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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

atheism is not a religion

News & Record Letter to the Editor - No belief is faith, too

In regard to the person saying atheism should not be considered a religion (May 3), I must disagree. Religion is faith, and faith has been defined as "confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing" (dictionary.com).

This taken into consideration, is not the belief in nothing a form of faith? After all, no one can prove that G-d does or does not exist, so not believing in G-d (or in any other religious figure) requires just as much faith as in believing that G-d does, in fact, exist.

The choice to believe in what you wish to believe in is personal and must be made according to what you believe, and since no one can prove that your beliefs are either right or wrong, is not any belief an act of wholehearted faith?

Darren Lipman

Dear Darren Lipman,

You are a goddamn moron. I'll elaborate.

First, atheism is not a religion any more than being healthy is a disease. In fact, atheism in its simplest form is not even a belief; it's the lack of a belief. It's simply saying, "there is no evidence for a god, so I have no belief in one," not "I disbelieve in one."

There are, of course, atheists like me who take a step further and say that there is no god. Some refer specifically to the Judeo-Christian or Islamic god, some say it in general. (We're all atheists in regard to some god; none of you pray to Zeus.) It's hard to lump atheists together because, like the term theists, we really have no common characteristics other than that lack of a belief.

It also seems that your definition of faith is more than a bit off. You referenced dictionary.com, but only picked the most convenient definition to your point, which is also completely inaccurate for your use. What's the very next definition given by dictionary.com?

Faith - Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

The others:
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.

Faith in the way that you are referring to it is the meaning of "taking something on faith." You seem to be the kind of person that would say something like "every time you flip a light switch, you have faith that the light will come on." No. No. No. The light will either come on or it won't, I have no faith that the light works or doesn't. There's not even an opportunity for faith to come into play. If it comes on, it does. If it doesn't, it's broken and I have to fix it. There's no faith in that situation.

Likewise we don't have faith in math or science. I believe 2+2=4 because it has been demonstrated and proven to me countless times. I have participated in science experiments. I've seen the scientific method work. This is not faith.

Saying that you have to have faith to believe something is saying that it can't be believed in based on merit. It's acknowledging that you have no reason to believe what you do. It's saying you're wrong, but simultaneously saying you're right.

Atheism has nothing to do with faith. It rebukes faith. Faith is not acceptable thinking. If you don't have a reason to believe something, you shouldn't believe it. Echoing a Sam Harris example, if I tell you that I think the Holocaust is a myth, you are going to ask for my reasons. If I tell you I am bulletproof, you're going to ask for a demonstration. Yet anything to do with religion is somehow exempt from the test of reason.

The notion that "since no one can prove that your beliefs are either right or wrong, is not any belief an act of wholehearted faith?" is irrational. It's easy to prove that a person's beliefs have no merit or reason. If there is no reason to believe in something, that in and of itself is a reason not to believe in it.


Blogger D. Hoggard said...

Although this was an excellent counterpoint, I LOVED your opening statement. I spewed Boubon on my screen.

5/09/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the most clear and concise contrast between faith and reason I have seen. Well done.

5/23/2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I experienced an awegasm.

Goddamn moron. Whew!!! If that gets published, I'm moving to your town.

5/24/2006 06:15:00 PM  

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