Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Monday, January 26, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA INCLUDES NONBELIEVERS IN INAUGURAL SPEECH

UPDATE ON THE LIMBAUGH "I HOPE OBAMA FAILS" POST BELOW.

Yes. For the first time in an inaugural speech, President Obama acknowledged that nonbelievers exist!

Fox News then used that innocuous inclusion to stir up a noncontroversy--and Mike Huckabee implied that nonbelievers are narcissists.

How can the recognition that a group of Americans exists be offensive? Why are believers troubled when nonbelievers are given a chance to express their reasons for nonbelief? If one's faith is strong, then there should be no danger to believers when a contrary point of view is presented.

IMHO, when some believers want to shut down an alternative view or even demonize nonbelievers, that indicates to me that they are not so sure of their own faith, and the idea that nontheism could be a viable point of view, frightens them.

Watch it here:



This article from a newspaper in New York's lower Hudson Valley covers the story:

"But no one doubted that there would be a lot of prayers for America's well-being and references to the nation's undeniable religious roots.

Obama delivered right away, citing Scripture - "the time has come to set aside childish things (1 Corinthians)" - and describing our basic civil rights as "God-given." That's a more direct way of saying "inalienable."

Then, out of the blue, he threw in a mention of one of the few groups that officeholders like to pretend does not exist. You knew right then that George W. Bush had become an ex-president.
I think it's fair to say that it has long been acceptable - even encouraged - for public servants in this country to look down their noses at those who do not profess a belief in God. Even in recent decades, as most Americans have embraced the idea of interreligious tolerance, if not cooperation, how many have given a moment's thought to whether nonbelievers should be tolerated, too?

Believe it or not, several states still have provisions in their constitutions that say that nonbelievers cannot hold public office.

Consider Article 37 of the Declaration of Rights of the Maryland Constitution: "That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God."

In the months after 9/11, when everyone was singing "God Bless America" or talking about the nation's Judeo-Christian heritage, I wrote an article about nonbelievers who felt that they were being left out of the national mourning. I heard from a few readers who, let's just say, had little interest in what the heathen were feeling.

That's why Obama's use of one mere word may signal some kind of a break with the past.

"Religionists tend to define atheism as a disbelief in God, but that's not true," said Stone, a psychiatry professor at New York University. "Atheism has nothing to do with beliefs or nonbeliefs. It's about reaching a conclusion by applying reason and evidence. There is insufficient evidence for God. We want to define ourselves."

Berger, whose group welcomes anyone, even believers, who want to explore the potential of humanism, said that he hopes that Obama's introduction will lead to more talk between people of faith and people of ... something else.

"We can still relate to one another through relationships and through nature," he said. "That's one of the tenets of ethical culture, how we relate to each other as people and how we relate to the natural world."

In recent years, provocateurs like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, who like to belittle people of faith, have become the unofficial spokesmen for nonbelievers. Hitchens enjoys saying, "Religion poisons everything."

This past Christmas, the American Humanist Association put ads in Washington buses proclaiming, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake." Weeks later, the British Humanist Association unveiled bus ads offering this advice: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Neither Hitchens nor the bus ads are likely to change many minds - although they do stoke a lot of anger toward nonbelievers.

Here's the interesting thing: There are a lot of people out there who may not be hard-core atheists - itching to rebut Scripture line-by-line - but who do not identify with any religious tradition and aren't quite sure what they believe.

The Pew Forum's Religious Landscape Survey found last year that 16.1 percent of Americans are not affiliated with any religion. That's almost as many "None of the Abovers" as there are mainline Protestants (18.1 percent).

Some of them must have smiled when their new president included nonbelievers in the American fabric."

UPDATE: 1/26/09 Bill Bennett disagreed with fellow conservative talking head Rush Limbaugh, who said that he wants President Obama "to fail." On CNN's "State of the Union," Bennett said, "The locution 'I want him to fail' is not what you say the first week the man's been inaugurated ... the rhetoric could be improved."

39 comments:

dmarks said...

