Is atheism just another form of dogma?



I was raised Catholic, and part of my motivation for leaving Catholicism was my dislike of any kind of enforced structure. However, to my surprise, it seems like Atheism is also dogmatic. Is this intentional? Is atheism supposed to be only anti-religious or is it more against dogma itself?


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 559

5An important difference should be noted between the respective systems of belief: the tenets of the Christian faith are based on the authority of the Word of God, whereas the dogmatism of atheism has nothing upon which to base their presuppositions. – None – 2018-03-24T08:57:50.123


Bertrand Russel does a great job explaining that agnostic is the scientifically consistent position, but atheist is the 'political' one. And that religionists are atheist with regard to all the other religions/gods.

– CriglCragl – 2018-03-24T09:37:09.780

6@CriglCragl Being agnostic about god is "scientifically consistent" in the same sense that being agnostic about climate change is. Only one choice is a highly validated, useful empirical framework based on justified knowledge. Russel sounds like a politically correct atheist, not an agnostic. – Veedrac – 2018-03-24T11:19:01.243

+1 Just notes for a possible answer: (1) We are all dogmatic if we commit to some position and we all commit to something. (2) Atheism in the West makes sense if viewed as a protestant religion. (3) The Protestant Reformation makes sense in terms of a socionomic view of history. It is part of bullish "Grand Supercycle" waves. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T12:43:22.130

39"it seems like Atheism is also dogmatic" How so? Atheism is a description of a person's belief that <such and such probably isn't in existence>. It is not a set of rules telling people what to believe that. That's not a dogma. – Lightness Races in Orbit – 2018-03-24T15:16:23.543

2@LightnessRacesinOrbit, the dogma is "there is no god". Anyway there are differences between atheism and freethought. – rus9384 – 2018-03-24T17:26:11.793

15@rus9384 You're missing a huge portion of the point LightnessRacesinOrbit just made. A dogma is a belief that is prescribed by an authority. You've got one of those three things... a belief. Where are the other two... the atheism authority and their prescriptions? – H Walters – 2018-03-24T17:48:27.317

You may get a better answer on Christianity.SE (you're asking about atheism in the context of Christianity, and not really asking anything clear about philosophy. There's no Atheism stack right now (the most recent proposal died in beta), but your question and an answer might be left in the ruins of that site.

– Please stop being evil – 2018-03-24T17:57:39.260

8Also, you really need to define your terms. – Please stop being evil – 2018-03-24T18:09:53.857

4@rus9384: That is not what "dogma" means. If you would like to redefine "dogma" as "a belief or proposition" then pretty much every thought crossing anyone's mind at any point in time is a "dogma". Shrug. – Lightness Races in Orbit – 2018-03-24T18:57:08.820


@LightnessRacesinOrbit, then wikipedia is wrong on that.

– rus9384 – 2018-03-24T20:15:23.683

"dislike of any kind of enforced structure" Like laws and governments? – Pharap – 2018-03-25T03:37:39.370


Dogma - "An authoritative principle, belief or statement of opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true and indisputable, regardless of evidence or without evidence to support it.". By that definition, all beliefs about whether god does or doesn't exist are dogmas. (The authority can simply be one's own authority.)

– Pharap – 2018-03-25T03:41:52.117

@Pharap yes, including those – user189728 – 2018-03-25T03:43:28.247

2@user189728 In that case, you'll get that under any kind of theism or atheism. Nearly all countries have laws and governments and nearly all societies have some form of regime, rules or hierarchy. Atheism isn't the same as anarchy, though I would suspect most anarchists are atheists. – Pharap – 2018-03-25T03:49:47.293

4The one thing that non-conformists hate more than conformists is non-conformists that don't follow the rules of non-conformity.... – Swami Vishwananda – 2018-03-25T04:12:11.860

1@SwamiVishwananda I don't follow anyone's rules – user189728 – 2018-03-25T04:18:04.673

2there are different types of atheism, such as the Theravedic school of Buddhism who are nihilists. There was also several thousand years ago the atheistic system of carvakas in India. – Swami Vishwananda – 2018-03-25T12:02:37.223

@rus9384: Imagine that – Lightness Races in Orbit – 2018-03-25T12:12:15.600

3@thedarkwanderer: It's actually funny and very interesting that the stack proposal for atheism died in beta. Let's create a site about "not collecting stamps"! So, what do we have in common? What should we talk about? .............................. – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-25T17:53:11.153

"Is atheism supposed to be only anti-religious" - I think you're forgetting non-theistic religions. – John – 2018-03-26T02:45:49.550

Why do you even ask? Even if someone thinks atheist dogma exists, it's not like you need to care. – JollyJoker – 2018-03-26T08:28:30.433

Where Atheism describes an agnostic position (as it is often meant to do) then it is not a dogma. Where it is a firm belief then it is a dogma. Where it is based on Knowledge it is Knowledge. There are arguments for it that may make it more than a dogma but all the best arguments are found in religion.and they tend to be unknown to those who believe that religion requires theism. – None – 2018-03-26T09:49:47.143

1Atheism is technically not dogmatic. As practiced it frequently is: dogmatism is a result of various cognative biases and those are universal. – Jared Smith – 2018-03-26T15:14:32.950

1@EricDuminil, Atheists actually do have something to talk about, namely, how they are treated by all of the true believers in the world. AFAIK, society everywhere/always has been pretty much indifferent to non-stamp collectors, but atheists have not always been so lucky. – Solomon Slow – 2018-03-26T18:56:10.163

@Pharap I suspect you misread his post. He didn't claim people were indifferent to theists. – Veedrac – 2018-03-26T19:10:12.297

@Veedrac I see. It seems you're right, on a second read, perhaps I was misinterpreting it as having a certain subtext. (Though I must admit, barring the obvious extremist incidents I've never been negatively affected by anyone religious.) – Pharap – 2018-03-26T19:15:56.140

1@user189728 At the moment you're following the site's rules, and presumably the laws of your country if you're not currently in jail. – Pharap – 2018-03-26T19:16:28.147

2@john There is no such thing as "nontheistic religion." Religion means belief in magic beings. Period. I suppose there may be atheists who create some nonscientific dogma for their personal use, but I don't know what I'd call them, other than economists. – Carl Witthoft – 2018-03-26T19:22:56.523

@CarlWitthoft, so, Buddhism is not religion? Actually, according to wikipedia there is no precious definition of what religion is.

– rus9384 – 2018-03-27T07:27:22.380

1@CarlWitthoft LaVeyan satanism is a religion without belief in anything supernatural – JollyJoker – 2018-03-27T08:19:42.037

@rus9384 rather a lot of Buddhists contradict themselves by viewing the Buddha as a god. – Carl Witthoft – 2018-03-27T11:24:18.447

2@JollyJoker I find it difficult to accept that treating Satan as "an archetype" is significantly different from treating him/it as an unreachable existing god. – Carl Witthoft – 2018-03-27T11:25:08.253

@CarlWitthoft, yes, but that's not necessary and that's not what makes Buddhism religion. – rus9384 – 2018-03-27T11:37:36.793

This should be moved to the English SE, because it's a question about the meaning of the word. – ああああああああああああああああああああああああああああああ – 2018-03-27T13:48:49.073

1Despite much of the self-concept of atheists, yes, there is often a dogma... – Luke Sawczak – 2018-03-27T14:09:11.643

3Every child is born an atheist until a religion/religious framework is given to it (if any) by the parents or society they are born in. Being an atheist means the belief in ZERO gods/deities/supernatural beings, nothing more, nothing else. In a sense, Christians are atheists too in a sense, they don't believe in any gods except their why is so hard to believe in ZERO gods instead of 1? – PmanAce – 2018-03-27T16:02:12.760

@CarlWitthoft - There most certainly is such a thing as atheistic religion. This is well-known. One could argue that (say) Middle Way Buddhism or advaita Vedanta is not a religion but many people would argue otherwise. Just look at how mysticism has been so hated and persecuted by dogmatic theists over the centuries. There is a reason for this. – None – 2018-03-27T16:28:09.403

Atheism is the default, its like if you spawn a human, it does not default to any form of belief, like a blank slate. ANTItheism, the belief there is NO god, could be considered dogmatic, that may be what you're looking for. – GettnDer – 2021-01-04T20:51:35.100




You don't explain why you get the impression that atheism is dogmatic, but it appears that you mix terms which are not interchangeable.

  • If you leave catholicism because of your dislike of any kind of enforced structure, it means you're antireligious and probably anticlericalist.
  • You didn't say anything about your faith, or lack thereof. It's possible to leave catholicism or any other organized religion while still believing in some kind of god, possibly a different one than the one described in your previous religion.
  • If you still have faith, you're a theist. If you think that the existence of god is not known or unknowable, you're agnostic. If you don't believe in god, you're an atheist. From the short description you wrote, it's not possible to determine which category you belong to.

Is atheism dogmatic?

First, atheists aren't an homogenous group. The vast majority of them is silent, sometimes for security reasons. They often have nothing more in common than simply not believing in god. A famous description is:

"Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby."

Some atheists are certain that there isn't any god, some will try to convince theists that they are wrong. They still don't belong to any official institution or blindly follow principles, though.

Some atheists will try to use science (e.g. Russell's teapot) to "prove" that there is no god. This might be dogmatic, but science at least has the advantage of being falsifiable. As noted by @FrankHubeny in the comments, science never considers models to be 100% correct when describing the universe: they are merely "good enough" for the time being and probably will be replaced in the future.

Finally, the "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" has been created as a joke, but could be considered as dogmatic for some hardcore followers. By its own definition, though:

"the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma"

Eric Duminil

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 974

11+1 Although if an atheist argues with a theist, the atheist is dogmatic trying to teach a dogma to the theist. It is part of modern mythology that science is falsifiable. There may be nothing falsifiable in a scientific theory such as many worlds nor is a scientific theory rejected when it is falsified. It just morphs into something else. For example Einstein's gravitation theory is falsified by the rotation of galaxies. It morphs into asserting the existence dark matter which so far hasn't been found. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T14:07:04.200

@FrankHubeny: Thanks for the comment. I updated the answer and tried to integrate your point. – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-24T14:22:30.000

39@FrankHubeny: It should be noted that many worlds is not by any stretch of the imagination a rigorous scientific theory, precisely because it is unfalsifiable. It is unfortunate that Dr. Michio Kaku and various others have made public statements which misleadingly suggest that it is. To my knowledge, there are no published peer reviewed papers in scientific journals which depend on many worlds or use it as the basis for scientific inquiry of any kind. – Kevin – 2018-03-24T19:07:02.263


Occam's razor is not science, it is philosophy. And if an atheist were to use philosophy to convince a theist there is no God, they'd have more success with Russell's teapot than with Occam's razor.

