Mr. Ahmadi,

          I have seen time and time again, on the internet as well as magazines like National Geographic, articles concerning evolution. Moreover there are innumerable journals on evolution available through universities around the world in many languages.

          I regret to inform you that, by observing very old skeletons (Ardi and Lucy), archeologists and biologists have come together to show that there is a distinct pattern that changes over time in the anatomy of these animals. They slowly become Homo Sapiens like us. Also, comparative DNA analysis of chimpanzees and humans show that we share nearly 95% of our genetic make up. An abundance of evidence has been collected solidifying the theory of evolution. If you do your own research you will connect with this information on evolution because it is now accessible to everyone on the planet who has a computer.

          The reason why we use the word "theory" is not because we don't have any proof. It's because we understand that no one is correct, but some can be more correct than others. We are just being polite. To claim that we would be "correct" and that everyone else is "incorrect" would be fascism... like the Nazi's. Think of it like chess; there are no correct moves, every move is wrong. The way you win is you pick the least wrong move!

          You are very correct, however in saying that we should not neglect the existence of the Koran. Nor should we neglect the existence of The Torah, The Holy Bible, or any sacred scripture ever made because they are invariably important parts of what it means to be a human even today. Atheists are so quick to dismiss religion as fallacy, which disturbs me.

          Religion is not about truth, it's about living your life according to a code that human ancestors put together that should guide us into coexisting, because you want to be happy, not correct.

          MOST IMPORTANT;

          You said;
          "When I could not die. I do not fear."

          I say;
          I fear and I will die. Because I am a human being. It's okay.
      • Jun 22 2011: "I regret to inform you that, by observing very old skeletons (Ardi and Lucy), archeologists and biologists have come together to show that there is a distinct pattern that changes over time in the anatomy of these animals. They slowly become Homo Sapiens like us."
        please it is a hypothesis that is part of evolution theory.


        "comparative DNA analysis of chimpanzees and humans show that we share nearly 95% of our genetic make up."
        Even if 100% similar , still they have not WISDOM. Is wisdom found in DNA?
        http://www.ted.com/conversations/2353/what_is_wisdom_and_can_wisdom.html

        "An abundance of evidence has been collected solidifying the theory of evolution."
        that theory is composed of some hypothesis. About natural selection agree. But about transform of one specie to another specie can you show only one evidence? For example during past 300 years of research of evolution did a dog transform to a wolf or such example?

        "If you do your own research you will connect with this information on evolution"
        I have done and do.

        "The reason why we use the word "theory" "
        What is difference of theory and hypothesis?
        How many hypothesis is inside evolution theory? All are accepted by scientific community at the same level or certainty?
        Also that theory has no idea about how life started. Only how evolved.

        "Religion is not about truth, "
        At least about Islam I disagree.

        "it's about living your life according to a code that human ancestors put together that should guide us into coexisting, because you want to be happy, not correct. "
        Please do not conclude about religion quick.
        True religion is from God. But decimated and human made or human changed religions are such you said.
        http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/2:79
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    Jun 16 2011: Wow, this is tough nut to crack!

    To answer this question, I would have to first say that the word "religion" which is derived as "re+ligare" meaning to "reconnect" or "stay connected" is vague in its scope. It primarily implies an adherence to a set of social and personal rituals. Now, historically one or the other deity has been the inspiration for maintaining these social and personal rituals. Belief and practice have been historically conjoined to one another. Besides, adherence to a historical religion has other expectations associated with it. Among them are good citizenry, humanitarianism, charity, etc.

    However, that need not be the case. For example, in Yoga there are a set of social and personal disciplinarian rituals but there is no inspiring deity. A Yogi or a person adhering to Yogic rituals might choose to be a good citizen or humanitarian because he feels good about it or he hopes reciprocation from others.

    Atheism refers to a belief that a deity is not the inspiration for living in a certain manner. Atheists might have their own "First Cause" to explain the origin of the universe, etc. That "First Cause" is their deity.

    Just as Yoga is not a belief system but a practice system, atheism is not a practice system, but a belief system. Historically, these two have been combined, because apparently for most people that ever lived on this planet, the two went together. And that was called religion.

