Dusty Smith : “Atheism is NOT a Religion!”

Its the 2ed time within a week that I am making an entry based on a facebook post of prominent atheist youtuber Dusty Smith.

Last week it was THIS one, my detailed take on why I disagree with him that children can be trusted to forward their own education without institutionalized schooling using only the internet (among other critiques of the schooling system in general). And this week it is on the topic of religion. Or as it stands, the fact that atheism is NOT a religion.

Dusty

This argument is nothing new. I have heard it from many Atheists (probably every youtube atheist I have watched short of Galen Hallcyon, one of my favorite guests and friend of the Drunken Peasants Podcast). I am not overly bothered by the argument (which is half true). I am more concerned when its delivered in such a condescending manor. Or as in this case, not entirely truthfully due to an omission of data.

Religion 1

Religion 2

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/religion

Its entirely possible that Dusty’s source is missing the last association, so I will check.

Web Rel

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

Nope. It is complete, with the 3ed one as well. Seems mighty intellectually DIShonest for someone that spends so much of their time fighting intellectual dishonesty on the theistic side of the fence.

It is true that Atheism is not inherently an ideology or a religion. Whether using the old definition of “a rejection of belief in a god or gods”  or the more recent “a lack of a belief in a god or gods” (no pesky positive claim), its but a philosophy.

However, the like minded atheist community loves to congregate amongst themselves in groups all over the internet (either playing the debate game or just Re-discussing the same stuff over and over). Which is why it surprised me to see many take offense (and at times not even understand) when made mention of something as seemingly apparent as “Mainstream Atheism”.

It seems it is a completely baffling concept to observe trends within many members of a group, just because the shared characteristic is that of disbelief. Which is idiotic considering how many other groups have many individual interpretations, the majority of which one often labels as “mainstream”. Not every atheist will agree on everything, but most every one DOES agree that agnostic is not a stance. Hence, an example of a mainstream atheist stance.

I have been on both sides of the fence.

In my teen years into early adulthood I was pretty much an atheist in philosophy only. After discovering the online Atheist community (for me, on facebook) I gradually became more aligned with the values of (and conclusions of) the group. But eventually both boredom and an interest in philosophy made me start evaluating (and ultimately drop) my title of “Atheist” (mostly do to the resistance at asking questions). But I have since re-accepted the label after experimenting with a number of alternatives. I am more or less where I was as a teen, a philosophical atheist.
Ide prefer to share my thoughts from a prospective that is NOT tied to any one group or prospective, but its hard to converse with people from a point of ambiguousness (if you do not put yourself into a box, they will often do it for you). So hence I still keep to the philosophy and keep the label, but just to keep the conversation flowing.

I think a lesson that the atheist community needs to learn, is that the simple act of just mentally dumping your religious baggage DOES NOT automatically render your position immune to criticism. I understand that not all criticisms of Atheism are legitimate (like when some idiot pastor somewhere makes the association that Atheism = religion because they can’t see outside their own context). However, just because many (a majority?) of the criticisms leveled at Atheism /Atheists may be lumped into a pile labeled “stupid” or “ignorant”, that does not mean that ALL criticisms are automatically invalid or illegitimate.

 I am not going to flat out say that ideological Atheism is indeed, a religion. Though the definition indeed could fit, ill give the benefit of the doubt. Just be weary of the sometimes very similar nature of the behavior of many within “Mainstream Atheism” to their religious counterparts.

First there is the hanging around in groups of like minded individuals, often discussing little more then low level intellectual talking points (repetitively).  Then there is tendency of many to just default to the definition (and how whatever your proposing is contrary to it, and therefore  false) on question of an aspect of their atheism. And of course, the tendency to just shut out  all criticisms.

When  theists shut out the other party, they usually just continue regurgitating the same religious talking point over and over. With atheists, since they seem to think that embracing “logic” means that their arguments are forever immune to further criticism, they often turn to condescending ad hominem attacks like Dusty’s post above (or THIS ).

No similarity, you say?

Some may read this post as an angry note to the atheist community from an agnostic.

No. I do consider myself a philosophical atheist.

However, I am an atheist that likes to learn and confirm my stances by way of discussion and interaction. You know, in the same way the atheist community likes to interact with the religious community. Only I am not a slave to either sides box, so I can see (and inquire about!) the faults I see on both sides. But I can not do that (nor can I really even consider many mainstream atheists as intellectual equals) if they, for all intents and purposes, behave in the same way as the theists they debate when questioned.

I do not come to the discussion with 100% assurance that I am correct. But it be nice to see some arguments that are not, ideological talking points.

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