The Religion of Atheism
by Lesley Eischen
What comes into our minds when we think about God, is the most important thing about us. ~ A.W. Tozer
Some Atheists recoil at the claim that Atheism is a religion and consider the notion absurd. Many would consider Atheism the antithesis of religion. Maybe you’ve heard such remarks as, “If Atheism is a religion then bald is a hair color.”
It is a false analogy that asserts all religions are defined by a belief in a deity which we know is inaccurate because of such religions as Unitarian Universalists, Taoists or Buddhists.
Nonetheless, how is it that we can purchase ‘The Good Book: A Humanist Bible’ that includes their own version of the ‘Ten Commandments’ or attend The First Church of Atheism with services provided by an ordained Atheist minister but we can’t buy a box of hair color called bald?
“The fool has said in his heart, There is no God…” ~ Psalm 14:1
After all, religion isn’t the opposite of Atheism, Theism is, right? You would think to make the claim that Atheism is a religion would be an area of conflict between Atheists and Theists. However, that no longer seems to be the case since Atheists amongst themselves are fractured in their quest to pin down in the dissection tray how to not worship a ‘non-existent’ God.
Atheism isn’t something new. Neither is religion. The distinctions have developed with the emergence of what is being referred to as the ‘New Atheism’ or ‘Fundamental Atheism’. It is no longer simply the denial of God or gods. One has to wonder if it ever was.
Gone are the days of the ‘irreligious’. Rather, the ‘New Atheists’ have a self proclaimed militancy to actively admonish others away from a belief in God, specifically Biblical Christianity, no matter how self refuting their claims are.
“I do everything in my power to warn people against faith itself”. ~ Richard Dawkins
Religion by definition is ‘a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.’ ‘Something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience.’
The ‘New Atheism’ is placing faith in the belief that there is no God. Their belief system is based on science and philosophy. The ‘New Atheists’ use this belief system to interpret and relate to the world around them, defining their worldview as an overall perspective of life and the universe.
Atheists are known to have their own prophets like Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Feuerbach, Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, or Voltaire.
They have their own preachers such as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett among others. Through their work these men are aggressively seeking to convert others.
Atheists have orthodoxy as they believe everything is unintentional, uninspired happenstance via evolution. They base their beliefs on the ever changing developments of scientific scrutiny.
“As Christians we accept one foundational truth – God – and everything else makes sense. An atheist denies God and has to accept incredible explanations for everything else. It takes more faith to deny God than to believe in Him.” ~ Dr. John MacArthur
They have their own apostasy. When an Atheist jumps the fence and becomes a believer they will be vilified as in the instance of Antony Flew, who was accused by Richard Dawkins of “tergiversation” which means the desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith.
Despite their vitriol for those who abandon Atheism they have established an online community that is called, ‘The Clergy Project’ to provide support for active and former clergy seeking to leave a ministerial life for an Atheistic one. The group offers reorientation and de-conversion support to help its members ‘move beyond faith’ and into Atheism.
Military chaplains minister to the spiritual needs of active duty troops, regardless of their faith, but the group, ‘Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers’ is seeking the support of Humanist or Atheist chaplains to fulfill the same duties as a Theistic chaplain would. Chaplain by definition is a member of the clergy. “Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” says Jason Torpy, president of MAAF. The MAAF has specific policies regarding such chaplains and among the requirements is a commitment to ‘scientific naturalism and human-based rationalistic ethics’ as well as ‘a graduate degree with no less than thirty six hours in theology or related studies’ and ‘two years congregational/group leadership experience’.
Polls and surveys categorize Atheists as a ‘religious group’. Atheists purchase billboards and banners for buses to proclaim their message. They file lawsuits declaring religious infringement.
In 2005, the Wisconsin 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate’s rights because they did not treat Atheism as a religion.
“Atheism is religion and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being,” the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said.
The court decided the inmate’s First Amendment rights were violated because the prison refused to allow him to create a study group for Atheists.
As far back as 1961, the SCOTUS declared Secular Humanism (from the Pledge of an Atheist and the Humanist Manifesto it is logical to conclude that Secular Humanists are Atheists because they do not believe in God. Secular Humanism is an overarching belief system under which the Atheistic worldviews are subsumed) a religion in the case of Torcaso vs. Watkins.
Many have disputed the assertion that Secular Humanism was declared a religion but Justices have reflected back on that opinion and have confirmed the original findings.
Justice Scalia wrote, “In Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495, n. 11 (1961), we did indeed refer to “SECULAR HUMANISM” as a “religio[n].” Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) note 6.”
