Do You Consider Atheism a Religion?  No?  Well You Should.

When I answer with Atheism to the question: “What religion are you?” I often get responses like, “Atheism isn’t a religion; it is the absence of religion.” Mike Newdow handles the topic pretty well in a sermon presented to his church, the First Amendment Church of True Science. While I’m not going to regurgitate everything that he has said so far, I am going to focus on a separate issue, with this being that Atheism should be considered a religion, else Atheists will have fundamentally less rights than America’s traditionally religious folk.

Let us assume that I, Christopher Robert Prokop, want to get into the business of murdering children by means of abstaining from vaccinations, like our good friends the Christian Scientists. Under many state’s laws, people are allowed religious exemption rights if a government policy explicitly violates the codes of their religion (in the Christian Science case, it is the rejection of germ theory, the most important, experimentally verifiable development in biology of the past millennia). In this case, Christian Scientists fundamentally have a choice, and thus more rights, in a situation where other religions do not. This rule exists in many different permutations, but if your ideology isn’t divinely inspired, you are shit out of luck. As a fundamental rule, Atheists have less rights than mystical religions; how can this problem be solved? The first step is demanding all basic rules that religions get and apply them to the non-theistic beliefs. The morality of Secular Humanists, Agnostics, and Atheists still deserve the same respect that Christians, Muslims, and Hindu get.

The other breaking point is tax exemptions. When people spend their time frightening impressionable youths with tales of fire and sodomy, they get rewarded by the government with a tax exemption. Meanwhile, if I were to preach the word of immorality, personal freedom, and logic, my paltry income would still be taxed. Why are organizations founded in faith and dogmatism viewed as more worthy of tax exemptions than those that require open discussion and the development of ideas? If those dependent upon Houses of God, Allah, or Zysnarch can take their income tax free, then so should the International House of Prokop.

All non-theists, not just Atheists, deserve the same benefits that believers receive. If this requires labeling your belief system as a ‘religion’, so be it. It does nobody any good to waive fundamental rights over semantics.

44 thoughts on “Do You Consider Atheism a Religion?  No?  Well You Should.

  1. I’d be inclined to agree with you, though many (esp. more vocal) Atheists I’ve known have been just as (if not more) reluctant to take on the label of “religion” as some Theists have been disinclined to give it to them—probably because religion carries with it the idea that one is positively asserting a metaphysical truth that cannot be objective (dis)proven.

    Government provision of “extra” rights to religions can be seen as blatant favoritism—or it can be seens as being extra-careful to avoid government imposition upon freedom of conscience and personal belief (something I think most Atheists would agree upon in principle).  It would be very easy to come up with any number of thought experiments that would allow an unscrupulous or theocratic or persecuting government to impose onerous conditions on churches *they didn’t like.*  “Wow, that’s an awfully big patch of land you have there—I think we need to boost your property valuation—hence property taxes—up quite a bit, to reflect how it would be worth if it were sold to developers.”

    The difficulty with legally asserting Atheism as a religion under the same guise as various theistic religions is how to keep it from being abused.  This has long been a problem with religious exemptions, how to keep people from gaming the system and choosing or asserting a “convenient” religious provision (“My church’s sacriments require me to smoke pot every day,”
    “My church doesn’t believe in personal income taxes or traffic signals”).  The government doesn’t just roll over on many of these claims, which is sometimes unfair to smaller, less-known, more fringe, or newer cults or denominations.  How that would play out with “Atheism” would be difficult to anticipate.

    But, as I said, in principle I agree with you.

  2. Atheism is not a religion.  And it is fairly simple to explain.

    Atheism is a stance on whether you believe in a deity or deities for that matter.  Theism is also s stance on whether you believe in a deity or deities.

    It would be absrud to consider theism, in of itself, a religion.  Just as it is ridiculous to consider Atheism, in of itself, a religion.

    Atheism and Theism are not religions.