– corsiKa – 2018-03-24T19:20:31.507

@Kevin Good points. I didn't know that little research depended on many worlds. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T19:40:04.093

1@FrankHubeny If any research actually did depend on many worlds, that research itself would make many worlds falsifiable. – Douglas – 2018-03-25T03:22:07.350

2I second @corsiKa's comment on Occam's. It's an especially relevant distinction to make, since you list falsifiable-ness (?) as an advantage that science has. Occam's razor is not falsifiable. In fact, to the extent that it's testable, you could argue that is is false. If a contemporary of Newton's had countered his notion of gravity with General Relativity, based on the data they had at the time, Occam's razor would have rejected GR. And yet, we now are extremely confident that GR is more right that Newtonian physics. – yshavit – 2018-03-25T08:18:41.803

@yshavit: Good point. "Occam's razor" is gone! – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-25T08:22:45.290

19@FrankHubeny "Although if an atheist argues with a theist, the atheist is dogmatic trying to teach a dogma to the theist". WRONG. If an atheist argues with a theist, it is because the theist is making the active claim that they know there is a divine will and that everyone should follow it (usually accompanied with veiled threats of eternal damnation, being denied ascension into a higher state or similar), and the atheist saying "No, I do not believe you... I do not accept that argument". You have to distinguish between having an opposing belief and rejecting a belief. – MichaelK – 2018-03-25T09:31:38.430


@yshavit Forget falsifiability. Science is good at predicting the outcomes. Occam's razor is good at predicting the outcomes. Falsifiability is just an overrated side effect. You can design a rocket using Newtonian physics, but good luck with designing the GPS. I don't know about you, but I do like my GPS nav, so I couldn't care less about some galaxies "falsifying" it (sic).

– kubanczyk – 2018-03-25T13:18:41.477

@kubanczyk I agree. I was just responding to something that had been in the answer previously. :) – yshavit – 2018-03-25T14:17:57.043

@MichaelK "You have to distinguish between having an opposing belief and rejecting a belief." Is that provably true, or is it a dogmatic belief? ;-) In all seriousness, I have heard arguments made from the perspective of a religious person that the two are one and the same, so I think there's some validity to arguing that that statement is dogmatic. – Cort Ammon – 2018-03-26T05:14:59.583

@CortAmmon Well I think you should consider the source of that statement. To me it is just a false Tu Quoque argument made by someone that has gotten called on holding a dogmatic view instead of a rational one... a sour "Well.... at least you're no better!!!". But to say that the rejection of religious dogma is the same as being religiously dogmatic... that is just plain silly. It is about as stupid as when people go: "You need to be open minded!". "Well are you open to the possibility that your belief in that woowoo is wrong?". "It is not wrong!!".

– MichaelK – 2018-03-26T05:42:18.793

1@MichaelK I think I would find the argument more convincing if the atheist was not taking actions because they were an atheist. There's the atheist which actively seeks out theists to challenge. Then there's the atheist who generally minds their own business but got roped into a debate by a theist. I do treat those two cases differently. I also find it useful to distinguish between the so called "hard atheist" who believes there is no god versus the "soft atheist" who does not believe there is a god. (which certainly lends credence to Eric's argument that atheists are not homogeneous) – Cort Ammon – 2018-03-26T06:46:25.220

3@CortAmmon I would rather say that the person that seeks out discourse with the expressed purpose of countering theistic arguments is an anti-theist rather than an a-theist. Your distinction between "hard" and "soft" atheists... I do not see any useful tool coming out of that one because the result is the same: in the interaction with other people they reject religious doctrine, or at least the religiously derived arguments for doctrine (I can be against murder, theft and perjury without ever referring to The Decalogue). – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T06:52:04.867

2@CortAmmon But in any case there is nothing dogmatic about rejecting religiously sourced arguments unless they take a form like "I will oppose any and all religiously inspired morals simply because they are religious". I would bet you that you cannot find any reasonable person that says something like "I reject the prohibition of murder because the religious people says we should not murder". That would be dogmatic, but you will not find them. Instead you will find people that say "I support the prohibition of murder, not because it is in the scriptures, but because I feel it is right". – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T06:56:14.837

1@MichaelK I think we could definitely explore words. "Hard" and "soft" are apparently a thing these days. I typically phrase them as atheist and agnostic myself, but apparently people wanted to change the meanings so that they're all called atheists. It just seems a bit silly to give the religious people all the dogma, when I do run across plenty of non-religious people who have their own dogma in their own ways. – Cort Ammon – 2018-03-26T07:13:31.410

Let us continue this discussion in chat.

– MichaelK – 2018-03-26T07:22:01.777

2One should add that you can be dogmatic in the layman sense of maintaining your position without or even against further support in intersubjective/shared experience about pretty much everything. It is a way of reasoning that (often instantaneously) chooses the "stop" answer to the Agrippan/Münchhausen Trilemma, i.e. you just stop answering sceptical objections with "It's just the way it is!" instead of demonstration or reasoning of/for your point. Therefore, one can be dogmatic about how babies are produced just as well as theism or atheism or the question whether lying is good. – Philip Klöcking – 2018-03-26T09:31:52.860

Interesting quote (re stamp collecting). And for the record, I always thought (stamp/coin/butterfly) collecting was odd. YMMV. – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica – 2018-03-26T11:22:53.583

If you don't know whether a god exists, you're agnostic. I would say it is safe assume that no-one knows – Manuel – 2018-03-26T12:25:23.040

1"Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby." -- In a world where everybody collects stamps, goes stamp-trading on a Sunday, and believes you will go to hell if you don't participate. – henning -- reinstate Monica – 2018-03-26T12:44:15.267

1Russel’s Teapot is not used to prove anything. It is a statement that proving that something does not exist is not possible. It is used to put the “burden of proof” into those claiming the existence of something. Rather than those who do not believe it exists. – Fogmeister – 2018-03-26T18:31:40.427

@Fogmeister: Hence try to prove. – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-26T18:40:16.853

1For many atheists, I suspect atheism is more like thinking that stamp collecting is a waste of time (or worse, dangerous to society). It's not just a personal preference not to participate. – Barmar – 2018-03-26T19:06:41.723

I'd just to stress on the point about scientific theory being a "good enough" explanation for the time, that this does not mean you can just substitute whatever hypothesis you want in instead and say "Well you might change in 20 years so my theory is just as good as yours". Good science is the culmination of centuries, even millennia, of research and study. The burden of proof is enormous. – SGR – 2018-03-27T07:36:58.830

@SGR. Yes. But for example, we know that general relativity and quatum theory are incompatible. It means that at least one of those theories is incorrect. It doesn't mean that they're useless or completely wrong. They're more than good enough for many applications, yet cannot be considered 100% correct. – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-27T08:58:01.177

@Manuel: I think that some people can have such a strong belief that the entity they believe in feels as real as anything else in the world. There's no distinction anymore between feeling/knowing/believing. They "know" god exists, but cannot explain it at all to non-believers. – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-27T09:07:19.253


At its core, atheism is not an active position, it is merely a passive position. Two atheists can have nothing in common other than that they do not believe in a god. There cannot be a dogma as there are no teachings or philosophy where things like religions are built around. However, some people tend to take things a bit further and actually establish a philosophy which might be dogmatic.

What I think you are referring to is the faulty idea of some religious people that science is some sort of religion in itself. However, given that science is built on the basis of falsifiability and correcting itself, a dogma is inherently absent. Nothing has to 'just be accepted' as there is (or will be, in the case of some of the newer theories) justification behind everything.

Nick Lersberghe

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 359

+1 Although atheism does have a least one teaching that there are no gods. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T14:09:43.887

27@FrankHubeny No it doesn't. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. It is not a claim that there are no gods. – Greg Schmit – 2018-03-24T16:32:25.810

13@FrankHubeny A teaching is by nature prescriptive, but atheism is a descriptive term. If Joe believes that there are no gods with good reason, bad reason, or no particular reason at all, Joe is an atheist. To claim that atheism teaches there is no god is to conflate a description with a prescription. – H Walters – 2018-03-24T16:33:59.807

6@FrankHubeny No. "Atheist" means not "someone who believes there are no gods" but "someone who doesn't believe in gods". As Nick Lersberghe said, it is a passive position. Atheism is not a religion with churches, let alone churches with clergy who teach that there are no gods. – Rosie F – 2018-03-24T16:34:16.263

1'Atheist' by itself only means 'someone who doesn't believe in a god'. The exact position can be further described using other words, such as 'anti-theist'. – Nick Lersberghe – 2018-03-24T18:13:08.273

3@HWalters It seems like atheism has at least two dogmas: (1) There are no gods. (2) Atheists have no dogmas. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T18:28:32.017

4@FrankHubeny I'm confused. You specifically pinged me, so I have to assume you're trying to address my comment. If that's the case though, what specific thing I said are you disagreeing with? Nothing in your last comment addressed the thing you replied to. – H Walters – 2018-03-24T18:37:15.730

9@FrankHubeny No, that's incorrect. It's the exact opposite of a dogma. 'There are no gods' isn't what you have to accept when you're an atheist, you are an atheist because you don't believe in a god. A dogma asserts something. Atheism doesn't assert anything. It only rejects a claim. Hence, no dogma possible. – Nick Lersberghe – 2018-03-24T19:43:17.250

@HWalters Sorry if my comment didn't seem relevant. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T19:47:24.547

1@NickLersberghe The sentence, "Atheism doesn't assert anything", sounds to me like an assertion. That's why I would include it as part of atheistic teachings or dogmas. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T19:54:46.387

1@FrankHubeny It isn't an assertion, it is a fact. It is the definition. Atheism is the rejection of an idea. Nothing is asserted. The moment something is asserted, it is more than atheism at its core. If you're intellectually honest, you can't call that an assertion. – Nick Lersberghe – 2018-03-24T20:09:43.217

10@FrankHubeny No, atheism is not the assertive claim "There are no gods". A-the-ism is indifference (A-) to faith-based (-the(o)-) doctrine (-ism). In practice it means that whenever some theist comes and says "I know god's will and you should follow it", the atheist simply says "No, I do not trust you on that". An assertive belief that there are no gods automatically leads to atheism because no faith-based doctrine can come from a place where there is no faith in god(s). But you can also be an atheist by simply not accepting the claims of the faithful. – MichaelK – 2018-03-25T09:07:30.383

