Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Bill Maher Evolution & Swine Flu

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 3, 2009

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Is Atheism a Worldview?

Posted in Common Sense Atheism by Skepdude on May 3, 2009

Clearly, atheism is not a religion, but there has been much talk in the comments about whether or not atheism is a “worldview.”

So, let’s check the definitions of “atheism” and of “worldview” and see if one might be a species of the other.

disbelief in the existence of a god or gods

1. a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world2
2. a collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group3

I do not see how atheism can be a worldview.

I have compared atheism to a-unicornism: disbelief in the existence of unicorns. How is a-unicornism a “worldview”? It’s not. Atheism and a-unicornism are each a single belief about one thing. Neither of these positions tell you anything else about the person who holds them: their morals values, their political views, their driving purpose, their explanations for life or the universe, their beliefs about magic or ghosts or elves, their rationality or their intelligence.

But, Bobmo wrote:

In other words, if there is no God, then x must be true (e.g. matter is eternal, or a multiverse exists; there is no absolute morality, etc.)  The same cannot be said for A-unicornism, since the non-existence of unicorns carries no serious implications.

I deny that atheism has such implications. None of Bobmo’s examples follow from the non-existence of gods. They may be true, but they are not entailed by atheism. As toweltowel replied: “Supposing that theism implies p, and that atheism is the denial of theism, it obviously does not follow that atheism implies [not-p].”

Neither an atheist nor an a-unicornist must believe in eternal matter, a multiverse, or moral relativism. And in fact, I’d bet millions of them don’t.