Deluded Creationists, Atheism A Religion?

Nothing really gets my goat like the lengths to which some religious drones will go to defend their untenable cause.  For whatever reason, they remain to me like watching a trainwreck – I can’t stop looking.  In fact, they’re worse.  Not only can I not stop looking, I find myself unable to resist the urge to intervene, even though I really should know better.  The odds of me ever bringing someone so deluded as to be a Young Earth Creationist into the light is probably somewhat worse than the odds of me walking through a concrete wall, which, incidentally, is possible according to a physics professor I had in first year university.  Possible but highly, highly improbable.  (the secret lays in the gaps between all the atoms in one’s body passing through the gaps in the atoms in the concrete wall.

The thing of it is that all I really want these people to do is actually produce the evidence that leads them to believe what they do – evidence that isn’t readily refutable.  I guess that’s asking a lot since there’s no such evidence and that’s the whole reason that it’s all nonsense.  However, the ones I see (and occasionally for whatever reason engage) all claim that they have volumes of evidence.  When asked to produce it they try to claim that that’s them “doing our work for us”.  I don’t get it.  When asked to produce evidence for evolution I can point to a massive body of work – I can point to books, journals, studies, all sorts of things that show that the theory of evolution might as well be taken as fact because it has never actually been refuted, and it probably never will.

They like to then try to shake me by asking how life appeared.  I don’t know.  There’s quite a few hypotheses that anyone interested could research.  Ultimately, my scientific background isn’t that strong and I defer the question to stronger minds on the subject, but again they don’t know for sure.  I personally accept that we likely will never actually know with anything remotely close to certainty – there will always be a mystery to it I guess.  That mystery, for me, is not explainable by any sort of supernatural deity – it’s just a phenomenon.

One of the more interesting tacks one of these fools takes is making the claim – and wanting us to admit that first of all evolution is equal to atheism.  It’s not, though.  The Roman Catholic Church, which employs a host of scientists and whose universities since the Middle Ages pursued much research, has basically decided that evolution as origin of species is true – and thus has moved the study to their concept of “soul” as the divine creation.  This is the crux of the idea of non-overlapping magisteria that Steven Jay Gould advocated.  I have ultimately no issue with whatever they want to believe so long as they aren’t trying to teach people that the world is 6000 or so years old like young-earth creationists are. 

The most interesting thing about YEC types is that their movement takes the view of science that Mormons take of history – something best not questioned, for lack of a better way to put it.  It’s interesting that some of its leading advocates seem to share an interesting “qualification” – a criminal record.  Funny how that ties into religions so much, isn’t it?  More interesting is that most of them have no actual education, despite the fact that they might claim so.  Kent Hovind, for example, the so-called “Dr. Dino”, holds a “Ph.D” from a dubious sectarian college with no real qualification/accreditation.  He likes to throw around the term Doctor when apparently most people with Ph.Ds – actual ones from real universities, tend not to do so.  I guess it’s to add an air of credibility to the bullshit he preaches.  Despite lofty sounding names like “The Institute For Creation Research”, I don’t see much actual research being done by them.

It seems one in particular, a man who has no evident scientific background, seems intent on trying to make a claim that “atheism is a religion”.  To this end, he’s actually written a book of that name.  While he plugs it endless on the web, in a sort of pathetic, quixotic way which includes whining via Twitter to such lofty characters of Glenn Beck, S. E. Cupp, and Bill O’Reilly, he won’t actually flesh out any of his arguments to us to try to take apart.  It’s an interesting thought though.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines atheism is “the belief that God does not exist”.  The Random House Dictionary expands the definition somewhat, offering two definitions, the first being “the doctrine or belief that there is no god”, the second being “disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.”  The second definition is a little broader – seeming to encompass the rejection not only of a the Abrahamic god, but any supreme beings, monotheistic or polytheistic. 

As for religion, Oxford says it is “1 the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. 2 a particular system of faith and worship. 3 a pursuit or interest followed with devotion.”   Random House’s definition is again different and somewhat more comprehensive, and includes “1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. 2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion”.  There are other parts to the latter, but none of them really have any bearing on the matter at hand.

So with these definitions taken together, I don’t see how anyone could claim atheism is a religion, not within the constraints of any definition in the English language, anyhow.  It has no superhuman controlling powers.  It has no system of faith or worship.   The first RH definition might come a little close, in saying that it is a set of beliefs about the origin of the universe, but really, atheism taken alone is not.  I don’t see any set of universal ideas about the origin of life among atheists.  In fact, most like me have no idea how life originated, only a number of hypotheses put forward by scientists which probably can’t progress beyond that point.

Simply stated, it’s quite a stretch to make any definition of atheism fit any definition of a religion.  In colloquial use it’s clearer – we view atheism as the absence of religion quite often.  While not technically correct it is a somewhat fitting description.

The whole thing seems to turn, for these particular type of religious folks on a semantic argument.  If I believe there are no gods, then that is a belief which then is a religious view in their opinion.  Suppose I accepted that to be true – I would then say that my religion is anti-religion – in essence, I believe in the existence of nothing.   How, if at all, does that advance any cause they have.  If I concede that atheism is my “religion”, then I fail to see what the next logical step for them is.  The individual most strongly making the assertion claimed that if we concede atheism is a religion, then “you can’t say you are neutral, unbiased, standing on sideline, but you have a horse in the race”. 

When did I claim to be neutral, unbiased, standing on a sideline?  I’m not.  I’m not neutral, I’m fervently anti-religion and pro-science, rationality, reason.  I’m not unbiased, there’s no such thing.  And the very fact that I aggressively pounce on these idiots is a pretty strong suggestion that I do in fact have a horse in the race (whatever race it is, that I’m not sure about).  I have a stake in this because I do not have any interest in living in a Dark Ages theocracy.  I don’t want religious fools controlling my destiny in any way, shape, or form.  I don’t want them poisoning young minds with their anti-science ideas.  I don’t want their quirky view of the world in any way imposing itself anywhere I happen to be.  I want to live in a society completely free of religion, and I have no problem stating that I want that, and that’s why I engage these people.  I make the exception that those who have some kind of personal religious belief that they keep to themselves and as such doesn’t impose on me, I don’t bother.  There’s no need, it doesn’t accomplish anything further to my stated view above.  If it’s their own ideas and isn’t impacting policy, or my life, then I couldn’t care less really.

So what is it then that drives this guy to make the claim, if I’ve told him now that it doesn’t matter – that his claim doesn’t make sense to begin with?  I’ll have to see, I guess.

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1 comment so far

  1. D R Hosie on

    Warriorbanker,

    As one who appears to like to sink his teeth into the hard argument, I have a small weapon of choice that I just posted:

    http://modernatheist.org/2010/06/06/an-ontological-basis-for-the-denial-of-god/

    It’s a brief response to Anselm’s argument for the existence of god – you’ll like it.

    Sincerely, D R Hosie – Modern Atheist.org


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