Home » Darwinism, Education, Intelligent Design » Richard Dawkins To Be Taught in Religion Class in UK

Richard Dawkins To Be Taught in Religion Class in UK

Intelligent design to feature in school RE lessons

Alexandra Smith
Tuesday January 23, 2007
EducationGuardian.co.uk

Teenagers will be asked to debate intelligent design (ID) in their religious education classes and read texts by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins under new government guidelines.

In a move that is likely to spark controversy, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has for the first time recommended that pupils be taught about atheism and creationism in RE classes.

Atheism is being addressed as a religion. A step in the right direction because that’s exactly what it is – a Godless religion and Darwin is its prophet.

ID, which argues that the creation of the world was so complex that an intelligent – religious – force must have directed it, has become a contentious issue that has divided scientists and Christians in Britain.

Note the gratuitous conflation of intelligent force and religious force. This is the only effective way that ID can be attacked – by making it into a religious strawman. This intellectual dishonesty reflects poorly on those that stoop to it. Dawkins and his ilk are nothing but liars, creeps, and mental lightweights.

Some of the world’s top scientists have expressed outrage over the teaching of creationism and ID in school science classes, which they say is an attempt to smuggle fundamentalist Christianity into science teaching. They argue that it should be made clear to pupils that science backs the theory of evolution.

Now the QCA wants pupils in England to debate the relationship between science and religion in their RE lessons. The teaching of ID and creationism should prove less contentious in this part of the curriculum (although the scientists who argue that ID is a science may be disconcerted), as pupils will investigate and role-play disputes between religion and science, such as Galileo, Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins.

Galileo is the only real scientist in that short list and he was also a devout Roman Catholic. Darwin was just a religiously conflicted naturalist (more of a stamp collector than a scientist) and Dawkins an atheist propagandist that’s never done a lick of science (or any other constructive activity AFAIK) in his entire life.

Pupils will be expected to understand terms such as creation, God as creator of the universe, intelligent design, the Big Bang theory, the sacred story and purposeful design, as well as words that are specific to a religion, such as Bible, Rig Veda, and Qur’an.

The key here is whether or not ID is presented in the strawman form conflated with religion or in the form held by its major proponents as the study of intelligence, complexity, and design in nature.

The new guidelines for key stage 3 (11 to 14-year-olds), published yesterday, say: “This unit focuses on creation and origins of the universe and human life and the relationship between religion and science. It aims to deepen pupils’ awareness of ultimate questions through argument, discussion, debate and reflection and enable them to learn from a variety of ideas of religious traditions and other world views.

“It explores Christianity, Hinduism and Islam and also considers the perspective of those who do not believe there is a god (atheists). It considers beliefs and concepts related to authority, religion and science as well as expressions of spirituality.”

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

63 Responses to Richard Dawkins To Be Taught in Religion Class in UK

  1. Now that’s a good thing, atheism is being taught as what it really is, religion.

    But they have to be kidding to just mention the name of Richard Dawkins beside the name of Galileo! By the standards of evolutionists Richard Dawkins is not even a scientist as he didn’t didn’t publish in any peer-reviewed journal, let alone great scientist!

  2. “But they have to be kidding to just mention the name of Richard Dawkins beside the name of Galileo!”

    My thoughts exactly! I just hope I live to see the day when Darwinism is exposed for the falsehood it is and its valiant crusaders go down with the bloated, fabricated, tax-dollar sucking ship. Yes, I’m a little bothered seeing Dawkins mentioned with the likes of Galileo.

  3. There is nothing in that article to say that atheism is being addressed as a religion. Saying that it is going to be taught in RE classes is not the same thing.

    As someone who sat through five years of RE classes in a British school, this is not really anything to get excited about, believe me, and certainly doesn’t mark any sort of turning point for creationism or ID, or against atheism.

  4. austinite

    There is nothing in that article to say that atheism is being addressed as a religion. Saying that it is going to be taught in RE classes is not the same thing.

    History is taught in history class.

    Science is taught in science class.

    Math is taught in math class.

    Art is taught in art class.

    Religion is taught in religion class.

    Atheism is taught in religion class. Connect the dots.

  5. DaveScot, if ID is taught in religion class, but Dawkins is only brought up as a rebuttal to ID, Dawkins’ views may not be presented as religious, but scientific.

    Though history is taught in history class, history teachers often grade spelling. Therefore it is not only history that is taught in history class. If so it may not be only religion taught in religion class.

