This post is a dedication to some friends of mine with whom we recently had this debate. I didn’t think I would have to write this post but it is important that we make a distinction.
the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist
The question and discussion ends there. You may not like this, you may not agree, but this is what it is. It is important at this point to point out to my friends that there is no atheism dogma, there is no ritual or private practice or group indulgence. I understand the difficulty for the theist to see why this is so. The believer’s life should in theory be lived according to the dictates/ commands of his holy books and messengers of their respective gods. Their belief in god is tied to every facet of their life or rather they believe this to be the case.
Religion on the other hand
is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe. From their beliefs about the cosmos and human nature, people derive morality,ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle.
Many religions may have organized behaviors, clergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, holy places, and scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration of a deity, gods or goddesses, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art,dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religions may also contain mythology
A global 2012 poll reports that 59% of the world’s population is religious, and 36% are not religious, including 13% who are atheists, with a 9 percent decrease in religious belief from 2005
Allow me to digress a little. I have included the third paragraph on statistics to make it clear that atheism is not a religion. An atheist is irreligious. He has no religion and please science is not a religion.
The arguments against theism used by atheists are not taken on faith. They are rebuttals anyone who applies himself to think about religion would come to, except not in the same wording.
Since to the believer, questions such as origin of the cosmos are presumed answered, the atheist or naturalist has to find answers though this has no bearing whatsoever on her atheism. For one, I don’t know would be sufficient in this case.
Since not all religions are theistic, it is possible to find atheistic religions, that is, religions where the belief in god is not central to the system but they are engaged in other practices that are religious in nature. An example of this is Buddhism though many people have deified the person of Buddha against his teachings.
The theist ought to get his morals from scripture. He believes his god has given commands on how life ought to be lived, how he should relate with his fellows and in many instances have also given him circumstances under which he can kill his neighbor or child. This is not the case with the atheist. There are no gods, there are no divine commands.
I hope this will help many others towards the understanding that atheism is not a religion. It is a lack of it. An atheist has beliefs, but these are not in any way religious. He holds them just as any person holds beliefs which have nothing to do with their religion. In many cases however, the atheist’s beliefs, can be called knowledge, that is, justified true beliefs.