As David Hume once said :-
"Rational proofs for the existence of god are as non-sensical as rational proofs for the non-existance of god"
Atheism is the belief in the non-existence of a supernatural being, not based on proof or material evidence but based fundamentally on volition. It is not agnostic to the matter, but is the positive belief that deities do not exist.
Such a system can be described as a faith. You choose to believe in this faith or not.
So when does a faith based system holding certain beliefs in the state of the supernatural by a community identified with that faith become a religion?
- Are there a certain number of beliefs it has to have?
- Do you need to have a number of rituals?
- Does it have to have a certain number of members?
The arguments seem fairly pointless and purely semantic as all such systems can be described as religion to some degree. I use the words "some degree", as I have yet to come across an absolute truth (other than the trivially defined) and so I tend to see things as more true (+true) or more false (+false).
However, this is not a popular view of atheism with some quarters, but then again it's not quite as unpopular as "globally traded carbon permits are a future mechanism of deprivation and exclusion" or "global climate temperature change may not be solely attributable to anthropogenic emissions but also natural causes, whether reinforced or diminished by them" - both are subjects which merit more discussion but neither are a case for inaction or procrastination.
So I'll come to the statement which I read on Tom Coates blog
"If atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby"
It is amusing but based upon a co-equivalence designed to reinforce a particular statement by using two unrelated premises which are defined as true regardless of their real state. These "TRUE" statements are:-
"stamp collecting is a hobby" (+true)
"atheism is not a religion"(+false).
But then you can get all sorts of fun little statements by defining two statements (one +false, one +true) as both true, considering them equivalent and inverting.
By defining a statement such as "Science is a Religion" as true (when it is agnostic to the supernatural), you can argue
"If science is not a religion then 1+1=42"
and so on.
You can spend lots of time doing this .... complete waste, but fun.
Seeing that I'm a Chelski fan, I personally like
"If Manchester United are a good football team then the world ended five minutes ago"