  6. DaveScot
    Atheism is taught in religion class. Connect the dots.

    You believe that atheism is a religion? Under which definition of the word “religion”?

  7. 7
    sagebrush gardener

    ID, which argues that the creation of the world was so complex that an intelligent – religious – force must have directed it…

    Why is it that atheists are always the first to bring religion into scientific discussions of origins?

  8. [...] Over at Uncommon Descent, they are gleefully posting about ID and atheism both being included in a UK religion class. PZ Myers at Pharyngula is also pleased by the news. How can both sides be happy about the same thing? [...]

  9. Inoculated

    I’m confident that when ID is fairly presented it is obvious that it’s not religion. I’m also confident that when atheism is fairly presented it’s a Godless religion.

    Franky

    Atheism is a religious belief under the same definition that ID is a religious belief. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  10. Richard Dawkins is not even a scientist as he didn’t didn’t publish in any peer-reviewed journal, let alone great scientist!

    Dawkins’ CV lists at least 50 peer-reviewed papers, including ones in leading journals like Evolution and Nature.

  11. DaveScot
    Atheism is a religious belief under the same definition that ID is a religious belief.

    I’m still not sure what that definition you’re using is, though.

  12. Franky172, “You believe that atheism is a religion? Under which definition of the word “religion”?”

    Please consider http://www.dictionary.com Religion

    1: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    Atheism, as taught by Dawkins is certainly “a a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.” Further, it clearly meets, “containing a moral code governing the conduct of human.”

  13. Here is the scenario:

    The class starts by watching the videos “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and “The Privileged Planet”-

    The class then argues that ID does NOT belong in a religious education class as ID is based on observational data and does not care about worship or beliefs.

  14. DaveScot,

    You say, “I’m confident that when ID is fairly presented it is obvious that it’s not religion.” And, granted, in your posts and comments you don’t conflate ID and religion. But given the personal (and publicly stated) beliefs by many ID behemoths, the Wedge document, and that even this website’s manifesto says “materialistic ideology has subverted the study of biological and cosmological origins … science is being used illegitimately to promote a materialistic worldview”, inter alia, surely you can understand why people get confused?

  15. bFast
    Atheism, as taught by Dawkins is certainly “a a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.” Further, it clearly meets, “containing a moral code governing the conduct of human.”

    Why did you cut out the middle of the definition?

    On a side point, I’ve never heard of an “atheist” moral code concerning the conduct of human affairs.

  16. Atheism as a religion was a fun topic of debate a few months ago on a religious discussion board I occasionally participate in.
    Atheism meets at least two of the dictionary definitions of a religion:

    Main Entry: re£li£gion
    Pronunciation: ri-‚li-j„n
    Date: 13th century

    2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
    (from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
    No one can argue that #4 certainly applies to prof. Dawkins.

  17. KevinWParker,

    Excuse me, English is not my mother tongue and I think I need to improve my sense of grammer.

    What I wanted to say, and is well known, is that he DON’T (instead of didn’t) publish, he hasn’t done any research for a while as far as I know.
    And I’m not implying that he’s not a scientist, I am saying that it is by darwinists way of thinking, they make a big deal of peer-review.
    I am not trying to question Dawkins’ knowledge of evolution, of course he has great knowledge.

    (BTW, I’ve seen his CV, most of his articles, specially recent ones, are all about atheism, not science. If promoting atheism is what makes one a scientist then of course they count)

  18. dacook
    2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
    This definition of religion relies on the word “religious”, which is somewhat circular, no? Or, when the first definition of religion clearly excludes atheism “b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural ”

    4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    No one can argue that #4 certainly applies to prof. Dawkins.

    I find definition 4 to be so vague as to be pointless, and certainly not the definition most people assume when you use the word “religion”. For example, it may be true that for some people “atheism” is a system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith, but so is the belief that the Patriots should have won the Super Bowl this year – is football now a “religion” because some people believe certain things about it with ardor and faith?

    Under definition #4 nearly *everything* is a religion depending on whom you ask. I do not think this is what people mean when they say “atheism is a religion”.

  19. What I wanted to say, and is well known, is that he DON’T (instead of didn’t) publish

    I think the word your looking for is “doesn’t” (does not).

    And your English is far better than my whatever your native language is.

  20. IDist – Here is a list of articles from the bibliography section of his website at Oxford. Although it appears that he has written peer reviewed articles he has not written one since 1980. The Nature in 1994 article is more of a commentary on viruses fo the mind as it deals with a “chain letters” and behavior.