  3. The Ethical Society of Austin won its lawsuit to be considered a religious group for tax purposes (a friend of mine represented them; see the story here).

    I agree with ***Dave that it’s probably just the result of bending over backwards to avoid restrictions on religion rather than favoritism—although, as Jon Stewart pointed out just the other night, Christmas is the only religious holiday that is also a federal holiday.

    I think part of the problem could be solved if all religious groups were made tax-exempt not on the basis of their beliefs, but purely based on their charitable work.  Any charity can claim tax-exempt status without having to meet a supernatural litmus test.  But that doesn’t solve the problem of handling religious objections to certain things, like vaccinations.

    Once you start trying to protect religions, you either have to protect anything that calls itself a religion, or you have to sort out the “real” ones from the “fake” ones—and any Johnny-come-lately gods will have a tough road ahead of them to be accepted by the Christian bully on the block.

  4. Rob, did you read the Newdow article?  There are several accepted definitions of religion, and some come back with a yes answer, others with a no.  Therefore, a simple yes no answer to a single definition does no good.

  5. religion: commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; scrupulous conformity; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

    religious: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality;

    seems to fit to me.

    good one.

  6. I don’t collect stamps.  Apparently my hobby is: “Not collecting stamps.”

    No good answering that there are no vociferous “non-stamp-collectors.”  If stamp collectors insisted my children collect stamps, wanted to pass stamp-collecting-favorable laws, etc., you can bet non-collectors would speak up. 

    There’s more, but I have to get to work.

  7. I have to admit that I’m one of those atheists that gets rankled every time someone tries to tell me it’s a religion and I don’t agree that we should attempt to claim that it is. I do feel that there’s no valid or compelling reason for the government to grant religious organizations and churches a tax exempt status merely for espousing a belief in the supernatural. Former Presidents James Madison, Ulysses S. Grant, and James A. Garfield felt much the same saying:

      Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history. (See the cases in which negatives were put by J. M. on two bills passd by Congs and his signature withheld from another. See also attempt in Kentucky for example, where it was proposed to exempt Houses of Worship from taxes. (James Madison, “Monopolies. Perpetuities. Corporations. Ecclesiastical Endowments,” as reprinted in Elizabeth Fleet, “Madison’s Detatched Memoranda,” William & Mary Quarterly, Third series: Vol. III, No. 4 [October, 1946], p. 555. The parenthetical note at the end, which lacks a closed parenthesis in Fleet, was apparently a note Madison made to himself regarding examples of improper encroachment to use when the “Detatched Memoranda” were edited and published, and seems to imply clearly that Madison supported taxing churches. )

      I would call your attention to the importance of correcting an evil that, if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land before the close of the Nineteenth century. It is the acquisition of vast amounts of untaxed church property…. In a growing country, where real estate enhances so rapidly with time as in the United States, there is scarcely a limit to the wealth that may be acquired by corporations, religious or otherwise, if allowed to retain real estate without taxation. The contemplation of so vast a property as here alluded to, without taxation, may lead to sequestration without constitutional authority, and through blood. I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation. (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President [1869-1877], Message to Congress, December 7, 1875; Congressional Record, Vol. 4, part 7, page 175; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 288)

      The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community. (James A. Garfield, 20th U.S. President [1881]; as a Congressman in 1874; Congressional Record, vol. 2, part 6, p. 5384; from Gene Garman, America’s Real Religion: Separation Between Religion and Government in the United States of America, Pittsburg, Kansas: America’s Real Religion Publishing, 1991, p. 104) – Source: Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church by Ed and Michael Buckner.

    I’m firmly of the opinion that rather than distort the definition of religion or atheism to gain the unwarranted benefits accorded to churches both sides would be better served by the elimination of this practice. Churches of all stripes are already violating the terms of their tax-exempt status by promoting specific political viewpoints and agendas which is specifically prohibited under the rules for tax-exemption. A rule they’ve complained about for ages. Fine, eliminate the tax-exemption granted by default and you’ll correct two problems at once.