Stone "Atheism has nothing to do with beliefs or nonbeliefs. It's about reaching a conclusion by applying reason and evidence. There is insufficient evidence for God. " In his first sentence, he says it is not about belief. Then in the rest of it, he asserts a faith-based belief. He states what his religious belief is.

Atheism like this is a religious belief like any other, and should be treated as such.

Shaw Kenawe said...

dmarks,

It is not a "faith-based belief" to say there is insufficient evidence for a belief in God.

That is a fact that even believers acknowledge--that's why they have "faith."

The definition of faith is a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

or:

"firm belief in something for which there is no proof"

dmarks said...

"It is not a "faith-based belief" to say there is insufficient evidence for a belief in God."

It certainly is. It makes a leap of faith. Just as other believers say that there is proof of God/Goddess or whatever deity. These are all religious assertions, and should all be treated equallty.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Where is the evidence that God exists?

Not stories in the Bible, not "miracles" that are unprovable, not the fact that a lot of people "believe" there is a god.

Hard evidence.

And saying that a sunrise is proof or rainbows or that a baby's birth is proof won't do. Those events can be explained through science.

Mystery doesn't prove gods exist, either. It proves that we still don't know a lot of stuff.

Give me incontrovertible proof.

Incontrovertible [that cannot be controverted; not disputable or debatable; undeniable]

Go!

dmarks said...

"Where is the evidence that God exists?"

I could direct you to tons of theological texts. But I am not here to convince you that one religious belief is better than any other. Only to convince you that these religious views are all similar in their way, even the views of those who make the faith-based "no God" assertion.

All of these views, including Stone's faith assertion, are protected under Freedom of Religion.

Shaw Kenawe said...

dmarks,

Theological texts do not prove God exists, any more than "Alice in Wonderland" proves that white rabbits can talk. They prove Man can very cleverly use words to argue that gods exist. There is no "proof" in any way, shape or form of God's existence in texts--only Man's explanations for why He BELIEVES that gods exist.


BTW: I assume you, too, are an atheist. Do you believe in Hindu gods? Allah? [remember Allah, through his prophet Mohammed, has said everyone except those in Islam are Infidels]. All of those deities are believed to be the true Lord(s) of the Universe by almost 3 billion humans.

Here is what defines most of the world's religions:

Belief in a supernatural agent, usually, but not always, including a god or god(s).

Sacred vs profane objects, places, times q.v. Jerusalem, The Cross, The Torah, The End of the World as "prophosized" in Revelations.

Ritual acts focused on sacred objects, places, times All religions share these qualities.

Moral Code With Supernatural Origins See the Ten Commandments, The Qu'ran, the Upanishads, the Analects of Confucius.

Prayer and Other Forms of Communication

Atheism lacks every one of these characteristics of religion.

So why claim that atheism is a religion? Usually this occurs in the process of criticizing atheism and/or atheists.

It may at times be politically motivated because if atheism is a religion, believers think they can force the state to stop “promoting” atheism by eliminating endorsements of Christianity.

Sometimes the assumption is that if atheism is simply another “faith,” then atheists’ critiques of religious beliefs are hypocritical and can be ignored.

dmarks said...

"Theological texts do not prove God exists"

I guess that all depends on your faith.

Strong atheism meets the first requirements, with its faith that there is no deity. Strong atheism is a religion because it is a belief system centered around faith concerning deity.

Those without religion make faith assertions. Those with it make faith assertions.

"...because if atheism is a religion, believers..."

Are you including the atheist faithful or not?

"Sometimes the assumption is that if atheism is simply another “faith,” then atheists’ critiques of religious beliefs are hypocritical and can be ignored."

The strong atheists's critiques of other religious faiths should not be ignored, but should be treated like when any other group of believers criticizes the religious beliefs of another.

"believers think they can force the state to stop “promoting” atheism by eliminating endorsements of Christianity. "

The state only promotes the Atheist faith when it preaches that there is no God.

Shaw Kenawe said...

dmarks,

By your logic, people who do not believe in unicorns are also a religion, as are people who do not believe in vampires, werewolves, leprehchauns, goblins, and fairies, just to name a few.

