“Are you a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Jew or Buddhist ?” – “None, I am an atheist.” Strangely enough, an atheist identifies himself analogous to being a Christian, a Muslim, or a Hindu. I define something as a religion if it takes a definitive position on the divine and/or the afterlife and atheism does have one such position – that there is no divine and after life. Although atheists may not a have one single holy book about God, it does seem to have books about preaching to replace God. And similar to how the faithful try to propagate their religion, atheists too become vehemently vocal and mob their opponents in the hope of converting the religiously faithful into disbelievers and hence to me like many, atheism is for all practical purposes – a religion.
Interestingly, most atheists tend to argue that religion has no place in a rational, civilized society and that atheism is the proper philosophical standard for human reason. They claim that their philosophy is based purely on secular reason, logic, historically documented facts and the verifiable science. I dare say, that it is a rather disturbingly pompous self-righteous stand to take, much akin to the religious fanatic who claims to hold the key to life and after. To be honest, I have no inherent problem with atheists nor do I have any problem with Christians, Muslims, Jews or Hindus nor the scientologists who seem to have bizzare theories involving aliens. I prefer – you believe what appeals to you , I believe what appeals to me and as long as we are not set to demean the other or slit one another´s throat, there should be no reason why multiple belief systems cannot co-exist.
It is true that religions have often fallen well short of their ideal vision and relied heavily on propaganda, but we must recognize that so have atheism. For instace, most atheists are quite rabid when it comes to attacking religion and claim that religion is the singular most reason of all wars among mankind. However that claim is the most illogical and inaccurate claim there is. The Encyclopedia of Wars authored by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod documents the history of recorded warfare. From their list of 1763 wars that have been waged over the course of known human history only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for about 6.9 % of all wars and less than 2 % of all people killed in war. Examples are in plenty. 35 million soldiers and civilians have died in WW I alone as opposed to 1-3 million in the crusades and inquistions put together. Worse, the atheistic communist governments of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong have alone killed 42.6 and 37.8 million people through various means – shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, you name a methodology and it is there. And if one adds people such as Lenin, Tojo and Polpot that number soars even higher. History simply does not support the argument that religion is the major cause of conflict. Wars have always arisen, from territorial disputes, military rivalries, conflicts of ethnicity, and strivings for commercial and economic advantage and religion as a source of war is only a small fraction of it, less than 7 % to be accurate.
I have great regard and respect for the agnostics as they are not at war with anyone, whereas atheists are prone to aggressively attacking just about everyone as religious fanatics are. Hence, neither religion nor atheism per se will rid this world of propaganda, intolerance or war, if anything will, then it is “how” we teach religion or atheism that will.