    As an aside, Secular Humanism has had varied success in different courts for being recognized as a religion for tax-exempt purposes. Being that Secular Humanism is a philosophy that does promote specific principles and behaviors, much like many other religions do, it seems to me only appropriate that they be given the same tax-exempt status. Naturally, groups opposed to the spread of Secular Humanism often point to the fact that it is a Godless viewpoint as the reason why it shouldn’t be considered a religion for tax purposes. An argument which serves as a perfect reason why the benefit should be removed from Churches as a violation of the Establishment clause.

  8. religion: commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; scrupulous conformity; a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

    I consider religion to be living by one’s system of beliefs.  If religion has to have a “god”, the cause or principle fits the designation.  I have spoken with what I would call born-again atheists, and I assess them similarly to born-again Christians because of their in-your-face/down your throat mode of expression.  If it’s important to a person to discredit another’s religion and worth arguing about on a regular basis to bring the opposition to one’s own side, I’d say it’s a matter of religion.

  9. I have a couple of small quibbles.  First that in general, religious beliefs do not trump the well being of children.  So from what I remember of my pre-law lectures and studies, the vaccination issue isn’t really the case.  But that was a few years ago and I haven’t been keeping up.

    Second, there are plenty of avenues to get a tax-exempt status.  When I was a teenager, I used to mind the store for a psychic couple who were tax exempt under the auspices of a charity that they basically made up for that purpose.  I worked for them for about three years on and off, and the wife only saw three people in regard to the work she was supposed to be doing with her tax exemption.

    However, I agree that the whole tax status thing should be scrapped.  Either that, or I’ll figure out my own angle to fleece the christians and get out of taxes.

  10. Chris,
    Your heart is in the right place but I think this plan is the wrong way to go.

    Atheism should never be confused with religion (even if you mean well).

    I consider religion to be living by one’s system of beliefs.

    Lilymaris on 12/09/04 at 11:26 AM

    That is precisely why atheism is not a religion…

    Atheism is traditionally defined as disbelief in the existence of God. As such, atheism involves active rejection of belief in the existence of God.

    However, since there are many concepts of God and these concepts are usually rooted in some culture or tradition, atheism might be defined as the belief that a particular word used to refer to a particular god is a word that has no reference. Thus, there are as many different kinds of atheism as there are names of gods.

    Some atheists may know of many gods and reject belief in the existence of all of them. Such a person might be called a polyatheist. But most people who consider themselves atheists probably mean that they do not believe in the existence of the local god.

    The Skeptic’s Dictionary

    Atheism literally means “without belief” (in gods usually). Of course I do live by some beliefs, e.g. the sun will “come up” tomorrow. I’m sure we all know we are talking about gods here.

    I guess I’m a polyatheist since I know of many gods that I don’t believe exist. Man has a heck of an imagination!

    Finally, atheists do not deny that people have ‘mystical’ or ‘religious’ experiences, where one feels God’s presence or a sense of the oneness and significance of everything in the universe. Nor do atheists deny that many people experience God’s presence in their everyday lives. Atheists deny that the brain states that result in such feelings and experiences have supernatural causes.

    How widespread is atheism? A worldwide survey in 2000 by the Gallup polling agency found that 8% do not think there is any spirit, personal God, or life force. Another 17% are not sure. However, more than half the world’s population, and more than 90% of the world’s scientists, do not believe in a personal God, and hence would be considered atheists by many Christians.

    The Skeptic’s Dictionary

    Folks mistakenly think an atheist is someone who BELIEVES there is no god. This is not true. An atheist is someone who has NO BELIEF there is a god.

    Now as far as an atheist’s “militantness” goes, that varies from individual to individual just as any individual trait does in any group. Obviously atheists that hang out on a blog like this are quite likely to “speak up” whenever they hear the same old nonsense being spewed forth. I rather enjoy the debate!