4@MichaelK You seem to have your roots mixed up. Theos refers to gods, not faith, and carries that meaning in English as a root in words like monotheism (belief in one god), polytheism (belief in many gods), etc. The common root for faith derives from fides (as in fidelity; faithful; or fideism, the actual word for faith based doctrine). – H Walters – 2018-03-25T14:25:52.567

@HWalters Have I now? :-) Well if the gods had made an actual appearance I would have agreed with you that theism is "doctrine from gods" (and I would have been just as much an atheist then, because I do not recognize anyone's right to impose doctrine on me based on their supposed divinity). But we do not have any appearances to draw on, now do we. Instead we have faith that this is what the gods want. No matter how you twist and turn, in the end there is no evidence of any words being handed down from god(s), instead there is only faith. I stand by those roots. – MichaelK – 2018-03-25T14:31:58.543

@HWalters And before you draw breath to say "But the god(s) did reveal themselves to people"... then I say "Prove it". This always, always ends up in the same place: "well I cannot prove that, but I have faith that they did appear to people and conveyed their divine will". And thus we are back to what I said: theism is doctrine based on faith. A-theism therefore is indifference to doctrines that are based on faith. – MichaelK – 2018-03-25T14:40:13.033

@MichaelK In the last two comments, there are four things in quotes associated with me. Zero out of those four apply. Theism is about belief in gods, not doctrine from gods. Your argument does not follow; best I can tell, you're committing a formal fallacy (denying the antecedent), of the form: "theism=>fideism, therefore ~theism=>~fideism". The focus on theism requiring fideism is irrelevant; faith doesn't have to be about belief in gods. Fideists who do not believe in gods are atheist fideists. – H Walters – 2018-03-25T16:32:45.687

2Scientism vs science – CriglCragl – 2018-03-25T21:48:56.703

@HWalters If you are going to claim that "theism is belief in god(s)", then I want to know what you mean by "believe in god". – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T07:46:01.747

... science is some sort of religion in itself. I may be showing my ignorance but, I always believed that atheism was also a system of belief, albeit a belief that there is no God, aka a religion, albeit not a very organised one. – Willtech – 2018-03-26T10:15:33.280

From a scientific view, an agnostic cannot find any proof that there is not any God. What differentiates the atheist is that they are sure without any proof, thereby agnosticism is also a system of belief aka religion. – Willtech – 2018-03-26T10:26:08.797

@Willtech Proof of a negative is always impossible. However an atheist or agnostic can assert that there is no appearance of a god in the physical universe within properly-documented recorded history, and that no physical processes we are aware of require the existence of a god. Sure, all those terms need to be nailed down better - but if you do believe that God is directly, personally, moving things or affecting things, you'd better talk to the Catholic Church, because Pope Francis has just said that God doesn't work like that. – Graham – 2018-03-26T12:08:25.533

1@Willtech Atheism simply says to religion "you've had thousands of years to prove your case, and you haven't, therefore I conclude you can't". Agnosticism says "you've had thousands of years to prove your case, and you haven't, but I don't have proof of the negative so it's still technically possible". Neither is a system of belief - they are philosophical positions relating to other people's systems of belief. Belief by definition is held in the absence of evidence - but atheism is a position held due to overwhelming evidence in its favour. – Graham – 2018-03-26T12:15:58.837

2@Willtech No, that is just false reasoning. Let me illustrate it this way: a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or someone that believes in the old Norse gods comes to you and says "This is what the God(s) want/this is the higher truth... and I think you should adhere to that". When you then say "Naw, you have not convinced me of that"... then you are an atheist, at least towards those particular religious doctrines. People that are atheists do that to all religious belief, as opposed to "all but one". – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T12:58:14.177

2@MichaelK You're severely missing the point. Let's grant that atheism gets its meaning from its roots... the argument you gave. It's simply factual, a matter of record, that theos means god, not faith. Taking an example, suppose Chuck is a secular Buddhist; he believes there are no gods, but he follows the eightfold path, buys the four noble truths, etc. Chuck believes faith is crucial for truth. That atheism's meaning derives from its roots, that theos means god, and that Chuck does not believe there are any, implies that Chuck is an a+theos+ist; an atheist. – H Walters – 2018-03-26T14:21:55.247

@HWalters I have no idea why you are pushing this point so hard, but the result is the same: atheists reject religiously derived doctrine. And it does not matter if it is from a godless, mono-god or poly-god religion... the atheist rejects them all. And again: since the theist cannot grab their god by the hand and put them in front of the atheist and say "Here(!) is the source of my doctrine", all they have to show the atheist is their faith. Hence what the atheist rejects is the faith as a basis for doctrine, no matter if that faith is in a god or something else. – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T14:28:01.087

@HWalters It is not as if the atheist will go lenient on non-deistic religions just because there are no gods involved in them. In practice, what it boils down to is that when someone steps into the public discourse and says "I have access to a higher truth, and everyone should adhere to that". the atheist (and hopefully everyone) else will say: "What is your argument for that?". When the first speaker then says "I have no arguments other than that it is a tenet of my religious faith that dictates this", then atheist will say "Not good enough"... god or no god. – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T14:33:14.970

1@MichaelK Because it's inconsistent. If atheism gets its meaning from its roots, Chuck is an atheist. If atheists reject faith, Chuck is not an atheist. Which is it? People like Chuck aren't merely hypothetical; they exist in spades. If you want atheism to describe some identity movement rejecting faith, you need to abandon the etymological approach, because the etymology argument, taken seriously, classes Chuck as an atheist. That's okay because words don't necessarily derive their meaning from etymology, but you can't be inconsistent. – H Walters – 2018-03-26T14:34:09.810

@HWalters No it does not get its sole and only meaning from the word. Also remember: languages and words develop and take on new/more meaning. So if all you have to show here is word games, saying "this is what one part if the word used to mean", then thank you, and so long. This is no basis to claim that atheism is dogmatic. – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T14:42:43.203

@MichaelK What's with the exaggerated defensiveness? I never claimed atheism was dogmatic. If you agree with me, just agree with me; you don't have to put yet more words in my mouth. – H Walters – 2018-03-26T15:02:53.070

@MichaelK atheists reject religiously derived doctrine. seems much broader than "atheists reject the idea that there is a God." Nonetheless, I take it from your answers that the idea of atheism still conveys a system of belief i.e. the theology of an atheist is systematically derived. Note theology does not always refer to God. My better question probably is, what is the word for a person without any system of belief? – Willtech – 2018-03-26T18:33:18.443

@Graham I disagree that belief is always held in the absence of evidence, although I agree that it can be in the absence of evidence. Nonetheless, a person's system of belief formed through philosophical positions relating to other people's systems of belief is still a system of belief itself. – Willtech – 2018-03-26T18:59:44.457

2Much nits. Many pickings. Horses of deadness. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T20:14:23.737

@Willtech For the god-believer that does not impose their belief on anyone else, there is no -ism. An -ism is doctrine. An purely personally held belief and ditto set of morals is no doctrine, and therefore no -ism. The atheist does not give a hoot about the person that does not proselytize or try to influence others with their faith. Anyone that keeps their beliefs private and out of the public discourse is of no interest at all to the atheist. – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T21:21:05.913

1@Willtech An agnostic would say that it is not possible to know whether god exists or not, rendering the question moot. Where a theist says "There exists a god", the atheist replies "I don't believe you". There is a (perhaps subtle) difference between not believing the assertion and believing the opposite of the assertion. It is this distinction that gives root to qualifiers like "agnostic atheism" (We can't know if there is a god, but I don't think there is one) and "gnostic theism" (Existence of god is knowable, and I think god exists). – Vegard – 2018-03-27T08:23:08.343

@Vegard My original point was that a system of belief is a religion, most definable subtypes of humankind, however you dissect, have a system of belief. I shudder to give specific examples since there are many and I do not wish to prattle on the indefined edges, but can it not be said that an athiest has faith in their belief that there is no God? It can certainly be said that they are relying on their belief whether it is private or expressed, which, to me, is another description of faith. – Willtech – 2018-03-27T10:21:26.560

@Willtech That's the definition of belief. It's a word, and that's its meaning. From "confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof". As soon as you have evidence, it stops being belief. To borrow a line from Pratchett, I don't need to believe in this table. We have at least hundreds of years of no evidence of divine intervention, and for risk-assessment "does not happen to anyone on Earth for at least a thousand years" would be considered pretty damn rigorous. :) So no, atheism and agnosticism are not systems of belief. – Graham – 2018-03-27T11:52:24.977

@Willtech An atheist or agnostic would have to say that anything about a soul or a potential afterlife is a belief, of course, because we have no evidence. No-one's come back, of course, but that doesn't mean nothing happens. But we do have evidence of a lack of divine intervention in the material world we live in, and that's critical for ethics because it requires that we don't assume God is going to get us out of trouble. – Graham – 2018-03-27T11:58:42.097

@Graham And yet, the agnostic does not seem to accept this as proof finite. – Willtech – 2018-03-27T11:59:06.883

@Willtech You're confusing intellectual generosity with equality. The agnostic does not expect there to be a god, because every possible test and every possible scrap of evidence says there is none. But since we cannot prove a negative, they allow that tiniest shred of intellectual doubt. That does not mean the agnostic considers both sides equally likely, nor that they consider the theist's opinions to have merit. It simply means they do not have outright proof of the negative, only overwhelming evidence suggesting that. – Graham – 2018-03-27T12:26:27.227

@Graham There is very little ultimate proof of many things. Even the effect of gravity is evidence, not proof. Much of science 'fact' is taken as what therefore must be true given evidence but, is almost all at most established theory rather than proof finite. To be more literal using that terminology, the theist has a theory that there is God/god(s). The atheist has a theory that there is no God and, the agnostic cannot/will not make a final determination, and neither can be fully certain that there is or is not any God. The agnostic's position is more scientifically consistent ... – Willtech – 2018-03-27T21:34:37.127

... in that there is established theory (belief) in both other cases. Most people take it that their beliefs are true. The atheist cannot prove their theory any more than the theist can. Theists point to evidence as atheists point to evidence. Either side can dismiss the evidence of the other equally. – Willtech – 2018-03-27T21:34:44.023

I would suggest on that basis that the theist and the atheist have a theory and the agnostic has an unresolved question. – Willtech – 2018-03-27T21:40:55.680

