What is Atheism?
Today in the much of the world there is a new and aggressive form of Atheism challenging belief in God. The assault has openly challenged any form of reference to a god, both in the public, private and educational arena. The tone of this attack is not just to silence but destroy and replace belief in God with a belief in “Atheism” as the standard. Now many atheists may challenge the idea of atheism as a belief system, saying atheism is a lack of belief.
Before we examine Atheism we need to first contrast Atheism from agnosticism. Agnosticism is not the denial of god, but the denial of knowledge. Agnostics’ believe there is no knowledge of God, therefore one cannot say God does or does not exist, since we don’t have knowledge. Agnosticism falls into two camps, Hard Agnostics and Soft Agnostics.
Hard Agnosticism: The view that the question of the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities, and the nature of ultimate reality is unknowable by reason of our natural inability to verify any experience with anything but another subjective experience. A strong agnostic would say, "I cannot know whether a deity exists or not, and neither can you."
Soft Agnosticism: The view that the existence or nonexistence of any deities is currently unknown but is not necessarily unknowable; therefore, one will withhold judgment until evidence, if any, becomes available. A weak agnostic would say, "I don't know whether any deities exist or not, but maybe one day, if there is evidence, we can find something out."
Atheism is the denial of God’s existence, the Atheist says “God does not exist” while the Agnostic says “I don’t know if God exists or does not exist”.
Is Atheism a Religion?
So if atheists deny the existence of God, then how could atheism be a religion? Isn’t atheism a lack of belief? Most Atheists would argue atheism is not a religion because it don’t requires a belief in a higher power. Sam Harris noted atheist says the following,
I think that “atheist” is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people “non-astrologers.” All we need are words like “reason” and “evidence” and “common sense” and “bullshit” to put astrologers in their place, and so it could be with religion… Sam Harris (noted Atheist)
The rejection of atheism as a religion might not be as easy as Sam Harris thinks. Even If Sam Harris denies existence of a “Super-natural” intelligent cause of matter and life, how does he explain it origins? Sam Harris says all we need are words like “reason and evidence and common sense”. So if that is the case, we should see just what are the reasons, evidence and common sense of the atheistic system.
Religion is defined different ways by different people. The first known use of the word goes back to the 13th century.
Etymology of the word religion: Middle English religioun, from Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back”
One of the definitions used by Merriam Webster for religion is: “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
Is Atheism “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”? According to Sam Harris, the words that describe Atheism are “Reason” Evidence and Common Sense”. If we examine Atheism, we will see in every way Atheism is merely another religion claiming that they are the only “True Religion”. Simply because Atheism denies a “Super-natural Intelligence” does not make it so. What evidence, reason and common sense does atheism have for the cause of the universe? What about the cause of life? Simply to deny God does not put them into the camp of reason, evidence and common sense.
Why Atheism is a faith based religion?
Atheist’s belief in a non-intelligent cause of the universe is not based on knowledge but speculation. They speculate that all matter could have somehow magically appeared out of nothing. What was the cause of this matter? Where did it come from? How did it come forth? Atheists are at loss to explain, the cause the universe. They are just “Certain” it was not an “Intelligent” Cause.
The website big-bang-theory.com does a good job explaining the Big Bang from an atheistic perspective.
Big Bang Theory - The Premise
The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. Discoveries in astronomy and physics have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that our universe did in fact have a beginning. Prior to that moment there was nothing; during and after that moment there was something: our universe. The big bang theory is an effort to explain what happened during and after that moment.
According to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence as "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. What is a "singularity" and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, we don't know for sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes." Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles the mind). These zones of infinite density are called "singularities." Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity. Where did it come from? We don't know. Why did it appear? We don't know.
According to scientific observation we know the universe had a beginning and starting point. We know this based on the following observations.
- Based on the Hubble’s Law we observe galaxies moving away from us at speeds in proportion to their distance. This shows an expanding universe, expanding from a point, means it had a starting point.
- Radio Astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1978 for their discover of Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB). CMB pervades the universe, 1965 Penzias and Wilson confirmed the evidence of this theory of a once hot universe, showing it had a starting point.
Sam Harris like many atheists today, think the idea of matter magically appearing out of nothing is logical position. Since they attribute the cause to a nameless source, this does not make it any less “Super-Natural”. We must all agree, matter appearing out of nothing is outside of our natural world, therefore since Atheists believe the cause of the universe was matter appearing out of nothing, it is a “Religious” belief.
Where did life come from?
Many Atheists try to separate the origin of life from the development of life, they have good reason. The development of life is theorized as the theory of evolution, while the origin of life requires a belief that life somehow magically appeared out of a soupy liquid of chemicals. Atheists are required to
- Believe that these organic chemical compounds, amino acids formed by accidental combinations.
- These amino acids assembled themselves into unique complex protein variations.
- All these proteins assembled themselves into working units required by the cell to come to life. Each substructure and organelles require very unique proteins in order the cell live and work. For example the motor to propel the bacteria’s flagella (propeller) requires over 50 unique proteins.
- The first cell would require the identical encoding of all its protein parts into the DNA so that future generations of cells would know how to replicate the first cell.
- The very first cell would need to know how to replicate itself into an exact working copy of itself or all the above “Magical events” would be vanish into nothingness.
Life from non-life does not happen in the natural world. If you or I would take a rock and create life out it would be hailed as an amazing event. In the natural world, we assume all life comes from already existing life. Humans beget humans, fish cause fish and cells cause cells, but if someone created life out of non-living components the person would be considered
“Super-natural”. Therefore, the Atheist who believes the first life just magically appeared would have to be religious by their own definition. It requires an incredible amount of faith to believe steps 1 though 5 happened without any
“Outside” intervention (GOD).