    Damn, gotta go back to work…

  11. Hmm.

    Your cynical attitude to the religious leads me to believe that you’re aguing for such benefits for athiesm out of spite rather than interest in fairness and the betterment of freedom in America. What beliefs do atheists have that the government needs to protect? “My atheism teaches that I should be able to…”…heck, I can’t even think of anything to be sarcastic with (without being equally cynical to you as you are to my faith). Yes, as Dave said, the trick is to keep that from being abused, like by saying you need to smoke pot, etc.

    Oh, and for the sake or argument, I don’t agree with the Christian Scientists on a lot of things, including vaccinations, but the point could be made that some vaccinations can also have deadly reactions or bad side effects.

    And it’s just plain wrong to say that Christianity doesn’t teach personal freedom and logic.

    My two cents.


  12. What beliefs do atheists have that the government needs to protect?

    I have a problem with that question. Primarily, it implies that religious people have beliefs that “need” protection from the government as though they are so fragile that without government support they would crumble. That sort of thinking is why the establishment clause is so often violated.

    But out of curiosity, why do you feel your beliefs “need” to be protected by the government? If your faith is so weak that it can’t stand on it’s own then what’s the value in it?

    And it’s just plain wrong to say that Christianity doesn’t teach personal freedom and logic.

    I disagree. The Bible regularly exhorts Christians to be “like sheep” which are among the dumbest animals on the planet. Numerous passages repeat the idea that thinking too much is to be avoided, blind faith is good, questioning is out of the question (so to speak), and so on. It certainly doesn’t encourage people to employ logic or express their personal freedoms. Everything is to be done according to God’s will and at his direction from which deviation is more than just frowned upon.

  13. I whole-heartedly agree with the fairness of the idea, & have generally seen science & atheism as beliefs requiring faith, because you can’t entirely prove much of anything.  (Rabbit-trail, the documentary on the new Matrix trilogy release is a good introduction to philosophy!)

    I haven’t found the foundations of tax-exemption, but I’ve always assumed it was because of the charity thing GM mentioned, with the assumption that (like the “organized religion” post) religion is generally beneficial in society.  Although, yes, I whole-heartedly agree w/ the various presidents on the abuses.  I would (by assosiation) stand to lose a lot from my contributions that help my personal taxes.  Since I agree with the libertarian view of eliminating income-tax altogether (Woodrow Wilson is the devil!) I guess my opinion is that anything reducing taxes (even corrupt) is a good thing.

    I don’t know how much my opinion will be worth, but I also feel Christian beliefs have contributed to my personal freedom & (cringe) logic.  Although, I really think the definition & application of logic is broad…

  14. science & atheism as beliefs requiring faith, because you can’t entirely prove much of anything

    1) Atheism doesn’t require any faith at all.  It’s a description of one’s condition, not a practice.  One doesn’t do atheism.  One is an atheist.  Saying that atheism requires faith is like saying that being colorblind requires faith.  I could no more -choose- to ‘be faithful’ than I could -choose- to FLY.

    2) You can ‘prove’ all sorts of things with science, just as you can ‘prove’ all sorts of things with math.  The sticking point, of course, is that you can’t prove some sort of ultimate “Truth” with a capital “T”.  This is the argument that theistic presuppositionalists and philosophical foundationalists like to break out all the time.  They argue that all belief systems require a foundational presupposition.  It’s the only way to avoid solipsism and the infinite regress problem.

    And they’re right.  Science can’t ‘prove’ that we’re not all brains in vats.  Science requires one to believe that a) a physical world exists, and b)the senses report the conditions of the physical world with at least a minimum level of accuracy.

    The problem that skeptics have is with the -amount- of faith that theists want people to adopt.  A skeptic’s faith in the materiality of the world is rewarded by continued existence (it looks like food, it smells like food.  I ate it.  I didn’t starve.  Hmmm.  Perhaps I should continue in this vein, it seems to be keeping me alive).  This is -warranted- faith.  It has predictive and utilitarian power. 

