I would like to point out that the game played by many people in arguing about their beliefs, whether consciously or not, is one of semantics. The way we use words in day-to-day language influences how they are defined. “Atheist,” like other words, such as: “religion,” “moron,” “retard,””christian,” “douche,” and “god” can mean whatever we want them to mean. Definitions are derived from common usages of a word and not any specific inherent meaning. This is how languages evolve. If you wish to change the definition, then we should consider the implications of what is now being called a religion, if you wish to use it is as defined in definition 3 and 4 on Encarta. By these definitions, we must include: hobbies, political affiliations, national patriotism, etc. Atheism STILL does not fit that definition for several reasons:
1) there is no doctrine of strongly held beliefs
2) there are no commonly performed practices
(except maybe the ritual sacrifice of babies to Nietzsche for killing all gods)
3) nothing is worshiped, in fact, in the case of scientific naturalism, all things are open to revision given better evidence.
4) There is no set of ideas which unifies the atheistic. Take, for example, Buddhism. Buddhism is essentially atheistic and many individuals still consider it a religion. For this reason, atheism (lack of a god), in itself, does not qualify as a categorical description of any religion or lack thereof.
5) One can be considered an atheist without being obsessed with any particular aspect of science, or, in fact, may lack obsession in science completely. Some may be atheistic and obsess over philosophy, history, or even theology. There is no set of unified obsession, beliefs, practices, or causes which unite atheists aside from the lack of a specific belief.
6) Scientific naturalism: here’s one that may qualify as a religion; let’s see:
- is anything worshiped? no
- is anything divine? no
- is there obsession with anything involved? not necessarily?
- is it a set of strongly held beliefs which are lived by? yes
So, scientific naturalism falls into the same category of religion as political affiliation, national patriotism, and the way I require my hot dogs made. (seriously, they must be on toasted bread with creole mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, sweet relish, and Tobasco-not the cheap kind).
Thank you for playing “Creationist Semantics!”