Their religions?

aunicornism, avampireism, awerewolfism, aleprehchaunism, agoblinism, and afairyism.

And just because a group of people are loosely connected because of their nonbelief, does not make them a religion. Otherwise any other group that espouses their worldviews, which may be contrary to another group, would be a religion, too.

Conservativism and liberalism are NOT religions, but political philosophies.

For further evidence to back up my assertions, you can look at this table.

Can you please find me any dictionary, encyclopedia, anything that backs up your claim that atheism is a religion?

Your insisting that it is, does not make it so. That is your OPINION, which you are entitled to, but which is not correct.

I've given you several reasons to back up my claim that atheism is not a religion.

You've given me only your opinion.

dmarks said...

"By your logic, people who do not believe in unicorns are also a religion"

No. I'm referring to deities, not something made up on the spot like this. You may think that the idea of Yahweh is as silly as that of a leprechaun. Just as those of different religions think that the idea that there is no God at all is as silly as the idea of vampires. It is all a matter of different faiths.

"And just because a group of people are loosely connected because of their nonbelief, does not make them a religion"

I never made this claim. I've been discussing those who assert a belief.

"Your insisting that it is, does not make it so. That is your OPINION"

That's a good word to use here. The assertion that there is no God is a religious opinion. Not a statement of fact, and definitely in the realm of religion.

"I've given you several reasons to back up my claim that atheism is not a religion. You've given me only your opinion."

Atheism is a religion for those Atheists who assert faith. They even meet the first requirement of your religious list. It's a fact that these atheists are expressing religious faith. As for my opinion, I really have not said if they are good or bad.

Those atheists who say "I don't know" are not getting into the realm of religion.

I wonder, though, if the attempt to deny that this particular religious faith is a religion is an attempt to claim it is superior to other religions? Theists do this all the time. And yes, I have seen Atheists also cobble together their faith assertions to say that only their religion is the true one. These atheists can be every bit as arrogant as theists who assert that their faith is the only true one.

As for the dictionary, go to Merriam-Webster:

2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity"

The strong atheists who are asserting religious faith fall into category B. So there you have it, a doctrine about deity.

I don't think that the (a) atheists are being very religious. I divide atheists between these two groups. (a) are probably not being religious, and (b) probably are.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I respect dmarks's opinion, but he shouldn't speak of what he hasn't experienced. As an atheist, I can back up Shaw in saying unequivocally that atheism is exactly the LACK of RELIGION. It absolutely is NOT a religion.

dmarks said...

"is exactly the LACK of RELIGION"

That is true, if your brand of atheism happens to be that which does NOT say "There is no God".

Those who lack religion don't make such assertions.

Arthurstone said...

While every religion requires faith, faith needn't necessitate the existence of religion. I have faith the elevator will come when called. Is that religious? Of course not.

The only 'faith system' in atheism is the denial god(s) exist. After that it's everone for her/himself

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

If one's faith is strong, then there should be no danger to believers when a contrary point of view is presented.

Well said.

dmarks said...

arthur: "The only 'faith system' in atheism is the denial god(s) exist"

That is true for those who have it, yes. Recognizing that not all atheists make this assertion.

And Shaw? Just to make sure:

1) I am not arguing that one faith (including the faith in the "no God" idea) is any better than the other.

2) I am certainly not arguing that getting rid of Christian doctrine is the same thing as replacing it with Atheist doctrine. I've seen many argue that sort of thing, but I do not hold to it.

Arthurstone said...

An atheist is a person who happens not to be a theist.

What, dmarks, is religion's opposite?

Shaw Kenawe said...

And Shaw? Just to make sure:

1) I am not arguing that one faith (including the faith in the "no God" idea) is any better than the other.


I know you're not. But you're still wrong about Atheism being a "faith."


2) I am certainly not arguing that getting rid of Christian doctrine is the same thing as replacing it with Atheist doctrine. I've seen many argue that sort of thing, but I do not hold to it.

No one's advocating getting rid of Christian doctrine. No one.

