Is Atheism a Religion?

No it is not! It's not even a worldview. No matter how you define religion it must include supernatural forces or beings, and atheists deny them. If a Christian reader thinks atheism is a religion then please provide for us a definition of religion that applies both to Christianity and to its denial. Define it such that it applies to all groups that believe in the supernatural and also to groups that deny the supernatural. My guess is that any definition of religion that includes atheism will either deny the inherent supernaturalism of religions like Christianity, or will end up reducing religion to the lowest common denominator of a social grouping. Give it a go, okay? One lame attempt would be to say that atheism is a religion because it takes a position on metaphysical issues, I suppose, but then by the same token, as Dr. David Eller wrote: "If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby." [First published 5/20/09]

61 comments:

Sabio Lantz said...

Words are created by humans, not discovered by humans. Any given word can have lots of meanings and used many ways. In the right context, "Football is my religion", is well understood by all listeners.
What I find very, very interesting is how badly you don't want Atheism to be a religion or how badly you don't want it to be a worldview.
What drives that desire.
For certainly we are not trying to find out what the word means in Plato's heaven.

Sabio Lantz said...

Words change over time, words can have multiple meanings. Our chore is not to discover what a word means but to clearly define words between users so that useful dialogue can occur.

I find it very curious how badly you want Atheism to not be a religon. Heck, "Football is my religion" is meaningful and clear if said in the right context. Words are used to persuade and manipulate. We are not explorers trying to find what the word actually is up their in Plato's heaven.

Brad Haggard said...

Think it depends on how you define atheism. You can leave it general or qualify it out of any talk of religion or worldview, but it has to be at least an integral part of a worldview.

I think a strong case can be made for New Atheism as a religion, though.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Brad,
a strong case?
then why don't you give us a little smattering of it right here then would you?

goprairie said...

The question should not be why do we want it NOT to be a religion. That is merely a desire for truth. You cannot say that the rejection of something is that thing. That defies logic. The question should be why do YOU WANT it so badly to be an alternate religion? The answer to that is simeple: To level the playing field. If I say I reject your silly myth, I have made a value judgement. I have rejected your thing. I have declared that my thinking is superior in that you believe in a false thing that I am smart enough to reject. If you can make a case, desparate as it is, for my atheism being just another religion, it gives you some (false) security that our choices are equal. Most atheists have rejected a religion and they use science to explain the things they used to attribute to the god of their former religion. So at best, you could attempt to claim that the belief in SCIENCE is the religion, but the failure to believe itself, the atheism, cannot be a religion. So go ahead, try to make a case that science is a religion. I can touch and see things about science. Your god is invisible. Everything you claim your god does, I can explain with science, and the scientific explanation is more consistent with other things in the world, and visible and observable.

Lee Randolph said...

I think the old "science is a religion" is a fallback defensive postion that a christian takes when they can't go forward with an argument.

they misrepresent optimism in successful processes, organizations or what have you as faith.

I think Brad was mischaracterizing me as a
"religious atheist" over in my "life in the lab" article, and here is my rejoinder to him,

I think I do get your point and I think it is misrepresenting my position and mischaracterizing me and some kind of Atheist that has replaced religion with science.

I am an optimist where science is concerned, based on the many successful outcomes I observe. Kind of like the "go-to" guy or gal in an office. Typically, there is a person that facilitates more successful outcomes than others, for some reason, and they become the "go-to" guy or gal. If they don't know the answer, they know how to find it, they don't make excuses, they find a way where others can't, surely you know someone like that.

I see science as the "go-to" guy, and I'm optimistic that if it can be done, the "go-to" guy will do it.

I may be wrong and get disappointed, but if the "go-to" guy can't do it, well at least I'm confident that due care and diligence was applied and it may really not be possible.

But as I pointed out above, life and consciousness has no definitive definition, and viruses are like little naturally occurring chemical robots, and plenty of other life forms straddle the definition of consciousness.

