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Atheism as a Religion

December 8, 2013

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11: 1).

An interesting phenomenon is taking place. All across the globe, atheist churches are springing up. These for the most part conform to the mega-church model, providing participants with weekly services that can include music, a reading, a lecture on some topic, and “quiet time” for contemplation.

Atheists – or at least some of them, it appears – miss the trappings of organized religion, if not the substance of faith.  They are, as a result, appropriating the language, ritual, and symbolism of religion.  This hollow imitation of religion puts the lie to assertions that atheism is not, itself, a belief system based on the denial of God’s existence in any form.

What are Christians to make of this? Allow me to suggest three conclusions:

1. As many have said before, the human heart bears the imprint of God’s hand, and seeks to fill that empty space inside. If God is eliminated as an option, poor substitutes such as riches, fame, etc. are all that remain. These will never achieve their intended goal, since nothing can take the place of God.  With time, the pursuit of substitutes becomes more frantic and less satisfying.

2. Satan is a notorious liar. Incapable of creativity, he copies the form of godly things, in his effort to lead mankind astray.  This is not to say that atheists are by definition satanic. Satan, however, will use whatever tools may be available. A belief system denying the existence of God qualifies for this purpose.

3. Atheist pseudo-churches miss the entire point. Faith stems from a relationship with God. The trappings of religion are superfluous.

If atheism’s religiosity reveals anything, it is that atheism should be treated as another religion, and not held up as the acceptable alternative to all faiths [1].

[1] Though atheists often point to the deaths attributed to Christians, historically, atheism has killed far more than the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Irish “Troubles” combined.  Here are just a few examples:

• While estimates vary widely, Joseph Stalin during his brutal reign was responsible for the deaths of anywhere between 6 – 60 million of his own people.
• Adolph Hitler is documented to have murdered 11 -12 million non-combatants, including concentration camp victims.
• Mao Zedong is estimated to have killed 70 million of the Chinese people (16.5 – 45 million during the 4 years of the Great Leap Forward alone).


  1. Let’s start at the end:

    “Atheism” has killed noone. Some regimes that also were atheistic, did, but what they did was not the result of atheism. If all, let’s say, nazis, had been left-handed, then that would also not be the reason for what they did. Christianity, on the other hand, DID some of the murders BECAUSE of Christianity, BECAUSE of the religion. But, in truth, most wars, etc. were fought about totally different topics than religion. In most cases, it was simply about land, power, etc.
    It’s simply pretty impossible to use the one statement of atheism to justify killing someone. “Because I do not believe in god, I have to kill you.” Doesn’t make any sense.

    Most Nazis were Christians and even Hitler was not an atheist (but, depending on which of his varying accounts you want to believe, he was perhaps an enemy of the church). And without more than 1.000 years of hatred against the jews, the holocaust could have never happened. Christianity prepared the way for that quite well. It’s not like hating jews was a new idea, invented by Hitler. Christians did that for more than a thousand years.

    And no, atheism is not a religion. Oh, you can call it a religion, if you want to, but not without destroying the definition of religion until it means something like “Something people feel strongly about” – which makes almost everything a religion, including stamp collecting. Personally, I don’t get the need for an atheist church, too, but even the existence of such things doesn’t make atheism a religion, because defining religion as “the thing you go into church for” sounds strange.

    • I cannot speak for all atheists. I was, however, an atheist, myself, for many years. As a child abuse survivor, I was deeply angry at God for the injustice in the world (as if mankind were not responsible for that), and for my own circumstances, in particular. My “weapon” against God was to deny His existence and refuse Him obedience. I was passionate on the topic, determined to convince anyone within hearing that there was no God. If atheism were not — in some sense at least — a religion that passion would have been lacking. Without recognizing the fact, the god I worshiped was mankind. What drew me back to Christianity was not fear of retribution or eternal consequences, but an overwhelming experience of God and God’s love. For me, He is as real as you or I. I wish that realization for all who do not yet know Him.

      As a point of information, most Nazis, whatever they may have called themselves, were certainly not acting on Christian beliefs. Adolf Hitler planned the eradication of Christianity. While describing Nazism as a secular ideology based in science, Hitler took pains to establish a cult of personality around himself. Toward that end, he adopted whatever religious language and symbolism were useful to him.



      • If you were angry at god, you were no atheist. It’s simply impossible: If you are an atheist, you don’t believe in god. Being angry at something that you don’t believe exists, is like being angry at Darth Vader or Lord Voldemort… It simply doesn’t make any sense. So either you were not angry at god or you were no atheist, just an angry theist. There is no other possibility.

        And honestly, the more I hear from Christians that they were atheists, too, the less I am inclined to believe it. Half of all fanatics tell me, they were atheists, too, but most of them don’t even get the basics right. But that’s just a side note.

        Anyway, if passion is a sign of religion, then we are at a nice place, where football is a religion and collecting stamps is, too. People feel strongly about many things. But that doesn’t make these things religions. Perhaps you feel religious about football – but that doesn’t make football a religion.

        And the old “No true Scotsman” fallacy. Sorry, the Nazis were Christians. End of story. You may not like the fact, but it’s true. Christians have been killing jews for more than a thousand years. The fact that the nazis were Christians (mainly) does not mean, that they did, what they did, BECAUSE they were Christians, btw. It just shows that Christians can do horrible things, too. It’s not an argument that Christians are evil – it’s just an argument that Christians do not have some kind of absolute morality. They are humans, end of story. Being Christian doesn’t make you evil, being atheist doesn’t make you good – and the other way round. But somehow Christians like to pretend that they are automatically better people – which is a lie.

  2. I can’t agree with you more. I just think people are scared and afraid of the possibilities. What happens when there is nothing they can do, and their prayers may be in vein in the end?
    But having said that … You mentioned faith. You can still have faith or even have a passion for mother nature. I think it is all encompassing, and as long as there is a part of you that satisfies our human needs of faith and a God, a higher being or whatever it may be- you will be okay. No need for outdated religions!!

  3. Great post, Anna!
    The Atomic Mutant is right when he said that anti-Semitism among “Christians” in Germany was at the root of the Holocaust. Hitler essentially forced the German church to choose between worshipping him, a false god, and worshipping Christ. It might be an over-simplification, but generally speaking I think it’s fair to say that those with hatred for the Jews, including many church leaders, followed Hitler and others, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, followed Christ and many, including Bonhoeffer, were killed for doing so.
    Hitler despised Biblical Christianity!

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