Evangelical Atheism…

Not a religion or anything.

An atheist church devoted to endless empty sneering. I’m reminded of this bit of wisdom from the immortal Sally Sparrow:

Conversely, sneering is depth for shallow people. All the boredom and none of the hope.  Who can resist?

  • Libertarian

    Just because a bunch of pretentious morons have decided to open an ‘atheist church’ doesn’t make atheism a religion.

    • A C

      Then please tell atheists to stop using Westboro Baptist “Church” (which is actually a family of crazies that would go away if the media’d stop publicizing & interviewing them) as an excuse against Christianity. See how silliness can run both ways? The impressively-more-Enlightened, innocent-as-ever Atheists are not immune to silliness either. In fact, me thinks they’re actually more prone to silliness syndrome.

      • Psy

        Terms like disordered, unnatural and deviant don’t come across any different than Westboro’s slogans.

        • enness

          That, quite frankly, is your problem.

          • Psy

            Between all the gay hate speech from NOM, and the Churches I think it helped gay marriage pass in three states, helped Obama’s election and took out a few Republicans in the Congress and the Senate. Now you notice Conservatives rushing to flip flop to support gay marriage. I think the Churches should keep it up till the liberals have a full majority in both houses and another liberal President.

      • zengardener

        The WBC is not an excuse against Christianity. They are an example of Christianity.
        There is no getting around it.

        • Mark Shea

          Actually, they deny they are Christian. They call themselves “Tachmonites”.

  • Ashley

    “a godless congregation that will meet on the first Sunday of every month to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life.”

    Empty sneering is your job, Mark. Don’t project.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      “I know you are, but what am I?”

      • abb3w

        Are you suggesting the phrase “endless empty sneering” is not itself a derogatory re-characterization of the description that Ashley quoted?

    • A C

      But aren’t Atheists supposed to be more “advanced” & “enlightened” than that? And by ‘that’ I mean forming an established religion (& also your Ad Hominem attacks against the author).

      • Psy

        Nope, sure more intelligent and-or more educated people are more likely than other groups to be atheist but its open to everybody. Atheist are people too.

  • MClark

    Maybe they look at religion as common to all of humanity and figure there might be something to the forms and practices. Here is a review of a book discussing just that.

    http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2012/05/religion-for-atheists-non-believers.html

    I would have to say people actually being sociable and talking with each other gets +1 from me. If they are at church, they aren’t on the internet being all grouchy.

    C S Lewis said paganism is a gateway to Christianity. Is atheist church a gateway to paganism? Or is it a vaccine against religion? I don’t know.

  • Rakatosh

    I read the article you linked to, where was the sneering? Perhaps you linked the wrong article.

  • Faith

    I recall getting raked over the coals by an atheist when I talked about atheism being a sort of religion. Man I was ignorant to suggest such a thing! Boy how could anyone be as stupid as I was to say something like that. Just goes to show the low I.Q. of those believers! That was the response I got. I have heard/read this sneer often since then. So I was puzzled when I read a story about atheists wanting their own chaplains in the military. And this story puzzles me too. So which is it? A religion or not? If it is a club for positive thinking atheists then call it such. But it ain’t church. It seems like just another attempt at mockery, especially since we’ve got a comedian running the show.

    • Benjamin

      I think they’d be better off calling the “chaplains” therapists. Calling them chaplains would be like calling going to your psychologist the “sacrament of confession”.

      I’m a big believer that words have real meaning. I despise the humpty-dumpty theory of language, and calling atheist counsellors “chaplins” is humpty-dumpty in spades.

      • http://www.usmc.mil S. Murphy

        I can see where they’re coming from, actually. A military chaplain provides religious services for his own faith-group, and informal counseling to anybody who asks it. He’s also supposed to coordinate with other chaplains and make sure schedules are posted and materials available for people in his unit who aren’t in his faith-group. Those who grok the meaning of professionalism can do the one-on-one counseling and unit-morale boosting without proselytizing those who don’t want to be proselytized at. Some are better than others. A therapist is a different level of business. NOBODY in the military wants to go to a therapist if they don’t actually have to. A lot of people don’t want to be seen talking to a chaplain, either, but will do it as a way to talk to someone who can offer cofidentiality and a safe place to vent. Sometimes, people would rather seek out their faith-group’s chaplain than talk to their own unit chaplain who is of another faith. An atheist ‘chaplain’ (counselor, if you prefer – like Deanna Troi, but hopefully not too much like) could offer the same one-on-one sounding board, and do the same coordination to get the priests and rabbis into town when they’re needed. So, having atheist chaplains around would be a waste of a billet from the point of view of providing religious services for different faiths, but not necessarily from the point of view of providing moral support and informal counseling. A meeting or book club could be run by lay leaders, but holding the chaplain billet allows that individual to offer confidentiality that the lay leader might not be able to.