2@Willtech I wouldn't call atheism a faith anymore than I would say that people who don't believe in santa clause has a faith. If anything, I am pretty sure that people are more likely to say they're sure santa clause does not exist (which might constitute a faith) than atheists are in saying the same thing about gods. Saying "You have not convinced me that your assertion is correct" is not sufficient to constitute faith, in my book. Again, the difference between "I am not convinced there is a god" and "I am convinced there is not a god" is large and not at all negligible. – Vegard – 2018-03-28T06:17:54.947

And this is where correct use of language is important. A theory is supported by evidence. The atheist and agnostic have a theory - there is no god participating in this universe. They have evidence to support this. With full logical proof, it'd be a theorem, which we don't have. What the theist has is a hypothesis which is disproven by every piece of evidence ever. God as a concept has nothing more backing it up than the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus - and we can't prove they don't exist either. Again, you're trying to create a logical equivalence which does not exist. – Graham – 2018-03-28T08:23:21.270

1Atheism is a fully validated theory, with more evidence than any scientific theory such as gravity. (In fact "god does not get involved" was one of Newton's disclaimers on gravitation.) The atheist is happy with the theory, and does not need more evidence. The agnostic also accepts the theory, but acknowledges that without a theorem it could still technically be disproved. The theist makes claims which deny the evidence not just of all recorded history, but even of their own experience. Who's got the unresolved issue here? :) – Graham – 2018-03-28T08:29:08.347

Science is not and should not be a religion. However, there is no shortage of people who incorrectly treat science as their religion, most of them with no awareness that they are doing so. We call this "scientism" and it's anything but rare. – Chris Sunami supports Monica – 2019-11-06T16:48:43.133

'Scientism' isn't a word. It's only used by those that want to sound somewhat scientific without actually knowing a thing about what they're speaking of. It's used to describe the parts of science that disagrees with them. For example, I've seen a Flat Earther use it to describe the parts of geology, physics and mathematics that disprove a flat earth. We already have a word for people who treat science as a religion: 'idiots'. – Nick Lersberghe – 2019-11-07T17:07:42.087


No, atheism is not just another form of dogma.

Atheism is defined as a certain answer to a particular question. Namely the answer: No, there is no god. The term „atheism“ does not refer to the manner how one expresses this answer.

While dogmatism is a certain manner how to express one‘s own answer to a given question. Expressing a position in a dogmatic way, i.e. as a dogma, means to state a thesis without taking seriously the objections of others.

Of course, everywhere one finds persons who express their atheistic position in a dogmatic way. But there is no intrinsic relation between the position on one hand, and on the other hand the manner how one expresses this position.

Jo Wehler

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 17 204

1Or gods. Or divine substance. Or universal being constituted by all minds. Always so focused on monotheisms.. Also anti-superstition. – CriglCragl – 2018-03-24T09:42:22.983

11@CriglCragl: There are superstitious atheists. There are even atheists who believe in spirits/ghosts, and some undoubtedly believe Gaia theory. Atheism really is just about gods, and doesn't relate to pseudoscience etc. – cHao – 2018-03-25T15:11:36.893

@cHao By the way, how do we call an atheist non pseudoscience believer? An asuperstitious? A scientific atheist? A mythbuster? – Cœur – 2018-03-25T16:54:01.597

1@Cœur: Need there be one word/phrase to describe someone who is both? – cHao – 2018-03-25T17:18:09.113

3As @PhilipK put it "Atheism is rejection of faith-based doctrine" – CriglCragl – 2018-03-25T22:00:01.757

What it is is in the name. Theos is not "faith based doctrine". – cHao – 2018-03-26T11:39:21.687

1If you're looking for a word for someone who rejects faith, I believe the word is "apistevist". – cHao – 2018-03-26T11:50:28.993

@cHao It is true, there are many denominations of atheist. Not all of them are named. – Willtech – 2018-03-26T18:47:20.097

1I know some atheists who actively try to convert people to atheism. At that level, it definitely takes on many of the traits of religious dogma. But for the majority of atheists, it's an absence of belief in God rather than a firm belief in the absence of God, and for them, it's not dogmatic at all. – Michael Kay – 2018-03-27T08:08:17.050

@Michael Kay What about "agnosticism = absence of belief in God, no decision about existence or non-existence of God", "atheism = belief in the absence of God"? – Jo Wehler – 2018-03-27T08:23:54.527

For some people "agnosticism" means believing that it is impossible to know one way or the other. But then that again involves that peculiar word "belief"... – Michael Kay – 2018-03-27T08:37:09.517


More complex answer:

It depends on the meaning of the word "atheism"

I know two very different definitions of the word - both used by people calling themselves "atheists":

  1. "Atheism" means that someone does not explicitly believe in god. A person who has never heard that a god may exist therefore must be an atheist because it is not possible to believe that something is correct if you have never heard of it.

  2. "Atheism" means that someone explicitly believe that god cannot exist. A person who has never heard that a god may exist therefore cannot be an atheist because it is not possible to believe that something is wrong if you have never heard of it.

Using definition (1.) it seems to be clear that "atheism" is not a dogma. Especially when looking at the person who never heard of god.

Using definition (2.) it depends on how the word "dogma" is defined. (Or of course the word "religion" if you ask if atheism is just another religion.)

However it may be a dogma in any case. Think of countries where it is forbidden to believe in god. (At least in the past such countries existed!)

Martin Rosenau

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 221

1Where did you get this definition, the dictionary? Your pets will be atheist too I suppose? Atheism is a reflection of God existing and not someone without belief. A new born child cannot be an ATHEIST. – Logikal – 2018-03-26T12:55:14.860

5@Logikal "Your pets will be atheist too I suppose?" Yup, you've correctly stumbled on what atheist means. It's a pretty meaningless term really, just a short way of saying "Not a Christian, also not a Muslim, also not a Jew, also not a Jain, also not a ..." – Richiban – 2018-03-26T16:45:52.990

I disagree. Perhaps you are only referring to a dictionary understanding. In philosophy I can say that is NOT the definition. The term expresses a willing rejection. So no pets and new born children are not believers and ARE NOT atheist at the same time. – Logikal – 2018-03-26T17:46:00.413

2@Logikal My native language is German - maybe English language uses a different definition. In some German language internet forums there are many atheists who claim that ALL children are atheists until they can speak. – Martin Rosenau – 2018-03-26T20:12:20.953

1Nicely stated pragmatist explanation. It's impossible to answer any question if everyone doesn't agree on what the words in the question mean. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T20:16:51.103

The concept in any language is about the willing REJECTION of God as far as philosophy goes. Philosophy does not use a dictionary or slang usage in discussion. – Logikal – 2018-03-26T20:23:24.537

@Logikal I'm very sorry for not having used the terms used in philosophy. However there are scientific papers using the terms "weak atheism" (for type 1) and "strong atheism" (for type 2). So the "type 1" definition is not only slang but also found in scientific papers. – Martin Rosenau – 2018-03-26T20:29:23.710

2"However it may be a dogma in any case. Think of countries where it is forbidden to believe in god." Even if atheism is a positive claim, to assert a truth isn't synonymous with wanting its rejection criminalised. A theism-prohibiting law would be iffy, but it doesn't make atheism any more or less dogmatic. – J.G. – 2018-03-27T19:10:32.273


An particular atheist institution might be dogmatic, but I don't see how atheism as a philosophy (or a specific claim-about-the-world) could be considered inherently dogmatic. I don't know which authority would be laying down the dogma for all other atheists to follow - if there is such a group, I've never heard of them!

Bug Catcher Nakata

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 329


Many of the arguments against particular religious claims have a basis in science, evolution being a prime example.

As such, you may have heard the same lines of argument from many people. I wouldn't consider that dogma, but an appreciation of the scientific principle leading many people to the same conclusion.

Beyond that, there's no common group or thread that encompasses atheists. There are no leaders and no particular individuals trusted to "interpret" truth.


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 171

+1 Although I don't think there has to be a common thread for dogmatism to exist. Regarding science it also can be argued as Alvin Plantinga does ("Where the Conflict Really Lies") that atheism (or "naturalism" as he calls the position) has less in common with science than theism. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T14:20:44.027



In short, asking about religion in the context of philosophy without defining your terms does not a good discussion make.

'Dogma' requires definition, for us to tell if atheism has that/is that or not. 'Religion' would probably benefit from definition, given that you ask "Is atheism supposed to be only anti-religious". 'Atheism' most certainly would benefit from definition.

Depending on the definitions you propose, the answer can be quite different. In many cases, atheism has dogma, meaning that it is a perspective or system of belief (and, obviously, has foundational tenets in these cases). In other cases, atheism is a dogma prescribed as foundational for certain systems of belief/perspectives on the world. In other cases, atheism is neither a system of belief nor a belief and thus neither has nor can be dogma. In yet further cases, dogma isn't necessarily entailed by a system of belief, so atheism can be a special unicorn system with no dogma. In still other cases, things are defined unconventionally and anything can happen.

Please stop being evil

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 479



(Wiki): Dogma: "In the non-pejorative sense, dogma is an official system of principles or tenets of a church, or the positions of a philosopher or of a philosophical school such as Stoicism."

So no, because Atheism has no "official system of principles or tenets".

Depending on your definition, Atheism is either the lack of belief in existence of deities or rejection of the existence of deities.

Neither of these fulfill the definition of "Dogma".

That's the formal(ish) answer.

Less formally, as others have mentioned, two atheists may have nothing else in common, other than the lack of belief in any deities. I might say "I don't see any evidence for the existence of a god, so - absent new data - I assume none exists". My friend might say "I categorically deny the existence, and indeed the possibility of existence, of any god".

We are both atheists, but our positions are very different - so what dogma are we following?

Finally, again mentioned by others, everyone is an atheist - at least with regard to most deities!


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 99

No we are not! Atheism is not A default position. It is a intentional rejection of God. If there is no intentional rejection there is no atheism. – Logikal – 2018-03-26T13:19:22.870

4@Logikal Since we do not agree on what thing the word refers to, arguing over what properties that thing might have is a complete waste of time. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T22:08:18.500

1@Logikal it is a intentional rejection of which god ? – Naoskev – 2018-03-28T15:11:53.407

@Naoskev, There is no which God. There can only logically be one. Why pray to Some thing that has no power to even grant my prayer? This makes no sense. GOD must be all powerful, all knowing and all present by default. – Logikal – 2018-03-28T15:46:57.060

@Logikal "GOD must be all powerful, all knowing and all present by default." - that is one definition of God, but hardly the only one. (Though is is dogmatic!)

I could be wrong, but I don't believe Kali (for instance) is supposed to be any of omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent. Neither are Thor or Apollo, or any of their respective pantheons.

