Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Atheist Church" a more counter productive and inane concept would be hard to beat

Well, it’s happened again. I was surfing the net and found an atheist site that was taking a poll of its membership asking about whether one would approve of / attend an atheist "church". I was disgusted for a number of reasons.

First, the term "church" is antithetical to atheism. A church is a place of worship, for theists. They might have just as well proffered an atheist synagogue, or mosque, or coven for all the sense it makes.

Secondly, with so many confused theists calling atheism a "religion" and all the atheists working to counter that foolishness by repeating the old canards like “atheism is a religion like baldness is a hair color,” or “like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby," to be talking about an "atheist church" is giving already confused theists ammunition to renew their claim of “atheism = religion.”

Thirdly, exactly what do all atheists have in common to justify a close knit social structure akin to a theist church? Do we all share a "belief system" in common or a common "world view"? I doubt it. You don't know mine, and I don't know yours, and nothing in being atheist defines wider personal convictions or world views.

Do we feel the need for some "spiritual support" (oy!) by a group of like minded "non-believers?" Atheists share in common only one thing, the ONLY thing meant by "atheism": non-belief in God/gods. Period. Not much there around which to form a close knit church-like social structure much less one with rituals, dogma, doctrine, rites or even a secret handshake. Frankly, I wouldn’t even be attracted to a night of bingo with a room full of atheists.

Oh yes, we likely share some basic axiomatic principles, like respect for science, the need for objective evidence to accept something as a fact. Most of us accept evolutionary theory as genuine. Some large percentage of us supports equality for women, a women’s right to control her reproductive processes, and gay rights. But that isn’t atheism. That’s modernity, rationality and 21st century thinking.

The concept of a church which seeks to somehow service my needs (whatever they may be); or the needs of the “atheist community” (whatever that is), simply because we share only non-belief in God/gods, is not only unnecessary but irrational and counterproductive to how Freethinkers are perceived. That's not to say I object to atheist clubs, reading groups, discussion forums, or activist organizations to discuss issues, raise awareness and to ensure atheists’ rights and the separation of church and state are kept sacrosanct. I belong to a number of those and they serve a clear and defined purpose. But the concept of a formalized "church" is down right misguided and oxymoronic and sets back the hard won credibility of the atheist movement 50 years.
Some pathetic atheists say having our own church and going to "services" would make atheists look better, more moral and thus acceptable to believers. My response to that is: Thanks, Uncle Tom ... if I need to try and "pass" I'll let you know.

On the other hand, if by calling every atheist organization a church, mosque, synagogue or coven we all get a major tax break … count me in and call me Reverend.


longhorn believer said...

What are they gonna do at this "church"? Stand around and sing "Spaghetti Monster row the boat ashore"? Are you sure these people are really atheists? Since when do atheists want the acceptance of believers? And Jebus wept!

NewEnglandBob said...

"On the other hand, if by calling every atheist organization a church, mosque, synagogue or coven we all get a major tax break …"

It would not even be worth having a tax break for having to deal with the other issues. The strongest argument you gave here:

"The concept of a church which seeks to somehow service my not only unnecessary but irrational and counterproductive to how Freethinkers are perceived."

I am in charge of myself and I take care of my needs. I have outgrown the need look upon others to solve my problems and I am not xenophobic of people, only bad ideas.

Contents under pressue said...

We already have an atheist church here in RP, Hump.

Except we don't call it a church - We call it Starbucks XP

Drunk in MN, (yup, it's me) said...

"much less one with rituals, dogma, doctrine, rites or even a secret handshake."

This reminds me of some group that wanted to come up with an atheist "symbol", I think it was the letter A with some type of orbiting electrons.

Silly, unless the symbol is a picture of me, pouring a Martini.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, this picture is photoshopped and this "church" isn't real.
I thought to myself, what if there were Atheist "clubs" like the Elks Club and we'd meet at a lodge of some sort. How would the community embrace something like that? Even if this Athiest Lodge did great things for the community and gave out scholarships for local kids that were going for a science degree, you all know how we would be received by the "loving and moral" christians. With protests, threats, rocks thrown through windows, slashed tires, etc.

Momma Moonbat said...

Interesting that you posted this, when I've been pondering about atheist clergy to perform wedding ceremonies. I have no clue why the idea crossed my mind (another of those moonbat barks, I guess), but I've been wondering how an atheist would go about having him/herself credentialed to perform wedding ceremonies. I know that certain elected officials such as judges and justices of the peace can perform secular weddings, but what if one is a nonbeliever who doesn't want to run for public office. Shouldn't an atheist be able to be credentialed to perform wedding ceremonies just as a bapitst preacher is?

