Atheism and what constitutes a religion

Religion has been observed for thousands of years across all cultures and continents, but what actually is a religion? As usual I will refer to the Oxford dictionary regarding the various definitions of a religion. Firstly, a religion is the belief in, and/or worship of a superhuman power, especially god or gods. Secondly it’s also defined as a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion. Religions differ depending on regions, cultural differences and belief, but most have set rules and standards that must be adhered to; ie praying, dietary guidelines, standards of behaviour that must be strictly followed with devotion. Most religions that worship a god (monotheistic), or several gods or versions of gods (polytheistic) share a worldview that everything is created by, and ruled over by the creator. This is often a deity that has presented a list of moral expectations that has been written down by their representatives and prayer, worship or disciplines that vary on extremes depending on the religion.

Many theists claim that atheism is also a religion because it takes more faith to reject the belief in a god than it takes to embrace the idea of a supernatural, all knowing, all powerful supreme being. Atheism is however in direct contrast to theism, and is either the outright rejection and inability to accept the existence of any god as the empirical evidence just simply isn’t there to warrant it being taken seriously, or simply they don’t believe any gods exist or have ever existed as it’s a ridiculous concept. Many atheists are extremely vocal about their opposition to deity fuelled organised religions, but how can the rejection of gods, and the need to live without religious doctrines, dogma, scripture and lifestyle be classified as a religion? There’s no ideology, worldview or code of conduct. Each atheist is free to live their life as they see fit without any constraints other than the law of the land, but innatism, which is belief that people are born with knowledge, is claimed that theistic innatism is what atheists are in denial about as they know god exists but refuses to admit it. If anything this is a strong argument in favour of atheism not being a religion as they are really Christians living non-Christian lifestyles.

‘Evil men do evil on their own accord. For good men to do evil requires religion.” – H.L. Mencken

2 thoughts on “Atheism and what constitutes a religion

  1. Even if what you’re saying is true (which it isn’t entirely) there are more religions than Christianity alone. And atheism is the rejection of a concept of a religion, so labelled atheists as non-religious members of an organized religion really doesn’t make sense? Other than that, great article. Do you happen to be atheist, yourself?


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