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I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

27 May 2011

Has Atheism Become a Religion? A Response to David Lose

 In short, no.

   Lose makes his non-argument (this is an oft-recycled canard more than anything else) based on what he considers four pieces of evidence. In the interest of fairness, we'll consider them.

As recently reported in the New York Times, military personnel who identify themselves as "Atheists" have requested chaplains to tend to their spiritual needs. 

   This is the only thing he states that makes me question, and it doesn't make me question long. Demanding equal representation under the law, even in the military, isn't the same thing as being religious. I do wonder what the 'spiritual needs' of other atheists might be, but this seems more a play to legitimize a position that isn't accepted in military doctrine than anything else.

The U.S. Government reports that in 2008 those identifying themselves specifically as "Atheist" composed the 18th largest group of 43 possible categories of "self-described religious identification."

   Where else are we supposed to self-identify? The question deals with religious belief, and our lack of it. I'm not going to write 'atheist' under my profession, age, or other demographic questions. As Lose grants, this is also one of the options listed under the 'none' response. So you ask religion, we say we have none, we're atheist, and you say we're religious? Spectacular reasoning there.

Similarly, it's worth noting the degree to which Atheists routinely, strategically, and often vociferously position what is often described as their "secular-humanist" views against religious traditions.

      Vocally speaking out for rational thought, and aligning it against magical thinking, doesn't make rational thought a religion. It's offering an alternative to that religion. Some that espouse secular humanism couple that with a set of what they consider core values, but having an ethical philosophy is likewise not a religion. If you take the magical thought out of, say, Buddhism, you're left with something that still isn't religious despite it's roots. We'll get to why shortly.

Finally -- and you probably knew this was coming -- consider all the comments made by self-identified Atheists on articles published in the Religion section of the Huffington Post. Seriously. Either Atheists have way more time on their hands than the rest of the population or they've got something to prove.

    Yes, we certainly have something to prove, in the sense that we're a denigrated minority in much of the world, as well as a minority that has been expected to sit quietly and pretend that we don't exist. The assertion that being assertive in an us-against-them fashion is a feature of new religions ignores that it is also a feature of civil rights movements and tribalism in general. We're loud and resistant to religious thought because that religious thought is an all pervasive feature of the societies in which we live, and often based solely in one religion. Thus we speak not only for ourselves, but for the numerous religious minorities that also don't want your faith installed as an official part of public life. Granted, those minorities may want their faith installed instead, but seeing to it that all are excluded levels the playing field.

17 May 2011

Pat Condell "You'll turn to God"

Bigots on a Bus

 Well... multiple of each there. I took a couple hours out of my day to attend, in protest, a rally sponsored by Return America and the North Carolina Family Council, that was intended to support SB106. What is this wonderful piece of legislation, you ask? SB106 is the bill that would allow the North Carolina version of Prop 8; in essence it would draft and put out for referendum a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman. But, Dave, you're not gay? No, I'm not. I also don't agree with legislation stemming from religious ideals, nor do I agree with walking all over someone's legal rights because they happen to find people of the same gender attractive.
(more below the fold)