Atheism is Not a Religion, Philosophy, or Belief…

Because of atheism’s long-standing association with freethought, anti-clericalism, and dissent from religion, many people seem to assume that atheism is the same as anti-religion.

This, in turn, seems to lead people to assume that atheism is itself a religion – or at least some sort of anti-religious ideology, philosophy, etc.

This is incorrect.

Atheism is the absence of theism; by itself, it isn’t even a belief, much less a belief system, and as such cannot be any of those things.

Atheism is Not a Religion, Philosophy, or Belief…


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15 Comments on “Atheism is Not a Religion, Philosophy, or Belief…”

  1. God Says:

    That’s right. It’s nothing!

  2. Clark Bunch Says:

    What one believes about God is that person’s religion. I’m a Christian because I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. You are an atheist because you do not believe God exists. Your not choosing a religion is the religion you chose, sorry.

    The foremost leaders of atheist thought in this country, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, are almost religious fanatics when it comes to their atheism. They have launched an anti-theist attack on faith, declaring it “dangerous” to our lives and society at large. And they have many “religious followers” as it were.

  3. Mark Says:

    @ Clark Bunch..

    Atheism is not a religion and requires no faith.

    Dawkins and Harris are leaders of atheist thought? Who elected them? They are merely authors and/or scientists.
    They are not child-molesting, gay-bashing ministers like in the Christian world.

  4. Mark Says:

    @ Clark Bunch…


    You’ve been hoaxed by religion and the existence of the skytroll. Swallow your pride, put your wallet to better use by helping the ACTUAL needy(not missionaries). Throw away your fairy tale book and become a realist.

  5. ericburns Says:

    The definition of atheism: “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.”
    The definition of theism: “the doctrine or belief in the existence of a God or gods.”

    Both atheism and theism make a truth claim about the existence of God; either that He exists or that He doesn’t. So, atheism is as much a belief as theism.

  6. Jesse Says:

    Good point Eric, but the problem is that the two truth claims are not at all equivalent in their weight. The “belief in God” is typically used as a centerpiece from which to derive and articulate all other truth claims in a subordinate fashion, whereas the “belief” in the non-existence of God is one which makes it incumbent upon a person to reason those ethical imperatives for themselves. Non-belief is usually more of an effect than a cause. In this way, it becomes difficult to call Atheism a belief, except for a very small one.

  7. Clark Bunch Says:

    Jesse – So you have a very small religion. I stand by my original claim (as Eric seems to) that your beliefs about God defines your religion. You believe there is not a God, ergo atheism is your religious position. It also requires a tremendous amount of faith to say there is not a God and that there cannot be a God. It is arrogance on our part to think we know all that can be known.

    Mark – I swallowed my pride a long time ago when I decided to live a life pleasing to God rahter than pleasing myself. AS A MISSIONARY, I spend many hours each day meeting peoples real needs.

  8. Clark Bunch Says:

    The suffix “-ism” denotes a belief or operational system, such as theism, nudism or capitalism. The reason it’s called ATHEISM is that the people who named it knew what it was. You can’t just changed the meanings of words because you don’t like the idea of having a belief.

  9. Jesse Says:


    I don’t wanna bore anyone too much (I am quite capable of that) but the guiding reason that I am an Atheist is because I view it as an anti-ism in the manner you describe “ism’s”. The lack of belief is not an affirmative notion, but often only a passive one. Christian criticism of Atheism always takes that line because Atheism is inherently anti-ideological; if there is no God, it is a pluralistic world, and ideology is only a social mechanism for controlling folks’ perceptions. Christian’s attack Atheism the same as they do for everything: by ideologizing it, so they can compete on their own terms. Nonetheless, the burden of evidence is still on Theists (which they should appreciate; believing in absurdity ought to strengthen one’s faith, a la Kierkegaard). However, “New” Atheists have definitely made an -ism for themselves (scientific hyper-reduction), which I object to far more than I object to anything on behalf of religion. I mean I’ll be the first to admit it–Dawkins, Harris, et al; bunch of hypocritical jerks!

  10. ophalm Says:

    It’s like you assume everyone must have a religion, even if their religion is no God at all.

    But that’s an assumption. Just because you assert that atheism is a religion doesn’t make it one.

    Here’s a cheeky analogy: If Atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby.
    Does that make it slightly clearer?

  11. norlick Says:

    @ Clark:
    Yeah, it takes just as much faith to believe in a god as it does to dismiss this claim… oh wait, whats all this about noah’s ark? Talking snakes? Zombie jesus? Jew exodus? First born egyptian killings? and then theres the wave function of the universe, the scientific theory that predicted cosmic background radiation, yet is falsified if any god exists.
    I take that back, dismissing this bullshit takes no faith on our part.

  12. maryam Says:

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  13. xiagan Says:

    Yeah, it’s very annoying to hear Atheism declared a Religion.
    If that’s the case, all the Christians have more than one religion too. The belief in God, the Unbelief in Allah, Ganeesha, Shiva, etc…

  14. stillhere4u Says:

    Atheism may well be spurred on by the refusal of religions to engage in self-criticism. I’ve just read on how foreign self-criticism is to religion, and, moreover, how religion misunderstands itself. You might be interested in it.

  15. herbaltonic Says:


    If you’d like to get technical with the bits of the word atheism, then you have to break the whole thing down.

    The -ism bit in atheism is attached to the word theism, which is what the word is referring to. The A at the beginning of the word means “without”. Atheism therefore means “without theism”, or “without the belief in a god or gods”.

    There is a difference between the complete lack of belief in a god or gods, and the belief that no god or god’s exist. One is an active assumption, the other is a position of not assuming.

    Try to be right if you are going play semantics, my friend.

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