And yes, presuming you reject the existence of Thor, you are an atheist. – Illarion – 2018-03-29T16:09:31.383

@Illarion, Athiesm is not just lacking belief. Atheism expresses a willful rejection of a God. Not just anyone or thing can be a God. The alleged Gods worshipped by others are a joke. The better name for them would be superheroes. A God that has no power to even grant my prayer is useless. You can't have a God with limited power. That is not a God. If I call my cat God does that instantly make him one. Surely I can call something by the wrong name. I can say a drive a supersonic submarine when I really mean I drive a Toyota Corolla. I am simply using the Wrong name for the object. – Logikal – 2018-03-29T18:05:26.023

3@logikal "Athiesm is not just lacking belief. Atheism expresses a willful rejection of a God."

I'm afraid you don't get to unilaterally define terms. Many atheists, myself included, would accept my definition - as do Wikipedia, the dictionary, and so on.

"The alleged Gods worshipped by others are a joke....<snip>"

There are what, a billion or so Hindus on the planet? Why is your conception of a god more valid than theirs? – Illarion – 2018-03-29T18:17:18.453

@ Illaron, you and others are just picking and choosing what you want definitions of specific concepts any kind of way. Anything to you can be a God. I suppose circles can also have four corners if you desire as well. Please address why a rational human beu g would worship a limited power being. Are you just doing things because we can, because there are no rules stating otherwise, because it is legal? Can a Unicorn have the appearance of a crocodile? Can Santa Claus be skinny and a midget? I say you don't understand concepts. You are a God just defining known concepts any way you like. – Logikal – 2018-03-29T19:44:18.947

@Logikal "Anything to you can be a God." - my examples were from three of the world's best known pantheons, worshipped by hundreds of millions of people. They have as much claim to the title "God" as any other human deity.

"Please address why a rational human beu g would worship a limited power being." - I'm not sure why a rational human being would worship any mythical being. But if you're going to, what's the practical difference between "omnipotent" and merely "vastly more powerful than us"? Again, I reject your personal definition of "God". – Illarion – 2018-03-29T22:34:02.787

@ Illarion, the fact millions or. Billions believe on x does not count for anything. Worshiping is legal and those people can worship what the desire because it is legal and nothing preventing them. Philosophy is concerned with the rational reasons. You keep bring up names or titles such as God. I can call my car a dog if I wanted. What is the point. My name has nothing to do with the object if I can make words mean whatever I want them to be. Triangles have 27 sides. There is a religion called the 3 percent nation & another called the 5 percent nation where it's members are called Gods. – Logikal – 2018-03-29T22:57:03.347


Atheism is rejection of faith-based doctrine

This is atheism in a nutshell

Theist: I know what the higher, divine will is, and you would do best to follow it

Atheist: No, I don't think so

Theism is to use religious faith as a basis for doctrine. It is right there in the name: the-/theo-, from god/from faith, and -ism, simply meaning doctrine.

A-theism is indifference to such doctrines. Anti-theism is active opposition against such doctrines.

So there is no dogma here at all, it is just that the atheist is not swayed by religiously inspired arguments.


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 4 805

2That's a broader definition of atheism than I've heard before. Note that it excludes non-theistic religions. – Jon of All Trades – 2018-03-26T18:02:47.010

It's broad enough to be false, particularly considering the word's Greek origins. Spoiler alert: the root word, theos doesn't mean "faith". It means "god". – cHao – 2018-03-26T18:56:56.010

3@cHao There is no requirement that words maintain the original meaning from their roots. If that were true, any person hiking through the woods would be a planet. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T20:23:38.260

@barbecue: There is, however, a requirement that if your definition of a word deviates from that implied by the roots, that your definition be one accepted by the listener. Otherwise you're just trying to define your way out of being wrong. This meaning is not accepted by anyone i've ever heard of. – cHao – 2018-03-26T20:32:05.687

1@chao There's no requirement that either party even know what the root is. Words change meaning, and what is important is that both parties are using the SAME definition in order to have productive dialog. Whether the definition matches some ancient etymology is irrelevant. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T20:46:45.970

@barbecue: It is quite relevant, actually. In the absence of a common definition, the definition based on roots is the default one. You want to deviate from that, have a good reason. – cHao – 2018-03-26T21:02:01.693

@cHao please provide a citation for this astonishing claim. Last I checked, dictionaries base their definitions on widespread popular usage. If you have proof that this is not the case, please provide it. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T21:04:17.207

@barbecue: Widespread popular usage is not the worst of reasons. :) That's not the case here, though, is it. Show me a dictionary that has the definition claimed in this post. Or admit you can't, because it is overbroad to the point of wrongness. Widespread popular usage, even given the disagreement over belief vs unbelief, lines up with the etymology. – cHao – 2018-03-26T21:19:42.860

cHao: The belief that a god / several gods exist — but not knowing their intentions — is deism. To be a theist is to think god(s) exist, and that you know their will, and that you can impose that on others. – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T21:28:18.950

@MichaelK: You're miscategorizing again. The belief that at least one god exists is theism. It is not required to know the god's will. Christianity and Islam literally claim that no one can know the mind of God, but they're still patently theistic. Deism is basically laissez-faire theism. – cHao – 2018-03-26T21:34:30.457 Also, take it up with Hitchens. – MichaelK – 2018-03-26T21:35:23.863

@MichaelK: I looked. Turns out "deism" and "theism" were interchangeable at one point, then slowly deism came to mean a more particular belief -- notably not about whether the god's will is knowable, but whether he intervenes. As for Hitchens, he was more than a little biased against religion in general, but the Abrahamic faiths in particular. So i'm not terribly concerned about his redefinition; they're propaganda as much as anything else. – cHao – 2018-03-26T21:58:37.377

@cHao My only criticism was of your argument about root words. I don't actually agree with this answer, although it does make a good case for being ONE definition of the word. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T22:04:27.027

@barbecue: Fun part is, i'm not the one who brought up that argument. :) The answer attempts to make a similar argument, just with incorrect definitions for the roots. – cHao – 2018-03-26T22:13:28.560

This answer does not describe atheism, it describes agnosticism. – Carl Masens – 2018-11-24T16:06:20.517


Atheism is the absence of belief in God. While such absence can be based on dogmatic principles, it doesn't have to. One can be atheist by simply ignoring the whole category of divinity, just like people who aren't interested in math or CS don't believe that P=NP.

Dmitry Grigoryev

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 354

2I suppose your house or apartment is also atheist, your car is atheist, your pets are atheist, etc. The dictionary definition is not sufficient. – Logikal – 2018-03-26T13:05:29.453

5Sure it is. I, along with nearly all atheists I associate with, follow this definition when describing ourselves. We're also agnostic. The notion that non-sentient objects would have a position on god-belief is not really helpful. – isherwood – 2018-03-26T18:23:07.480

You are using the terms incorrectly. Why not use the word triangle to mean what ever you like as well? – Logikal – 2018-03-26T23:57:44.403

@Isherwood you can use whatever words you like any kind of way apparently. Why not misuse God as well. Say you are God's. Agnostic is a distinct term from atheist. It is like me saying my circle has four 90 degree corners. It is nice you can read the dictionary but can you understand concepts? – Logikal – 2018-03-27T00:04:11.540

2@Logikal Anyone old enough to have heard of other gods is an atheist towards them. I don't know a single Christian friend of mine who also believes in Thor, or Zeus, or any other god you want to pick, apart from the one they worship. That means they actively reject those gods and in contrast to some of your other comments, are actually atheists. It is a false equivalence to ask what inanimate objects or animals believe, so we will ignore them. As far as children and people in general go, if atheism isn't the "default" position, what then is? – Tyler – 2018-03-27T22:25:30.387

@Tyler, the concept is not defined well in the dictionary. Most of the alleged atheists read the dictionary and not philosophical texts. There can only be one God. GOD is typically the all knowing, all powerful and ever present version in these discussions. Anything less than those three traits are not worthy of worship as those entities would be superhero like and not GOD. So you can't pick and choose what you apply atheism to which you are doing. Just like I can't use I am a virgin to chemistry. Words have context strict terms have specific context like virgin, bachelor, triangle, etc. – Logikal – 2018-03-27T23:29:26.450

What you allegedly atheist dictionary readers are doing is making stuff up as you go and defining what you like any kind of way. Let us now define triangle as a shape with 17 sides just because. Most people understand triangle is a three sided shape. You are just doing what you want with concepts that are strict and you don't care. The rejection of GOD is different from a person who does not care, or a person who is unaware of a God. You could careless about distinctions and those terms that sperate them by misusing definitions to suit your emotions. This is an error. – Logikal – 2018-03-27T23:36:45.250

2@Logikal Where is your proof there is only ONE god? I'm not redefining anything. I realize people have different beliefs and worship different gods. Some of these are polytheistic religions. Just because you believe there can only be one god, until you can prove that, it is only your opinion. The thing is, there isn't a strict definition. This isn't similar to a triangle at all, which I agree, does have a strict definition. I'm willing to accept that I could be wrong, but as evidenced by this entire question, it seems these concepts are still being debated. – Tyler – 2018-03-28T15:05:51.290

@Logikal If these topics are as well defined in philosophical terms as you claim, can you please post a link to this strict definition that is accepted by the philosophical community at large? I enjoy learning and expanding my knowledge, and if I'm wrong, I'd like to be able to be able to better understand the gaps in my knowledge. Also, since you brought this up, I have found that religious people are usually the ones who let their emotions define their understanding, since if they are wrong, everything they live for is a lie, so you may want to check the end of that last paragraph. – Tyler – 2018-03-28T15:10:57.740

@Tyler, first this is not about proofs but terminology and proper use in an argument. The argument in your head isn't even formulated correctly. There can only be one God logically. If you understood concepts this would be obvious. Why would I worship a being that does not have the power to even grant my prayer. I ask to be cured from cancer and I get I can't do that as an answer. This is not worthy of worship. – Logikal – 2018-03-28T15:56:33.747

1@Logikal It is not worth talking about this with you. You are closed minded and set in your ways. It is understandable, years of brainwashing does that to people. I personally don't see the point in worshiping any "god" or gods since there is zero proof of any existence, and I can guarantee you it has never answered any of your prayers. If you think so, you are delusional and definitely lacking logic. Good luck in life buddy. – Tyler – 2018-03-28T18:18:19.457

