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Religious Atheists

What do y' all think of religious atheists?

Seems silly to me.

I see the value of building community, but you don't have to have religion to have community.

If by that you mean people who participate in organized religion but personally deep-down don't believe a word of it, then I think there are probably millions of these in congregations who just haven't yet come out of the religious 'closet' yet.

I mean people who believe in a religion without a deity.

Religions without a deity usually still have aspects of the metaphysical involving "spirituality" which cannot be defined in natural terms. Atheists generally do not believe in things that are beyond the physical realm or anything beyond the natural forces. Atheism does not include beliefs such as reincarnation, a wheel of life, nirvana or karma. There is no philosophy attached to atheism. Most atheists think that our experiences take place in this life and can be fully explained. Atheism is not about being mesmerized by dimensions of reality that are beyond (provable) with actual evidence.

All of the enduring religions were based on ancient myths. The objective of most ancient religions was usually some form of transformation or intervention. All involve rituals, habitual behaviors and (some religions without a deity) do involve some aspect of those things including strict diets and clothing codes; it varies.

People with a religion without a deity do distinguish themselves from atheists. They do not identify themselves as atheists they identify themselves with their religion. They have meetings and social gatherings with those who share their views. They do not need an atheist group to have a social network.

I have encountered people who think that they can interest atheists in a religion that does not require a belief in god, but all I say to them is - what's the point.

What is the ratio of religious vs irreligious atheists?

The word atheist roots are in the Greek language; the Greek word for God (Theos) and the (A) negative in front of Theos means no god. The word atheists means "god exists" expresses a false proposition. Atheism is not a philosophy or a religion. Just attaching "no deity" to a religion or a philosophy does not make them the same thing as an atheist.

Religion claims to be a form of "philosophy" but there is a distinction in a non-informed religious philosophy and an informed philosophy. They are not the same things. Philosophy is man made and relies upon our own abilities to determine what is equitable, honest or real etc. It doesn't come from anything outside us the supernatural or from an altered state. Religious philosophy is not about having knowledge or information about other philosophies and it has nothing to do with what is rational or any real science.

Atheism is not a religion, a worldview or a philosophy (atheists are not defined by what they don't believe) and there is no doctrine. Religious "philosophy" is not based on logical thinking it is based on faith. Religion is reliance on something outside of self.

The atheists apply critical thinking to all things including religious beliefs. Atheists do not believe things "on faith" that is an old con game that has no purpose except to deceive. They can't come up with proof for what they are selling (or the goods) right now - but give them your trust - and your money - and you'll find out when you die if it was true or not. That's a great way to make money (predatory capitalism) with practically no operating costs because you don't have to produce a product. You just give money and gifts to an imaginary sky fairy. I know religions do charity work it's good PR (public relations) but studies have shown that non-religious charities are run far more efficiently and do much more good.

Religion is indistinguishable from a protection racket. They spread fear and superstition and then ask for money (tithes) in order to be protected - if you don't God might let (or make) something bad happen to you.

Tithing was Old Testament law for the children of Israel. "Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law etc." When Jesus was crucified there was supposedly a New Covenant and the Old was finished. However, they didn't follow their own belief. They did away with everything but the tithe. The people should have said, "no more law and no more tithing", because the "New Covenant" meant that nobody would have been required to give any specific amount of money to (God) or a church. If the people didn't want to give to a church it should fallen of it's own weight. Nevertheless, it is most likely that the people didn't even know what they should do they just followed orders.

That's just one example of how corrupt and exploitative religion is; if you study ancient history (relative to religion) you will find even less reason to believe in any God. Belief in the supernatural, god/gods (demons or devils) and angels has no basis in truth or reality.

I personally have never known any atheist that embraced a religion. I wouldn't support any religion. I can't think of a reason to support something that I don't believe and that I think is very destructive.

Hmmm....I asked what the ratio of religious and irreligious atheists are, and you take this to mean I needed an explanation of atheism and how it isn't a religion.

Perhaps I should rephrase.

What I'm wondering is how many people are there that follow a religion without a god belief compared to how many people who lack a god belief and don't follow a religion.

A religion without a deity is exactly that (religion) it's not atheism. If there are people who want to continue to play church even though they have stopped believing - there are enough places to do that without joining an atheist group.

An atheist with a religion is exactly that, an atheist with a religion. It doesn't mean atheism is a religion, or religion is atheism. It's not necessarily "playing church", it's a person who follows a religion and lacks a god belief.

I don't get why this is so hard to comprehend. All I'm asking for is a ratio of religious and irreligious atheists and you seem to think I'm asking for atheists who are pretending to be a religious theist, or that I'm asking for people who have atheism as their religion. I'm not.

There are people in this world who don't believe in a god or gods, yet still have a religion. I've actually met a few. Not every religion requires a god belief.