Why oh why oh why does a discussion on Atheism always end up with believers thinking that nonbelievers want to get rid of their religion?

This is a perfect example of what I hinted at earlier--believers who have no faith in their faith and who are intimidated by any discussion on the possibility that no gods exist.

It's a discussion. No one's trying to talk anyone out of his/her beliefs.

dmarks said...

Arthurstone: I've encountered the least religious doctrine among agnostics, and among atheists who are similar to them in that they do not assert a theologically-related belief of any kind.

-------------

Shaw: "I know you're not. But you're still wrong about Atheism being a "faith."

It definitely is, if it is of the type (b) in the dictionary definition.

"No one's advocating getting rid of Christian doctrine. No one."

Are you not aware of the Kansas situation with those who want to teach a version of Christian creation in the public schools, and those who oppose them? I had this latter group in mind for that.

"Why oh why oh why does a discussion on Atheism always end up with believers thinking that nonbelievers want to get rid of their religion?"

You miss my point entirely. I was just saying that removing Christian doctrine does not necessarily mean replacing it with Atheist doctrine. But there are many in the Christian Conservative movement who do claim that getting rid of Christian doctrine automatically means that atheism replaces it. I brought my point up in opposition to them, actually.

"....believers who have no faith in their faith and who are intimidated by any discussion on the possibility that no gods exist."

I have no problem with discussion of that possibility. It's just another religious viewpoint, that's all.

Arthurstone said...

What is ' Atheist doctrine'?

Not having any belief in god(s) is hardly a doctrine.

dmarks said...

But a strong belief that there is none is a doctrine.

Back to the dictionary: "2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity"

(b) counts as a doctrine for sure.

Gordon said...

"IMHO, when some believers want to shut down an alternative view or even demonize nonbelievers, that indicates to me that they are not so sure of their own faith...."

Kind of what the believers in the AGW religion constantly try to do to those who disagree.

Or the way Pelosi & Reid et al want to censor talk radio.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Back to the dictionary: "2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity"--dmarks

dmarks,

Having a doctrine does not make a group religious. Religious groups have doctrines, true, but so do philosophical, scientific, and political groups.

Pre-emptive war, i.e., the Bush Doctrine, does not make Bush and those who agree with it a religion.

"...a version of Christian creation in the public schools, and those who oppose them?"--dmarks

The "version" of Christian creation is found in the Christian Bible. The Bible is a religious book, our Constitution prohibits public schools teaching from religious books.

The proper place to teach the Christian "version" of creation is in the church or the home.

"Kind of what the believers in the AGW religion constantly try to do to those who disagree."--Gordon

I don't know the AGW religion. What is it?

"Or the way Pelosi & Reid et al want to censor talk radio."--Gordon

If you can find me a link where Pelosi and Reid actually say this, I'll believe it. Otherwise it's more paranoia from the right.

Relax, Gordon, no one's coming to take away your right to listen to Limbaugh, Hannity, and Ingraham, or your guns, or your right to dislike President Obama. ;-)

dmarks said...

Shaw: "Having a doctrine does not make a group religious."

But this particular doctrine, the one that we are discussing, is about a specifically religious matter. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to call it a religious doctrine.

"The Bible is a religious book, our Constitution prohibits public schools teaching from religious books."

And I was not arguing in favor of this. You are making points on this I agree with and already spoke in favor of earlier.

I don't know what the AGW "religion" is, but my guess of "Anti-George W." seems to fit in with what Gordon was saying.

Arthurstone said...

dmarks typed:

'But this particular doctrine, the one that we are discussing, is about a specifically religious matter. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to call it a religious doctrine.'


There is as tortured an example of reasoning as I have encountered. The denial of the existence of god(s) (which is THE doctrine of atheism) is in no way religious. Atheism is disbelief and has nothing whatever to do with it being a religion.

Faith has multiple meanings - not all of which are exactly the same. Simple confidence based upon past experience is common ground for atheists. Faith is not limitless - it should only go as far as evidence warrants. In religion, however, faith means a great deal more - essentially it means a belief without or in spite of evidence.

