Hopefully, this is the last sequel in this series. Here are the previous posts in this series.
- WHAT DO ATHEISTS WORSHIP?
- WHAT DO ATHEISTS WORSHIP? — THE SEQUEL.
- WHAT DO ATHEISTS WORSHIP? — THE SECOND SEQUEL
- OF TWISTED WORDS => RELIGION, ATHEISM, AGNOSTICSM, WORSHIP, AND EVANGELIZE
What is this post about? Here I am responding to Ben Berwick and his post, Worship and Idols P3. Ben’s post is a response to, OF TWISTED WORDS => RELIGION, ATHEISM, AGNOSTICSM, WORSHIP, AND EVANGELIZE, my last post in this series.
Is Atheism a Religion?
What is the primary issue? Is Atheism a religion? Ben says Atheism is not a religion because he thinks Atheism doesn’t meet the definition of a religion. My argument is that we must consider Atheism a religion for two reasons (see => OF TWISTED WORDS => RELIGION, ATHEISM, AGNOSTICSM, WORSHIP, AND EVANGELIZE):
- Atheism passes the Duck Test.
- Because Atheism functions as a religion, to protect our First Amendment rights from Atheists, we must treat Atheism as a religion.
How did Ben respond? Well, here is the crux of it.
Worship tends to be considered to be a form of religious activity. It is associated with religious behaviours, such as prayer. Idolatry is defined as the worship of idols, and within say, Christian circles, idolatry is considered an affront to God, as the subject of idolatry is not God, and the Bible commands that no one shall worship anyone other than God. Worship outside of religious connotations does not involve ritual or prayer, and someone idolising say, a football player or movie star, isn’t venerating them as a deity. Context matters.
This context is important. Tom has argued (more than once) that since atheists ‘worship’ and ‘idolise’, atheism is a form of religious belief. I disagree. Atheists do not attend holy sites to perform holy gestures on a weekly basis. There is no book of atheism with detailed instructions on how to live. Some atheists might speak out, rather forcefully, on why they are atheists, but the religious are commanded to evangelise. Atheists do not knock on people’s doors, or stop people in the street. The religious do. The use of similar terms in respect of atheists and the religious does not equate to similar behaviour.
To consider it another way, Barabbas said in the comments of Tom’s site:
Don’t care how much they love stuff or God. Stuff isn’t idolatry, because they arent worshipping it as God. You are putting that context on it, not them for themselves. That’s why it’s so dishonest to do so.
To put it my way, the worship of God is different to someone saying they worship a film star. The film star is not being treated as God. It is not the same thing.https://meerkatmusings.co.uk/worship-and-idols-p3/
Consider the problem. Atheism is a belief about God. Even if for the sake of argument we say that Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of gods, Atheism is still a belief about God. Using the definition that Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of gods, an Atheist denies that God has any relevance. That is a belief. That is a religious belief, and it’s humdinger of a religious belief.
Consider an analogous problem. How do we persuade an Atheist that God exists? What is God? He is a spirit. He is intangible. We cannot see Him. We can logically deduce that God exists, but we cannot force someone who does not want to believe in God that God exist. Instead, no matter how logical our argument, Atheists will argue that Theists believe in God just because we want to believe in God. In fact, many Atheists define the term “faith” as believing something without evidence. Unfortunately, some who call themselves Christians, like Barabbas (who Ben quoted), actually define the term faith the way Atheist prefer. However, the Bible defines faith a bit differently. We use the word “faith” to translate “pistis,” from ancient Greek, the original language of the New Testament.
4102 pístis (from 3982/peithô, “persuade, be persuaded”) – properly, persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith.
Faith (4102/pistis) is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, 4102/pistis (“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will (1 Jn 5:4).https://biblehub.com/greek/4102.htm
Early Christians believe they had faith because they had been persuaded to believe. Given the hostility of the authorities to Christians, it stands to reason that early Christians would not have believed without evidence. They were Pagans. They already had gods they believed in, but the evidence for the divinity of Jesus and the salvation He offers us is and was too strong to ignore.
So, where is that analogy? When we try to persuade people Atheists that their Atheism is a religious belief, what do they do? The deny that Atheism is a religious belief. How do they get away with that? Like “God,” a word represents an idea (See => What is the Logos in the Bible? Meaning and Significance). A word is intangible. We cannot see it. We can logically deduce its meaning, but we cannot force anyone to accept our belief about the meaning of a word. We can provide the most compelling proof, but we cannot make someone say they believe what they refuse to believe.
