I suppose this argument could be made for a very few atheists. But, as a whole, atheism is to religion as black is to white. They are polar opposites. Persons who follow any religion, in general, have several things in common, even if the religion itself is not a commonality. Most obvious among these is a dogmatic approach to their faith(s). Another common thread among religions is the desire to convert others to their way of thinking. The most noticeable among these are Christians. The least are Jews. Christians feel it their moral obligation to “save your soul.” Jews don’t mind if you convert but don’t tend to send out missionaries to actively convert others. Muslims fall somewhere in between.
I said there were exceptions and I mean that. Though I agree with 75%, or more, of what Richard Dawkins has to say with respect to atheism, I don’t share his fervor. This is a person who would like to see an end to all religion. His desire to rid the earth of all religions borders on conversion itself and his passion is almost religious. I think spending as much time as he does try to convince others of the folly of faith is just as much a waste of time as those who practice the folly of faith. But, that’s just me.
Converting to Atheist
However, I do believe that most atheists, like me, couldn’t care less about “converting” others to our way of thinking. If you want to follow some religious precept, that’s your prerogative. I’ll be the first to tell you that, to my mind, you’re wasting your time. But, I’ll be the last to tell you that you need to start thinking like me. I understand why some people have the need to follow some path with some guidelines. If following a particular religion helps some cope with the stressors we all face in life, then I say go for it. Just don’t bother trying to convert me and I’ll afford you the same courtesy.
The issue of Dogma
On the issue of dogma, I think, with few exceptions, the religious and those who are atheists couldn’t be more different. While religious people will tell you that some things are sinful; some things are just wrong (i.e. suicide, homosexuality), the atheist, in general, has no dogmatic belief. The religious would argue that that makes the atheist amoral. I would argue that the atheist isn’t without morals-the atheist just doesn’t try to shove his moral beliefs down others’ throats.
Ask almost any religious person, and they’ll tell you that there are some codes that are absolutely set in stone-that they follow some sort of dogma. Most religious persons would also tell you that they have a moral obligation to convert others to their ideals to save their souls. Dogma and conversion are two of the landmarks that make religion. With very few exceptions, atheists aren’t as dogmatic as the religious and really are not concerned with the conversion. Therefore, it is illogical and flat out untrue to say that atheism serves as a religion.