Religious doctrine is the "written body of teachings by a religious group that are generally accepted by that group'.

All you need to do at this stage is provide the link.

Enjoy.

dmarks said...

"There is as tortured an example of reasoning as I have encountered."

Hardly tortured. In fact, not a leap at all to conclude that a doctrine concerning a religious matter is a "religious doctrine"

"The denial of the existence of god(s) (which is THE doctrine of atheism) is in no way religious."

It is very religious. It is a faith assertion toward deity.

"Atheism is disbelief and has nothing whatever to do with it being a religion. "

This is different from what you stated above. Denying God/etc is defining him. Making a religious assertion. "Disbelief" is merely that. It does not necessarily mean "belief", which is what a faith that there is no God means.

"In religion, however, faith means a great deal more - essentially it means a belief without or in spite of evidence."

Yes. This of course includes the reiigion of the atheist who does not merely lack belief, but asserts a belief of his/her own.

"Religious doctrine is the "written body of teachings by a religious group that are generally accepted by that group'."

The dictionary I used above is a lot better. Your definition is so lousy that it actually excludes many theists. i.e. those with an oral religious tradition who do not write things down.

Arthurstone said...

dmark wrote:

Denying God/etc is defining him.

Not at all. Denying god isn't defining god at all. It's disbelief. Not a definition of its subject.

ddmark dodged:

The dictionary I used above is a lot better. Your definition is so lousy that it actually excludes many theists. i.e. those with an oral religious tradition who do not write things down.

Heh. Heh.

I didn't ask you about 'theists...who do not write things down'.

I asked to read the atheist doctrine. I know they're a voluble lot and it really shouldn't be difficult for you to show us.

dmarks said...

I didn't dodge.

"I didn't ask you about 'theists...who do not write things down'."

You gave me a definition with a huge hole in it. Even bigger than the hole left by excluding the atheist faithful.

I gave you the atheist doctrine in a previous post. I've repeated it at least once, also.

Arthurstone said...

Heh. Heh.

I understand your problem dmarks.

Since atheism is not religious it isn't difficult to see why you can't reference its doctrine.

But as (in your words) 'atheism like this is a religious belief like any other, and should be treated as such', there certainly should be.

After all of this back and forth the only 'proof' atheism is a 'religion' is your assertion that it is so.

Oh well.

dmarks said...

"Since atheism is not religious it isn't difficult to see why you can't reference its doctrine."

Atheism is religious when it asserts the faith that there is no God. This religious doctrine of atheism is addressed in the dictionary definition of the word, which I provided earlier.

I provided the proof earlier, and it wasn't "because I said so". Please scroll up.But yes, I believe in treating all religions equallly. Even those where the adherents to the faith are arrogant and claim that they are above other religions because their faith is so superior. Yes, many theists have this sort of religious arrogance just as atheists do. I've had similar arguments with theists who think their religion is so special as to be above religion.

The only problem here is that I have provided the actual definition, and you refuse to scroll up and read it.

Do you want me to provide it again?

Gordon said...

AGW=Anthropogenic Global Warming, a.k.a. climate change, a.k.a. the polar bears are drowning.

Real Clear Politics:
'When asked this week if she supported revival of the Fairness Doctrine, Pelosi answered, reportedly without hesitation: "Yes."'

dmarks said...

Gordon: Because the free press is the most free when all editorial decisions are made by Congress :)

John said...

"Atheism is religious when it asserts the faith that there is no God. This religious doctrine of atheism is addressed in the dictionary definition of the word, which I provided earlier." - dmarks

The word faith is used instead of scientific evidence.

Atheists don't ask other atheists to believe in their belief system purely on faith alone but instead do so by challenging the believers and offering up scientific reasoning against supernatural sky beings.

This reasoning is behind the wacky idea of teaching creationism in science. Faith is not science and scientific reasoning is not faith/religious.

Not sure how many other ways this can be presented to you...

Shaw Kenawe said...

Some Democratic legislators have expressed interest in reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine, although no one has introduced legislation to do so since 2005.