    Even theists have ‘faith’ in the materiality of the world, and in the reliability of the senses.  In order for a theist to open their Bible, point to a passage, and say, “see, that’s the Truth,” they must -also- have faith in the basic principles upon which science rests; If the Theist did not have faith in these basic presuppositions, they could not even be sure that they were holding a Bible in their hand, that there was such a thing -as- a Bible, or that there was even such a thing as a hand.  Theists -already- believe what skeptics believe.  They just believe something -in addition- for which there is NO compelling evidence.  (In other words, you -already- belong to the same ‘denomination’ as atheists, you’re just ‘backslidden.’)

    Theism asserts that there is some sort of special “superfaith” however, that reveals something ‘beyond’ what is measurable, tangible, etc.  Skeptics say, ‘fine, show me why I should believe that.”

    Theists say ‘we can’t.  It’s a matter of faith.  Just like science.’

    But it’s NOT just like science.  Theistic faith tells me -nothing- of use; nothing, that is, that can’t come from a multitude of other, infinitely more verifiable sources.  Theism has -no- reliably predictive powers. 

    Saying “Science and Religion both require faith” is like putting a tricycle and a Porsche side-by-side and saying “They’re both transportation.”

    And all of this is entirely irrelevant to the real issue at hand; theism, per se, is not something I give two flying farts about.  ***Dave has faith, and yet he manages to be a reasonable man.  As do countless numbers of Christians.  These folks don’t bother me in the slightest.  I don’t care if 5 million Christians believe in God, without a scrap of evidence other than some dusty old tome, anymore than I care about how many angels can dance on the head of a fucking pin. 

    Certain theists seem to keep forgetting this point, no matter how many times atheists point it out to them.  it’s not God/Allah/Yahweh/Thegreatleprechauninthesky that worries us—it’s their followers that freak us out.  And not ALL of their followers, just the ones who want to institute some iteration of sharia law

    It makes absolute sense to negotiate legislation and social interactions on a ‘faith’ that makes the fewest numbers of assumptions.  That ‘lowest common denominator’ is the universally shared presupposition that the material world exists, and that we can detect it with our senses.  To try to force individuals to comply with decisions that are rooted in anything -other- than these universally shared presuppositions is the equivalent of imposing religious law. 

    You wouldn’t want it done to you, why is it so shocking that atheists don’t want it done to them?

  15. nowiser,

    you might enjoy the quote below.

    Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer …

    — George Santayana

  16. I think the definition and application of ‘religion’ is pretty broad, too. But maybe that’s just me. On a slight tangent to the main discussion here, Emile Durkheim once gave a sociological definition of Totemism in a work entitled ‘The Elementary Forms Of Religious Life’, which postulated that social groups tended to gather around a powerful symbol or overriding belief that defined them. Durkheim was very clear in stating that he wasn’t concerning himself with the supernatural or magical, rather with the idea of the ‘religion’ as a tool for social consensus.

    Hence, by Durkheim’s definition, even following a certain football or basketball team can be defined as a religion of a kind.

    I mention this for two reasons. The first is that I think it’s really quite foolish to quote dictionary definitions as a basis for anything unless you are quite literally arguing over semantics. There are an awful lot of words out there that are necessarily subjective and loaded with meanings that can differ from person to person. The second is that this is, if I can generalise, a site that tends towards the skeptical point of view. As such, the skepticism inherent in many of the regular commenters is symbolic of the dominant view. This creates a consensus that can be seen in just how quickly those commenters come together to repel dissenting ideologies. It’s a community spirit, and comes very much under the heading of Durkheim’s primitive totemism, which can be said to be the basis of ‘religion’.

    Interesting, no?

