Once Again, Atheism is Not a Belief Nor a Religion With a Punch

[Written by John Loftus] Among other things atheism can probably best be defined as the view that there isn't sufficient evidence to believe in any one or more proposed gods, such as Zeus or Hathor or Odin or Baal or Yahweh. Everyone can understand this definition quite easily since we all know what it's like not to believe something that doesn't have sufficient evidence for it. So how is atheism a religion? How is nonbelief a religion? By contrast a religion is probably best defined as the belief in one or more supernatural beings or forces. So again, how is atheism a religion? How is the nonbelief in one or more supernatural beings or forces a religion? I really want to know. Theists have developed a deeply flawed view of these things because they fail to make at least two simple but critical distinctions.

1) A religion is not the same thing as a worldview. A worldview is much larger than any particular religion. A worldview is probably best defined as everything that any given person accepts as true. Everyone has one, even atheists. There are probably as many worldviews as there are people, although they can be shared to a great degree between some people. Even different believers in the same religion will have different worldviews depending on how old they are, their gender, race, what country or culture they were born into, their social status in life, how much wealth they have, and their own individual experiences in life. But simply because an atheist has a worldview that does not mean he or she has a religion. When I say I have a worldview but not a religion I mean that I do not include in my worldview the belief in one or more supernatural beings or forces. The only way theists can maintain I have a religion is to say I do believe in one or more supernatural beings or forces. But that's simply delusional. I don't.

2) Not all atheists are metaphysical naturalists but those who conclude that metaphysical naturalism is the best explanation of the available evidence do not have religious faith of any kind. Probably the best definition of religious faith is that it's an irrational leap over the probabilities, that it goes beyond what the probabilities lead us to think. Science by contrast is based on the probabilities. When there is sufficient evidence for a conclusion then it is emphatically not based on faith. Atheists simply refuse to accept something unless there is sufficient evidence for it. Now it's true that there are some great mysteries to be solved with regard to the origin of existence and of life. But atheists are willing to wait on the advancement of science since it has solved so many mysteries in the past. That is not faith or religious faith at all. This is where atheists and agnostics share the same grounding. Neither group thinks there is sufficient evidence to believe in any one or more proposed gods. Where we part ways is that atheists think these mysteries will be solved based on the probable progress of science whereas agnostics won't speculate until science has answered these questions to a greater degree than they have. It's just that atheists, having gone through a process of eliminating god explanations, conclude with Carl Sagan that the "the cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be." That is, given the lack of sufficient evidence to believe in one or more supernatural beings or forces, it's probable that metaphysical naturalism is the case.

---Edit 12/19/11

Now for the punch. It comes from something articulett wrote on this topic, who is one of the most educated women debunkers on the web.
Both David Marshall and Chris Meyer have been told repeatedly that atheism is not a belief system, but their delusions force them to continually classify it as such.

I'd say my atheism is identical to their lack of belief in fairies, Scientology, Zeus, etc. I know they don't consider these beliefs.

Skeptical people expect the things that exist to be distinguishable from things that don't exist. Theists expect the same-- except they have excuses when it comes to their particular delusions because they've been told that god is testing their faith... in their brainwashed minds-- faith is a salvation worthy virtue-- their 3-in-1 Jesus-god (like Allah) wants them to believe despite the lack of evidence and so they do. And they imagine this is a virtue.

In order to keep this delusion alive, they have to convince themselves that atheism is a belief that they can dismiss like they dismiss all those other "wrong" beliefs of all those other people who got born into the wrong religions and such.

How else can they reconcile their own magical beliefs in a sea of people who believe opposing supernatural beliefs just as strongly or more strongly than they believe their incoherent woo? Clearly they recognize that those "others" are wrong. But the atheist thinks THEY (Christians) are just as wrong as they think those "wrong" religions are. This threatens their delusion, so they lie to themselves and claim atheism is another faith. If they can muster up enough hostility towards the messenger, they can keep the message from threatening their beliefs. A threat to their faith means eternal damnation at the hands of their "loving" god-- so all mental energy must be spent keeping the delusion alive at the expense of reason.

I've ask them if they are skeptical of their skepticism of Scientology or their skepticism of Santa-- trying to show them the inanity of pretending that being "skeptical of skepticism" or "atheism" or "non belief in invisible beings" is a silly concept. But it flies over their head. Being "skeptical of skepticism" is a woo deepity, I suspect. It makes the theist FEEL like they've made a valid tit for tat argument without actually saying anything at all. This appears to give them a point in their head game.

I find both David and Chris extremely dishonest as well as impenetrable when it comes to anything that threatens their faith. On top of that, David is hugely arrogant despite having his ass handed to him over and over and over-- in his mind he's winning argument after argument. I can't imagine a better "mascot" for Debunking Christianity.
;-) She's my bulldog!