Dromedary Hump said...

Here in NH anyone of good standing can become a Justice of the peace. Just takes some paperwork and references. It's not an elected position.

Lisa said...

I believe the Unitarian church, with its theology-lite doctrine, attracted atheist back in the days of colonial America when it was blasphemy not to believe or belong. Still does, apparently.
Recently I accosted a woman who had been "sharing" with a group, revealing that such'n'such a thing happened in church where she sings in the choir, adding that she really doesn't believe in god. Trying to point out the dumbass hypocrisy of her statement in a nice way, I told her I was advocating for atheists, and found her statement telling. Now, one more person who avoids me.

Rachelle said...

Totally on point with this post, Hump!! i completely agree. :)

And if any atheists feel the need for a forum to discuss their non-belief or other issues with other individuals (freethinking or not)--come here (or similar blogs--or as someone else said--Starbucks). LOL! But who needs a church and all it entails? The only thing for sure atheists have in common is a lack of belief in gods.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Counter productive and inane is as accurate a description of an Atheist Church I can think of.

I've been in discussions with believers who insist atheism is a "religion." All these folks need to see is the idea of a Church of Unbelievers to seal their silly idea that atheism is a religious sect.

No thank you.

As another commenter wrote, I'm very happy to come here or on other nonbeliever sites for discussions. And to also ask for a snappy answer to this post put up by a blogger:

"A person who has lost connection with God is adrift, chasing shadows and filling the emptiness with false idols. Ever notice how those who abandon God inevitably end up building a golden calf?"

I did ask the blogger why believers always erroneously think we atheists are unhappy, lost beings. Is it because that idea makes them feel superior, and they need to feel superior because of a deep seated fear that all they believe is nothing more than smoke and mirrors?

Momma Moonbat said...

@ Shaw, try this:
We seek to quench the thirst that is our natural curiosity. We all ask who, what, when, where, how and why. The difference between atheists and theists is that theists are told "god did it" and question no further. Atheists do not accept that and instead go in search of the truth. If you wish to call that building a golden calf, go right ahead. I will continue to drink in all of the knowledge I can absorb, and you can continue to be content with "god did it."

Dromedary Hump said...'re onto something there:
I wonder if when Moses came down from the mountain and saw the Hebrews worshipping a golden calf, if that wasn't simply an allusion to their having rejected supernaturalism and endorsed reality.
After all, after 40 days on a mountain, to have some old fool come down with tablets he chiseled out of rock claiming a burning bush wrote it, would make any normal person reject supernaturalism and accept reality.
Indeed, if the "golden calf" is reason, reality and science, i'm a proud devotee of that golden calf trinity.

Cephus said...

I've said atheist "churches" were both pointless and stupid for a long, long time. Aren't we supposed to be better than that? Anyone who needs a "church" for something they don't believe in is a weak-minded, weak-willed individual, not deserving of respect IMO. Sure, it's great that you want to socialize, why not go out and find things you actually *DO* enjoy and then find like-minded people to hang around with?

Anonymous said...

The sign isn't real. If you'll go to the URL listed on the picture you'll see that it's a site for, "create your own church sign" -although humorous, and I like the thought of cocktails with my services, this just isn't legitimate. Sorry camel, loved your post though.

Dromedary Hump said...

I made the sign for the purpose of this article.

Rabbi Jeffrey Falick said...

Well we do have non-theistic, non-supernatural churches and synagogues already. HUUnitarians are atheists/non-theists who have their own atheist groups.

My group is the Society for Humanistic Judaism. We are completely non-theistic but still participate in Jewish culture and re-create Jewish religious ceremonies to suit our non-theistic needs. We celebrate holidays and life cycle events but we have no belief in God, gods or anything supernatural.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks for your input.

Having been raised in a Jewish home and with Jewish traditions (albeit, never bar mitzvahed) I feel a special connection with and empathy for the Jewish people.

While the root meaning of synagogue is "assembly," it is accepeted as the equivalent of a house of worship. If you do not worship a god, then calling your gathering of Jewish secularists a synagogue is oxymoronic,IMO. One might as well call MENSA a mosque of intelligent beings.

I'll go so far as to proffer that your retaining that synagogue descriptor is reflective of a fear of letting go of the supernatural aspect of Judaism.

But the key here is you share with your "fraternity" or "club members" or "brotherhood" or "congregation" in the non-religious sense, something more than simple non-belief, which is all the term atheist connotes. You share a common tradition, and/or culture and/or ethnicity that is larger than simple non-belief. One might say your non-belief is secondary to your Jewish identiy.

This is much different than:"Hey lets start an atheist church/mosque/temple even tough we share nothing else in common."