    Dawkins, R. & Dawkins, M. Decisions and the uncertainty of behaviour. Behaviour 45, 83-103. (1973)
    Dawkins, R. & Carlisle, T. R. Parental investment, mate desertion and a fallacy. Nature 161, 131-133. (1976)
    Dawkins, R. & Krebs, J. R. Animal signals: information or manipulation? In Behavioural Ecology (eds J. R. Krebs & N. B. Davies), pp. 282–309. (Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications. 1978)
    Dawkins, R. & Krebs, J.R. Arms races between and within species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B, 205: 489-511 (1979)
    Dawkins, R. & H. Jane Brockman, Joint Nesting in a Digger Wasp as an Evolutionarily Stable Preadaptation to Social Life, Behaviour, 71, pp. 203-245 (1979).
    Dawkins, R. & Brockmann, H. J. Do digger wasps commit the Concorde fallacy? Animal Behaviour 28, 892-896. (1980)
    Oliver R. Goodenough & Dawkins, The “St Jude” mind virus. Nature, Vol.371, No.6492, pp.23-24 (1994)

  21. franky

    I’m using the Judge Jones definition of religion to classify atheism as a religion. Near as I can tell his definition is that if people who talk about religion a lot have other ideas their other ideas must be religious ideas. I hear atheists talking about a religion a lot. Take Richard Dawkins for instance. A very famous atheist and all he seems to do is talk about religion.

  22. “… intelligent – religious – force …”

    hmm…

    Perhaps, then all of academia is intelligent – religious – studies.

  23. “a Godless religion and Darwin is its prophet.”

    Actually it is probably fairer to say Nietzsche is its prophet.

  24. “You believe that atheism is a religion? Under which definition of the word “religion”?”

    To clear something up there is an equivocation here. The term “atheist” is being used as a synonym for “naturalist”.

    And in terms of being a “religious belief”, Naturalism certianly qualifies. I doubt you can define the term “religious belief” in a non-special pleading fashion that includes everything people normally think of as a religion but still manages to exclude Naturalism. Though you are welcome to try. Although “belief in god” is not something all religions have nor “belief in the supernatural”, so those wont work. About the only think that will work is something like “Anything that is called a religion except Naturalism” but that is special pleading.

    A better term is worldview, and Naturalism is certianly that.

  25. “IDist – Here is a list of articles from the bibliography section of his website at Oxford. Although it appears that he has written peer reviewed articles he has not written one since 1980. The Nature in 1994 article is more of a commentary on viruses fo the mind as it deals with a “chain letters” and behavior.”

    So her jumped the shark in 1981 ?

  26. “…system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith, but so is the belief that the Patriots should have won the Super Bowl this year – is football now a “religion””

    franky172, the difference is that atheism is a set of beliefs about God – a faith that He does not exist. No matter which way you spin the Patriots game, it has nothing to do with the existence of God. Atheism wouldn’t even be a word were it not for theism. At the very least, you absolutely must accept the fact that you adhere to your set of atheistic beliefs on faith. To deny that would be intellectually dishonest.

  27. “but so is the belief that the Patriots should have won the Super Bowl this year – is football now a “religion””

    Actually down here in Oz, sports does function as a substitute for religion in practice. Complete with holy days and religious rituals.

  28. Oh and of course, ceremonial dress. The parallels are surprising.

  29. Atheism is a metaphysical belief; therefore, IMO, if it is not a religion, it is at least religious.

  30. This presents a great opportunity for the formulators of Intelligent Design Theory to insist that only genuine ID literature is presented in the UK curriculum, not pseudo-ID material culled from the (usually biased) media, or Wikipedia.

    If they’re going to teach genuine Darwin-Dawkins, ID’s leading lights must insist on nothing but the genuine Behe, Dembski, Johnson, Denton, et al, being included.

    The ID side should expect some disingenuousness from its opponents who are likely to try and misrepresent ID in the material to be taught in the UK. The ID side needs to act pre-emptively to forestall such an eventuality.

    As has become all too obvious in recent years, the Darwinists have mastered the craft of using political and legal machinations to disparage and destroy those who question their atheistic and materialist religion.

    We should presume, therefore, that already there are some in the UK working to sabotage ID in the proposed curriculum. Were they to be left to succeed and “front load” the curriculum with pseudo-ID, they kill the baby at birth — another successful partial-birth abortion.

    Carpe diem!

