Atheists in Boston are complaining that they haven’t been invited to participate in the interfaith services held in connection to the Boston Marathon bombings. See No Room for Non-Theists at Boston Interfaith Service | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches.
Isn’t this an admission that atheism is just another religion? And if atheists participate in an interfaith service, isn’t this an acknowledgement of those other faiths, indeed, a “participation” in them? So how are they atheists, really?
I’m very intrigued with the phenomenon of atheists taking part in and developing their own acts of corporate worship. Anthropologists consider religion, in its essence, to consist of rites and rituals. Full-blown belief systems come only with highly-developed, highly-advanced religions. But the religious impulse, they say, derives from the instinct to worship.
I don’t buy that completely, revealed religion being different from man-made religion, but the anthropological insight would show why throwing out religious rites and watering down worship is a bad idea for Christians, since that makes belief all the more abstract, leading eventually to its disappearance. But perhaps to its re-appearance, as those who have no beliefs still feel that need to worship.
Atheist worship is a manifestation of a very primitive kind of religion. Perhaps one day it will develop to the point of ascribing content and objective meaning to their liturgies, giving rise to a belief in God.