So, our question, is Atheism a religion, remains an issue. As one commenter (scatterwisdom) noted, because of the First Amendment, The United States Supreme Court has addressed this question (see RELIGION AND THE SUPREME COURT), and their answer is as clear as mud. Not even the supposedly wise people in black robes can agree a definition of religion.
Is Worship the Key?
Is worship the key? Is worship the thing that distinguishes religion from other beliefs? Perhaps, but what is worship? How do we distinguish worship from clapping for modestly good entertainment? Does the answer have to do with why people participate in worship?
Here are three reasons people worship.
- We want others to validate our beliefs.
- The object or person we worship demands our attention, respect, and sacrifice.
- We want to express our love and gratitude in adoration.
A worship service is often a sort of pep rally. We organize to affirm each other, and we organize to assist in other in spreading our faith so that more people can affirm us.
Do an Internet search on the word “affirmation” and then on “self-affirmation.” You will discover articles pointing to the fact that we each want affirmation even if we have to provide it for ourselves However, most of us are not satisfied with self-affirmation. We want the world at large to affirm us. We want affirmation from others. The problem is that we all believe different things. Therefore, to find people who will affirm our religious beliefs, we must look for people who believe what we believe, and there are a great number of different religious beliefs.
Here is an Atheist version of what I just said.
Why We Need Atheist Organizations in the UShttps://skepticgenerationanswers.com/2021/05/17/top-atheist-organizations-in-us-2021/
Atheist organizations like the ones in this list are vital to letting nonbelievers know they are not alone. They also provide necessary counters to the structure and resources that religion offers its own community. While not as well-funded or well-connected as Christian organizations, atheist organizations are growing in both popularity and in relevance as more and more people leave the church and look for a place where they belong. No matter which resources you avail yourself of, or where you find that belonging, we’re happy you’re here!
Consider some sources listing all the various religious beliefs.
- The Global Religious Landscape
- THE WORLD FACTBOOK: Religions
- How Many Religions Are There in the World?
Note that many of the faith groups we call religious are actually Atheistic. Buddhism is one of the big ones (see => Atheism and Devotion in Buddhism).
Atheists have divided into sects just like any other religious group. The Atheist tradition we associate with Western Civilization avoids the trappings we generally associate with a religious faith, and Atheists in the West often organize politically. Atheists of the Eastern tradition, on the other hand, adopt the trappings of religion and substitute religious faith with Atheistic philosophies.
Our god Demand Worship.
As we observed in WHAT DO ATHEISTS WORSHIP? — THE SEQUEL, a sacrifice to an idol is a transaction. This sort of thing hearkens back to ancient Pagans following rituals and appeasing their gods with whatever sacrifices their gods supposedly wanted. At times the Old Testament seems to demand the same sort of rituals and sacrifices, but there are huge differences.
- The sacrifices God demands we give in repentance for our sins. What God wants most is for us to love Him and each other.
- The sacrifices described in the Old Testament foreshadow Jesus’ sacrifice, the price He paid for our sins.
So, oddly enough, whereas the Pagans worshiped gods who demanded sacrifices, Christians worship a God who sacrificed Himself for our sake.
What about Atheists? In the West we fervently avoid any appearance of worshiping idols. However, we need to remember why Pagans worshipped idols. They wanted something from those idols. Instead of sacrificing to wood, stone and metal idols, we skip mythical gods. We sacrifice whatever it takes to get the stuff we want, the sex we want, the scientific verbiage we want, the sort of state we want, or the status we want for our self. That is, we sacrifice our virtue to get what we want, and Atheists are just as susceptible to this sin of idolatry as anyone else.
Consider some examples.
- Stuff: Are there Atheist misers?
- Sex: Are any Atheists adulterers?
- Science: Do any Atheists follow the science because the “science” gives them the excuse they need to do what they want to do?
- State: Do any Atheists justify their moral standards based upon whatever the state says is legal?
- Self: Are they any Atheists who are narcissists?
Love and Gratitude Expressed in Adoration
Because we lack the humility required to take the focus off our self and focus on God, few of us worship just to express our love and gratitude to God. Yet the Bible tells us that is what God desires of us. So, why bother going to church and worshiping? Well, we need to do what we can.
We can love each other, and we can obey God’s command to spread His Gospel, and that is a start.
Silly Things Atheists Say
Because Atheism is organized into many different sects, Atheists say silly things about Atheism. Let’s look at a few.
Consider this statement.
There is no book of atheism with detailed instructions on how to live.https://meerkatmusings.co.uk/worship-and-idols-p3/
What Buddha wrote doesn’t count as a book on Atheism with detailed instructions on how to live? Why not?