    Anyhow, I’m not crediting the idea that atheism is or should be a religion, merely throwing some food for thought into the mix because I haven’t commented in a while, mostly because anything I said would be a repeat of things I’ve said before. If flirting with being devil’s advocate gets us away from this endless parade of rehashed thoughts on an argument that can never have a winner, then I’ll consider it a worthwhile endeavour. Honestly, I read some incredibly intelligent and insighftul posts and comments at SEB, but every time it gets into religion and God, suddenly everyone’s a monstrously arrogant know-it-all presuming to tell others how to live their lives.

    Occasionally amusing, but never enriching. The vast majority of you are better than that.

  17. How can “no beliefs” ever be confused with “beliefs requiring faith”. Incredible!

    Since I agree with the libertarian view of eliminating income-tax altogether (Woodrow Wilson is the devil!) I guess my opinion is that anything reducing taxes (even corrupt) is a good thing.

    Holy shit! I agree with ellie!

    I think only millionaires should be taxed (and I would gladly be one of those tax-payers), xtians gotta pay for their wars somehow don’t they?

    Rats, here comes some more of those nasty, out of context, quotes again…

    Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

    Is.3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.

    Cor.11:3 “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

    Cor.14:34-36 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

    Eph.5:22-24 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

    Col.3:18 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.”

    Tim.2:11-15 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing

    Pet.3:1 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.”

    Yeah, xtian beliefs really supports the freedom of the womenfolk doesn’t it?

  18. nowiser,

    you might enjoy the quote below:

      Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first comer …

      — George Santayana

    LOL.  Cool quote, elwed.  I guess I’m trying to remain intellectually ‘virginal.’  Does an intellectual handjob count, or does there have to be penetration?

  19. Brock, I get this feeling that you get some kind of sick thrill from being a minority. You filthy deviant.

    Yeah, it’s a thrill a minute, bub. I guess discussing it makes me one of those monstrously arrogant know-it-alls, presuming to tell others how to let me live my life.

    So please let it be occasionally amusing, if never enriching to tell those Christians how wrong they are about so many things. (Insert LSFGI here)

  20. Personally, I would prefer that religions, of any sort, not be tax-exempt.  There really is no reason for it.

    As far as atheistism being a religion.  I’m firmly on the “its not a religion” side.  Tho yes it would appear we have less “rights” as those who are religious, really now, does it matter?  I figure its a fair trade-off for not being a follower. smile

  21. There’s a huge difference between a discussion and an argument that descends into thinly-veiled insults and presumptuous arrogance. It’s not one of those times when the line is blurred. The former is surely the point of any forum worth its salt, while the latter is a waste of time.

    As for how you live your life…well…it’s how you live your life. If someone tells you that your way of life is wrong or somehow evil, of course you defend it. All I’m saying is that all too often these arguments end up as nothing more than point-scoring and a petty, playground exchange of insults. If nobody benefits from a discussion and nothing new is learned, then what, exactly, is the point of that discussion?

  22. Coming late to this thread, all I can add is my two cents’ worth of playground insults.  Nyah nyah in everyone’s general direction!  Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…

    Nowiser- what I would have said, but better.  We hear over and over from fundies that atheism (or evolution, or science) is also a religion, or a faith, and you cogently explain the difference.

    elwed- thanks for the apposite quote.  Perhaps you knew this already: Santayana was an atheist Catholic.  An anonymous wag caricatured his position as “There is no God, and Mary is His Mother”.

    Neon glowed: There are an awful lot of words out there that are necessarily subjective and loaded with meanings that can differ from person to person.

    There I will agree with you, and certainly some of the typical characteristics of the religious can apply to sports fans, skeptics, etc.  But a fairly hard and fast line can be drawn between theists and atheists on the basis of faith, or lack of it, as Nowiser points out.

    Neon again: …but every time it gets into religion and God, suddenly everyone’s a monstrously arrogant know-it-all presuming to tell others how to live their lives.

    Here I agree with you too, except for “everyone” I would substitute “every fundamentalist”.  I don’t recall a single post where one of us atheists, or one of us liberal theists, has told anyone else how to live their lives.  That’s a specialty of the fundies.