Whilst many atheists tend to be skeptical and irreligious, this doesn't mean all of them are. Atheism is not a synonym for skepticism and it doesn't mean "lack of religion". Atheists can be superstitious, irrational, have faith, have a system of beliefs, et al, just as easily as theists. Scientologists are atheists, for example. As well as many buddhists, satanists, and some pagans.

Upon trying to google the answer on my own I came across an article from about.com that might be helpful to you:

http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismquestions/a/AtheismReligion.htm

I haven't been able to find any statistics on religious and irreligious atheists, so far.

Ciarin said, " An atheist with a religion is exactly that, an atheist with a religion. It doesn't mean atheism is a religion, or religion is atheism. It's not necessarily "playing church", it's a person who follows a religion and lacks a god belief.

An atheistic ideology or doctrine is normally described as an atheistic religion, not an atheist with a religion. Atheist "disbelief in god" that does not involve a philosophy, doctrine or ideology.

Ciarin said, "I don't get why this is so hard to comprehend. All I'm asking for is a ratio of religious and irreligious atheists and you seem to think I'm asking for atheists who are pretending to be a religious theist, or that I'm asking for people who have atheism as their religion. I'm not."

Nobody misunderstood what you were stating. The answers you got were the only possibilities since atheists disbelieve in the theist god and their supernatural claims. There is no philosophy or religion involved in what atheist disbleieve.

Ciarin said, "There are people in this world who don't believe in a god or gods, yet still have a religion. I've actually met a few. Not every religion requires a god belief."

There are various religious denominations without a deity whose congregations meet in designated places. Some religious group may have members that do not believe in a god but the group (as a whole) may not be atheistic it is still considered a religion. In addition, there are some religions that have established a religious context without gods. These religious sects are not defined by what they disbelieve in but by (what they do believe in) their religion.

Ciarin said, "Whilst many atheists tend to be skeptical and irreligious, this doesn't mean all of them are. Atheism is not a synonym for skepticism and it doesn't mean "lack of religion". Atheists can be superstitious, irrational, have faith, have a system of beliefs, et al, just as easily as theists.

Some people are simply using wishful thinking (atheists are hypocritical because they claim to reject religion while actually practicing one) you don't need faith to not believe in God. Using the scientific method (a non-religious) attitude of only accepting as real things that are observable based on evidence. That does not require belief since (what you believe could be wrong ) if the facts and the evidence dispute the claim it is dismissed. That is using critical thinking (not faith or belief) it's not "superstitious, irrational, have faith, have a system of beliefs, et al." Furthermore (by analogy) if disbelief in God is a religion then not collecting old coins is a hobby.

There are conservative Christians who claim that secular philosophies and ideologies, are religions. They claim that athe-ism; liberal-ism, evolution-ism and environmental-ism are religions. By adding ism to a word (I guess) they think it's a religion - do they consider metabolism and heroism a religion?

The uneducated people fit your profile; not people that are well read and educated. No one I know is "superstitious, irrational, have faith, have a system of beliefs, et al, just as easily as theists." Personally I wouldn't suffer fools gladly (what you are describing) are people actually not worthwhile spending time on, or with, they simply do not have the same perspective. I personally wouldn't spend one nanosecond around people with that profile. You might be able to find someone (claiming to be an atheist) that fit your profile but studies have proven that the majority of atheists do not. Atheists do question things much more than theists and are far less gullible. This means (as a group) atheists query something more (not could you find someone) that claims to be an atheist that fits your profile.

There was a jaundiced article about a study that showed Christians were more skeptical than atheists were. Unfortunately, most of the people they used in the study were only people who didn't worship regularly, and they got their skeptical Christian estimate by not acknowledging anything that was supernatural or paranormal that Christians all believe in. Raising people from the dead, virgin birth, resurrection, creation week or the talking snakes. These irrational beliefs are the very reason atheists are not Christians. Most studies have found that theists (as a group) are more likely to be superstitious and believe in ghost, as well as, fortunetellers and astrology etc.

The argument that atheists are more credulous indicates a real desire to prove that atheists are lacking in theist insight. Emile Cammaerts (quote) proving that atheists will fall for anything. "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything." It's promoting the same kind of nonsense. The quote is implying that non-belief in god is a basis for loosing skepticism. I think that anyone who thinks not believing in god causes anyone to lose their reasoning skills probably hasn't got reasoning skill.

G.K. Chesterton, 'The Laughing Prophets', 1937 Chesterton's Father Brown, "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense", which is to say that one loses their norms, and, "It's drowning all your old rationalism and skepticism, it's coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition."