In June 2007, Senator Richard Durbin (Democrat of Illinois) said, "It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” an opinion shared by his Democratic colleague, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

However, according to Marin Cogan of The New Republic in late 2008, "Senator Durbin's press secretary says that Durbin has 'no plans, no language, no nothing. He was asked in a hallway last year, he gave his personal view'—that the American people were served well under the doctrine—'and it's all been blown out of proportion.' "

On June 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who represents most of San Francisco, California) told reporters that her fellow Democratic representatives did not want to forbid reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine, adding “the interest in my caucus is the reverse.” When asked by John Gizzi of Human Events, “Do you personally support revival of the ‘Fairness Doctrine?’”, the Speaker replied "Yes."

On October 22, 2008, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, told a conservative talk radio host in Albuquerque, New Mexico, "I would want this station and all stations to have to present a balanced perspective and different points of view," and "All I’m saying is that for many, many years we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country, and I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since."

That is true. And so is this:

In the 110th Congress (2007-2009), where Democrats hold a majority of both Houses, no legislation to restore the Fairness Doctrine has been introduced.


So don't fret, Gordon. Limbaugh and his copremesis is in no danger of being driven from the airwaves.

dmarks said...

John: "The word faith is used instead of scientific evidence"

That is because the assertion in the sentence being discussed has nothing to do with scientific evidence. If it had been a matter of science, I would have referred to it.

"Atheists don't ask other atheists to believe in their belief system purely on faith alone but instead do so by challenging the believers and offering up scientific reasoning against supernatural sky beings."

But it all really comes down to faith for those "strong atheists" who leap beyond any science. Then they become just like those who argue one sky-being against another. Only in their religion, they have a faith that it is a certainty that there are no sky-beings at all.

"Faith is not science and scientific reasoning is not faith/religious."

And the religious assertion (doctrine) of strong atheism is not certainly science.

"Not sure how many other ways this can be presented to you..."

Proselytizing doesn't always work, you know. I refuse to accept that this particular religious faith needs to be set above others and treated differently, just like I don't set Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc above other religions when classifying them.

dmarks said...

Shaw quoted a Senator: ""All I’m saying is that for many, many years we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country, and I think the country was well-served."

I don't think this was true at all. The doctrine stifled free expression on the airwaves, really.

Since it was removed, Limbaugh and his ilk have flourished, yes. This is a "good thing": the more political discourse, the better. The same about Air America and the other left-wing talk radio hosts. who should also be able to say what they want without worrying whether or not the government thinks it is "fair".

But not only have they benefited. Pacifica's programming and similar programs have flourished, as have more issues programs on public radio stations. All done with editorial freedom without having to keep in mind what a government censor thinks is "fair" or not. More free speech, more open political discourse.

My local classical music station added a 2nd station of all news programming after the fairness doctrine was removed.

I know some of you disagree, but I'd rather have statiosn have complete freedom to have news/issues/talk programming, even if it means some gasbag I might not happen to like gets to flap his jaws.

Under the fairness doctrine, the AM stations were encouraged to air what the government deemed "safe". If we went back to it, those AM stations would go back to today's equilalent of Perry Como and the Longines Symponette. Or sports.

Let's apply the fairness doctrine to newspapers. Why not? Then all news content would be replaced with movie reviews (vague and positive only) and recipe pages.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Atheism is religious when it asserts the faith that there is no God. This religious doctrine of atheism is addressed in the dictionary definition of the word, which I provided earlier."--dmarks

Atheism is not a religion just because you believe it conforms to ONE definition of "religion."


Asserting something without proof (like God exists, or doesn't) may be PART of the definition of a religion, but not the ONLY thing that defines a religion.

Some atheists assert there is no god, some nontheists simply say they have no belief in gods. Those are two different assertions.

Nonetheless, you cannot ascribe the term "religion" to atheism based on one part of a definition of religion--if you do so, then any group of people believing in or NOT believing in ONE IDEA becomes a religion.

I've described what defines religions in the 6th comment on this page. Atheism does not conform to any of those conditions.

