Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Bertrand Russell, icon of atheism
If atheism merely meant the lack of belief in the monotheistic God of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Koran, then truly atheism would not be a religion any more than not believing in the tooth fairy is a religion. Atheism would just be an opinion about one particular question and seemingly there should not even be a special word for it. There is after all no “atoothfairyism”.
However, in the sense that the word “atheism” is generally used in modern times, which is as a synonym for naturalism, determinism and materialism, atheism is a metaphysical belief system or, simply, a religion. It is a religion that denies the existence of the supernatural, however it is a religion nonetheless.
Atheists themselves almost invariably are upset by this analysis; I think this is basically for a couple of reasons:
- Being a religion means that they have to prove the truth of a long list of beliefs, just like all other religions must.
- Being a religion means that all atheists are accountable for the behavior of their coreligionists. Considering the fact that many of the worst criminals in history have been atheists, this is a problem.
Well, I’m sorry to make them uncomfortable, however they are a religion.
I would say that someone who is indifferent to religion or agnostic could be considered as “non-religious”. He is taking a “don’t know” or “no opinion” position.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:11 AM