Yes indeed, when people stop believing in talking snakes and donkeys who knows what that could lead to. The gapping hole left because you don't believe in god will be filled with all kinds of nonsense if you are not smart enough to want to learn why religion is nonsense. Some people who claim to be atheists say that they are not interested in studying ancient history, mythology, religion or science etc. Those kinds of people are very shallow and frankly suspicious. What is the basis for anything that they have concluded is true. It really sounds like people that sit and let others tell them what to believe on faith. I don't converse with - or listens to people like that on any topic.

Ciarin said, "Scientologists are atheists, for example. As well as many buddhists, satanists, and some pagans."

Scientologists believe aliens were dropped into volcanoes on Earth, which erupted (I suppose) spewing them all over and then they became spirits that live in humans today. Wow! Making a connection between scientology and atheism is like making a connection between Rastafarians and atheists. Do you see a connection? Membership in the Church of Scientology does not necessarily preclude membership in another religious organization. A percentage of the members affirm membership in the organization, while at the same time citing another religion as their primary religious preference. Scientology is considered a religious philosophy, and it's just as credible as any religious philosophy even if the other religions don't want to admit it.

Ciarin said, "Upon trying to google the answer on my own I came across an article from about.com that might be helpful to you: http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismquestions/a/AtheismReligion.htm

Well, leapin' lizards! Holy moly! Geez! Some people said it! It must be true! I saw an atheist website that went on and on about atheists being spiritual but I know that's someone's pipe dream - its hogwash!

Ciarin said, "I haven't been able to find any statistics on religious and irreligious atheists, so far."

Surely some revelation is at hand! Some people believe in imaginary space spirits and others believe in the Holy Spirit, but when their claims are examined they all fall apart. Without critical thinking skills the human mind is at the mercy of its expectations and cultural biases.

You are totally misunderstanding what I'm saying. I really don't know how I can make it any clearer and I'd rather not go point by point as you have.

But I'll try. Let's see.

Atheists that have a religion: they lack a god belief, they still have a system of beliefs that do not include a god. This system of beliefs isn't science, it's an actual faith, with actual beliefs(not disbeliefs).

Disbelief in god is not a religion. But one can have a religion while simultaneously not believing in a god. Their system of beliefs happens to not include theism. I'm not talking about secular philosophies or ideologies. I'm talking about an actual RELIGION, a belief system.

I will give you an example of an atheist who also has a religion. I know of a man named Matt. I met him in Florida. He follows an eclectic pagan religion. He believes in magic, he believes in spirits and ghosts, animism and he believes in a metaphysical realm, and afterlife. He does not believe in any gods. He is a religious atheist. He is not an atheist that has atheism as his religion, he has an actual religion and lacks a god belief.

I repeat: atheism is not a religion.

It's not a system of beliefs. It's not a system of anything.

Atheism is not a religion.

There are religious people who lack a belief in a god. These are religious atheists. And they don't have atheism as their religion.

The fact that you don't know anyone like this, is probably because you "personally wouldn't spend one nanosecond around people with that profile."

I'd like to see the studies that prove the majority of the atheists do not follow a religion(that's kinda what my question was earlier).

You tend to make assumptions about atheists, such as they don't believe in the supernatural, they question things more than theists, and are far less gullible. It seems you are conflating atheist with skeptic or rationalist.

Regardless what your opinion is of such people, or whether or not you would spend time with them, they do exist. Perhaps you disbelieve their sincerity, but that might bring in the "no true scotsman" fallacy. "only a real atheist lacks a religion as well as a god belief, and they are highly skeptical!"

Just because someone has a religious belief, doesn't mean they can't be atheist. Atheism just answers a question "Do you believe in a god?" If the answer is no, then that person is an atheist regardless of any other criteria you wish to impose.

Scientologists do believe in some weird stuff, but if they also lack a belief in a god, then they're atheists. Where is it written, or who has decreed, that atheists are restricted from believing in weird things?

Well I tried. If you still don't get it, then we're done here. I'm pretty sure other will understand what I'm saying.

I just called in to the show, and asked if atheists can be religious, and Martin agreed they can.

So there.

/appeal to authority

That is the silliest thing I've read in a while, the argument from authority in a non-belief setting. Atheists do not mimic each other and there are no authority figures; that's a religious perspective. You were told repeatedly that there are religions without a deity - atheistic religions that identify themselves with their religion. They have meetings and social gatherings with those who share their beliefs. You are the one that doesn't get it.

There is a difference in positive and negative atheism. Some people have a complete lack of understanding of the terms positive and negative atheism.The denial of god's existence is known as strong, or positive, atheism, the lack of belief in god is known as negative, or weak, atheism. Negative atheism is in fact compatible with agnosticism.

Ciarin said, "Atheists can be superstitious, irrational, have faith, have a system of beliefs, et al, just as easily as theists.