Emergence is the concept at work here. Properties emerge from the interaction of simpler components.

And life in the lab seems reasonable based on these observations, therefore I'm optimistic, since it seems to be consistent, so far, with established knowledge.

Lee Randolph said...

I'd like to say one more thing,
SCOPE AND DEFINITION.
in these kinds of questions,
people really need to be hammered on their scope and definition.

At what point does an atheist become religious?
What are the characteristics of "the religion"?
Define the "religion".
At what point does football, for example, become a religion?

When you nail the speaker on scope and definition, sometimes their argument just dissolves.

try it at work on work related things sometime, its a great diffuser, kind of like putting soap in oil.

Ryan said...

It would seem to me that Atheism by its very definition makes metaphysical claims concerning supernatural forces or beings. It would seem logical to me that something non-religious wouldn't make any such claims. Therefore, it is at minimum a system of belief. Atheism's Ph.D. scientists and Professors are the priests and their science text books are their scriptures. Their methods for scientific inquiry are their rituals, and their uniformitarian assumptions form the basis for their mythology about how life began in a primordial soup and complexity and design arose from nothing but time and blind chance.

Well, that gave me a bit of a chuckle.

Seriously though, atheism makes metaphysical claims making it a system of belief at least. And since no one was there in the beginning and we must assume that there is a naturalistic origination for everything we see today (no matter how much it looks to be the product of intelligence), it has a system of faith. In fact, since no one was there in the beginning to confirm their calculations and conclusions which they so adamately affirm, you might even say it is a sort of blind faith at that.

ZAROVE said...

Oh, and Goprairie, your post about atheists rejectin religion makes sense only if you think of Religion as a synonym for "Theism", and its not. Religion isnt abotu beleif in gods, though gods do feature in many religions. Atheism isnt about rejection of religion, its just about rejection in beleif in gods.

John W. Loftus said...

Zarove, if you merely repeat what I saw elsewhere, and unless you run what you write through a spell checker then it isn't good enough here.

Kel said...

It reeks of poor equivocation to make such an argument. I liken it to calling a position that astrology is bogus to a worldview. How can one drag a worldview out of that? It's the opposite to a worldview, a rejection of a worldview. Given the plethora of options out there, having a position that rejects one of those options is not enough to determine what options one would take.

What I mean by this is if an astrologer decided on what business ventures to undertake based on celestial signs, how would a non-astrologer do it? You couldn't infer anything from them being a non-astrologer except that it won't be through looking at the position of mars. Whether they consult experts, have expertise themselves, base it on past experience, or even base it on drawing numbers out of a hat, the only thing you can ever know about their non-belief is the ways in which they won't do it.

Lee Randolph said...

ryan,
I'd like to refute you line by line,
but let me hold it to this,
first,
Define faith for me please.

second,
- science gathers information according to standards of quality (protocol)
- compares it to what they know (established knowledge) which has been derived from procedures that adhere to standards of quality (protocol).
- to derive conclusions based on procedures that adhere to standards of quality (protocol),
- creating more knowledge from a system of quality standards (protocol) making it knowledge of higher quality than usual.
(if that makes sense)

in the case where something is found to be incompatible with what we know, then what we know is reassessed in light of the new information and the conclusion are modified, or the new information is disqualified.

so in short, i think what you said above about metaphysical this or that is hogwash whether you are an atheist or not.

Sabio Lantz said...

Lee Randolph (Atheist):
Great clarification on Scope and Definition.
But your clarification breaks down when you start calling stuff "hogwash".

Goprarie (Atheist):
I agree that trying to make Atheism a religion is a move to make a level playing field. But they are right to level the playing ground. Each of us has a web of ideas and tendencies linked in our heads. Our beliefs are not simple unlinked ideas.

Ryan (Theist):
I agree Atheism makes metaphysical claims.

