Two good letters in response to an article questioning whether atheism is a religion.
From Alan Singlehurst, Shildon, County Durham, UK
As someone who likes to consider the big picture before diving into analysis, I was dismayed by Graham Lawton's article on atheism. What makes him think atheism is real? There's no word for people who disbelieve, even vociferously, in dragons, unicorns or fairies (would that be an a-fée-ist?). So why one for religion? Believers invented the whole concept of atheism to make non-belief seem perverse and unnatural.
Religion is entirely cultural; some people are conditioned by their family and community to believe strange things while others are not. An atheist is just someone who was spared this unwanted conditioning while their brain was maturing. Do they really need to be explained?
From Anthony Castaldo, San Antonio, Texas, US
I am a born-again atheist. I was born with no belief in God, strayed from that path as a child, then as a young adult returned to the true path. In truth, the first and third stages are quite different.
I was born with no mental models of how the universe works. As a child, I was taught a religious mental model of how reality works; and then as an adult came to understand that the religious model was so severely flawed it couldn't predict anything. In other words, anything can happen if God wills it, including the violation of every assurance by the supposed agents of God and the violation of every law of physics.
A universe with God in it is thus a universe with no rules at all: everything that happens is the whim of an intentionally unpredictable intellect with an intentionally incomprehensible plan that may result in horrors.
My atheism is not a religion, it is the rejection of all models of the universe that contain some intellect capable of literally anything. It is my claim that an incoherent model cannot be how everything works.