Try an Internet search on “how to be an Atheist,” “classic books on Atheism,” or “books on Atheism.”
Sometimes what we call a religion is just as much a political ideology and vice versa. Consider that what Karl Marx wrote about Communism was his recipe for how Atheists should live. Most see Communism as a political system, but the official religion of Communist is Atheism, and we may as well call Communist political officers the priest of Communism. Islam, on the other hand, is generally regarded as a religion, but in practice and teaching Islam is also a political system.
Here is another erroneous assertion.
I don’t believe that atheists as a group are organised with the intent of shaping how we define what religion is, or what science is. Atheists are a wildly disparate bunch, despite attempts to shove them into a box and categorise them.https://meerkatmusings.co.uk/worship-and-idols-p3/
Atheists never try to characterize Christianity based upon the actions of a few, do they?
We are all aware of the efforts to secularize education and the public square. We are all aware of the efforts to classify much of the Bible as hate speech. Is that all being done by just one organized group? No. There are lots of them. Let’s name a few.
- American Atheists
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Atheists United
- RECOVERING FROM RELIGION
- American Humanist Association
Just check out these organizations. Then ask yourself a question? What would a church for Atheists look like?
One Last Thought
Am I arguing that Christians are better than Atheists? No.
There but for the grace of God, go I. — John Bradford (1510–1555)https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/there-but-for-the-grace-of-god.html
God saved me. So, I have no special claim on virtue.
So, why do Atheists often find Christians obnoxious? Well, there are people who call themselves Christians who are obnoxious. I hope I am not one, but I cannot say I have said something I should not have said. There is this passage in the Book of James I probably need to read again, but that isn’t the big problem some Atheists have with Christians.
The problem arises from the Bible itself. The Bible is God’s Law, and the Bible condemns us as sinners when we break God’s Law, and Christians say the Bible is good. Many Atheists, because they find what the Bible calls sin hateful to them, detest Christians for defending and trying to abide by the Word of God.
The primary area of conflict is currently political. Even though the religious freedom they enjoy exists because most Christians believe in religious freedom, many Atheists think of Christianity as a threat to their “rights.”
Conservative Christians and Atheist activists define our rights very differently, and that is because we believe profoundly different things about the nature of God.
I ran across this article by an “atheist expert” which contains a list of eleven guidelines or conversation killers for atheists when Deists attempt to debate with them.
I recalled your posts statements that atheism a religion and/or belief in idols. (themselves)and their treasured beliefs)
In No 6, he claims the following statement:
“People making a positive claim have a burden of proof; this means that they voluntarily assume an obligation to support their claim. All theists claiming that their god exists have such a burden of proof. Atheists only have such a burden when they make a specific claim.”.
In other words, it is useless to debate with an atheist who will never “make a specific claim” to prove anything that …. they claim to believe????
Solomon proverb 26:4 appears to be wise advice to consider whenever attempting to debate with an atheist according to Cline’s article., in my opinion.
Regards and goodwill blogging.
Thanks for the link. Interesting.
Proverbs 26:4 is paired with Proverbs 26:5. So, that advice can be tough to navigate. Since I can be foolish, I doubt I succeed as often as I would like to think.
Most Atheists are actually making the claim that God does not exist, but they won’t admit it. That is obviously a claim they cannot prove. So, they change the definition of Atheism, and that is where Mr. Cline is at. However, what these Atheists call Atheism, a lack of knowledge about the existence of God, is actually Agnosticism.
Kind of difficult to debate with people who think debate and reality is defined by changing the meaning of words.
I am so thankful that our Lord is in His way. I pray that all will come to understand God’s supernatural intelligence all around us. Blessings always.
Thanks for the links in your posts
As for further evidence that the Supreme Court defining a religion are mud or muddled, read these articles on the issue of the Satan Temple being allowed to place Satan Displays during Christmas next to Christian display based on their interpretation of the First Amendment.
In my opinion, it seems foolish to pass or rule on a law or to rule on a Right Amendment without a definition of what is a religion.
Foolish if belief in a religion that teaches followers to believe in something such as a believer has a religious duty to kill another human who draws an image of Mohammed?
Who knows what is being worshipped or being taught in a Satanic Temple?
Or for young or adults to be taught Atheism beliefs in a public school or college if the teachings can be defined as a religion, because in practice, Atheism beliefs are serving to promote a belief sane as a religious belief or practice?
Regards and goodwill blogging.
You are welcome, and thank you.
Thanks for reblog! Very much appreciated.