I read this article about a Belgian writer (his name is Alain De Botton). He wrote a book called "Religion for atheists". It really got me thinking.
He says the following:
Trying to prove that God doesn't exist is not what it's all about for atheists, but it's really about how to go further when you decided that there's no God. We can learn a lot from religions: the community, the education, the art.. In a religion for atheists there will be no dogmas, but some of the aspects of religion are pretty interesting, especially for the sceptics upon us.
(Note: I translated this from dutch myself, there could be some mistakes in it, just tell me if there are things you don't understand)
In short, his idea is to create a religion, but without a God. There will be temples and masses, just not dedicated to any spiritual creature.
I don't think this is a really good idea, but i'd love to hear some opinions. What do you think?
The problem with attempting something like this is the same thing that makes atheism so great in my opinion; There are as many ways of being an atheist as there are atheists. It's also the same problem that makes organized religion fail so utterly, and branch out in dozens of completely different sub-religions. When you try to organize a group of people with the same basic belief, but with a million different ways of interpreting that belief, you end up dividing instead of uniting.
At least that's what I think.
I don't think it would work. There is nothing to unite atheists other than disbelief in a god. You simply cannot organise a group that is so diverse in its beliefs.
Other than that, I also dislike the idea of organising atheism like a religion (and not only because it would lend credence to the common theistic claim that atheism is a religion). Organised religion is too much a tool for control for me to go along with anything similar. Anyway, what would these be temples to?
He says the temples would be these fantastic marvellous buildings 'to remind mankind that they are only small' or something like that. By that, he doesn't mean that there's a bigger thing than mankind in a spiritual way, but more like we're small compared to the endless universe.
And there would be gatherings of atheists there, doing atheist..stuff, whatever he means by that. I didn't read the book itself, so I don't know every detail :)
Okay, I see your point, in the matter of teaching people how to "not act like a total jerk" and accept other people for who they are.. it may be useful. But I think there are other ways to do that, instead of starting up a whole new religion.
But thanks for sharing your thoughts on this anyway :)
Yeah, I don't think it'd go too well. It's an interesting concept I suppose, but atheists are too diversely minded to have an organized "religion". For example, I am an atheist (duh). I don't believe in any type of god or heaven or hell or anything like that. My friend, however, is an atheist that believes in some sort of paradise or heaven (she still doesn't believe in god, though, so she's still an atheist). Ok, so who cares, right? Right. I'm fine with that. But I think if we would organize a religion for atheists, we would eventually set certain guide rules for being atheist and then maybe that wouldn't be ok anymore. Then atheism would split off into branches, just like Christianity did. That's one of my major problems with religion. It causes a lot of separation and hatred and discrimination for no good reason. I don't want atheism to be like that.
Also, what would we do when we got to our atheist mass in our atheist temple? We can't pray or worship. Would we just talk about being atheists and our atheist ideals? My friend and I talked about starting an atheist club at school (in protest to the new Christian club at our public school. Does separation between church and state mean nothing to anyone anymore?) and I eventually came to a conclusion: we'd run out of stuff to talk about. That's probably what would happen to the atheist religion.
The whole idea of an Atheist religion is both oxymoronic and unnecessary. There is no need to congregate and discuss what you don't believe in. Or what you do believe in for that matter. Surely you can have your own personal beliefs or disbeliefs without feeling the need to share them with everybody. Why is there any need to label yourself with a religion? Can't you just worship whatever you want whatever way you want?
Surely most people who label themselves disagree with some aspect of their religion. Before entering a phase of adolescent faith, I considered myself to be Catholic. However, I didn't really believe in certain aspects of the bible. I did believe in God though. Without utmost belief in the bible, I failed to comply with the 'rules' of Catholicism. Therefore, I don't really think I had the right to call myself Catholic.
There doesn't need to be an Athiest religion because there is no real need for another religious label. Also, I agree that naturally people will feud and divide as a result of differences in their beliefs. Besides, there is an Athiest religion which exists today. It's Francism. Represent.
There is no need to congregate and discuss what you don't believe in.
And yet here we are.
Good news! Atheist mass lasts one minute and the sermon is the same everywhere:
"Who's up for some DnD?"