  31. I think many people, myself included, question the role of religion and its uses in modern times. Dawkins is a good source to research if you want to address some common questions facing the function of religion today. I can see why it would be brought up in religious class.

  32. Jason Rennie
    To clear something up there is an equivocation here. The term “atheist” is being used as a synonym for “naturalist”.

    And by naturalist, you mean “an advocate of the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms”?

    I doubt you can define the term “religious belief” in a non-special pleading fashion that includes everything people normally think of as a religion but still manages to exclude Naturalism.
    Well, almost every definition of the world religion I have found includes reference to either god or the supernatural. Out of the 27 definitions provided here:
    http://www.google.com/search?h.....tnG=Search
    all seem to include a mention of god or the supernatural. The only reasonable one (excluding a site that defines religion as something to do with aliens:) )that would include “atheism” as a religion is from Summit Ministries (http://www.summit.org/resource/dictionary/#r), which includes atheism as a special case of religion. I have never seen a standard dictionary define religion without reference to God or the supernatural. Perhaps you could provide such a definition? Both Merriam-Webster and the Cambridge dictionary specifically include “belief in god” as part of the primary definition.

    shaner74
    franky172, the difference is that atheism is a set of beliefs about God – a faith that He does not exist.
    I do not see how this relates to the definition of religion above – religion typically defined as “a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny” or “the service and worship of God or the supernatural”. The fact that atheists lack such beliefs does not make atheism a religion as far as I can tell.

    Atheism wouldn’t even be a word were it not for theism.
    And?

    At the very least, you absolutely must accept the fact that you adhere to your set of atheistic beliefs on faith. To deny that would be intellectually dishonest.
    I disagree that atheists (weak atheists at least) base their beliefs on “faith” – but as far as I can tell, that is not relevant to whether or not atheism is a religion. I may have had faith that the Pats were going to win last night, this does not make my beliefs “religious”.

    crandaddy
    Atheism is a metaphysical belief; therefore, IMO, if it is not a religion, it is at least religious.
    I agree that atheism is a statement about the metaphysical. So is “the ideal chair exists”, I do not believe this makes either of those statements “religious” per the definitions provided above.

  33. “Well, almost every definition of the world religion I have found includes reference to either god or the supernatural”

    There are atheistic strains of hinduism and buddhism. Yet these are religions so your definition is incomplete.

    “And by naturalist, you mean “an advocate of the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms”?”

    No Naturalist is someone who thinks (most basically) that matter is all there is in the universe, it is a variety of materialism. And then the collection of results that naturally flow from such a starting premise.

  34. “I do not see how this relates to the definition of religion above – religion typically defined as “a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny””

    Franky, you seem to be redefining the term “religion” to strictly mean “belief in God” This is not how most dictionaries define it. Does the “flying spaghetti monster” conform to your definition? Would belief in FSMism be religious belief, or just “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith” Maybe your qualm should be with Webster’s?

    “Atheism wouldn’t even be a word were it not for theism.
    And?”

    Simple. Atheism revolves around God. Without belief in God, we would not all be atheists; we would just be a bunch of people that have never heard of God. Atheism exists for the sole purpose of actively denying belief in God – that is the doctrine of atheism; a belief in God not existing.

    “I disagree that atheists (weak atheists at least) base their beliefs on “faith” – but as far as I can tell, that is not relevant to whether or not atheism is a religion.”

    Atheists believe there is no God without proof. That is called faith. Dispute about calling it “religion”, or how the dictionaries have it wrong till the cows come home, that won’t change the fact that atheism is a set of beliefs about God.

  35. Jason Rennie
    There are atheistic strains of hinduism and buddhism.
    Then according to the definitions I have provided, they are not religions.

    Yet these are religions so your definition is incomplete.
    This appears to be a difference of opinion between you and merriam-webster and the cambridge dictionary then :)

  36. shaner74: “. . .The fact that atheists lack such beliefs does not make atheism a religion as far as I can tell.”

    An atheist not only denies the existence of God, he (or she) makes himself God. The atheist says, “I have absolute perfect infinite knowledge that there is no being in all of the universe, in dimensions visible and invisible, who possesses absolute perfect infinite knowledge.”

    Atheism is not only a religion with its own many gods, it is first a delusion.

  37. Franky172,

    If a religion is a set of beliefs about the metaphysical which may be either true or false, then, as a belief about the metaphysical which may be either true or false, atheism is religious.

