If you want to piss off an atheist, tell him or her that atheism is a religion just like any other. Michael Nugent, chairman of Atheist Ireland, attempts to clear the record on what many of those who “willfully unbelieve” really believe about faith, certainty and morality.
“Atheism is not a religion,” Nugent assures. “Religions typically have creeds supposedly revealed by supernatural beings, while atheists form our own beliefs. Atheist groups claim to speak only on behalf of our members, not on behalf of the creator of the universe.”
Atheism does not require certainty. Strictly speaking, we cannot be certain about anything. But we can be as certain that the Christian god does not exist as Christians are that Thor or Zeus do not exist. Give us reliable evidence and we will change our minds.
We do not need religion for meaning. We each determine our own sense of meaning. We have evolved to notice patterns in nature, which helped previous generations to survive. This can cause us to mistakenly see patterns and ascribe agency, including to gods, that are not there.
We do not need religion for morality. Morality is a natural process of our brains, based on empathy, compassion, reciprocity and reason. It enables us to distinguish good moral ideas in the Bible, such as love thy neighbour, from bad moral ideas in the Bible, such as killing people for gathering sticks on the Sabbath.