@ Tyler, you are too emotional! I have not even stated my religious beliefs too you. I only mentioned concepts which you clearly do not understand. I am not set in any religious ways because you don't know where I stand. I never spoke about me at all and you don't see that clearly. Understand concepts first before you make an argument this is my point not to prove God exists to you. – Logikal – 2018-03-28T18:24:37.670

@Logikal You are stuck on the possibility that there can only be one god. It doesn't matter what your beliefs are, the fact you completely disregard polytheistic religions is enough to realize you are the one who doesn't understand these concepts. You just keep repeating there can only be one god. YOU picked the definition of a god that you agreed with. I'm asking you to show me that your definition is the one the philosophical community agrees on. – Tyler – 2018-03-28T19:01:40.527

@Logikal The problem with your argument is you think there can be a strict definition of a god. There can't be until you can prove a god exists. The reason we have a strict definition of a triangle is because it actually exists. I can draw any shape and check that it meets the requirements. You can't do this with god because each person has their own idea of what a god is and since there is not a single verifiable example of an actual god, you can't define a basic set of requirements for something to be a god. – Tyler – 2018-03-28T19:01:50.350

@Tyler, people CANNOT and should not just making stuff up as you do with the term atheist is made up. The purpose of a concept is to make distinctions and you mixing beliefs and dictionary definitions under the same term is the problem. Stop making stuff up and we have no problem.. There is a distinction between people who willingly believe in God, willingly reject God exists, people who are unaware God exists, people who can careless if God exists, etc. These need distinct terms as to not confuse them. We aren't even referring to God in a belief system yet just the concept. – Logikal – 2018-03-28T19:31:56.323

@ Tyler, you are allowing any definition of God whatsoever without good reason. Just like you cannot be a triangle, or a skyscraper, you cannot also be a GOD because some one is making up definitions. What people believe and use the wrong terminology is just a mental error that can be fixed. The other alleged Gods are mere versions of superheroes and they use the wrong term -- God. I suppose anything can be a God the same way anything can be a triangle when you can just make stuff up an disregard the concept. God has to be all powerful logically and not capable of irrational failure. – Logikal – 2018-03-28T19:45:47.497

@ Tyler, if people want to worship superheroes than that is fine, but don't call them Gods. If I hold up a tomato and tell you I am holding an apple, I am expressing the same concept but I am using the wrong term. As the multi theist to use the term virgin incorrectly instead of using the terms Gods and we will be all happy. Just a simple substitution will not be to much to ask for. They won't do it just because there is nothing to stop them from misusing words any way they desire. So why not go further and say I am a God and a triangle and mortal all at the same time. – Logikal – 2018-03-28T19:52:16.203

@ Tyler, the problem we are having here has NOTHING to do with religion or God existing. The issue is people making up definition to whatever they want and sticking to it and possibly teaching youth the misused definitions. The issue is not about any proofs. If I make up a definition for murder randomly out of the blue how is anyone else supposed to know my definition is not standard? God has a definition which is what I said. I am not interested in what people believe. Beliefs don't change the definition of triangle do they? NO! It still has three sides. Emotion is not an excuse. – Logikal – 2018-03-28T19:57:30.973


I think one should consider dogmatism as an epistemological problem, as that's what it is treated as in philosophy.

About the definition of dogmatism

I would like to link dogmatism with scepticism, as it is commonly depicted as one of the answers to the Agrippan Trilemma. The following reasoning can be read in

Franks, Paul (2009): Ancient Skepticism, Modern Naturalism, and Nihilism, In: Frederick C. Beiser: The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy, Cambridge, MA: CUP, pp. 58-60

with corresponding sources.

The Agrippan Trilemma gives three possible ways to face sceptical objections about knowledge:

  1. Circular Reasoning
  2. Infinite Regress
  3. Arbitrary hypothesis

Dogmatism, Hegel argues, essentially means taking the third option in stating something finite/relative as absolute, i.e. stating something as an absolute truth that in fact is (logically consistent) open to objection:

The essence of dogmatism consists in this that it posits something finite, something burdened with an opposition (e.g., pure Subject, or pure Object, or in dualism the duality as opposed to the identity) as the Absolute (Hegel, GW, 4:219; T-WA, 2:245; RSP, in BKH, 335 as per Franks, p. 60, fn. 20)

Mind, this whole discussion is about knowledge claims.

About the definition of atheism

Merriam-Webster's defines as follows regarding philosophy:

a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods

Bringing the two together

A dogmatist, you can be regarding basically every single knowledge claim conceivable. Atheism, in particular, can be dogmatic. But it does not have to be. A lack of faith [faith is a subspecies of belief] in God is a matter of fact, it does not need justification. Faith is strongly linked to religious feelings and we have to distinguish between the claim of someone having faith [=holding a particular belief] and the claim of his faith being an accurate assumption about reality [=having knowledge]. As soon as atheism as a knowledge claim comes into play, matters lie differently: Knowledge needs some justification, all kinds of knowledge do.

But atheism as a knowledge claim is but one version of atheism. A dogmatic one, indeed. Just as theism/religion as a knowledge claim instead of (purely) a matter of faith. That is why agnosticism (the view that one cannot have knowledge about something) regarding God potentially can very well both be on theist's and atheist's side, although the former surely is uncommon considering the subjective certainty a conviction of faith carries.

As you can see in this answer, even the quite prolific New Atheists (Dawkins in particular) shy away from labelling their view as dogma and consider themselves agnostic instead.

Philip Klöcking

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 9 269

Atheism is not a "religious" position; it's a position devoid of religion or religious nature. – Agi Hammerthief – 2020-03-24T20:00:38.803

@AgiHammerthief Merriam-Webster's seems to disagree. If I had to decide, I'd side with reputable sources at any time. – Philip Klöcking – 2020-03-24T22:08:03.870


According to the OED, δόγμα is

that which seems to someone, opinion, belief, doctrine, decree < δοκεῖν to seem, to seem good, to think, suppose, imagine

spec. a tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, esp. by a church or sect

Dogmatism is

A system of philosophy based upon principles dictated by reasoning alone, and not relying upon experience

Atheists deny cosmological proofs of God's existence (e.g., St. Thomas's) based upon sense experience (e.g., that change exists in the world). What are atheists' proofs of God's non-existence, based upon the sense experience, besides that evil exists in the world? And what is evil besides a privation of the good? And what is good without an Absolute Good? Thus, it seems atheists are dogmatically opposed to theism, just like relativists are dogmatically opposed to absolute truths.

(cf. Edward Feser's The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, which speaks of "dogmatic fiat" etc., and his Five Proofs of the Existence of God)


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 6 907

7I don't think you can extrapolate any of your claims to all atheists. Many atheists merely don't believe in god. They don't claim there's no god and surely don't try to prove its non-existence. – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-25T09:39:12.747

1Do you also claim it's impossible to have a moral compass without god? – Eric Duminil – 2018-03-25T09:42:55.007

A belief in the non-existence of any god is similar to belief in a specific god or gods. There are no widely accepted proofs of the non-existence of any gods. But the term "atheist" includes the position that it doesn't make sense to believe either way. For example I think it's likely that there are no gods or other powerful celestial beings, but of course I have no evidence either way. And if there are some gods around, there's little reason to expect that any human religion got everything right, or that they deserve worship, or that they care about humans in the way Christianity says – Peter Cordes – 2018-03-25T17:49:52.210

So if you mean atheism as an active belief in the proposition that there is no god or gods, then yes this answer applies to that. It's unfortunate that there isn't more clear and widely understood terminology. Total lack of belief in anything religious goes beyond agnosticism; I don't think it describes what I'm talking about. – Peter Cordes – 2018-03-25T17:53:02.360


Ah, apparently agnostic atheism does exist as a term to refer specifically to the non-dogmatic / non-believing of anything part of the spectrum.

– Peter Cordes – 2018-03-25T18:06:36.150

Not only does exist, but constitutes about 99% of atheists I've ever met (being and active part of the group). – isherwood – 2018-03-26T18:21:38.750

2@PeterCordes One particular article I read broke it down along 3 different axes. Thiest/athiest (I believe/don't believe), gnostic/agnostic (it is possible to be certain or prove my viewpoint/it is not possible to be certain), strong/weak (this will never change in the future/this may change in the future). By this classification the majority of "scientific" athiests would be weak agnostic athiests, but apparently everyone uses these terms differently... – mbrig – 2018-03-26T21:41:43.227

1@isherwood: I was commenting on the existence of the term, not the philosophical position. Indeed, it's frustrating that people spend their time arguing against positions that most atheists don't hold, partly because of a lack of good terminology. – Peter Cordes – 2018-03-26T21:45:19.263

1@mbrig: interesting. I don't think those axes are truly orthogonal, though. How can you be a strong agnostic atheist? So what do you do if letters written in fire appear on the moon next year, followed by miracles and / or an apocalypse? You don't accept that as evidence of the existence of a god, because you're strongly committed to not changing your position? I think personally, I would think that there probably is some kind of god based on solid evidence, but I doubt I'd be keen to do much worshipping except in exchange for a known reward. Depends what you mean by god, I guess. ... – Peter Cordes – 2018-03-26T21:54:46.267

... I mean, I think the fundamental difference is faith. So I guess you could still consider it an atheistic position to think letters of fire on the moon were written by some powerful being, if you don't accept that as reason enough to worship (or fear) them. IMO, if there are any power beings out there who would like to be worshipped, they can come and ask nicely and I'll think about it, if they can provide evidence of having done good things. If they're literally omnipotent, then it's not like they don't have the time. I guess that's still atheist, even if I know they exist? – Peter Cordes – 2018-03-26T22:02:10.150

@PeterCordes when I've seen arguments in favor of "strong" agnostic athesim, they generally center on how the principals of religion/faith are incompatible with "burning moon letters" levels of evidence (very nice mental image, btw :) ). "If the Christian God exists as claimed then there will never be evidence" I think is the idea. It all gets into a lot of philosophy I've never much bothered with... I agree the axes are not fully independent, "weak" and "gnostic" e.g. seem almost totally incompatible. – mbrig – 2018-03-26T22:29:20.487

@mbrig: oh, we're limiting this to the Christian God specifically? Yeah, then you run into Douglas Adams's Babelfish argument. I'm a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series with it's pantheon; he has some interesting ideas about Belief, especially in Small Gods. And yeah, weak gnostic only makes sense if you only mean "certain until disproven", or your threshold for feeling certain is much lower than absolute proof. (Which for many people is actually the case, I think. Humans can go around believing all sorts of things if they're not careful.)

