So how could Atheism be an ideology?
Because of the human tribal nature I mentioned before, atheists do group together. There isn’t anything too wrong with that, till you start getting to the binary thought, or the with us or against us attitude.
Thus we start to breed common ideas in the community. The problems arise when considering other ideas is frowned upon. There’s almost a level of indoctrination going on. “All free thinkers will think freely in the way we tell them too”.
Dogmatism and Misused Logic
Dogmatism is the tendency to lay down principles as undeniably true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others.
When logic is misused and becomes prevalent throughout the community, you could argue it is a form of dogmatism. There are also a number of common phrases you hear people shout, often without actually considering them.
Definition of Atheism
As I mentioned above, the issue with the modern “lack belief” aka “lacktheist” definition is that it doesn’t follow the rules of logic. Furthermore, suggesting it is not logical, or that there are other definitions, is met with a lot of anger.
Belief is seen as a dirty word. It is only seen in it’s most irrational form, accepting a big claim without evidence, and often contrary to the evidence.
The truth is a belief is simply a positive attitude towards a proposition, an acceptance something is true, or thinking something is the most probable.
This can be rational, irrational, or arational.
- Rational: logical reasoning, no evidence against the belief.
“I believe the bridge will not collapse as I go over it.”
“I believe the evidence supports evolution.”
- Irrational: an illogical belief e.g. holding a belief even after given evidence against said belief, or not using any logical reasoning.
“My friend said evolution is true so I believe it”
“I head a story saying vaccines cause autism, I believe it rejecting all the studies that show this to be false and vaccines to be beneficial”
“The earth is 6000 years old even though all the evidence points to it being much older.”
- Arational: no reasoning required. Not holding an attitude towards a proposition. A sensory/emotional state.
“I believe I like the taste of chocolate”
“I feel like I am being watched”
We explain this in more detail in our podcast, so I won’t bore you by expanding further.
Again, suggesting this can be met with a disgusting response.
Atheists often say anything that is weak evidence, like anecdotes or testimony, is not evidence.
That is wrong. It IS evidence, it is just weak and unconvincing evidence. I understand why it is regarded as “not evidence” but really we should stop committing an error ourselves and just explain how it is bad evidence rather than “not evidence”.
Faith is another word. Whilst generally it does apply to to the religious kind, it can also simply mean trust or belief in someone or something. This word’s definitions are conflated by both theists and atheists, but there is a big difference between faith a bridge will hold your weight, and faith in the doctrines of religion.
I cover faith, belief and evidence in this article here.
Rejection of Philosophy
To the scientism point above, there is a strong rejection of philosophy in the atheist community. The irony is, pretty much everything the atheists do/discuss, when not discussing facts, is philosophy.
Dawkins, especially lately, has been making loads of anti-philosophy posts. Whilst I admit to being a bit of a beginner in comparison to the likes of our authors TrolleyDave and ArtificialAgent, I can see he seems to have very little understanding of the topics. Discussions with them about his posts only highlights the fact that Dawkins himself, or at least his followers, are subject to scientism.
Morality is Subjective
“Morality is subjective!” is something so commonly shouted at theists. The reason for this is, theists say morality is “objective” but mean; absolute, universal, from God, and correct. So in answer to this, atheists chant morality is subjective, often just because it is the “opposite” of what the theists are saying, or sometimes due to a faulty definition.
If time was taken to understand what was actually meant by these terms, and how they are used normatively and descriptively, then a much sounder argument could be made for their opinion on morality, regardless if they still believe it is subjective or accept it as objective.
The issue is not so much whether they think it is objective or subjective, it is just the knee-jerk unthinking “morality is subjective” response often given.
Like I have mentioned above, there is an issue with misused logic. There is a dogmatic approach a number of “buzz words” and “catchphrases”.
There are so many atheists armed with faulty logic, memes, and a willingness to jump on, look down, put down, denigrate, masticate, and spew out responses having other atheists cheer them on as if they are some kind of woke warrior.
So is Atheism an Ideology?
It shouldn’t be, but groups such as the American Atheists have made it political. There is a prevalence of misused logic creating a level of dogmatism in the community. Common Catchphrases. Folks appealed to as an authority etc. So perhaps Atheism is not an ideology in itself, but some Atheists have become ideological.
Whilst there are still many atheists out there that are not dogmatic about it and don’t get involved in the political side, there are even more who do (especially online) and they seem to have turned atheism into an ideology. Often they react the same way creationists do in debate. That is to say, completely irrationally, willfully ignorant, and generally unpleasant.
We have all heard many fellow atheists say “evidence will change my mind” and when presented with evidence as to why their argument is flawed, often from many different sources, it is the evidence that is wrong.
This is what is turning atheism into an ideology.
Whilst I wouldn’t conclude that atheism is an ideology and is just a position on one topic; with it being politicised, dogmatised, redefined, and being such an “in thing” it seems that, at least currently, atheists are ideological and atheism is being turned into one.
Henceforth Martijn’s Thoughts
While we see the great majority of atheists resist being associated with an ideology, and a desire to be freethinkers, we also see a growing orthodoxy existing within the (online) atheist community. This is exemplified by the main figures in atheism, most notably Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Aron Ra and Matt Dillahunty, but also others like Lawrence Krauss. Many of the catchphrases, talking points and other sayings that the atheist community repeat ad nauseam are sourced from these main figures, who are then deified to the point where their word is neigh-infallible and at the very least taken on authority. Thus, the atheist community at large is hardly the freethinkers collective they aspire to be. This last part is made abundantly clear, also by the large scale opinion that philosophy is somehow “not worth the effort” that we also find in the circles of atheism/scientism.
A large part of the orthodoxy, therefore, is shown in the misattribution of definitions and the closed-mindedness with which many atheists approach philosophical discussions on things like free will, morality, and more political subjects like abortion. Atheism, if you ask me, has become not just an ideology, but with their common practices, books, convictions, gathering spots (both virtual and physical) and -ostensibly- voting records, have become a full-fledged sub-culture.
This is not to necessarily top criticise the atheist community as being somehow less-than anything, it is however, to challenge the narrative of the atheist free thinker who miraculously shares the opinions of his peers by their own free-thought process. After all, I would want this article to be a call to thought for all those atheists who have yet to develop their own unique; opinons, talking points, arguments etc. to actually crawl out of the Dawkins shaped shadow and think freely.
- SEP Atheism and Agnosticism (Draper 2017)
- Is an Agnostic also Atheist? (Ra 2019)
- SEP Belief (2006)
- SEP Epistemology (2005)
- American Atheists (wiki)
- American Atheists (website)
- ACA (website)
- Why should we use the Rules of Logic?
- Atheism, Agnosticism, Theism
- Atheism and Atheists
- I don’t Believe
- Disbelief and Unbelief
- On Morality Part 1: Defining Our Terms
- On Morality Part 2: Subjective Morality
- Response to : Is an Agnostic also Atheist?
Jump to any section again
- What is an ideology
- What do I mean by atheism is polysemous?
- What is Scientism?
- So how is Atheism in any way political
- So how could Atheism be an ideology?
- So is Atheism and Ideology?
- References & Related Articles