Thursday, April 28, 2011

Atheists are...(n't?) a Religion?

One of the more repetitive claims I hear from atheists is that, contrary to ignoramuses like me, they are actually not a religious faith. That appears to be changing, according to this story from the New York Times. Evidently, alongside the slew of multifaith chaplains that the military has installed, there is even a push by atheists for them to have their own representatives amongst the chaplaincy. My favorite quote from the story:
Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths. But just as a Protestant chaplain would not preside over a Catholic service, a humanist might not lead a religious ceremony, though he might help organize it.

“Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Mr. Torpy said in an interview. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.”
So let us get this straight. Humanism functions in the same way that Christianity does, and their chaplains would do things the same as a Protestant chaplain might, and yet I wonder if atheists will come around these fellows and support them. To do so, they will have to insist that atheism does qualify as a "faith," according to the story. Okay, I can't resist. Here's another brilliant quote:
“You’re not a faith group; you’re a lack-of-faith group,” First Lt. Samantha Nicoll, an active atheist at Fort Bragg, recalled a chaplain friend’s saying about the idea. “But I said, ‘What else is there for us?’”
This whole article is a gold mine for Christian apologists - just a complete untapped gold mine.

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