You claim that because atheism has "faith" that there is no god, that makes it a religion.

It doesn't. No matter how many times you try to insist it does.

Atheism is not a religion because it does not fit any other of the characterists of a religious organization.

I have faith that there is a celestial teapot in orbit between Mars and Earth, but it is too small for any telescope on Earth to see. Nevertheless, I'm convinced of its existence.

I have faith that it exists.

Therefore, I am a one person religion (but I could attract more followers, I'm sure) and the fact that all of my future followers and believers in the Sacred Church of the Orbiting Teapot believe in the teapot's existence will then allow me to ask for my tax exemption status, for by your logic, this is a religion.

To believe or not to believe in ONE THING alone, does not define religion.


It is just not so, dmarks. And you know this.

dmarks said...

"To believe or not to believe in ONE THING alone, does not define religion."

I never mentioned this in terms of non-belief. I was only mentioning assertion of belief, concerning deity.

"Atheism is not a religion just because you believe it conforms to ONE definition of "religion."

Strong atheism is a religion because it asserts a religious belief. Do you want any other definitions?

"Some atheists assert there is no god, some nontheists simply say they have no belief in gods. Those are two different assertions."

I agree. And the first group is definitely being religious. In fact, some atheists say that this group is not actually real atheists due to this leap of faith. The second group, of course, isn't religious at all, since they are not asserting a religious belief.



It is a religion, not because of my "opinion", but because it is an assertion of theological doctrine.

"Atheism is not a religion because it does not fit any other of the characterists of a religious organization."

Speaking of strong atheism only, it is a religion because it fits the most important part: religious faith.

"....[teapot FSM example]..."

I am speaking of actual religiohs, not ones made up on the spot for arguments sake and/or tax evasion purposes.

Faith assertions about deity make one religious, and you know this too.

Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary Unabridged: "atheism n 1 a: disbelief in the existence of God or any other deity b: the doctrine that there is neither god nor any other deity"

I'm not saying all atheists are being religious. Only those that are positively asserting religious doctrine.

dmarks said...

"Atheism is not a religion because it does not fit any other of the characterists of a religious organization."

Sorry I did not address this before. I don't hold "organization" to be necessary for it to be a religion. That is why you have the term "organized religion".

I encounter large numbers of theists whose religious claim does not go beyond "Yes, there is a God who created the universe". No Bibles, no temples, no sacraments, no prayers, nothing like that.

By your logic, is this faith not a religion at all because it does not go beyond this one faith assertion?

repsac3 said...

I had the same conversation with my wife recently as regards (surprise, surprise) nihilism. She made an equal but opposite assertion to dmarks; any nihilist who claims to hold no beliefs in anything isn't a nihilist, because in rejecting everything, they're asserting a belief about nothing (else) being true.

As far as atheism, I would only say that there's a difference between a belief about religion and a religious belief.

God either does or does not exist. There is no gray area.

I have to admit, I can see where those who assert a belief that God does not exist (with no more proof that He doesn't than the religious offer for their belief that He does) are basing their belief on faith, alone. I'm just not so sure that expressing a particular faith about the existence of God makes it a religious belief--and thus, a religion, rather than a belief about religion.

The definitions of religion that I looked at (2 or 3) suggest that there be some form of organization and ritual or required behavior associated with being a religion. I'm not so sure that holding to a belief through faith is enough, but your milage may vary.

I do agree that there is a difference between those who say that in the absence of proof, they don't believe in God, and those who say that in the absence of proof, there is no God, though...

dmarks isn't totally off base, in my humble...

Paragon said...

You know, as an atheist myself, I have to say I think you're reading a little too much into Huckabee's choice of words. I doubt he meant to imply non-believers are narcissists, and I really think its quite accurate. When he said some people choose to believe in nothing but themselves, he was really quite accurate; I choose to believe my own mental faculties and the decisions they come to based on my own observations. Its not narcissistic, its not a statement that I believe I'm better than anyone else, just that I am quite limited in what I choose to believe, and have chosen the only source I can verify is the most consistent and accurate.