Thursday, September 3, 2009

The atheist religion?

Does it take fire to fight fire?

If dampening the influence of the major God-based religions is a desired goal of the atheist movement, should atheists actively compete through religions all their own?

Humanism seems poised to do just that. Its groups are spotted across the country and they've taken up roots in nearly ever state. The philosophy of Humanism is entirely non-theist and it furthermore abjectly rejects supernatural belief out of hand. But does that make it an ideal religion for atheists? The answer seems to be "Yes" and "No".

Atheists universally agree that reality is a godless thing. The very meaning for the word atheist is "No God" and recognizing that ought to mean that Humanism is, indeed, the rightful philosophy of atheism - the atheist religion, in essence. And yet there are rubs.

Tossing in the idea that nothing at all supernatural exists anywhere in the universe is one of the conditions that sets a portion of atheists apart from Humanism since there are plenty of atheists who claim spirituality in spite of having no god. (How they manage the mental gymnastics of such belief is beyond me... yet there it is.)

Another objection to accepting Humanism as the atheist religion is the word religion itself. Although the American Humanist Association doesn't use the word religion to describe itself directly, some of the structures of religion are at the base of its model. Similarly, in the article Outside faith, a rising tide of 'nones' by Jay Tokasz and published by The Buffalo New, of New York, discussing the growth of "nones" (people who "check" non-religious on surveys of belief inquiry) the same profile is applied to the crop of ten Center For Inquiry communities which have popped up across the country. Darren E. Sherkat, a sociologist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, recognizes that "[Center For Inquiry communities are] religious only in a slight sense. They are confronting issues of morality and the purpose of human life, but they don't do it with God..." I can only guess that he would make a very similar statement about all Humanist communities including those of the American Humanist Association.

So what's the call...? Is the atheist movement in a head-to-head battle for popularity with religion? Are we on the verge of becoming something more than just a body of loosely connected non-believing "nones" - cats yet to be herded under the roof of humanism, the atheist church? The answer is very possibly "Yes" and we'll find out in due time by keeping a close eye on groups like the Center For Inquiry and the American Humanist Association.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Join the best atheist themed blogroll!