  • Benjamin

    Were the Unitarian Universalists too dogmatic for them or something? They’re basically doing this sort of thing already.

    • melissa

      That was my first thought. When my ex-sister-in-law first joined the Unitarian church, she raved about how wonderful it was that she finally found a church where you didn’t have to believe in anything but you could still sing “hymns” and have “rites of passage ceremonies” like Naming Ceremonies, Weddings, Funerals, etc. She has now “evolved” (her word) from not-believing-in-anything-atheism to hating Christ and anything having to do with Him.

      • Kevin

        Good grief. Why would an atheist “hate Christ” anymore than they hate Hercules?
        That just doesn’t track.

        • Duke

          It’s not Christ, per se, that’s hated; it’s the moral bankruptcy and intellectual prostitution that “Christ” brings. Including something as patently meretricious as thinking an atheist would be “hating Christ”.

          • enness

            You ought to try it (thinking, that is).

  • Claude

    Searched in vain for “sneering” in that article. The atheist church thing doesn’t resonate with me, but it seems like a pretty upbeat and good-natured enterprise.

    • Faith

      The very act of calling it church and hosting it on Sunday mornings is an attempt at mockery. Words and gestures do convey meaning. The people perpetuating this know it, even if others choose to be blind.

      • abb3w

        Not so much mockery, as imitation.

        Since as most people have work off regardless, the social convention makes Sunday mornings convenient for unbelievers as well — though personally, I prefer to sleep in.

      • http://www.usmc.mil S. Murphy

        I don’t think so, Faith – I only skimmed the article, but it just seemed like a social club. Getting together and affirming each other’s philosophical position. And, like abb3w says, Sunday’s already a day off, so why not use it?

  • Rakatosh

    Faith, atheism isn’t a religion. Its a stance on a single question (do gods exist?). Atheists, on the other hand, can be religious as not all religions are theistic.

    • Faith

      All religions believe in the supernatural. A church is a place where people of like belief worship. Atheists can be religious about always wearing clean socks or always eating a healthy breakfast but they can not be religious in the usual meaning of the word. There is a lot of equivocation and fudging of meaning going on here.

      Atheism can take the place of religion in that it forms the dominant worldview of the person and often seems to become a passionate cause in, well, in not believing in something. I think that’s why atheists (some of them) are so attracted to things like churches and chaplains. They actually want the trappings of religion, because it feels right. It’s about what they (don’t) believe. Which is really absurd!

      • abb3w

        Technically, “atheism” isn’t a worldview. It’s refers to a single philosophical proposition, which is necessarily not the entire worldview; it also can refer to the entire class of worldviews which take the proposition, ranging from Randite Capitalism to Marxist Communism.

        It’s often used to refer to the techno-scientific progressive rationalist secular humanist worldview cluster that seems anthropologically prevalent among atheists in the West. It’s that sloppiness that causes the confusion about a “passionate cause about not believing in something”.

        And yes, some atheists like some of the benefits of religion (EG, a sense of community) which empirically may be facilitated by some of the trappings (EG, song and dance; though anecdotally, food in company is more popular in my area) associated to religion, yet which do not require belief in God for the trappings to contribute to the benefits.

      • Claude

        Atheism is not a “worldview.” It is simply lack of belief in a god or gods. The attraction to religious ritual is an attraction to aesthetics and social interaction. I am an atheist-agnostic but like many atheists appreciate the Christian fine art tradition, gospel, hymns, cathedrals, literature, and so on. Obviously it’s a rich cultural legacy that only the most ideologically hidebound atheists reject. Personally atheism is peripheral to my identity, such as it is, since I have the luxury of living in a place where it doesn’t create problems for me. Christians assume that atheism assumes the centrality in people’s lives that Christianity does for believers. That is true for some, but my guess is that for most atheists it is not the case at all.

