On this site, we define the term "religion" as:
"... any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, and a worldview."
Atheism is not a complete religion in the sense that Christianity, Islam, and, Judaism are. Atheism is not generally perceived as offering a complete guideline for living as do most religions. However, Atheists frequently derive their own ethics and philosophy of life and worldview using their Atheism as a starting point. These factors are generally derived from secular considerations, and not from any "revealed" religious text.
Some Atheists, when asked what their religion is, will answer, simply, "Atheist." Others will say that they "have no religion, they are an Atheist." Still others will use terms like Humanist, Agnostic, Freethinker, religious skeptics, etc. This makes public opinion polls almost useless on this topic.
- Atheism relates to a belief in the existence or non-existence of a deity, or whether the person associates any meaning to the terms "God" or "deity."
- Atheism can involve the positive assertion that there is no deity; this is sometimes referred to as "strong Atheism." It is the most common dictionary definition for the term "Atheist," and is probably the definition used by most theists.
- Atheism can be the absence of a belief that there is a deity. This is the belief promoted by the American Atheists and many individual Atheists.
- Atheists often promote the belief that all Gods and Goddesses, as well as angels, demons, ghosts, etc., are nonexistent entities created by human minds.
In one way, most North Americas are Atheists or near Atheists. About 3 in 4 adults believe in the existence of the Christian Trinity: God the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. However, when it comes to the Mayan, Hindu, Ancient Roman, Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Sumerian, Sikh, and many hundreds of other Gods and Goddesses, they either:
- Regard them as something like the tooth fairy and Easter bunny: mythical entities that do not really exist but were artificially created by humans, or
- They exist as demons, supernatural entities without most of the powers of the Trinity.
Thus, the difference in beliefs about God between a typical Christian and a typical Atheist is numerically small: The strong Atheist believes that none of the many thousands of Gods and Goddesses exist; most Christians believe that one God exists as a Trinity. Whatever the other thousands of deities are, they are not Gods. Although the numerical difference is much less that 0.1%, the philosophical difference is immense.
There exists massive discrimination against Atheists in the U.S.
- Part of this may be based on the historical linkage between Communism and Atheism. Most Communists are Atheists. But many people do not realize that most Atheists in North America are not Communists.
- Another reason for this discrimination is the common belief that a person cannot be motivated to lead a moral life unless they believe in the carrot and stick system: hope for the reward of heaven, and fear the punishment of Hell. In the past, this belief had been codified into law. Conscientious objectors opposed to participating in warfare were thrown in jail if their opposition to killing other humans was not based on belief in God.
- Still another cause of discrimination is a widespread linkage between theism -- the belief in the existence of God -- American patriotism, and Christianity.
The American public exhibits high regards for Buddhists. One reason for this may be that Buddhists have been responsible for very few wars, mass murders, genocides, etc. However, a strong majority of Buddhists are Atheists in that they have no concept of God.
Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):Reeves Hall - Asatru In Brief
Aleister Crowley - The Winged Beetle
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - I Believe
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - Three Lives