    To believe the proposition “no gods exist” is to some degree an act of faith, and since the existence or nonexistence of gods is a metaphysical subject, atheism is a metaphysical faith. That the existence or nonexistence of gods is a metaphysical topic appears not to be a matter of dispute. That atheism is a faith may be disputable, but it seems you have only two other options: 1)Atheism is a logical fact, in which case you would have to provide an absolute proof that no gods exist or 2)Belief in a god or gods is mere opinion and cannot objectively be either true or false.

  38. shaner74
    Franky, you seem to be redefining the term “religion” to strictly mean “belief in God” This is not how most dictionaries define it. Maybe your qualm should be with Webster’s?
    Webster’s primary definition is “(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural”.

    Although a later definition is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”, this describes usage such as “football is his religion”, which is not the definition of the word that is typically intended, especially in discussions regarding theism. I do not believe my understanding of the word and how it is being used in the context “atheism is a religion” differs from Webster’s – i.e. that the usage is incorrect.

    Simple. Atheism revolves around God. Without belief in God, we would not all be atheists; we would just be a bunch of people that have never heard of God.
    Many people who consider themselves “weak atheists” take precisely that view – they consider their belief about God to be similar to a child who has never heard of such a thing.

    Atheists believe there is no God without proof. That is called faith.
    I disagree. Weak atheists especially seem to take a faith-free view of the problem in my opinion. But again, regardless of the amount of faith involved, this does not make atheism a religion as far as I can tell.

    Dispute about calling it “religion”, or how the dictionaries have it wrong till the cows come home,
    I do not believe that I am in disagreement with any dictionary that I know of.

    that won’t change the fact that atheism is a set of beliefs about God.
    Atheists do not believe in God. This is true.

  39. Franky172
    If a religion is a set of beliefs about the metaphysical which may be either true or false, then, as a belief about the metaphysical which may be either true or false, atheism is religious.
    I disagree – people make statements in intro to philosophy courses about the ship of theseus and the metaphysical concept of “Essence” that may be true or false all the time. None of these is “religious”.

    (More on the ship: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus)

  40. “1)Atheism is a logical fact, in which case you would have to provide an absolute proof that no gods exist or 2)Belief in a god or gods is mere opinion and cannot objectively be either true or false.”

    Two would seem to be untenable on logical grounds.

    Before anybody says, “Wah!! you can’t prove a negative so this is unreasonable”. May I remind you, that that claim is false. It is quite trivial to prove negative the claim, “There is a largest prime number”.

  41. franky172,

    There are many definitions of the word “religion”. They can be categorised as substantive, functional or formal.

    Substantive definitions focus on the content of religious beliefs and usually refer to belief in supernatural agencies and to the behaviour that flows from having those beliefs – rituals, sacred sites, vestments and the like. These are the ones atheists like to use because they can then say, See! Atheists don’t believe in any supernatural agencies and certainly don’t go to church or temple or mosque. Ergo, they assert, atheists are not religious.

    Functional definitions of religion describe how religious beliefs serve individuals and/or societies.

    Here is one functional definition:

    Any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of life.

    The belief that there is no God definitely constitutes part of a specific belief system about deity. Other parts could include beliefs that there is no heaven or hell and that life was not created but evolved from non-living matter spontaneously.

    Hartford Seminary has an online Encyclopedia of Religion and Society in which you will find many other examples of both substantive and functional definitions of religion.

    The page also includes several formal definitions such as the one described below.

    Wach (1951) specified the religious response—elicited by an experience of ultimate reality, response by the whole person and not merely a cognitive or affective response, an experience having the potential of becoming the most intense of all, and leading to an urge to act. He maintained that such religion was a human universal. So long as religion would be a response, any particular content, such as the holy, would be a secondary, nondefining feature.

    That one seems to cover atheism perfectly well. Certainly it describes my experience of conversion to atheism (as a result of being indoctrinated there into believing that the General Theory of Evolution was true) when I was in highschool. Too bad it took me 14 years to find out I’d been deceived.

    The categories of belief, unbelief, apathy, ignorance or whatever that are subsumed under the term “weak atheism” by definition do not include belief that God does not exist. Therefore, your quibbles about “weak atheism” add nothing to a discussion of the religious nature of atheism as the term is understood by probably everyone who hasn’t been in the habit of haunting the alt.atheism Usenet group.

  42. Does ID say anything about who to worship or give service to? No

    Does ID say anything about how to worship or give service

    Does ID say anything about when and where to worship or give service? No

    Does ID require a belief in “God”? No

    If the Bible were falsified today, would ID be affected? No

    Can an atheist be an IDist? Yes

    Will anti-IDists ever understand any of what I just posted? No

  43. Janice, a great post.

    The debate about the meaning of the word “religion” obfuscates some serious issues about atheism.

