Professor Allen Call
26 October 2010
Atheism & Religion
Atheism, by definition, is “the doctrine or belief that there is no God” (Dictionary.com). If you cannot say "I believe in a Deity/God/Supreme Being" then you are an atheist.” (Religion of Atheism). A religion has two components which must both be present. It is a system of ritual and belief. It is focused on a supernatural being or beings. “Some Atheists, for their own political reasons, assert that Atheism is not a religion but instead is the total absence of religion” (McGinnis). Many Christians seem to believe that atheism is a religion, but no one with a fair understanding of both concepts would make such a mistake. Because it is such a common claim, it is worth demonstrating the depth of the mistakes being made. Presented here are the characteristics that define religions, distinguishing them from other types of beliefs, and how atheism does not even remotely match any of them. “Today, about 2.3% of the world's population describes itself as atheist, while a further 11.9% is described as nontheist” (Atheism). Perhaps the most common characteristic of religion is a belief in supernatural beings like gods. Few religions lack this characteristic and most religions are founded upon it. Atheism is the absence of belief in gods and there for excludes belief in gods, but it does not exclude belief in other supernatural beings. More important, however, is that atheism does not teach the existence of such beings and most atheists do not believe in them. Differentiating between sacred and profane objects, places, and times helps religious believers focus on their values. Atheism excludes believing in things that are sacred for the purpose of worshiping gods, but otherwise has nothing to say on the matter, neither promoting nor rejecting the distinction. Many atheists probably have things, places, or times which they consider sacred. Most religions preach some sort of moral...
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