Feedback: Is Atheism a Religion?

by Dr. Tim Chaffey
Also available in Español

Editor’s note: We at Answers in Genesis received some feedback about our assertion that atheism is a religion. Our response is interspersed throughout portions of the feedback.

Atheism is not a religion. Not even close. If you read the definition, you would quickly realize that Atheists don’t worship any deities.

As with any debated issue, it is crucial to immediately define the key terms, so I agree that we should check the definition of religion. The following definitions are found in the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:

1b(1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural

If this were the only definition of religion, then I would tend to agree with you on this matter. Some have argued that many atheists view themselves as gods, and that they worship their own ideas, but even this would not qualify as religion under the above definition. However, look at the final definition provided by Merriam-Webster’s:

4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Using this definition, many atheists would certainly be categorized as religious, particularly the so-called “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher. It would be better to consider them anti-theists (“against God”) or misotheists (“haters of God”). These men and others like them spend much of their time railing against the Creator they say doesn’t even exist. Strangely enough, these misotheists seem to be more obsessed with God than most Christians. They most certainly hold to their cause and beliefs with ardor and faith.

The article to which you responded explained exactly how religion was being defined: “It is a set of beliefs through which they view and interpret the world that they cling to with blind faith and ardor.” This sounds much like the second definition listed above.

Not to mention, you said we follow a certain set of beliefs based on blind faith.
Chief among these elements of blind faith is your belief that God does not exist.

Chief among these elements of blind faith is your belief that God does not exist. Since you could never prove the nonexistence of God without possessing all knowledge (in which case you would be God), this is a tenet of your system that is held by blind faith.

Another word that should be mentioned and defined here is dogma. The following definitions of dogma are found at

  1. An official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as a of a church
  2. A specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church
  3. Prescribed doctrine proclaimed by a particular group.
  4. Settled or established opinion, belief, or principle

Atheists follow the dogma that God does not exist, especially in accordance with the third and fourth definitions above. And the way that many atheists assert their belief so dogmatically is another way in which they act religiously.

For starters, no two Atheists agree on every world view.

The same could be said for about any group of people. Yes, even Christians within the same congregation will often disagree on some finer points of doctrine largely due to our limited knowledge and experience. But this statement dodges the real issue. It matters not if two atheists agree on every aspect of their worldview; they do agree in claiming that God does not exist. Their faith in that dogma is the issue at hand.

An Atheist simply means that person does not believe in any gods. Some Atheists think the existence of a god is impossible, while others think its possible but see no reason to worship any gods.

The vast majority of the atheists we hear from would fall into your first category since they are the most vocal in opposing Christianity.

Instead of worshiping the Creator who made everyone, atheists have essentially chosen to worship the creature.

Instead of worshiping the Creator who made everyone, atheists have essentially chosen to worship the creature. An atheist worships (holds as the most important, respects the most, gives highest priority to, or treats as the highest authority and the source of meaning and morality) himself, or money, or sex, or a movie star, or an athlete, or the government, and so on. An atheist is an idolater just as much as someone who bows before a statue or other man-made object representing his deity. Just in case you think that idolatry cannot be committed by an atheist, consider how the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines this term.

  1. the worship of a physical object as a god
  2. immoderate attachment or devotion to something

As an atheist you must believe in evolution and so you cling to a view that requires mindless matter to work miracles, such as causing life to arise from non-living materials and intelligence to come from non-intelligence.

We believe in an eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing God who created life and everything else. He repeatedly demonstrated His ability to work miracles before thousands of witnesses. He walked on water, calmed the storm, healed the sick, lame, blind, and deaf, and He even raised the dead to life. As such, the Christian faith is not a blind faith.

Furthermore, it’s ironic that you say Atheists use blind faith to justify their beliefs. That is hilarious. Atheism is based on logic.
Atheism cannot provide the rational foundation for logic.

Now that’s truly ironic. If atheism were true, rational thought would not and could not exist, for the atheist’s thoughts would just be the result of time and chance and the laws of nature. Therefore, our minds would just be rearranged atoms, no more rational than pond scum. Atheism is rooted in philosophical naturalism—matter is all that exists. Yet laws of logic, such as the law of identity and the law of non-contradiction, are immaterial. So atheism cannot provide the rational foundation for logic. Instead, atheism must steal from a theistic worldview to even use logic. Only if there is a rational Creator is there a basis for the laws of logic. Thus, an atheist’s attempt to prove atheism using logic is self-defeating.

There is no reason to worship any god based off of a fictional book that promotes racism and bigotry.

So this is part of your “logical” defense of atheism? You have not argued against God’s existence, but have only tried to show that He isn’t worthy of worship by creating a giant straw-man argument.