    So, inasmuch as religion is a belief system, atheism is a religion. Inasmuch as religion is a practice system, atheism is not a religion.
  • Jun 15 2011: HI. The answer is no.
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    Jun 22 2011: The dictionary (since the word religion has obviously become a homonym) offers many definitions;

    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    and

    the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices


    It's curious to me that the former is the complete antithesis of atheism, whereas the latter holds more resemblance to atheism. From a semantic analysis, we can simply deduce that a new word may be required to define atheism in the scope of other belief systems. How exciting!

    Although to be politically active as an atheist sort of means that you are following it religiously... You are willing to preach it. I don't think that atheism can really be classified as a religion in that it lacks much of what institutionalized religions have such as;

    An institution
    A set of rituals/traditions
    Historical character
    Official scripture
    Professions (unless you consider all scientists to be atheists, knowing that many would be appalled)
    Commandments

    Moreover, I don't think that humanity is mature enough for atheism yet. You cannot make someone yield to you if they choose not to. That is a major pillar that the "free-world" is constructed upon. To violate human rights would be a great failure for atheists. Better to keep at it and let time do it's work. More like a monk than a preacher, so to speak.
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    Jun 17 2011: I suggest everyone get their definition of religion straight because I see the fallacy of association everywhere. Just because A has property B and C has property B does not mean that A is C or C is A. There is a specific set of properties E that make As religions which C doesn't have. Also replacing ''evangelical" by "militant" or any such word swap is deliberately dishonest in my honest opinion.
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    Jun 17 2011: Is atheism based on blind belief ?
    If the answer is yes then other elements of religion can be compared.
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    Jun 17 2011: Atheism is a religion because you can never prove or disprove. It's a belief system.
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    Jun 16 2011: It seems to be preached like one.
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      Jun 16 2011: Go to a meeting of Environmentalists, anarchists or feminists and tell me you don't see the same fiery passion. Passion and advocacy are not what makes a religion.
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        Jun 16 2011: Passion for what benefit? Atheism seems to be preached like it has major importance in the world when it comes down to it its just a belief in nothingness and so would have no effect (at least beneficial) towards people. Religious people preach so as to save people (or at least they think so) where as preaching atheism carries no reason for it.
        • Jun 16 2011: Religious people are atheists as well don't forget!! At least in a world full of atheists we could see a world that put people's needs first and no religious dogma would be used to justify war, kill homosexuals or subjugate women. Benefits of religion? Probably not.
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          Jun 17 2011: A belief in nothingness ha! You funny man. Atheism is beneficial in many ways. It does away with all the homophobic, sexist and sectarian thinking of religion and embraces the idea of secularism, reason and a naturalist approach to the universe.

          You can't really say "saving people" is beneficial unless they are truly saved (which they're not).
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          Jun 17 2011: Question: does an atheist believe that anything is possible in terms of afterlife, etc., but just aren't interested in all the speculation/voodoo thinking about it? If so, that's me.

          Atheism is not a religion. It's oxymoronic to even think it is. Religions are institutions.
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        Jun 17 2011: I agree there is a lot of hatred by religious people (as well as by non-religious people) but this is not due to the religion itself it is either corruption or misunderstanding most of the time it is used as an excuse to do bad things king henry the eigth for instance. and in many of these cases this as just been passed on through the ages, if you are to look back at jesus himself and his teachings; he was a socialist, a pacifist and totaly against any discrimination it is just over time it has been corrupted many times and has evolved into what it is now. they may not really be being saved but if they think they are saving thats what gives them their passion whereas i dont see how atheists can hold so much passion for something which translates into quite a depressing "reality" in fact i see in a lot of evangelic atheists that they only do it to push others down, and you dont need to be atheist to argue for gay rights ect. i do so and i am religious (not stupid religious though) and in fact if the change comes from inside it will be much more effective than if it comes from the outside, that whole thing about the sun and the wind trying to get the coat of a guy. and essentially all science says is that there was nothing then there was a big bang and then we were here, but however far you trace it back you are going to need something (whether its god or not) outside of our dimensions and beyond our comprehension to be able to create us. all in all science explains how and religion explains why, you cannot have one without the other.
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          Jun 17 2011: You can't say that when your religious texts are littered with those feelings. To quote one example of sexism in the Bible: "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." It's in Ephesians 5:21-32.

