I don't usually have a lot of time for religious discussion, except when there is a philosophical angle, since religious discussionists are often the most stupid of all. Yes even worse than the trivialists (How many comments a day do you get on your blog? You know the kind.) Religionists (and atheists) tend not to listen to each other but just bang on with their own pre-programmed spiel and damn the other side to eternal perdition.
But this here discussion DID interest me, for two reasons. First, because I really do think that atheism has certain characteristics normally associated with religion. Second, because I think a lot of the problems and disagreements over religion that I mentioned above are, in large part, caused by the semantic laziness which I talk about in the following post.
So without further ado, I'll now let you read it!
Sorry to keep going on about semantics, but I feel I have to because, in so many of these religion discussions, people don't take the trouble to accurately define the meanings of the words they are using. This can lead to people arguing about different things but calling them by the same word. In turn, this leads to misunderstandings, bafflement, the giving of offence, or even to fights breaking out!
Maybe what I'm going to say has already been said a bit further up (I haven't had time to read every post) but anyway I'll say it.
Someone further up said that the word religion means "reverence for God". Well it may mean that for some people, but only by association. The root meaning of the word is the Latin "religare" which means "to bind, or to bind up". It's quite interesting that the word "yoga" has a similar root meaning of binding.
In this pure definition of the word "religion" it may well be possible to say that atheism is a religion, but only when applied to those who are, as it were, active exponents of atheism. In other words, those atheists who attempt to convince others of the rightness of their belief. Some would argue that atheism, (or should we say Atheism?) is a credo, since the atheist is professing a belief in a proposition that is not susceptible of proof, any more than a belief in God is susceptible of proof. We can twist words around all we want, but the atheist is probably saying, "I believe there is no god."
There are some thought-systems that are given the label of religion, with the meaning of the word in the pure sense we have just defined, in which it is not necessary, nor is it even considered desirable, to believe in God. Buddhism is the most obvious one that springs to mind here. This is one of the criticisms sometimes aimed at Buddhism by adherents of other religions, that Buddhism is fundamentally atheistic. This does not, of course, apply to all branches of the faith, which is vast and fantastically varied. But some sects of Buddhism do allow the worship of a deity or deities, largely it seems because people like to worship something or someone.
I think the Buddhist would reply to an accusation of being atheistic by saying that she/he neither believes nor disbelieves in God. But I'm only guessing about this, since I am very far from being an expert on any religion, atheistic or otherwise.