Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
The Religion Of Tallness
Paul Flesher is the Director of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Wyoming. He also writes a twice-a-month column called "Religion Today" that he solicits comments for on his heavily-comment-moderated blog, also called "Religion Today".
His last column was called "The Religion Of Atheism", and it was a jumbled mess. First, he made up his own definition of the word "religion":
[Paul Flesher] Definition: A religion is a group of people who join together because they share a belief about the nature of god or gods, in order to encourage each other in that belief.
Then, after the six people who commented on it handed him his own ass, he wrote a new column called "Organized Religion and Everyone Else" in which he backpedals a bit - apparently astonished that the six previous commenters had the temerity, the unmitigated gall to correct his awful definition of religion.
So, he changed it to now read:
[Paul Flesher] "[A] group of people who share a belief about the nature of the existing god(s)."
Here is how I responded:
(Continued after the fold...)
[Brent Rasmussen] Paul Flesher said:
They wanted the definition to read as, "a group of people who share a belief about the nature of the existing god(s)."
Uh, no, they did no such thing. No where, in any of the 6 comments that you received on your last post, did anyone say that religion should be defined as "...a group of people who share a belief about the nature of the existing god(s)."
I call strawman. You're just making this up out of whole cloth, on-the-fly, as you go along.
Here is what they DID say - and that which you conveniently chose to ignore in this, your most recent post on the subject:
[Commenter "Dave"] Atheism, plainly and simply, is the absence of a belief in one or many gods, which is an important difference from how you defined it. Here are some metaphors that may help.
If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color, hunger is a food, silence is a song, and barefoot a kind of shoe.
If atheism is a religion, then unemployment is a career, not collecting stamps is a hobby and health is a disease.
You just don't seem to understand, do you? Let me try and clear things up for you a bit. Now, please pay especially close attention to this:
NEITHER theism or atheism are "religions". Rather, they are descriptions. "Theist" describes a person in whom god-belief is present, and "atheist" describes a person in whom god-belief is absent.
That's all. The end. No more. Done.
Now, a religion may *incorporate* atheism (Buddhism) or theism (Catholicism, Pentacostal, Mormon, Baha'i, etc.), but atheism and theism CANNOT, in and of themselves, be religions.
There. That wasn't so hard to understand now, was it?
Not that I expect you to read this, or post it, but I hope you'll surprise me.
After that, he posted my comment, but with all the formatting stripped away, and as "Anonymous". Weird. I think he probably deleted it, then thought, "Crap! that's just what he said that I'd do!" Then he probably had to go and grab it from his cache and post it as "Anonymous" himself to save face.
Heh. Maybe not.
In any case, there is an ongoing conversation going on there right now. He has just responded to my comment, and I have responded to his response.
We'll see if it actually gets published over there, but here it is just in case:
[Paul Flesher] Dear Mr. Rasmusson,
Despite your rudeness, I will not only publish your comment, but respond to it.
OK, you want to redefine atheism as a species belonging to the same genus as theism. Alright, you have redefined the terms I used, but my point still holds, I just need to adjust my claim slightly.
Applying your terminology to my argument, you are correct, "atheism" would not be a religion. However, the beliefs and activities of groups such as the Atheist Alliance International or the Humanist Society indicate that these societies and those like them are religions.
Here's my (as yet unpublished) response:
[Brent Rasmussen] First of all, why was my comment deleted, then re-inserted without formatting under an "anonymous" monicker? Also my name is "Rasmussen", not "Rasmusson", thanks.
My rudeness? I'm sorry Paul, but I don't see that I was being rude, merely instructive. You were incorrect in your definition of atheism, and I corrected you.
> OK, you want to redefine
> atheism as a species
> belonging to the same
> genus as theism.
(An aside; What is with the biological terms, Paul? Why not just be precise with your language? Why all the fuzzy logic and clunky analogies?)
I am not "redefining" anything. Atheism and theism are two sides of the same coin. Anyone who understands how the English language works at even an elementary school level should be able to figure that out.
> Applying your terminology to my argument,
It is not my terminology. It is the correct definition of both theism and atheism.
> ...you are correct,
> "atheism" would not
> be a religion.
...and you just tanked your own argument. Paul, atheism is a description. It is literally *impossible* for it to be a "religion". It's like calling "tall" a religion.
> the beliefs and
> activities of groups
> such as the Atheist
> Alliance International
> or the Humanist Society
> indicate that these
> societies and those
> like them are religions.
Those groups are not synonymous with "atheism". There may be people within those groups who can be described as atheists, but this does not mean that the group and atheism are interchangeable. Again, it's like saying that the Bird Watchers Society is equal to "tall", because some tall people belong to it. It is just downright silly.
You are confusing the word "religion" with someone, or a group of people, who practice something "religiously". Don't worry, it's a rookie mistake. You see, someone may follow a hobby, or an interest "religiously". This is a legitimate use of the word "religiosly" - to apply it to a non-religious activity like bird watching, or coin collecting, or crossword puzzle solving. "He solved the New York Times crossword religiously every day for 20 years."
Does that mean that he is *worshipping* the NYT crossword? That it is his *religion*?
Of course not. Someone may watch Nascar religiously, but that does NOT mean that they think that Dick Trickle is god.
I'd tell you to go on over there and participate, but as I mentioned, it seems that Paul moderates comments heavily, so it might not be worth it. I'll just continue to respond here on UTI if it gets too heavy-handed over there.