“Atheism is a religion.”

Some Christians say this a lot. They see atheists as having replaced God with science.

Instead of worshipping God, atheists worship themselves. They are rebels with a hatred for God. Even though they know God exists, they deny him.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Romans 1:18-23

But this is not the case.

Even if atheism was a religion, would that mean it isn’t true? (You can’t really say atheism is true, but I’m using the word “true” here because the assertion is that atheism is a religion. Religions are either true or false.) By calling atheism a religion, does a Christian hope to denounce it as just another false religion? If so, on what basis?

Atheism quite simply is a lack of belief in gods. It’s not the denial of the existence of God. You could think that there is roughly an equal chance of God existing and not existing and be an atheist. Or be confused or unsure about the likelihood of God’s existence and be an atheist. And some atheists do claim to know for a fact that God doesn’t exist.

Atheism is also not a worldview (strictly speaking). An atheist is not obligated to value science. They don’t have to be naturalists or materialists. They don’t have to take certain political and social stances. They don’t have to be against religion.

The misunderstanding comes in because so many atheists, especially the most vocal, do fit the description above. They are ardent “believers” in science and secularism.

Atheism is actually not even a big deal. Unless you invested your whole self into your belief in God, life should go on as usual when you no longer have that faith.

But that’s the problem. Many of us do put our all into it. And then when it’s gone, it’s like we’ve lost ourselves.

As some people have noted, the word “atheist” is actually quite redundant. For instance, we don’t call ourselves “apsychics” if we don’t believe people can tell the future.

But I think one of the reasons why the word “atheist” is still useful is because belief in the divine is arguably the most prevalent belief on the planet. Calling yourself an atheist is simply saying that you don’t have that belief. And this is a good thing, because the majority is not always right (I think the majority is wrong more often than not). Affirming you are in the minority can cause the majority to reevaluate their belief.

So I think there’s still value in calling yourself an atheist, even if it is a somewhat ridiculous term.

But these are just my thoughts.

If you have a different opinion, whether you are religious or not, please share it.

What do you think atheism is? Do you think it’s necessary for people to call themselves atheists?