First, the Bible is not a fictional book. It is the Word of God and is therefore inerrant and infallible in the original manuscripts. Also, even if the Bible had some errors, which it doesn’t, it would not instantly turn all the rest of it into fiction. This is empty rhetoric on your part.

Second, perhaps you can explain how it is racist to believe that every people group is descended from Adam and Eve (and later Noah and his wife), and that we are all made of one blood (Acts 17:26). Where is the racism or bigotry in the following commands given by the Son of God?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecuted you. (Matthew 5:44)
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

While it’s true that Christians have sometimes fallen short of these commands, even to the point of bigotry and racism, it does not follow that the Bible promotes these vices. Rather Jesus taught His followers to love all people, and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18–20). The Bible also teaches that people from every tongue, tribe, and nation will be redeemed and spend eternity together worshipping the one true God (Revelation 5:9).

Who gets to decide what is right and wrong in a system that provides no absolute basis for morality?

You seem to think that bigotry and racism are wrong, but why would they be wrong in an atheistic worldview? Who gets to decide what is right and wrong in a system that provides no absolute basis for morality? Please notice, I did not claim that an atheist cannot live a moral life; I am pointing out that their belief system does not provide anything but an arbitrary basis for that morality. If life is simply a cosmic accident, a jumble of atoms that happened to come together in the right way at the right time, and if man is nothing more than another animal in the evolutionary tree of life, then where do your standards come from? Do you get mad about a lion killing a gazelle or are you outraged when an eagle kills a rabbit? Does it trouble you when vinegar and baking soda react? From an atheistic evolutionary perspective, all of these things have the same intrinsic non-worth as a human being, a blade of grass, or a grain of sand. So why would you get upset with a Christian identifying atheism as a religion?

And since we’re interested in defining terms, let’s look at how Merriam-Webster’s defines bigot.

A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Christians are routinely called bigots in our culture, and yet the shoe is more often on the other foot. Anti-theists have called us all sorts of inflammatory terms, and yet we find that they can be filled with so much hate and intolerance toward Christians and the God of the Bible. So by definition, these people should be classified as bigots.

Your religion requires nothing other than blind faith. Just following the motions and not second guessing anything.

This is a curious charge to direct at an apologetics ministry. We believe Christians should be ready to give an answer or defense for their beliefs (1 Peter 3:15), that is, to give reasoned arguments for why we believe what we believe to be true. Therefore we have thousands of articles on our website designed to equip Christians to do just that. And while some Christians do hold to something akin to blind faith, that is not what the Bible teaches. Christianity is by no means a blind faith. It is rooted and grounded in real events in history, most notably the Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Keeping it’s members ignorant so the churches can rake in more dough to pay for the pastors new Lexus.

If you think these prosperity peddlers frequently seen on television represent biblical Christianity, then you have not done your homework. Instead, you have built another straw-man argument to torch. These men rarely, if ever, preach the gospel of the crucified and risen Savior. Sure, they talk about God quite a bit, but it’s usually in the context of how many material blessings He supposedly wants to give you if you are willing to donate to their ministry. This is not biblical Christianity and the vast majority of pastors do not live in luxury or drive fancy cars.

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me . . . . For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:23, 25). Jesus taught His followers to serve others and deny self, so those who live for worldly gain are not obeying the Lord.

Next time you ATTEMPT to bash Atheists, do your research dude.

Based on the above discussion, I would challenge you to do your research before attempting to call us out. You have failed to properly understand Christianity and you mock caricatures of the faith, but have not even come close to offering a valid critique of the faith itself.

You may be away with spewing B.S. in a church setting by that’s not how it works in the real world, guy.
Sadly, in the “real world” most people aren’t interested in logical arguments; they are persuaded by propaganda and empty rhetoric.

Sadly, in the “real world” most people aren’t interested in logical arguments; they are persuaded by propaganda and empty rhetoric. It’s quite arrogant for you to imply that all Christians are idiots who blindly follow whatever their pastor proclaims as he milks them for their money. But a large and growing number of Christians are being equipped by Answers in Genesis and other apologetics ministries to defend their faith with rational arguments. And most Bible-believing, truly gospel-preaching pastors are humble servants of God’s people. Also, many of the greatest scientists and thinkers of all time have been Bible-believing Christians.

You may believe it to be foolish to follow the risen Savior Jesus Christ, but someday you will see Him highly exalted. If you have not trusted in Him, then you will be judged for all eternity, but not before you kneel before Him and proclaim that He is Lord (Philippians 2:9–11). I pray that you will turn from your sins and ask for His forgiveness before that day comes.

Tim Chaffey, AiG–US


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