The New York Times “Room for Debate” blog is tackling the question “Is Atheism a Religion?” (More specifically: “Can atheism replace religion? Is it a religion?”)
Here’s a sampling of the responses:
Religion is not morality. Theists ask me, “If there’s no god, what would stop me from raping and killing everyone I want to.” My answer is always: “I, myself, have raped and killed everyone I want to … and the number for both is zero.” Behaving morally because of a hope of reward or a fear of punishment is not morality. Morality is not bribery or threats. Religion is bribery and threats. Humans have morality. We don’t need religion.
It doesn’t matter whether atheism is a religion, and atheism doesn’t have to replace religion. What matters is that we as a society of many beliefs can welcome and embrace atheists as a newly visible part of the diversity in America.
Cord Jefferson, West Coast editor of Gawker:
Growing up, I was turned off by a great deal of the dogma I heard coming from religious institutions and their acolytes: a reverence for blind faith over evidence, puritanical sexual hang-ups, insistences in codified bigotry that vilified gay people and subjugated women. That being my experience, I should hope with all my heart that atheism never becomes a religion.
Phyllis Tickle, Christian author:
No, atheism is not a religion. Like a religion, it can offer community and common cause to its adherents. It can have a powerful and solid moral code and even, under cordial circumstances, may develop a body of oral and written material that is analogous to, or is a form of, wisdom literature. In all this, it resembles religion.
You can check out the other responses here and chime in with your own comments.