    Those who hold the views of weak atheism that you describe are people who have simply not thought deeply about the big questions.

    Those, however, who spend time vehemently arguing about the non-existance of God can best be described as irrational. They so want to believe something they cannot see what is. They are the ultimate wishful thinkers whose method of engagement with those who disagree is to shout loud enough to not hear what may overturn their view.

    The foundation of this type’s world view is that if it can’t be measured it can’t exist.

    They can’t see that is the ultimate statement of unsupported faith.

  44. Joseph, you have conclusively shown that ID is not a religion.

  45. “Although a later definition is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”, this describes usage such as “football is his religion””

    Go ahead and call football religion if you like, atheism still comes down to a system of beliefs about God, and football does not. It is much more fitting to refer to atheism as a religion rather than football, per Webster’s primary definition, “(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural” This describes Richard Dawkins perfectly. He is in service and worship to the belief there is no God. It all revolves around God. Football does not.

    “Simple. Atheism revolves around God. Without belief in God, we would not all be atheists; we would just be a bunch of people that have never heard of God.
    Many people who consider themselves “weak atheists” take precisely that view”

    If someone considers themselves to be a “weak atheist”, they have made a decision about God. If you didn’t know about God you wouldn’t consider yourself *anything* Instead, they have committed themselves to the doctrine of atheism, which affirms with ardent faith there is no God. It’s a different thing entirely to refer to someone as a “weak atheist” who has never been introduced to the concept of God or atheism. Again, it comes down to faith about God – religion, or as another poster pointed out, at the very least “religious”.

    “regardless of the amount of faith involved, this does not make atheism a religion as far as I can tell..”

    Wow! I’ve never seen an atheist admit it’s faith-based! I’m shocked. Hmm…let’s see now: atheism is a faith about the existence of God. Sounds like religion to me.

  46. I should also note that the people who conflate ID with religion are those people who know/ understand very little about both.

    DaveScot’s approach forced “them” to look up “religion”. And yet they could only apply those definitions to “their” position!

    IOW if applied across the board, the same definitions which show atheism isn’t a religion nor religious, also confirm that ID is not a religion nor religious.

    Therefore the ONLY approach is to say that many IDists are Christians so ID is religious. That type of “one-way dead-end” thinking can’t understand that it is because of the scientific/observational datathat people choose to be religious. And that is because religion helps answer the questions that science cannot.

    Carlos Mencia sez the following about those people:

    Dee-dee-dee

  47. Janice
    Substantive definitions [...] are the ones atheists like to use because they can then say, See! Atheists don’t believe in any supernatural agencies and certainly don’t go to church or temple or mosque. Ergo, they assert, atheists are not religious.
    I am using the definitions provided by both Merriam Webster’s and the Cambridge dictionary. As a starting point, do we agree that under these definitions, atheism is not a religion?

    Any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of life.
    I have provided definitions from Merriam Webster’s and the Cambridge dictionary. This definition is from “religioustolerance.org”. I would venture that this is not the common or definitive usage. Do you agree?

    tribune7
    Those who hold the views of weak atheism that you describe are people who have simply not thought deeply about the big questions.
    I disagree.

    shaner74
    Go ahead and call football religion if you like, atheism still comes down to a system of beliefs about God, and football does not. It is much more fitting to refer to atheism as a religion rather than football, per Webster’s primary definition, “(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural” This describes Richard Dawkins perfectly. He is in service and worship to the belief there is no God. It all revolves around God. Football does not.
    I am confused. You have provided the definition of religion, then spelled out why atheism does not fit the definition (it is not the service or worship of God), then claimed that therefore atheism is a religion. I am having trouble following this argument.

    If someone considers themselves to be a “weak atheist”, they have made a decision about God. If you didn’t know about God you wouldn’t consider yourself *anything* Instead, they have committed themselves to the doctrine of atheism, which affirms with ardent faith there is no God.
    Atheists do not believe in God. I do not see ardent faith in that definition. You do not believe in many things – I doubt you have ardent faith in them.

    Wow! I’ve never seen an atheist admit it’s faith-based!
    This is not what I intended to convey. In my original statement from 11:43 I wrote – “I disagree [that atheism required faith].” However, let’s for the sake of argument allow that atheism *does* require faith – i.e. “regardless of the amount of faith involved”, this does not make atheism a religion per the definitions provided above.

