Daft Claim of the Week: “Atheism is a religion” declares professor of Religion

images (55)The claim is that “Atheism is a religion“. If I tell you the source for this story, you will simply laugh at it, for it is a source that has almost no credibility at all, a fox news blog posting, in which a Professor of Religion, Johnnie Moore, at Liberty University makes this well-worn and rather daft claim.

Wait, where? Liberty University is simply a small Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell (yes OK, you can start face-palming now, you will be doing a lot of that for this one). The fact that this is supposed to be a “University”, a place that educates people, is in itself a bizarre claim give that they teach young earth creationism and are deeply in bed with Answers in Genesis, the folks who assert that Humans one lived with dinosaurs, and that dragons and unicorns are real. (It is at this point that many mainstream believers are quietly slippping out the back door because they are also embarrassed to be associated with such lunacy that attempts to masquerade as “education”). Least you wonder if they are truly that kooky, the icing on the cake here is that in 2009 they formally revoked the university’s recognition of a college democrat club. As you might imagine, that caused a lot of fuss at the time, so much so, that they quickly backtracked and claimed it had never happened. (Apparently lying is just fine as long as you are doing it for Jesus).

So in a nut-shell (quite literally) Professor Johnnie, who is Vice President of kook central, publishes a rather daft claim on the non-news network for stupid people … yep, totally credible.

OK, so lets take a look at the actual claim he makes. Perhaps he will offer some compelling evidence (well OK, you know he has none, but still, lets check anyway, best not to make an assumption)

He starts out with an observation that Richard Dawkins lost a debate … gasp, what a shock, so that means all beliefs must be true then, right? Oh wait, we don’t get to vote on what is and is not true, and what was this debate actually about? It was in fact a debate about the role of religion, the motion was asking if it played a role in the 21st century. So those that voted to suggest that it did play a role were not asserting that it was actually true, just that it played a role. I suspect most non-believers may indeed recognise the fact that belief systems do indeed play a role in community building in the 21st century, it might not be the best way to do it, it is not actually be a true belief, but it still plays a role.

So in essence, this opening salvo is an attempt by Professor Johnnie to spin some straw out of gold. What comes next, will it get any better? (you do know that you can guess the answer to that without recourse to any psychic ability whatsoever) …

This world beats to the rhythm of religion in a thousand ways, and absolutely everyone is religious — including atheists.

Religion certainly includes an idea of a God under whom man is inherently subservient, but religion also governs the belief system undergirding the way people think about, and live, their lives.

It tells them who their authority is and it informs their values and behavior. It gives them their sense of morality and goodwill, and it guides them in the way they treat themselves and others. Religion does nothing less than construct one’s view of the world.

Atheists are, in fact, some of the most religious people.

(My most profound apologies, I should have warned you to put your coffee down … here, let me offer you a tissue to clean it off your screen).

Sigh! … Yes, religious people do let religion colour their world view and influence their ethical thinking, but generally the bulk of the ethics embraced by most humans comes not from their beliefs, but from their culture. You don’t agree with slavery, you agree it is wrong, why is that? … do point at just one single verse in the bible, a pro-slavery text from cover to cover, that condemns it. If religion is supposed to be the source for morality, they how exactly did you work this out? When you listened to somebody reading “Thou shalt not kill”, for the first time, was it a complete revelation to you, or did you already know that killing was wrong, were you sitting there thinking (in your best John Cleese voice), “Oh, so killing wrong, what a surprise, I never knew”. Read on and right after this directive to not kill, this same god then orders his “special” tribe to go murder all the other tribes on a (if you will forgive the term) “biblical” scale … is that the religious morality that has constructed our world view, or have, as is rather obvious, most humans (apart from the really religious ones) rejected that as immoral.

As for atheism being a “religion” … nope, as has been chiselled into stone a thousand and one times, atheism is simply a conclusion when faced with the “god” claim, the lack of any objective evidence leads to a rejection of that one claim, it says nothing at all about anything else, so how many times and in how many different wats does one have to repeat it, if “Atheism” is indeed a religion, then …

  • bald is a hair colour
  • off is a TV channel
  • not running is a sport
  • not collecting stamps is a hobby
  • etc…

For a guy who is supposedly a “Professor” he is apparently very much in denial. The deployment of the word “stupid” is oh so tempting, but probably not factually correct (even though it is a Creationist university, and a fox news blog). What has in fact happened is that he is smart enough to rationalize away reality so that the myth he is so heavily invested in can remain intact.

The posting itself comes across, not so much as a real attempt to reach non-believers, but rather as an expression of his own insecurity in the face of the rising tide of non-belief, so he trots out all the usual, including the almost mandatory CS Lewis reference (whose “credible” argument is in fact not really credible at all, but that’s a discussion for another day). If you are attempting to reach liberal, free-thinking non-believers your number one choice is going to be Fox News … right? Er, I guess not, so really this is just an attempt to stem the rising tide of non-belief within his own community via the weaving of a rather small and flimsy security blanket that offers no real credible arguments at all.

It may indeed be tempting to laugh, but the truth is that it is rather tragic, for the one person we are most prone to fooling is ourselves.

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