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Re: Is atheism a religion? (Tim Moore) wrote:
 >In article <4puj2t$>,
 >(Paul S. Person) wrote:
 >> I prefer to define "religious statements" and then to observe that
 >> such statements are a form of "religious behavior", suggesting some
 >> form of "religion" (however low-key). A "religious statement" has
 >> three characteristics (IMHO):
 >> 1) It purports to be a statement of fact.
 >> 2) It is not a logical statement, that is, it is not presented as a
 >> theorem in a clearly defined logical system which can be derived from
 >> that system's axioms.
 >I don't think that this is neccessarily true. I think that the big dispute
 >between various religions and atheism isn't so much logic v. faith, but
 >rather all make logical inferences from different axioms that are taken on
 >For example, take Christianity. One of their axioms is: God punishes evil
 >doers. Other axioms define evil (in various degrees of ambiguity). A
 >logical statement in the Christianity mindset, then, is that if I have
 >acted in ways that are (by the axioms' definition) evil, I will be
 >The distinguishing thing about atheism, is that its axioms are all
 >empirical or are consistent with observations. Atheists generally trust
 >their senses, or trust people that trust their senses, or trust people
 >that trust people...etc.
 Yes, but then, are their senses trustworthy? If their basis for
 avoiding solipsism is to assume the world exists and that their senses
 actually report information from it, how does this differ from any
 other religious belief which asserts the same thing? I can see that,
 by simply assuming the existence of the world and the trustworthiness
 of the senses, instead of, for example, asserting the existence of God
 and deriving these beliefs from that assertion, they may claim to be
 applying Occam's razor; but how are they any better off in actuality?
 Is not their entire existence based on assumptions which cannot be
 proven (or disproven)?
 Also, how does this relate to *atheism*, that is, to the denial of the
 existence of God? Are we to understand that they start from the axiom
 "God does not exist" and conclude that the world does exist and that
 their senses are trustworthy? Somehow, that appears unlikely. I don't
 think you are describing atheists, I think you are describing
 agnostics who, not being able to decide, have put the question of
 God's existence to one side and decided to get on with their lives.
 >So the question becomes a purely semantic one. The beliefs of the various
 >systems that are generally agreed to be religions are isomorphic to those
 >of atheists, agnostics, etc.
 >Of course, so is any belief system.
 >When "religion" is generalized enough to be equivalent to "philosophy" or
 >"belief system" then it is no longer a useful term. Let's not do that.
 >When it is specified a little more, it could either mean a belief system
 >that includes axioms that are not based on any observable phenomena. This
 >sounds good to atheists, I think. But many Christians/Jews/Muslims etc.
 >claim to be able to observe evidence of their religions, and there's no
 >way to dispute those claims, even if one is skeptical.
 >When specified further, it can be defined as a system that includes a
 >certain view (either axiomatic or inferred) about sentient beings that are
 >superior to humans. This brings its own problems. Atheists would then be
 >considered religious. Additionally, UFO spotting would be considered

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