– Peter Cordes – 2018-03-26T22:43:11.933

Do not commit the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof. Athiesm doesn't need to prove the non-existence of a god. It's not making any claims. Theism is claiming that there is a god (or many gods); its adherents are therefore responsible for proving the claim. – Agi Hammerthief – 2020-03-24T20:07:47.293


Seeing as there are many answers here that claim to the contrary, I'd like to attempt to present an answer where I find atheism to be as dogmatic as theism (or maybe, in a slight change of definition, "non-dogmatic"-I'll show this in the end of the answer), but first let's set up the terms properly (note- all definitions are my own, and I'd be happy to argue about them in the comments):


A state of mind where the subject would reject any evidence (empirical*, logical) that objects his view, without positively considering it.


A personal view of belief in "God" (I won't go into that definition, but you should note that it may change the entire conversation).


A personal view of belief that there is no "God".

I don't want to start going through agnosticism, as it isn't as relevant to this question, so I'll set this one aside.

Now let's digest our subjects. I'd like to state that both theism and atheism, by definition, are not dogmatic, only that under certain circumstances (highly subjective) they can both arrive at dogmatism.

Looking at our definitions (which considers a personal subject, rather than a group of people, so I'm not considering "theism"/"atheism" as an organized group but rather as the personal faith) we can see that a theist person, while believing in a divine force (and sometimes in its commands) isn't necessarily "dogmatic", meaning he wouldn't necessarily object any sort of evidence against his view - he might accept it, he might contemplate with it, and yes, he might also completely reject it. On a personal note I'd like to add that I've seen all of these cases in Judaism.

Now, what might be difficult to address it the reason why atheism can be dogmatic as well, but I'm sure that if you've carefully read my terms it shouldn't be a problem. See, atheism, very much like theism, can be mostly considered a faith just as much as theism - it's simply a negative faith. I'd argue that anyone that claims he's an atheist but would not accept to see his view as faith, but rather as "lack" (more precisely, passiveness) of belief, is agnostic. The atheist (although he obviously wouldn't agree to look at it that way, because he's against faith and all of its implications, which is absurd on a different level that doesn't belong to this question) would actually believe that God doesn't exist, and hence will have all implications of possible dogma as much as the theist.

*The problem often rise when people think that it is obvious that the evidence points towards atheism, and that's a common theme with popular atheists. It happens mostly when people mix up empirical advancements and metaphysics, when they don't realize that empirical evidence cannot even be asked for questions such as "Does God exist". When they manage to mix them, they often take scientific theories such Big Bang and Evolution and say that they prove God doesn't exist.

Yechiam Weiss

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 3 468

1I'm not a big fan of your definition for Dogma. That said, I think the vast majority of atheists would revise their position in the light of incontrovertible evidence.

We could quibble about what would count as "incontrovertible evidence", but it doesn't matter - there would exist some evidence that would be sufficient for (the great majority to) break your "reject any evidence" definition of Dogma. – Illarion – 2018-03-29T16:26:15.483

1@Illarion which will define them as agnostics. If you'd call them atheists then how would you distinguish between them and agnostics? – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-03-29T16:58:26.167

Well, it all comes down to definitions. "Agnostic" is more correctly defined as "the belief that the existence of God(s) is unknown and unknowable" - but it's commonly misused to mean just "I don't know".

If we went with that definition, then I would say a rational person would be both agnostic and atheist. That is to say "I don't know for certain that God(s) do not exist, but since I see no evidence, I assume they do not unless such evidence appears". – Illarion – 2018-04-02T13:45:14.870

The scientific method does not deal in disproving things - strictly, scientific observation will never disprove God.

But there are other routes than observation to determine the existence of God though. A logician might prove it to his satisfaction with logic, say, and therefore be atheist but without being agnostic. – Illarion – 2018-04-02T13:48:10.060

@Illarion so, you're saying that (theoretically) the one who'll be open to "convert" (hate that word) is more likely the atheist than the agnostic, as, given an evidence, the atheist would accept religion while agnostic will say it doesn't matter? I still try to find the practical difference between the two definitions you use. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-04-02T15:17:22.990


Atheism is just another alias. The same reason that leads people to adopt religious beliefs is the same that leads people to atheism. It was Otto Rank who first showed that non-religious dogmas are no different from religious ones. It's therefore right to say the secular religion, the communist religion and the consumerist religion, even the atheist religion is a dogma.

To be clear, i am referring to 'atheism' as a concept which is debated, attacked and justified.

Since it is in question, therefore it's being conceptualized as a stand-alone concept not just a nil.


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 652

Anthropologically, but not in terms of any in-group self descriptions. I think we need to look a lot more atvwhat religious behaviour does for people, like Yuval Harari in Sapiens – CriglCragl – 2018-03-25T21:58:22.507

4But atheism isn't a religion. Atheists have no principles to live by, there are no requirements for someone to be considered an atheist except that they don't believe in a god. I don't believe in a god, so I am an atheist. It doesn't really affect my life beyond that. I get out of going to church, I get to apologise to evangelists for not being able to believe, etc. – John – 2018-03-26T02:41:40.483

@john "Atheists have no principles to live by" ...I'm not sure about that one. How does having principles to live by imply belief in gods? Or, if it doesn't imply that, then what would you call someone who has principles to live by, but doesn't believe in a god? – H Walters – 2018-03-26T06:30:48.017

5@HWalters I didn't mean that atheists have no principles in general. I meant that atheists have no prescribed principles due to their being atheists. I thought that was obvious - sorry. – John – 2018-03-26T06:32:42.043

4'The secular religion'. There is no such thing. A religion would require an active set of beliefs, which are absent in atheism. To quote Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi: "Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong.". – Nick Lersberghe – 2018-03-26T11:14:39.550

2The fact that dogma exists in both religious and non-religious contexts is not proof that atheism is dogmatic. And your definition of the word "religion" is deeply at odds with that used by most people. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T20:56:21.003

Atheism is not a religion (nor are "the secular religion", "the communist religion" or "the consumerist religion", save by considerably poetic license).

That's just not what the word means.

That's not to say that there cannot be secular areas with their own dogma, mind. "If you're not virtualizing your servers, you're doing it wrong" is a sentiment I frequently come across in a professional capacity, and it is verging on dogma (for all that I agree with it).

It's very different from religious dogma though, in particular because there are very sound reasons behind it. – Illarion – 2018-03-29T16:15:16.887

i edited my answer. – Themobisback – 2018-03-31T07:50:47.360


Dogma(tism) is not primarily about the contents of the dogma – objective – but about the attitude of the view-holder – subjective.

Belief-in-God vs non-belief-in-God is one axis.

Dogmatic-ness vs open-mindedness is another orthogonal axis. And the choice of where one lies essentially depends on whether one reaches one's belief(s) thorough a philosophical journey or by blind assumption.

So, it is about calm, quiet search or blind assumption.


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 413

1I feel you are saying something significant. But I'm not sure that I'm getting your meaning. I've edited the answer to put in more standardized English what I get as your meaning (below the horizontal line). Please re-edit as you find appropriate. And below a second horizontal line are some brief comments of mine – Rusi-packing-up – 2019-11-07T06:23:38.343

1Needless to say you are free to delete my comments (and even my suggested edit) – Rusi-packing-up – 2019-11-07T06:30:49.873

@Rusi-packing-up thanks, that's exactly what I want to say. – salah – 2019-11-07T10:26:18.970

1Much better @salah! But I still don't get what you are saying in the last para: "properly basic belief" – Rusi-packing-up – 2019-11-07T15:33:21.690

@Rusi-packing-up I mean some people don't accept the idea that atheists could be exist naturally, so they may consider atheists as Dogmatic non believers. Thanks, again, Rusi. – salah – 2019-11-07T15:46:02.057

This is interesting. Certainly if I held a coin in my hand, and asked you what was in my hand, and you said nothing, I would be a bit puzzled. In fact I would be so puzzled that, I would think you are blind, hallucinating, or perhaps you didnt understand the question correctly. Perhaps some religious people feel this way about atheists, if God is taken to be properly basic? I am an atheist myself but it is entertaining to think about this. – Casey – 2019-11-08T06:18:49.940

When I first asked about "properly basic belief" I didn't know this as an established philosophical term. My questioning seems unfortunately to be part responsible for your removing that reference. Your (removed) line that for some God may be a properly basic belief in itself is a v interesting insight (for me). And I was again reminded by seeing this video

– Rusi-packing-up – 2019-11-20T02:55:11.193


Atheism itself is neither dogmatic or non-dogmatic. Some atheists are dogmatic about the non-existence of the supernatural, others are not.

Non-personal dogmas always require an organization to define them, but there is no church of Atheism that could define such dogmas for atheism. There is no central scripture or other universally accepted source of truth relevant to atheists.


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 727


You are asking multiple questions and you would do well in the future to define what you mean when you ask them.

Is atheism just another form of dogma?

The answer is easily and clearly "no." It is no because you could have spent your entire life from birth to death as an atheist and never thought even once about the validity of the position or any logical component to atheism. Atheism is an absence of a belief. It is not an intellectual stance. Agnosticism is the absence of knowledge, which is closer to reasoning.

This does not mean that becoming an atheist wasn't thought about, it just isn't a requirement. Dogma requires reasoning.

I was raised Catholic, and part of my motivation for leaving Catholicism was my dislike of any kind of enforced structure. However, to my surprise, it seems like Atheism is also dogmatic.

Either these sentences are irrelevant, or they need material expansion to explain how they relate to the questions. Your personal discomfort or your direct experience are irrelevant to the question at hand.

Is this intentional?

Is what intentional and by whom? Atheists are a heterogeneous disaggregated group. Although there are small groupings of atheists here and there, they primarily exist due to discrimination by the larger group. Buddhists are a group; Catholics are a group. Atheists are not a group in the same sense that aunicornists are not a group.

Indeed, atheist is defined relative to another group, theists. It is non-membership, but it is not mere non-membership as "heretics" are also not members, but heretics are still theists.

Is atheism supposed to be only anti-religious or is it more against dogma itself?

Atheism isn't anti-religious but religious perceive it as such because religions are groups and members leaving a group endangers the survival of the group. Theists view atheists as anti-religious. Some are. Some are not. Most do not care about religion at all. If you like joining the group in its tribal headgear, chants, ritual and maybe even dance, go for it. Just don't expect everyone who is an atheist to think you are fully sane.

Atheism isn't for or against dogma because atheism is a description. A dogma is a belief arrived at through reason alone. People make dogmatic thoughts quite a bit and nobody cares. For example, it is dogma that people do not invest money with the intention of losing it since they could simply consume their resources instead. That fits the definition of dogma. It doesn't require any evidence at all. It might be nice if evidence were collected, but it isn't required except for confirmation. Science would require confirming evidence, but dogma does not.