    I’m shocked. Hmm…let’s see now: atheism is a faith about the existence of God. Sounds like religion to me.
    I still can not understand how atheism fits the definitions provided – i.e. “(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural”, or “the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship”.

  48. Jason Rennie said: “I doubt you can define the term “religious belief” in a non-special pleading fashion that includes everything people normally think of as a religion but still manages to exclude Naturalism. ”

    Well how about I take myself as an example. I am a naturalist not because I believe with any ardor or faith that there is not a God, but because I have no objective reasons to believe in any particular God and therefore cannot put a God into any objective search for how the world works.

  49. tribune said:”Those who hold the views of weak atheism that you describe are people who have simply not thought deeply about the big questions.”

    I beg to differ. Maybe for some or many but to put a blanket generalization on the group like that is absurd. Has it ever occurred to you that there may actually be very compelling reasons for seeing the formation of religious traditions over human history as a perfectly natural and sensical progression and evolution of ideas to fit new cultures and changing times? The whole question of does God exist or did we make him up is a very tough one, and I would say that to deny that is to demonstrate a lack of thought about the big issues. Some of the greatest minds in human history have struggled with that throughout their lives.

    In your third paragraph (#43)change “those who vehemently argue about the non-existance of God” to those who vehemently argue about the existence of God and read on.

    I would certainly never argue such a thing but perhaps you can see how such a statement burns both ways.

  50. The Raving Atheist discussed the topic “Is Theism a Religion” about a month ago. http://ravingatheist.com/archi.....ligion.php

    Simply put, there are some dogmatic forms of Atheism that probably do qualify as religions.

    The problem with classifying Atheism also arises from how people define Atheism. Some say it’s a belief that there is no God. (positive) While others say it’s a lack of belief in God. (negative)

    While there appear to be some problems with the latter definition, (discussed at evilbible.com here: http://www.evilbible.com/Defin.....eism_1.htm )the former is more likely than the latter to be classified as a religion.

  51. Joseph,

    Therefore the ONLY approach is to say that many IDists are Christians so ID is religious. That type of “one-way dead-end” thinking can’t understand that it is because of the scientific/observational data that people choose to be religious.

    Oh, please. Even if you accept CSI and IC as scientific hypotheses – indeed, even if you accept them as truths – it follows no more to believe in Christianity than it does to believe in panspermia.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either ID is science, in which case your religious beliefs are logically as arbitrary as belief in any other being one could posit as Designer, or ID is a religiously-motivated attempt to bring God into science.

    Which is it to be?

  52. trystero57:
    Oh, please. Even if you accept CSI and IC as scientific hypotheses – indeed, even if you accept them as truths – it follows no more to believe in Christianity than it does to believe in panspermia.

    Umm, I am not a Christian. I much prefer to leave religion out of any discussions pertaining to ID. Others do not share that opinion.

    If Christianity falls tomorrow I will still be an IDist. Albeit an IDist consoling his wife.

    Dr Gonzalez, co-author of “The Privileged Planet”, told AP that ID does not require a belief in “God”. I happen to agree.

    And as for how living organisms came to be here- I am all for some “Genesis” (the Star Trek version) scenario- even some Titan AE scenario or ET colonization*. And that the key to survival lies in what “the Privileged Planet” lays out- that being where to search for habitable planets because we now understand what it takes to sustain living organisms and what it takes to get that.

    Now we just have to figure out how to get off of this watery rock- that is unless we are satisfied with doing nothing.

    “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing”. Billy P

    * as for where that “life” came from we would just have to follow any evidence we can find.

  53. Well how about I take myself as an example. I am a naturalist not because I believe with any ardor or faith that there is not a God, but because I have no objective reasons to believe in any particular God and therefore cannot put a God into any objective search for how the world works.

    That doesn’t make you a naturalist; it makes you an atheist (using the popular negative definition). A naturalist believes – positively – that the natural world is all that exists, has ever existed, and will ever exist. This more properly typifies naturalism, in my opinion, as opposed to straight materialism (the two coincide but are not synonymous) or scientism, as mentioned earlier.

    The funniest part about this thread is that we are arguing over a dictionary definition as if it is the end-all-be-all of defining terms. News flash: We use words publicly in ways that differ from the denotative meaning. That’s how language evolves (which is probably a touch ironic given the likely stance of the people arguing for a static, denotative definition).

