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June 05, 2007


Eileen R

A bit more interesting than Christopher Hitchens vs. Al Sharpton, I suppose.


I have heard it said that a person will give up everything before they give up their God. I didn't believe this at first, because I thought if somebody said "covert or die" that I would cheerfully convert. But it would just be lip-service to save my own skin. I would continue to believe in my God, I would just do it secretly, and that was the part that took a while to click with me.

Atheism is a kind of "God", or at least it's a faith system. There is nothing anybody can do or say to change the mind of an atheist. The same is true for an atheist trying to change the mind of a Christian or any other non-atheist.

As a former atheist turned Christian, I can say with conviction if not authority that there are only two ways for a person to give up their God. They either give that God up on their own, or God converts them.

Consequently, all the arguing back and forth on the linked page seems a bit ridiculous to me. Nobody is going to convert anyone - least of all on a web page. It boils down to name calling, mud slinging, and chest thumping. If you are a theist, read the site and you'll say "Oh, yeah! The theists won that argument!" If you're an atheist, you'll say "Oh, yeah! The atheists won that argument!" Kind of a disappointing read if you ask me.

Dr. Eric

Beau is right with his comment that the back and forth on a web page will not convert anyone.


Oh, I don't know, look how many converts John has made on this very blog!


Beau- "A man convinced against his will/is of his own opinion still".

That's how my granny put it, and she was one of the most stubborn folks I ever met, so she's know.


FWIW, I have seen people make substantial changes in their opinions, and even their fundamental attitudes and assumptions toward other points of view, as a result of online discussion.

I don't know about "converting" solely on that basis, but certainly it can play a significant part in someone's journey.

What matters more than the forum, I think, is the basic attitude. Some people are open-minded, capable of considering other points of view, and/or seeking. Others aren't.


I argued that Atheism is a religion, for it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck.

It has theology: "there is no God" "there is no afterlife"
It has dogmas: "There is no God" "Atheism is not a religion" (depending on who you ask)
It has a moral code: "Do whatever you want"

It has other similarities to religions.

Anyway, have anyone read the really bigoted comments in that page by atheists? Man, they are so blinded by their (blind) faith....


Only for some people is "atheism" like a religion. For others, it's simply a non-issue.


Unitarian dad to his son:
"There is only one God, and we don't believe in Him."


Gotta say that I, too, have witnessed conversions (or softening of previously hardened opinions) through internet discussion. Of course, these were also in conjunction with the personal touch (ie: those who took part in the discussion actually knew each other in real life, as well). Nevertheless, this also fits with the proposition that it is God who converts; He just seemingly likes to use people in the process of conversion.


Calling atheism a religion may at first seem like a clever way of forcing the atheist to confront their biased preconceptions that form their worldview and maybe it works but I do not go that route anymore.

For me, calling atheism a religion is like calling a coin purse a mint. Sure there are some similarities, but two rays at slight angle only seem close at the beginning. Stretch them out to eternity and you will see they reach completely different places (I think I am quoting Chesterton here).

Atheism is fundamentally not a new or unique concept but a lack of one. It is not an idea but a lack of ideas. Religion has its own branch of study: theology. But you cannot study atheism because there is nothing to study.

This is not a concept the atheist will argue either. He knows his world has less than the world of the believer. The word atheism is itself a negative concept: "no-god-ism". The atheistic existence is one with fewer books in the library, fewer buildings in the towns, and fewer activities for man to do.

He knows this and he is proud of it.

But it seems to me to be a curious thing to be proud of. It is reductionist iconoclasm taken to discomforting extremes. Bare walls, fewer domes and steeples, hands always unclenched, no statuary, no prayer beads, no incense, no candles, no stained glass. The only thing that would happen if we got rid of religion is that there would be more time for TV, magazines, and video games.

Which is nothing new.

I would not call atheism a religion because it would bestow too much glory, authority, and sincere truth-seeking on what is essentially a mirror in the place of God.


Frankly, I must thank you StubbleSpark for that, I have to agree with what you said. I do still consider it religouesque though, if anyone has spoken to a passionate atheist they'd know what I am talking about. The have so much faith in not having faith.


I agree that it is technically imprecise to call atheism a religion, but I don't think it is unfair in any practical sense. Reason alone cannot answer the ultimate question of God's existence. To reach a conclusion either way one must rely on faith. This is why it is fair to characterize atheism as a faith -- in contradistinction to agnosticism. The confusion stems, I think, from the fact that most people use the terms "religion" and "faith" interchangeably, which is imprecise. Nonetheless, I don't think such nuanced definitional distinctions should encumber one from characterizing atheism as a religion for purposes of everyday discourse.


Atheism, believe it or not, is a religion just as a so-called "non-denominational" church is actually a denomination.


Atheism, defined as a philosophical view, is the position that either affirms the nonexistence of gods or rejects theism. In its broadest definition, atheism is the absence of belief in deities, sometimes called nontheism.

Therefore, atheism can be different things to different people.


Good and fair point, Roger. The broader sense you describe would presumably include agnosticism as a subset. I think most educated folks who are not familiar with philosophical terms generally adopt the narrower sense (i.e., the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods) and consider agnosticism a separate category. This terminology would seem to be most useful, especially if the term "nontheism" can be used to define the broader sense you describe.


Not only was the pastor a pretty weak defender of the faith before such a bigoted opponent, he let this one ravel at the Catholic Church being trampled on with lies (e.g., "Pius XII was pro-Hitler", etc). Why is Hitchens considered "smart" when his sources seem to be nothing but anecdotal and slanderous?

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