Zarove (Theist)
Agree -- Atheism isn't rejection of religion. I am an Atheist Buddhist.
Of course, many Atheists would contend I am not a good Atheist then.

Laughing -- people take themselves soooo seriously.

Lee Randolph said...

Sabio,
Hogwash,
;-)
I agree Atheism makes metaphysical claims.
are you including HYPOTHESES as metaphysical claims?

Can you name a Metaphysical claim that ATHEISM makes, or is it really just some general viewpoints that some atheists make?

In any case, what is a metaphysical claim derived from an atheistic viewpoint? That god doesn't exist?
here's one, "A sponge computer doesn't exist!"
I'm so metaphysical.

When concepts and ideas are not consistent with establihed knowledge, then it meets one critera to qualify as Hogwash.

Laughing; You big silly! ATHEISM isn't a person.

Thats like the mistake christians make by confusing god with chance.

;-)

goprairie said...

sabio: do you suppose there is a term for a person who engages in debate and baits people to continue with statements or questions, then berates them for taking it seriously? i can think of several, but i will keep them to myself.

goprairie said...

Right to level the playing field? I arrogantly say nay. The belief in the truth is superior to the belief in the myth. The scientist who studies the observable characteristics of the mountain is superior in their thinking to the person who worships the volcano god and stacks up fruit at the base of the mountain to appease the volcano god. The meteorologist who studies observable cloud patterns and takes measurable readings of wind and hunidity and temperature is superior in thinking to the person who burns inscense to the rain god. The fisher who studies data of what dates and times and under what condiditons fish were caught in the lake and fishes in similar conditions is superior in thinking to the one who casts tobacco on the surface of the water and prays to the fish gods before fishing. The average Christian prays for delivery from natural disaster, prays for rain for the crops or relief from rain for the kids' softball tournament, and prays for success fishing. The atheist is superior in thinking for rejecting prayer. Many aspects of belief in god, believe in an imaginary figure, failure to correctly understand cause and effect, illogical thinking, are sort of mini mental illnesses. Atheism is a rejection of allowing those mini mental illnesses to occupy ones thinking. And therefore superior.

Kyle P. said...

Atheism does seem to make metaphysical claims (i.e. there is no "god"), but I think the definition you're all using is wrong. Atheism does not entail naturalism. This was brought up in a discussion with renowned doofus and presupper Sye Tenb on Stephen Law's blog. Sye asked Stephen to account for logic without a "god", and Stephen provided three possible explanations, two of which I believe invoked supernaturalism, if not a "god".

Brad Haggard said...

Lee, here is my smattering.

But before I throw it on the wall to see if it sticks, I want to say that the only reason I frequent this blog is that I don't think it represents New Atheism.

That said, NA has all the archetypal religious trappings. Sacred texts (TGC, GinG, LtaCN), rites (de-baptism, blasphemy challenge), revered leaders (just look at the fanboys on rdnet), identifiable demographics (wasp teenagers and young adults who are computer savvy), hostility to opposing groups (look at youtube under atheism), and a utopian vision (the death of religion and rise of science).

I think that NA is a great example of humanity's religious tendencies. Maybe the more interesting question is where that religious tendency comes from?

John, are you wanting to be the leader of a movement or something?

Kel said...

If making metaphysical claims makes a religion, then quantum physics is a religion.

feeno said...

Dr. David Eller wrote "If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."

I wonder if Dr. Eller goes to retreats for the non-stampers, or goes to non-stamp gatherings? I wonder if he donates his money so Indiana can have buses that say "we don't believe in stamp collecting but were nice people too."? I wonder if he gets mad at people who do collect stamps, and tries to debunk their stampness?

Peace out, feeno

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Brad,
that's a fallacy of composition.you seem think that "new atheism" has the properties of it parts.

Are all Christians Mormons?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Guys,
has anyone found an atheist metaphysical claim and provided a citation yet?

