Like all religions, atheism has a strong Belief System, transcending the Observable, about the origin and organization of the universe – the primary matters concerning any Religion. It is not the first, the last, or the only Religion that rejects God. The main difference between atheists and agnostics is that agnostics have an incomplete (“don’t know”) Belief System were as atheist have a full Belief System (Religion). In practice, it is hard if not impossible to be an agnostic, as a Belief usually forms as soon as one tries to answer the universal probing questions.
Like other Religions, atheism has idols (“science” and “mother nature”), dogma (Evolution), prophets (Darwin is the main one), priests and high priests lecturing in the sacred “temples of science”, rituals (often invocation of Evolution), martyrs, and proselytism.
There are advantages to denying that atheism is a Religion. It is easier to restrict freedom of existing Religions from a “common good”, “secular” position than from the position of one Religion (atheism) fighting another. “Separation of church and state” sounds a lot better than “Union of atheism and state”. Incidentally, it is easier to focus initially on separating “church and state” while foregoing separation of synagogue, mosque, or temple… and state.
Atheism is mostly encountered in stable environments where people are subject to the illusion of control (i.e. “we are the masters of our own destiny”). Young, healthy, employed, urban, males in affluent societies are prime candidates, as this cohort has little exposure to life’s uncertainties outside their bubble of stability. More precarious living reminds people of their limitations and that they were gifted with abilities they did not earn. In the animal world, a farm animal would be an atheist while a wild one would not be one.
Modern “secular” (atheist) societies consider other Religions merely human inventions of the primitive civilizations. Supposedly, as mankind develops, we understand more and more the mysteries of the universe and therefore we need less of “the alternative” explanation provided by “Religion”. In fact, as explained here, Knowledge is an inseparable composite of Belief (Religion) and limited Observation. The decline of emphasis on Belief is due to the increase society stability leading to increased illusion of control.
Why single out atheism? Other Religions recognize Belief as critical to Knowledge but atheists are under the impression that Observation and Reason (this one divorced from Belief) are sufficient for human Knowledge. However, even when we agree on the Observable, individuals usually reach different conclusions proving that Reason is not a pure and common element to all humans as the Observable can be (even if not always is). To atheists, individual Reasoning is either “right” or “wrong”. Atheists (in their minds) are “right”, and thus superior to others.
Con: Atheists do not believe in the supernatural.
Pro: The word supernatural has no meaning as we don’t know the limits of the natural. Nuclear energy was “supernatural” in 1900 but very much “natural” in 1950. Other meaningless words are “skeptic” (aren’t we all about others’ ideas?), “nonbeliever” (everyone believes in something), “freethinker” (we all claim individualism), “dogmatic” (whoever accepts they are dogmatic?), “progressive” (people oppose “progress”, not progress), etc.
Con: Atheism is not a religion.
Pro: Sure, atheists “are not a religion” just like alcoholics that “don’t have a drinking problem”.
Con: There’s no God because of Occam’s razor: “among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected”.
Pro: We are not comparing hypotheses but Beliefs. Besides, “should be selected” does not mean “it’s always right”. In addition, the atheistic Belief does not have fewest assumptions – at best it has incomplete assumptions.
Con: Atheism is just Science.
Pro: Atheism doesn’t own Science. As shown here, Science is a composite of Observable (which we more or less all agree on) and Belief (Religion) based interpretation and extrapolation of the Observable.
Con: But where does God come from?
Pro: This is like asking: how much infinite plus one is? Infinite, of course. Regardless, this question and answer is a matter of pure Belief (Religion).
Con: Atheism is a religion like …bald is a hair color and …not collecting stamps is a hobby.
Pro: This would be true if atheism didn’t take a position. But atheists have a Belief System (Religion) like everyone else. You can live content without hair or hobby, but not without a Belief System. The argument is not about a little corner of the universe, but about the universe itself. Furthermore, atheists are not just absent/neutral/unconcerned/unknowing, but they actively deny God. The active position is justified only by a competing Belief System (Religion).
Con: Atheism is the lack of belief in God, not a belief that there is no God.
Pro: Regardless of what definition you like, the evidence shows that in fact atheists hold “a belief that there is no God” – the harder they argue, the more convinced they are. Nobody argues for their lack of belief, but everyone argues for their beliefs.
Con: I find the explanations on offer by religion to be unconvincing and unnecessary. When you tell me we need to posit God to explain the creation of the universe you have substituted two things I don’t understand for one. Maybe I should posit a Supergod who created the universe creating God to solve this.
Pro: God is infinite – check your math: infinite + 1 = infinite; infinite + infinite = infinite; infinite – infinite = infinite; etc. There is no superlative of God (infinite). Indeed, some infinite sets can be larger than other infinite sets, but just because a set containing both A and B is larger than another set containing just A, doesn’t mean that B is greater than A.
Con: We all need to act on faith in the best evidence we can find. That doesn’t mean it makes sense to call every belief system a religion.
Pro: Western atheists generally resist being called religious, although they have no problem recognizing Eastern atheists like Buddhists and Jainists as religious.
Con: We are born atheists. Religion is a self perpetuating unnecessary addition.
Pro: Animals too respect the powers of Nature. All humans have a form of religion from the most primitive to the most advanced. Atheist do believe unconditionally in the Laws of Nature, Science, Reason, and various philosophies – all these beliefs make the atheistic religion. Children discover religion as soon as they starts asking existential questions.