Atheism is not a religion

12 December 1995 -- Draft

"The Lord is your shepherd" -- obviously Jesus came to the wrong species.

I consider myself an atheist and have heard many times -- from theists -- that my religion is therefore atheism. This has always struck me as perverse, a cheapening of whatever religion means by trying to draw everyone into its fold. The Greek root of 'atheism' simply 'a-' 'theism', the prefix being the alpha privative, or negative. An atheist is not a theist, not someone who affirms a belief in the existence of god. Some atheists -- "strong" atheists by one scheme -- do attempt to affirm on philosophical or logical grounds that God does not or cannot exists, and theists are right in charging that those people are applying as much faith as themselves, as one cannot prove a negative of existence, particularly of the supernatural sort. But I am a "weak" atheist: I assume that God does not exist since the hypothesis seems improbable and I have seen no evidence to support it. The same argument could be made of green penguins at the North Pole, invisible pink unicorns, or the omnipotence of Colleen.

I can almost imagine a definition of religion which could apply to everyone. It would be on the border of being universally broad itself, but it could be the 'ligio', one's axioms or postulates, the binding between one's removed intelligence and reality. But in this case my religion would hardly be atheism, which is my simply statement of how I perceive reality, mentioned and labeled only because there are so many theists running around in sharp contrast, and hardly the core of who I am. But I would caution people to be careful before trying to classify me, with such strong materialist, atomist and invidualist tendencies, and a feeling that my ethics are best justified by predatory etiquette, as religious. Isn't the phrase "godless heathen" supposed to apply to somebody?

Back to me.