Are Atheism and Agnosticism religions?

India
January 6, 2007 3:38am CST
If religion is defined as: 'A way of life', is it correct to call atheism and agnosticism as religions. I think your 'way of life' depends on your life's philosophy ,of which belief or non-belief in God is a major part. So Atheism and Agnosticism should be called religions according to me. What would you say?
3 responses
@loudcry (1044)
• India
9 Jan 07
The fundamantal premise of any religion is beleif in God.Religion cannot be described as a way of life. People do not live today the way they did in the past, they are religious nonetheless. The concept of religion usually gives a picture of beleif in god and the ritulistic practices. Atheism are agnostism are not religions nor are they 'ways of life!' They represent just one statement in the huge book of one's outlook towards life. We can further this discussion if you care to define 'way of life'
@loudcry (1044)
• India
9 Jan 07
I read your definition of way of life. In my opinion 'way of life ' cannot be described in terms of one's philosophy. For that we have have another word, well, philosophy. Way of life is seldom a choise.For e.g Living in caves was a way of life for the caveman, he lived in it because had to.
• India
9 Jan 07
I started this discussion because many a times we are required to mention our religion in official or unofficial statements. In an official statement i do not have the choice of writing ' Atheism' in the slot, but in unofficial and informal statements like Orkut profile i do have a choice. So is it correct to write atheism/agnosticism in there.
• India
9 Jan 07
I dont agree with the statement that belief in God is the basis of any religion. The true meaing of religion according to me is WAY OF LIFE. e.g in hinduism the gods come much later. In vedas, ancient HIndus have praised Nature for being the supreme force. And I dont think thats wrong. Vedic maths, which has achieved a lot of fame these days is a part of Hinduism and it has nothing to do with god. The name of our country, India, is derived from Indus which itself has its roots in Hindu. Hinduism is a lifestyle in the part of the world which we call as Indian subcontinent. Aayurveda is a Hindu grantha about medical science. If Hinduism,a religion, encompasses all this; calling it as something giving picture of god will be absolutely wrong.
@jricbt (1454)
• Brazil
6 Jan 07
I think that defining religion as "A way of life" is bad definition, it is more than a way of life, is , perhaps, a way to interact with a powerful being (god) and to follow his rules. It is a simplistic and BAD definition, that would require more tought and development. The other problem is that the only thing that all(or almost) atheists have in common is the lack of belief. Some are called "weak" atheists, other "strong" atheists, their "way of life" differs a lot. Atheism by itself is only a lack of belief in deities, only that. The way of life needs more than a lack of belief in deities to be defined. One can think that since there is no god everything can be done, others (the majority I think), may live a life with ethic, since this is only what we have, and it is better to try to have the best life we can, and don´t do to others what we don´t want to de done with us. This is not religious, it is just simple tought and logic. By the way, I am atheist.
• India
6 Jan 07
I think i should elaborate on 'A way of life'. A way of life would include the principles and ideologies that a person accepts and accepts especialy because his/her religion preaches it. A very simple example: ' Speak the truth' is a principle. Now atheism/agnosticism do not have set principles such as these, but our ideologies and principles do arise from our stand on whether God exists or not. To put it very simply: If belief in a particular God is the cause, then its manifestation i.e. religion is its effect. If non belief in God is the cause, then its manifestation i.e the philosophy of that person( religion) is its effect.
• India
6 Jan 07
Chips, I tend to agree with you when you speak about religion being a way of life and the explanation of it but the other part of your comment is inharmonious to what I feel. Religion is a set of rules or regulations too and not necessarily these rules comes from a GODdy base. Take an example of Hinduism, the god comes much later than the other principles in it. And its a religion. Aayurveda is a Grantha dealing with the health. Rug,Sam, Yajur,Atharva-these ways tel us about many things other than only god. They teach us about philosophy behind the existance of human being as well as our surrounding. The only thing that is respected in it is nature. And its the ultimate controller of the life and no matter how long we go in terms of developoments, we won't be able to prevent earthquakes and we won't be able to stop the motion of moon. Some people call it as Science or Physicsmazed because of it and some call it nature and praise it. Similarly, some people try to study it and people call them scientists and some people, like Agastya Hrishi, who find Cu-Zn potential cell eons before modern day scientists do it and atheists call them Hrishis who are religious fools who believed in god. I think this is a misfortune of a great culture and a great religion in which we are born.
@zal3x89 (280)
• Romania
6 Jan 07
Atheism is the disbelief in the existence of any deities. It is commonly defined as the denial of theism, amounting to the positive assertion that deities do not exist, or as the deliberate rejection of theism. However, others—including most atheistic philosophers and groups—define atheism as the simple absence of belief in deities (cf. nontheism), thereby designating many agnostics, and people who have never heard of gods, such as newborn children, as atheists as well. In recent years, some atheists have adopted the terms strong and weak atheism to clarify whether they consider their stance one of positive belief (strong atheism) or the mere absence of belief (weak atheism). There are also gnostic atheists. "Gnostic" is an english word meaning knowledge. A gnostic atheist knows that there is no god or supernatural of any kind and does not believe that there is any god or supernatural of any kind. (Introduced in The American Rationalist, Jan-Feb, 1994, by Paul Keller.) Many self-described atheists share common skeptical concerns regarding supernatural claims, citing a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Other rationales for atheism range from the philosophical to the social to the historical. Additionally, although atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism, naturalism, and materialism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors that all atheists adhere to. Although atheists are almost invariably assumed to be irreligious or non-spiritual in Western culture, this does not necessarily hold true for all atheists. Some religious and spiritual beliefs, such as several forms of Buddhism, have been described by outside observers as conforming to the broader, negative definition of atheism due to their lack of any participating deities. Atheism is also sometimes equated with antitheism (opposition to theism) or antireligion (opposition to religion), despite most atheists not holding such views.
• India
6 Jan 07
Thanks for the response. A very well put description. I would like to know whether you would consider atheism and agnosticism as religions.