I’ve had the same discussion with a number of friends over the years, and after yet another discussion a few weeks back I thought I’d vent. The discussion goes something like this:

Friend: What religion are you?
Me: I have no religion. I’m an atheist.
Friend: Right. So ‘atheism’ is your religion.
Me: Er….no. Atheism isn’t a religion.
Friend: Oh yes it is!

At this point I grab the dictionary.

Me: I’m looking at my dictionary. It says “Religion – the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods“. That isn’t atheism.
Friend: Oh yes it is. You have a belief. A belief that there is no God.

At this point I’ve sometimes made a little joke.

Me: I believe there isn’t a Santa Clause. Does that make my belief a religion?
Friend: Santa isn’t a superhuman controlling power!
Me: He can deliver toys to all the kids in the world in a single night! That’s superhuman!

Ok, enough with the jokes:

Me: Anyway, I don’t have a belief that there isn’t a God. I lack a belief that there is a God. That is very different.
Friend: The “superhuman controlling power” for atheism is nature. It created life from no life. It controls evolution.
Me: Because someone is an atheist doesn’t mean they believe in evolution.
Friend: I’d say the majority of athiests would believe in evolution.
Me: This argument is flawed. According to the dictionary, I would need a belief in a superhuman power and I would need to worship that power. I do none of that. ‘Atheism‘, by definition, is a lack of ‘theism‘. Theism is the belief in the existence of a god or gods.
Friend: Well that isn’t how I would define atheism.

So that’s just great. How can I win if the person I’m arguing with is now making up their own definition of atheism?

Another friend after this discussion asked me this question in all seriousness:

Friend: If you are an atheist, what stops you from going out and raping and murdering people?

Now that is scary.

So anyway, I’m not saying other people can’t have a religion – you are welcome to believe in whatever you want. I’m just saying I have no religion. Why do people who are religious insist that I must have a religion? I accept that you have one – why can’t you accept I don’t? People with a religion insist that they have a right to religious freedom. Where is my right to irreligious freedom?!

Why must I have a religion?

10 thoughts on “Why must I have a religion?

  • Pingback: monoicon » Blog Archive » Because we say you need a religion!

  • May 20, 2009 at 3:13 am

    I hope you use the term ‘friend’ loosely. If not, you need to urgently find some less mentally challenged ‘friends’. ‘God created mankind in his own image’. I think your friends might be effective proof against a superhuman controlling power, either that or God is a superhuman controlling power with a sub-normal IQ.


  • May 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I’m about 10% agnostic and 90% atheist. You should remind your friend that Hitler was a Catholic and he had no issues killing people.

    You will never win an argument against your nutty friend over semantics if he keeps making things up. So in summary, avoid semantics and tell him he’s a twit.

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  • May 20, 2009 at 10:04 pm

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  • May 23, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    He can deliver toys to all the kids in the world in a single night! That’s superhuman!

    I forgot to mention that Santa is an acronym of Satan, so he’s isn’t superhuman, he’s actually the devil. They also both like the colour red and little boys.

    I hope this information is of use.

  • July 6, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Bah! I dislike people like that. Let me guess…they were Christian?

  • July 6, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Yes, they were Christian. I’m sure other religions are just as annoying, but then I’ve never had a Hindu hassle me for being atheist.

  • July 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    There is an easier way of dealing with these questions. Just adopt a religion, there are plenty around – here is one that I particularly like, the Flying Spaghetti Monster: http://www.venganza.org/

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