The Pythagorean theorem would fit the definition of dogma, for that matter.

For your next question, you should consider looking carefully at your definitions, how your personal experience is driving this question, and what you really want to know. You should probably post it in a social sciences wiki instead, though.

Atheism is an extremely conservative position, intellectually, in that it requires the fewest assumptions about the world. The claim of a god or goddess, kami, spirits or leprechauns is a perilous assertion of logic unless grounded in an axiomatic system which presumes their existence or there is commonly accepted data to support it. As an example, there is no dispute that Pluto exists. There are disputes as to its classification. The existence of Pluto is not in doubt and so it requires no assumption, other than that nature is real, to assert the existence of Pluto. It may be perilous to assert that it is a planet.

As a disclosure note, I believe that Pluto is a planet because the alternative is that Mrs. Smith, my third-grade teacher, was wrong and that is too devastating a possibility for me to consider. The IAU was wrong and I stand on the authority given by the State of West Virginia to my school teacher. To assert that I may have been misled, that Mrs. Smith may have been misled, or the West Virginia Education Department may have been misled is beyond contemplation.

Take the answers posted here and contemplate both your motivation, your experience and what you really want to know. I think you probably need to ask another set of questions, but I think the questions will probably belong to another type of forum as my guess is that there is little that philosophy can provide. The primary and most profound thing that philosophy provides most people is clarity of thought. Once the thoughts are clear, those thoughts usually belong in the domain of a science or one of the humanities.

Dave Harris

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 129


We use the word dogma to mean two different things, I will only talk about the use of this term in philosophy.

In epistemology, Dogmatism is the opposite of skepticism. Skepticism is to say that knowledge (or at least some kind of knowledge) is impossible in principle.

Dogmatism on the other hand is the claim that some knowledge (or all knowledge) is possible, in principle, even if we do not currently have such knowledge. Dogmatism (dogma in general, in philosophy or day-to-day use) can be described as a claim, a positive statement about knowledge.

Now, what is atheism?

Atheism is the absence of belief in one or more deities. An atheist does not claim nor deny the existence of God.

Since not every atheist claims that God does not exist, it then follows that "denying God's existence" is not the appropriate definition of atheism.

Suppose I claim that it is possible to know whether you wear a red shirt now. This is dogmatism , and if I claim that it is impossible to know, this is skepticism.

And if I say that you wear a red shirt , and I know it, and nothing can change this, this is dogma as the term is more commonly used in daily our daily life.

Atheism on the other hand is a very different subject. Three kinds of people I can think of now : Those who believe that you wear a red shirt, those who believe that you do not wear a red shirt, and those who believe neither, they just suspend judgement.

Which ones are a-redshirt-ists here?

The ones that believe you wear a red shirt are believers.

The ones that don't are all a-redshirt-ists including those that just do not believe.

If I say that I am an a-redshirt-ist, it does not mean that I believe you wear another color (blue, green or yellow..etc) , it just means that I do not have any good reason to believe that you wear a red shirt.

This is not a claim (remember, we said that dogma is a claim).

It is contradictory to have one thing be a claim and not be a claim at the same time, therefore : Atheism is not a dogma.

So, this is not a claim that I have knowledge or that knowledge is possible as covered by the philosophical and common definitions of the word dogma.


Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 2 341


I have seen people converting to Atheism by simply pledging to the belief that there is no God. No other requirements but only a dogmatic belief in the non-existence of God. But as a mature person one would want a philosophy in addition to atheism to deal with the problems of the world. Atheism does not offer any such philosophy by default. I personally tried to adopt scientific atheism. It turned out to be dogmatic when I saw it refusing the cases of rebirths of people as genuine. It turned out to be dogmatic when I saw it refusing to recognize free-will as a formless property of Universe.I personally found it dogmatic when scientific atheism insisted on consciousness as an emergent property of matter (matter+chemical juggling= consciousness). In short as much as I have grown as a scientific atheist I have found that there are dogmas within the scientific community. Why is that case ? Because Science creators started with a belief system which challenged God and then tried to become God by converting men into Atheism. Atheism relies heavily on the dogmas of science to prove or make belief that there is no God.

Dheeraj Verma

Posted 2018-03-24T05:45:35.267

Reputation: 1 041

4I don't get this at all. When have you heard anybody lay down "matter+chemical juggling= consciousness" in a dogmatic way? Or the other things you have mentioned. They are just speculations that scientists have for how it might turn out. I don't think it's agreed upon as "undeniably true", which is the definition for dogma. For that matter, there is no thing that is accepted as "undeniably true" in science (imo) – BlowMaMind – 2018-03-24T13:01:29.483

Science is ignoring the obvious. Consciousness is present. Science begins the Universe by existence of some kind of matter. That matter was without consciousness. Then after some juggling of chemicals under whatever circumstances Consciousness emerged. That is why I said "matter + chemical juggling= consciousness". Science says it is open to debate but it is not. – Dheeraj Verma – 2018-03-24T13:18:16.590

6"matter + chemical juggling = consciousness" is surely open for debate. But the problem is debates in science don't work the way they work in philosophy. In philosophy, internal consistency and logical rigor is essential. But, in science on the other hand evidence is essential. So if future evidence shatters the idea "matter + chemical juggling = consciousness", then imo scientists will surely adopt a different route. But for now a physicalist approach has seemed to work for science; so they are continuing with that for now – BlowMaMind – 2018-03-24T13:33:27.833

+1 The issue of free will you bring up is interesting. If there is any free will in the universe, whatsoever, whether it is ours, a pet's, a bacteria moving or even the collapse of a quantum system, then there are agents. These agents justify accepting that there is a God that grounds this agency. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-03-24T14:15:07.420

8"Converting to Atheism" seems to be full of problems in itself. Atheism isn't something you convert to, because it's not something you believe in, and atheism-with-a-capital-A, and for that matter science-with-a-capital-S aren't things that need capitalisation. That's only there to poison the well. Your answer seems to make a lot of claims about the world which atheism is entirely unconnected - consciousness? Rebirth? Free will? Atheism has nothing to say on those subjects - it has no dogma, which is what the question is asking. – moopet – 2018-03-24T19:38:28.140

7This is not an answer to the question. This is a personal account of how you tried to conform to an ideal, but were disappointed when this clashed with certain beliefs you have. -1 for ranting about that instead of answering the question. – MichaelK – 2018-03-25T09:26:04.263

@MichaelK I answered the question. Atheism is indeed dogmatic and it borrows its dogma from science. You can not be more objective than that given the scattered nature of subject called atheism. Give me -1's if I have said something wrong I won't mind it. No personal issues here. But I hope you would appreciate my sincere effort to answer the question from different point of view. I am not trying to be a Jihadi. But yes I am very enthusiastic about concepts like free will. I hope science will one day understand free will,consciousness etc. Best wishes. – Dheeraj Verma – 2018-03-25T09:59:10.193

5Science is the systematic pursuit of knowledge; a method for how to find objectively provable facts. Science is not a collection of beliefs, nor a set of ethics or morals. So you are entirely wrong: atheism is not dogmatic, because rejection of a claim is not dogma. And calling scientifically derived knowledge "dogma" just because it clashes with beliefs that you want to hold, that is not just wrong, it is also petty and small-minded. I am sorry that you are disappointed that you did not find reality to be that which you wanted it to be. But reality is what it is whether you believe it or not. – MichaelK – 2018-03-25T10:06:39.597

2I am an atheist because I lack belief in God. Not because of scientific reasoning, but because there is nothing in the entirety of my experience that resembles religious feelings or faith. Science "works" for me in the sense that it produces stuff I can put into practice that actually does what it said it would. I do not "believe" in science insofar it transcends my understanding and experience. This answer is mixing several layers. – Philip Klöcking – 2018-03-26T09:24:01.817

1@DheerajVerma Science and faith are not opposite ends of a scale, they're completely different unrelated things. – barbecue – 2018-03-26T20:30:54.417

@barbecue seriously , then why do we raise same questions ? Where did the universe come from ? Who created us? Where will we go after we die ? Science gives answer to the above questions. Religion also gives answer to those questions. They are in conflict. – Dheeraj Verma – 2018-03-27T01:59:51.227

@DheerajVerma Similar words do not mean the questions are the same. Question: "Who created us?" Answer: Our parents. I'm quite sure that is not what you meant by your question, but it illustrates my point, which is that just because the same words may be used, doesn't mean the question is the same. Context matters. Science cannot ever address matters of faith, because that's not what science is FOR. It never was, is not, and never will be able to deal with such subjects, because it's not meant to. – barbecue – 2018-03-27T21:54:11.833

@barbecue Who created first parents ? As I see it Science and Religion share some questions. And the answers are not in harmony. There is another question which I hold as very important : is there a free will ? Science fails to answer that but we know it exists. – Dheeraj Verma – 2018-03-27T22:12:07.247

@DheerajVerma "Where did the universe come from". We do not know. We know that the starting event is the Big Bang, what lies "outside" and "before" that, we do not know. "Who created us?". That is begging the question. We do not know that there is a "who" that created us. "Where will we go after we die?" Our bodies goes into the grave/funeral pyre/donated to others. Our consciousness goes to where it was before we were conceived: into nothingness. Our influence that we have exerted stays right were it is before we die: in the memories of others. – MichaelK – 2018-03-28T06:39:29.870

@DheerajVerma The questions you post have nothing to do with religion or science. Those questions have always existed, and mankind has sought answers to them. The issue with religion is that religion purports to know everything, and never gives the answer "We don't know", even when that is the appropriate answer. – MichaelK – 2018-03-28T06:41:47.680

@MichaelK That is why I am dissatisfied with religion and science. I like Buddhism. They are silent on questions which can not be answered. – Dheeraj Verma – 2018-03-28T12:38:04.423

1@DheerajVerma Scientists are the first to say "We do not know" when they do not know. And Buddhism purports to have many answers to questions where it is impossible to have answers with our present knowledge, and it makes unsupported claims, like those of rebirth and the existence of karma. So I would urge you — in the strongest — to stop mis-characterising science and scientists. – MichaelK – 2018-03-28T12:47:55.633

@MichaelK I will not stop criticizing science for not recognising free will at least. It is making fool of the people who believe in science. – Dheeraj Verma – 2018-03-28T14:35:02.667

Let us continue this discussion in chat.

– MichaelK – 2018-03-28T14:38:09.137