  • Rakatosh

    You’re welcome to believe that Faith, but it doesn’t seem as if they’re much concerned with mainstream religions other than borrowing the positive community aspects. I can’t help feeling like you’re just looking for a reason to be offended by what appears to be just about the least offensive activity ever.

    • Faith

      Well, I can’t say I am terribly offended. There are plenty of other things to be offended about for sure! But I do think people who don’t have much respect for believers to begin with aren’t going to be able to empathize with feeling a little rankled by it. But that’s okay. We’ll just let these folks change the meaning of the word church for their own purposes. No harm there!

      • Kevin

        Love the believers, hate the beliefs.

  • Ed the Roman

    Not watching the clip right now, but I go on the record to say that I *still* like Doctor Who.

    • Tim in Cleveland

      How is the second half of season 7 going? I didn’t care much for the first half and am hesitant to start watching again.

  • Rakatosh

    Faith I’m not sure its accurate to say that all religions involve supernatural beliefs, but even accepting that for the sake of argument, an atheist can believe in the supernatural so long as that supernatural doesn’t involve a deity. I wouldn’t call that rational, but it does happen. With regard to the church in the article, I don’t think they’re basing it on what they don’t believe. The article seems to indicate that they’re providing a place for a community of like minded atheists to come together and celebrate those things they do believe in and value. Whether you agree with the use of the word they use for that place is up to you, and for what its worth, I agree that it is silly to call it a church. I think it lends credibility to the baseless idea that churches provide social benefits that cannot be gained elsewhere.

    • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

      Catholicism is not about providing social benefits. It’s about gaining a life in peace and joy forever with Christ.

      • Kevin

        Evidence required.

        • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

          Evidence required of what?

      • Rakatosh

        Pavel, I don’t think I said that Catholicism was about providing social benefits, so I’m not sure what your point is.

        Also, I think Kevin was asking for evidence that there is a Christ to have a relationship with, before he can accept that Catholicism is about having a relationship with Christ. But I wouldn’t want to put words in his mouth.

        • enness

          Why would one have to accept the former before the latter? You don’t have to believe in Christ to understand that this is the premise of Catholicism.

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    It’s a parody church without revelation. They’re “playing church.”

    It reminds me of a Baby Lenin pin I once had, and the Lenin Corners in schools, in which there were symbols that replaced, or tried to replace, the traditional icons of Orthodox homes.

  • astorian

    Here I thought the one advantage of atheism was that you DIDN’T have to go to meetings on Sundays! Why don’t these people sleep late or go fishing or go out to brunch or play golf or something? Why not spend their time doing something they LIKE instead of going to rituals devoted to obsessing over what they loathe?

    • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

      Because they hunger for community.

  • Mark R

    A friend once considered atheism to be a form of Protestantism. My apologies to Protestants.

    • Chris M

      Well, I suppose it IS protesting something about the Catholic Church.. just a more foundational thing than ‘Protestantism’

  • Ed the Roman

    “How is the second half of season 7 going? I didn’t care much for the first half and am hesitant to start watching again.”

    Do you mean ‘what’s currently on BBC America’ or something esle?

  • Guest

    These mocking dopes – and I include the more serious atheists who demand the trappings of religion like atheist ‘chaplins’ – are going to back themselves right into a legal atheist church/religion status without realizing it. But that’s fine with me because then they will be subject to all the legal restrictions on exercising a public voice that they have fought so hard for. Then we can all go back to having an equal voice instead of our de-facto state church of atheism. Now that would be justice – or maybe just desserts!

  • Ron Van Wegen

    I think I’ll wait until they set up a soup-kitchen or something similar before deciding if it’s for me or not.

  • Michael Matthew

    “The first ‘service’ was held yesterday morning at the deconsecrated church The Nave in north London, and featured a talk by children’s author Andy Stanton and was shaped around the theme ‘Beginnings’. ”

    I wonder what the response would be if the article sounded more like this:

    “The first ‘service’ was held yesterday morning at the deconsecrated mosque The Iwan in north London, and featured a talk by Imam Andy Stanton and was shaped around the theme ‘Beginnings’ of life without Allah.”

    I doubt many muslims would find comedian Sanderson Jones very funny.

    • enness

      Well, I suppose we’re blessed with the Catholic sense of humor (whatever that means).

  • Michael Matthew

    Angry humanists are not an excuse against atheism. They are an example of atheism.
    There is no getting around it.


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