Atheism is defined as the absence of belief in divine beings. Can atheism be thought of as a religion? Answer this question by applying the ideas discussed in chapter 1 of Religions of the West Today. More specifically, consider the "key elements" of religious practice identified on p. 8 of the text. Does atheism manifest any of these? In what ways? Be specific about the patterns found in religious stories discussed on pp. 16 – 20 of the text. Does atheism imply a mythic structure similar to any of the four types discussed there? Be specific as you consider the features of religious experience and traditions identified throughout chapter 1.
There is no correct answer to this question. This assignment does not require that you do any research on atheism or atheist groups, and research like that is likely to distract you from answering the question in your own words. To do well on this assignment you should carefully reread chapter 1 of the textbook and then thoughtfully apply the ideas discussed there to the general idea of atheism understood as the absence of belief in divine beings.
Notice that you're being asked whether atheism can be thought of as a religion. So as you consider the general idea of not believing in divine beings, ask yourself whether a person who affirms that general belief can a) experience anything as sacred, b) be affected by any mythic or symbolic story that provides them with a general sense of their place in the universe, c) participate in anything like ritual actions that provide them with a rhythm of meaningful activity in their lives, d) feel tied in any way to a community held together (at least in part) by a narrative expressing basic beliefs, e) feel bound in any sense by a set of moral principles related to such basic beliefs, or f) recognize and submit themselves to authoritative knowledge about reality held by individuals who possess that knowledge.
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