Justice Harlan wrote, “ [Footnote 8] This Court has taken notice of the fact that recognized “religions” exist that “do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God,” Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495 n. 11, e. g., “Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, SECULAR HUMANISM and others.” Ibid. See also Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 101 U.S. App. D.C. 371, 249 F.2d 127 (1957); 2 Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 293; J. Archer, Faiths Men Live By 120-138, 254-313 (2d ed. revised by Purinton 1958); Stokes & Pfeffer, supra, n. 3, at 560. Welsh v. United States 398 U.S. 333 (1970) note 8.”
To convolute matters further, subsequent court decisions have ruled that Secular Humanism is a religion for ‘Free Exercise Clause purposes’ but not a religion for ‘Establishment Clause purposes’. In other words, Secular Humanism has been declared a religion for tax exempt purposes and ‘conscientious objector’ status yet they are allowed to propagate and discuss their Secular Humanism in such places as public schools without violating the ‘Establishment Clause’ which would not be the case for Biblical Christians. In essence, it is insidious censorship feigned as the ‘separation of church and state’ and flagrant hypocrisy as Secular Humanists advocate their religious beliefs.
Perhaps the double mindedness of these court cases is an indication as to why many Atheists still contest the notion that Atheism is a religion. Atheists don’t want the beliefs of Biblical Christians to influence public policy but they certainly want their beliefs of His ‘nonexistence’ to influence public policy and a categorization of Atheism as a religion would interfere with their objective. It would also force Atheists to undergo the same scrutiny for which they have leveled upon Biblical Christians.
Yet, there is more to it than that. It would seem the ‘New Atheists’ have become the very religion they rail against. But is it religion they rail against?
“The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.
All his thoughts are, “There is no God.” ~ Psalm 10:4
No, it is not.
They rail against God. Scour the titles and pages of their books and articles. God is the fixation of everything they say or don’t say, do or don’t do. Regardless of the motivation, the result is rebellion against God. But even the greatest suppression of the Truth cannot annihilate it.
“I think the argument is sound. I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else. But since I believe in such a God, a God who has conditioned you as well as me, I know that you can to your own satisfaction, by the help of the biologists, the psychologists, the logicians, and the Bible critics reduce everything I have said this afternoon and evening to the circular meanderings of a hopeless authoritarian. Well, my meanderings have, to be sure, been circular; they have made everything turn on God. So now I shall leave you with Him, and with His mercy.” ~ Dr. Cornelius Van Til
Lucifer, intent on supplanting God, rebelled against his Creator being enraptured with his own desire to live autonomously by his own set of rules. Chances are Atheists reject Biblical Christianity because they have correctly understood what it involves. The ‘New Atheists’ deliberately and consciously choose to deny the existence of God.
“In the argument between Christian faith and unbelief, it is important to remember that the two positions are mutually exclusive: one submits to the authority of God’s revelation; the other asserts human autonomy.” ~ Dr. Greg Bahnsen
We were created for worship. To worship God with reverence and awe. True worship is God centered and reserved only for Him. When we rebel against God, we create man made idols to worship. And whatever we worship, we will serve. Whether it is vain philosophies, people, greed, possessions, societal standards, pride, ourselves or even false religions like Atheism. God forbids it.
“The New Atheists are certainly right about one very important thing—it’s atheism or biblical theism. There is nothing in between.” ~ Dr. Albert Mohler
As men and women born into the fallen world with a sin nature it is no wonder we have an allergic reaction to a Sovereign and Holy God. It is this sin nature that separates us from God. It condemns us to God’s wrath. Mere words cannot adequately describe the deceitful, evil and wickedness of EVERY human heart. But because God created us in His image we each have an inherently sacred attribute. It is through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ that we may be restored to God and rescued from perishing. Christ bore our condemnation for ALL sins. He is our ONLY salvation. It is the undeserved gift of being able to repent of our sins and surrender to trusting and believing in Christ. A converted life is nothing less than a miracle.
If an individual rejects God they take that upon themselves. On the day that we each give an account before God, He isn’t going to ask us about what ‘so and so’ did or how they believed. He is going to ask us…individually. We will stand accountable before a Holy God. Again, if an individual rejects God they take that upon themselves. Many will. Many will say they don’t believe. But I would implore them to reconsider and ask themselves, ‘but what if I’m wrong’? What are the consequences of that decision?
As Biblical Christians, it would be desperately unloving to refuse to proclaim the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We always need to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that we have and do it with gentleness and respect. We ought to see this as an opportunity to engage in the challenge of presenting our faith with integrity and urgency to people who are perishing.
“The new atheism presents the church with an opportunity for clarification. The new atheism presents the church with a new version of an age-old challenge. Christians should not be intimidated by these challenges. We should not cower in the face of those who set themselves against God. We must respond with courage and conviction, proclaiming the gospel to all, knowing that we too were once enemies of God.” ~ Dr. Keith Mathison
Lesley Eischen is a pro-life activist and advocate for women who lives in Central Iowa