  54. But anyway this could be an example of the “Emily Latella”* syndrome. That being the twisting of what is said into something ridiculous. In this case I would say it is the word “region” that is the culprit.

    Seatle is in the Northwest region of the USA. To the sufferers of ELS region, is twisted to “religion”.

    Soon we will hear a collective “Never mind”- (one can always hope)

    *Emily Latella, Gilda Radner’s character on “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” (Presidential El(r)ection)

  55. I am a naturalist in that I only look for natural causes to phenomena. I am pretty darn sure that will meet most any definition of naturalist you can find. That does not however mean that I believe that there can be nothing else to or behind the universe.

  56. jmcd, the comment referring to weak atheists not being deep thinkers should be taken in context with Janice’s description in post 41 The categories of belief, unbelief, apathy, ignorance or whatever that are subsumed under the term “weak atheism” by definition do not include belief that God does not exist.

    I maintain that those whose belief (or unbelief) system is guided by “apathy, ignorance or whatever” are not deep thinkers.

    Concerning your challenge that those who vehemently argue in favor of the non-existence of God are not irrational, upon what do you (or an evangelical atheist) base a belief in the non-existence of God?

  57. tribune7

    I do not hold a belief in the non-existense of God. I just hold the belief that religions are quite probably entirely human creations. Although, especially in Christianity’s case, I hope I am wrong.

    I have yet to hear a convincing argument either way. I am familiar with Aquainas, Chesterson, Lewis and others, so it is not as though I have avoided the subject. I have not gone out of my way to read much if any material from atheists. I only occassionaly come across atheistic material in reading fiction. Most resently in The Brothers Karamazov I came across good arguments that cut both ways with excellent points each way but found them ultimately inconclusive. I do happen to make a design inference about the universe so you could say that I believe in some sort of “higher power,” but I do not feel that I have any good reason to believe anything in particular about that suppossed power.

    In short either way I heard that argument presented I would have the knee jerk reaction to see it the opposite way, and I just don’t think either side would be well grounded at all. I do not think one can conclusively argue for a traditional God’s existence or against that God’s existence conclusively hence the need for faith either way. I would also add faith that can be well justified either way.

  58. I am a naturalist in that I only look for natural causes to phenomena. I am pretty darn sure that will meet most any definition of naturalist you can find. That does not however mean that I believe that there can be nothing else to or behind the universe.

    It’s interesting that you say that because you’ve underscored the fact that naturalism has many connotations (metaphysical, epistemological, and so forth). What you’re talking about is epistemological naturalism, and so you would not likely be considered in the camp of most naturalists like Sagan (whose famous quote I amended as sort of the slogan of metaphysical naturalists). I actually recommend Michael Rea’s book World Without Design for a fuller discussion of what naturalism is, if it is really even a substantive worldview.

  59. christiancynic
    I will check that out. There are many shades to naturalism but I am still pretty sure I fit. If The Brights mold encompasses my worldview I think it can fairly be termed naturalistic. I do not however belong to formalised naturalist camp and find such a notion a bit of an oxymoron.

    Sorry to you and tribune but I have to get back to work if I am going to get out of here at a reasonable time. I will check in tomorrow morning if anyone wishes to continue a discussion or start a new one.

  60. tribune: sorry for the repetitious conclusively

  61. I do not hold a belief in the non-existense of God.

    Then you are not an atheist.

    I just hold the belief that religions are quite probably entirely human creations.

    There is a lot of human involvement in religion.

    I am familiar with Aquainas, Chesterson, Lewis

    And the Bible too, I hope.

    I do not think one can conclusively argue for a traditional God’s existence or against that God’s existence conclusively hence the need for faith either way.

    Which is my point and the basis for my claim that atheists are irrational.

    I don’t want to unfairly put all in the same pigeon hole and there is a very real demarcation between “I don’t believe” or “I doubt” and “there isn’t” when it comes to God. So remember, I’m restricting my claim of irrationality to latter group.

    Those who insist there is no God base their position on the inability to measure the immaterial.
    Faith is sneered at. Everything has a cause that can be found and empirically described. What came before the Big Bang? What is the source of energy/matter? It was something material.

    Which is a statement of faith, and to deny it is irrational.

  62. jmcd

    Another point. If you know God personally, the need for faith becomes less (or your faith grows stronger, however you want to look at it).

    Regardless, this is not something that can be empirically shown.

  63. JMCD:
    I am a naturalist in that I only look for natural causes to phenomena.

    Both intelligence and design are natural…

Leave a Reply