Is Atheism A Religion?

Hello, and welcome again to my mind space.

I’ve seen this question asked a lot lately, and quite frankly, I started to write about the topic and then stopped  because my first reaction has changed.

First, I thought “how stupid. How can something that is against religion be a religion?” An arm can’t be a leg, no matter how hard it tries. That’s poor analogy, and I apologize, but get my drift?

Then, the ol’ grey matter started churning and I have changed my stance slightly.

Allow me to explain:

I still hold my first reaction true to an extent. Atheism is anti-religion. We don’t believe in anything, so how can something like that be considered a religion? Oh, that’s right–it really can’t.

But then, I have to remember I’m part of a group of fellow atheists that meet every few weeks and discuss our atheism, and due to the recent insurgence of the number of atheists growing worldwide, this practice is becoming more widespread. Groups of people meeting to discuss their belief systems? Hmm…

Atheism is becoming like a quasi-religion now, which is fine I guess, but it bothers me, much like the term “agnostic atheist” bothers me.

Don’t get me wrong–it’s super great knowing more people are returning to their atheistic roots. It warms my tiny heathen heart to be able to reach out and connect to fellow non-believers. Do I necessarily want to meet with them and discuss our non-beliefs? Not really. It’s a noble idea, and I’ve enjoyed the meetings I’ve gone to as it’s fascinating to me to find out people’s religious background and the reasons for them turning their backs on it, but that’s just me; I find joy in getting to know that aspect of people. Everyone has a story to tell, after all.

But I don’t really want to hold lengthy conversations about with people about why they think religion is naughty. I get it, guys. Organized religion is bunk.

In my opinion, a typical meeting should play out as such:

“Hey, I’m Erin. Do you believe in God?”

“Hi, Erin. No. Do you?”



“Yeah, cool.”

I realize I may be alone in this thought, but damn, dudes. Are there groups of people out their who don’t believe in dragons and faeries meeting up to discuss why there is no such thing as dragons and faeries? Well, given this day and age, I’d probably be surprised to find out there are such groups, but you get my drift? Are you mowing what I’m growing?

Now, I struggle with this a bit because I just do. I guess it all boils down to this: atheists are one of the most despised minority groups in the United States. I’m not kidding. The University of Minnesota conducted a study about how people feel about us vile creatures. Here’s some of the stats:

This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society…

      Atheist: 39.6%
      Muslims: 26.3%
      Homosexuals: 22.6%
      Hispanics: 20%
      Conservative Christians: 13.5%
      Recent Immigrants: 12.5%
                 Jews: 7.6%

I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group….

      Atheist: 47.6%
      Muslim: 33.5%
      African-American 27.2%
      Asian-Americans: 18.5%
      Hispanics: 18.5%
      Jews: 11.8%
        Conservative Christians: 6.9%


          Whites: 2.3%

      Jesus wept, you guys. Really? As an atheist, this really shakes my juice, and not because we as a group are apparently seen as instruments of pure evil, but the general narrow-mindedness of people out there when it comes to any minority. Telegram to the world: Hi. It’s 2012. Not only should we be in flying cars and wearing self-fitting clothing a la “Back To The Future,” but this whole blatant racism thing has to be knocked the fuck off. Although, the findings of this study really make me want to become a gay recent Jewish immigrant atheist.

      I had a point in here somewhere, but I’ll be buggered if I haven’t lost it.

      Brass tacks: atheism is a diet religion; I don’t believe in God, that’s cool if you do/don’t; people are jerks still; I want to watch “Back To The Future.”

      Oh, and I’m becoming a gay Jew atheist.



      1. jenifersf · June 19, 2012

        I’ve always struggled with a definition of the word “religion” that also included being non-theistic. Best definition I have of “religion” is: “a set of beliefs”. Atheism isn’t a set of beliefs, atheists have only the disbelief in gods as the one common factor. A lot of atheists then share other ideas with each other, but religion implies a more homogenous view.

      2. Jack · June 19, 2012

        This discussion seems vaguely… familiar. 🙂 As Sam Harris opines, “atheism” is a word that shouldn’t need to exist. We do not have special words for people who do not believe in astrology, or doubt that Elvis is still alive. For myself, it is something that I wish I didn’t have to burn as much mental fuel on as I currently do.

        I hate being reactive, and for me, the aggressive, strident facet of my atheism is a reactive feature. I suppose I would be a strident, outspoken anti-astrologer if a large, organized, well-financed, highly vocal segment of society was trying to get astrology taught along side astronomy in science classes.

        You definitely have a point that is close to my heart. May all future conversations about atheism unfold as you have imagined above.

      3. kirkaug · June 19, 2012

        Atheism is still not a religion. You do not have to attend the meetup groups to be an atheist, it is merely something some atheists choose to do. However, you do have to attend a bingo night to be a bingo player, and no one is claiming bingoism as a religion.

        The reason I sought out atheist meetup groups was not to discuss atheism, although I do share your interest in the various backgrounds of my fellow atheists. I sought out atheist meetup groups to do the scenario that you presented, then talk about other things. Meet people and immediately get past that horrible taboo that you cannot get past the majority of the time in any other situation.

        I rarely talk about atheism when I attend these things. Sometimes we talk about things tangentially related to pseudo-scientific gobbledygook, but there is no need to repeatedly state our lack of belief like some kind of cultic mantra. The meetup exists so that we can get past that part automatically.

        Nope. Atheism still is not a religion. Not even a diet one.

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