  23. I expect religion to mean at the very least a shared philosophy or collection of beliefs (belief in a god or gods no longer seems to matter in this world where atheistic mysticism and buddhism are becoming so common), so while I’d be fine with seeing secular humanism registered as one (beyond the fact that I don’t believe religious organisations should get benefits, and thereby endorsement, from the government at all, including atheistic organisations) I could never accept atheism, which describes no philosohpy or belief, but merely the absence of belief, to be a religion – just as I would never describe myself as religious.

    My grammar is probably terrible, but it’s late and I’m moving in a few days, so I’m naturally excused from such restrictions as full stops and proper spacing.

  24. (zilch)Perhaps you knew this already: Santayana was an atheist Catholic.  An anonymous wag caricatured his position as “There is no God, and Mary is His Mother

  25. There’s a huge difference between a discussion and an argument that descends into thinly-veiled insults and presumptuous arrogance.

    Granted, but you wrongly assume that are arguments that don’t start at the insult and arrogance level in the first place.

  26. A bit off topic,but I was most interested in what Les wrote concerning passages in the “good” book.Having little more than distain for the bible an its deluded followers(and thus not bothering to read the whole thing),Im rather amused that intellegent folk would follow a text that demands they dont question its inconsistancies.*ALARM BELLS RING* – surely its obvious this is no book of god,but only a book of decietful men,whose first and foremost love is POWER.Like the rapist and wifebeater,these crooks must be shunned.Oops..very off topic in-fact..sorry!

  27. Hmmm,having trouble withGravitar..What are JPG,GIF and PNG images? – (Sorry for posting tech questions guys..noone else to ask though) question

  28. Frumpa, those are the different formats that a digital picture can have on your computer.  For example, if you put the cursor over the delicious pic of zilch, and right-click, and choose “Save Image as …” the filename that it will offer you will have a “jpg” at the end, showing that it is in JPG (or JPEG) format. 

    Hope this helps …

  29. Seems to only give me the option to save as Bitmap (BMP)..Then again these computer thingies have always been a struggle for me!  confused

  30. Frumpa, when you save a picture from a web page, it just downloads it and saves it to your hard drive in whatever format it’s already in.  Try poking around in the “file save as” menu a bit to see what little hidden features it has.

    Here is an article I wrote about xnview, a free image-management program that is pretty easy to use.  It will allow you to crop images, size them (to a specific number of pixels, like “80” for Gravatars) and save as .jpg or .gif.  The Help function in that XnView is very helpful and self-explanatory. Good luck.

  31. I’m a bit of a late comer to this thread, but i’ll add my two cents for the benefit of those who will come after.

    The Church of Atheism debate reminds me of a conversation i had with an Islamic friend. He told me (rather sheepishly – he’s fairly moderate) that by not believing in any ‘divine’ (i prefer supernatural, but divine seems more specific) being, i was actually worshipping the devil. i tried to point out that ‘any’ was quite inclusive, to which he replied that, regardless of my opinion on the matter, in terms of his religion, his faith, by rejecting his god i was doomed to hell. for him to think or say that there would be no consequence for my ‘apathy’ (another term i don’t like – i quite actively think organised religion [and finance] is the bane of mankind) would be a rejection of his indoctrinated beliefs. i think this reflects the atheism as a religion debate, in that religious types see a religious outcome for atheists, or else they cannot justify their own beliefs. thus THEY see atheism as a religious choice, regardless of the atheists feelings on the matter.

    I wrote this elsewhere, but it seems quite relevant to this thread. Also the above link to the flow chart is now dead. the main site has moved here but i haven’t perused it yet to find this amusing chart

  32. the amusing chart was hidden in plain view at the top of the page i linked to previously, and so amusing i’m prepared to revive this old thread to draw the attention of those that have not yet seen it, to it. so go here and check it out for a laugh. the link from silent daves page to the actual chart is still active. i think the chart is just an excuse for nasty old men to hang around youth chat rooms.

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