          Yes, our goal is to get everyone depressed like we are (/sarcasm).
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        Jun 18 2011: Mathieu how does atheism do away with sexism, and homophobia. Seems like I could be a sexist homophobe who does not believe in god.
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          Jun 18 2011: Of course, but then that comes down to the individual. Being an atheist does not predicate sexism and homophobia whereas religion does because it's all in the book. Thankfully, at the individual level too, some religious people chose to think outside the confines of their religion.
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          Jun 19 2011: obviously there has to be personal input to what is agreed. i would point out that that quote is not one said by Jesus but by one of his followers, who was known to be sexist. i believe that the bible has been corrupted many times, like all religions, and so you should only look really at the areas where it can be trusted fully what Jesus himself says. he does not once mention sexism or homophobia, in fact he would often anger people with his love and compassion for women and other outcasts, he befriended tax men, talked to prostitutes and touched lepers, but like usual the bible got corrupted as has everything good in the world (communism ect) Jesus himself would be very angry im sure at what has eventually happened to a lot of what he preached, just one example is that many "Christians" are right wing when Jesus was openly a socialist. it happens in all walks of life just look at nuclear weapons to see an original idea to produce mass energy turn into a bomb of mass destruction. if you look at the core of the bible that is what you need to look at and then each person should make his opinions on that.
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        Jun 19 2011: Mathieu
        Yes there are quotes that are outdated in the bible. Leviticus 19:27 tells what haircut a man should have. Funny that most people ignore this rule but will harp on Lev 20:13 when it comes to promoting homophobia. As for the new testament there are a few vague phrases that one could use to back up homophobia, but they could be taken in other ways. As for other religious traditions many strains of Hinduism is fine with homosexuality.
        What I 'm saying is its a bit more complicated than you are making it out to be. Religions grow out of specific cultures and take on their world view. Any philosophy that that is numerous centuries old will have some dead branches that need pruning. A thousand years from now I hope some of our laws are seen as barbaric and immature (hopefully sooner). That doesn't justify saying our culture was a failure, but a work in progress.
        Atheist are for the most part progressive minded people, who give healthy amounts to charity, volunteer their time, and keep healthy ethical boundaries. I just think its a stretch to say its a causation of atheism. We are more connected through technology which seems to be the real catalyst for humanism, and whatever belief/non believes we have / don't have are outgrowths of that.
  • Jun 16 2011: Hi. Religion= faith. Atheism=facts. Therefore it cannot be a belief. I do not believe in a God because the facts tell me otherwise.
    • Jun 16 2011: Agnosticism would be a move towards the facts, that we have no experience of God nor logical proof of his existence OR non-existence. However, we must recognise the need for a necessary explanation of our existence. Therefore, a complete denial of any necessary being is just as much an act of faith as that of any religion!!
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        Jun 17 2011: I'm sorry, I can accept atheism, but not agnosticism. Because, agnosticism says that knowledge of anything is not certain. That is contradictory to the knowledge of oneself, who is making that statement. However, if you say, "Essential knowledge is certain, but descriptive, or secondary knowledge is uncertain", then I accept that.

        Proof of your existence is proof of knowledge of SOME existence. You are certain that SOMETHING exists. This is gnosticism. That SOMETHING might not be the Holy Trinity, or Allah or Yahweh or Vishnu. This is atheism. That SOMETHING might be only YOU!! ;)
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    Jun 16 2011: No. Neither is socialism, environmentalism or any movement people are passionate about and which have been branded as religious. Positive identification to a group does not make something a religion, advocacy does not make something a religion either. Association fallacies abound.
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    Jun 16 2011: Boy I'm torn by this... I want to say yes, Atheists have their own groups, meetings, talks, books, websites. But so does football.

    Not believing is not a belief in the negative. Example :"I have an apple" I don't believe you - Versus "I have an apple" No you don't

    However people define atheist differently (I'm not big on titles). Some say atheism is not a lack of belief but instead a belief that there is not a god.

    If atheism is defined as belief in no god then I'd say it is a religion

    According to this chart http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0075.pdf
    Atheism and no religion are two separate entities