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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.

atheism1
disbelief in the existence of a god or gods

worldview
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.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “COMMONE SENSE ATHEISM”

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6 Responses

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  1. Sabio said, on May 3, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    For another spin, see Atheism as a Worldview

  2. stillhere4u said, on November 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM

    Atheism may well be spurred on by the refusal of religions to engage in self-criticism. I’ve just read http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/263/ on how foreign self-criticism is to religion, and, moreover, how religion misunderstands itself. You might be interested in it.

  3. kingbiscuitpants said, on March 2, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    as an athisim I can understand the allure of traditional easy ways out with religion

    http://kingbiscuitpants.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/atheism-child-rearing-hypocrisy-me/

  4. Daniel said, on March 10, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    Unicorns don’t purport to create the world or give it a purpose, therefore it has no effect on anyone’s worldview.

  5. Tom Jolly said, on March 27, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    In a general sense, I’d agree that atheism is not a worldview anymore than “being religious” is a world view. However, when you apply the veneer of Secular Humanism or Christianity on it, it certainly does become a world-view, with implications regarding morality, existence, the source of creation and reality, the scientific method versus fixed dogma, and so on. Atheism is nothing more than disbelief; it’s one tiny part of the Secular Humanist’s world-view.

  6. Mini Carlsson said, on October 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    atheism1
    disbelief in the existence of a god or gods

    worldview
    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


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