Studies have proven that the majority of atheists do not fit that profile. Atheists do question things much more than theists and are far less gullible. This means (as a group) atheists question things more (not could you find someone that claims to be an atheist that fits your profile) "superstitious, irrational, have faith, have a system of beliefs, et al, just as easily as theists." No! Atheists that fit that profile are not in the majority. Strong Atheists reject belief over rational thinking. Most contemporary materialists are strong atheists. Positive atheists reject the theistic God and the associated beliefs in an afterlife, a cosmic destiny, a supernatural origin of the universe, an immortal soul, and holy writ. Most positive atheists reject even religions that do reject a theistic Creator. At most, such religions are atheistic in the narrow sense of rejecting theism but not in other aspects. Theists often attack strong atheists by making the claim that their position is like a religion. However, these claims are easily proven false because religion is not based on rationality, and strong atheists value rationality over any belief or faith.

Strong atheists assert that extremely strong evidence is necessary to support occurrences that are explained as mystical or supernatural. According to atheists, the available evidence to support these alleged events is non- existent; these claims should be rejected. Otherwise, what would be the basis for non-belief in a supernatural or a (sleight of hand) God who performed miracles? Belief does not require "knowing" something. If you know something based on evidence you don't need the supernatural or magic. In my opinion (I'm a strong atheist) there is no basis for non-belief in any Deus if your position does not reject the other claims. I do not give credence to any claim that requires faith to believe that it is true. Not everything that requires faith is religion, but all religions require faith. Many atheists (myself included) consider anything that requires faith (with or without god) is a religious belief period and nothing else.

Ciarin said, "Scientologists are atheists, for example. As well as many buddhists, satanists, and some pagans."

Despite the common ignorant belief of some people, Atheists are not Satanists and Satanists are not Atheists period. Satanists worship Satan. Atheists don't believe in God, or Satan.

Scientologists are not Atheists. There is no requirement of non-belief involved in Scientology. Scientology is a religion but the members can and do belong to other mainstream religions. They are not required to believe in any specific religious doctrine. However, there is no evidence for Xenu, so Scientology is a religion that requires belief in something with no evidence. There are atheistic religions albeit far more than you mentioned.

In Western culture religions that simply reject belief in a Creator God are considered atheistic (it does not mean that they disbelieve in anything else that might be a god/goddess or could be worshiped). By definition atheists do not believe any religious text to be divinely inspired truth.

Simply rejecting one aspect of something (religion) is not the deciding factor. Just because one view is rejected in both cases does not mean that the form of the argument is the same in both cases. What is the argument based on - another belief without evidence? "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Some of us want to build a society based a little more than hoping and not seeing.

Your opinion is duly noted. Unfortunately for you, your opinion on this subject is irrelevant.

How about not posting in this topic if you have nothing to contribute? thanks.

Hi Ciarin. Linda seems to have missed the facetiousness in your "appeal to authority" post.

I wish there were a simple answer to your question Ciarin. You asked: "I'd like to see the studies that prove the majority of the atheists do not follow a religion (that's kinda what my question was earlier)."

Unfortunately, there are no such studies because it's not something that social scientists have traditionally been interested in studying. Back in 1971 a sociologist named Colin Campbell called on other social scientists to begin actively studying the "irreligious" population. But it has only been in the past decade that anyone answered his call. People like Phil Zuckerman, Bob Altemeyer, David Eller, Frank Pasquale, and others have finally started performing social research on the atheist population.

But as far as I've seen, non of them have been asking this particular question. The closest we've come so far is psychologist Luke Galen's Non-Religious Identification Survey which he conducted among members of the Center for Inquiry. So far he hasn't written much about his findings, just an article in Free Inquiry called "Profiles of the Godless," found here: http://goo.gl/KJVlu . But he did ask questions about whether the respondent considers him- or herself "religious" or "spiritual," along with questions about how confident the respondent was that there is no god. So I'm looking forward to hearing more from him.

But even with that, the problem is that he surveyed a very specific population of non-believers, those who are members of CFI. The big problem there, as far as your (and my) question is concerned, is that CFI is not a "religious" organization. So for those of us who do not believe in the existence of supernatural deities and spirits, but nonetheless consider ourselves to have what we might call a "religious temperament," most of them join organizations like the Ethical Culture Union or the Unitarian Universalists. Those two organizations are specifically "religious humanist" (as opposed to "secular humanist") organizations.

So, in order to answer your question we'll need further research. But research like that is extremely difficult to do because the population under study--non-believers--is an extremely difficult population to contact. We have ready access to those members of that population who actively join organizations (like AHA, AA, CFI, etc), but there is a huge segment of the non-believer population who do not join such organizations, and many of them have not even come out of the closet as non-believers, so they're impossible for a social scientist to reach. Consequently, we have no way of knowing just how many non-believers there are, much less how many of them have a religious temperament.

Cheers --Dan

Thank you! You were quite helpful.

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