"There is no god" is not a metaphysical claim because there is no proof that there is a god, so in the absence of proof it is perfectly reasonable to presume there is no proof because there is nothing to generate any proof.

and please, oh please, oh please, do not start talking about biblical proofs, prophecy, or personal experience because it so typical of other religions.

Metaphysics is not concerned with empiricism, whereas atheists of the sort I am are.

And Kyle P.
I seriously doubt you've understood what you've read on Stephen Laws blog if you think he's invoked supernaturalism to explain logic.

Kyle P. said...

Lee,
You're probably right that "invoked" was the wrong word, even if you said it in an asinine way. :) It's more like he shows the proper definition of atheism, and it doesn't require there being no supernatural beings/things. Here you go:
http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2008/07/god-and-logic.html
http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2008/07/logic-and-god-ii.html
http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2008/08/logic-and-god-iv.html
He actually says the same thing numerous times (almost copy-pasted, it looks like), but you get my point, don't you?

John W. Loftus said...

Feeno, I don't know what your point was but if you're suggesting that atheism is a religion then you're way of the mark. What you've just described is a social grouping of people who share the same interests, and that most emphatically is anot a religion, otherwise all social groups are religions.

Peace out. ;-)

Lee Randolph said...

Kyle,
do I have to read the comments too?

Brad Haggard said...

No, Lee, my argument is just "if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck..."

So let me emphasize one more time so no one gets their feelings hurt: this blog does not represent New Atheism. NAers could be called Dawkinites. It's a real specific group that has all of the characteristics of religion. And I forgot, they also have icons (that stylized A on everything).

BTW, I think some or most forms of Buddhism are technically atheist, so is Buddhism not a religion?

Kel said...

I wonder if Dr. Eller goes to retreats for the non-stampers, or goes to non-stamp gatherings? I wonder if he donates his money so Indiana can have buses that say "we don't believe in stamp collecting but were nice people too."? I wonder if he gets mad at people who do collect stamps, and tries to debunk their stampness?Terrible equivocation there freeno. Do you even understand why there are bus campaigns?

So I'm guessing by your reckoning that being openly homosexual is a religion. After all, they have things like mardi gras and gay pride rallies. They have political bodies that help fight for their rights and work to raise awareness. Hell, they even have clubs where only gays can frequent whereby they can feel comfortable among other gay people.



This is the problem with branding atheism a religion, at best you can point to the social and political aspects, but by doing so you are weaking the definition of religion to social group. And even then, there would be far better candidates to call religions - like sporting clubs.

"A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth." (from Wikipedia)

Eric said...

"Hi Guys,
has anyone found an atheist metaphysical claim and provided a citation yet?"

Atheists deny that reality must ultimately be understood in terms of a conscious, personal being. Since one of the most fundamental questions of metaphysics concerns whether reality is ultimately to be understood in terms of consciousness or matter/energy ('stuff', if you prefer), I'd say that atheists make quite the metaphysical claim. (Now, I know that some prefer to define atheism as the lack of belief in gods -- period -- but this simply isn't the standard definition, and with good reason. The Oxford Guide to Philosophy, the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy, etc. all define atheism as the denial of god's existence.)

"Metaphysics is not concerned with empiricism, whereas atheists of the sort I am are."

I have no idea what this could mean. Many of the great empiricists, from Aristotle to Berkeley, did work in metaphysics that cannot be understood apart from their empiricism. To suggest that metaphysicians are generally not empiricists, or that metaphysics isn't done by those who hold to an empiricist epistemology, is simply false.

Now, as to whether atheism is a religion, it seems to me that the answer is an obvious 'no.' However, this isn't because religion necessarily involves the belief in the supernatural or in supernatural beings. (Incidentally, if it did, one of the standard defenses of the New Atheists when confronted with the horrors of communism and fascism in the twentieth century -- to wit, that these movements are themselves best understood as quasi-religions -- goes out the window). I tend to think of religion as such not as a specific type of answer (i.e. one that involves the supernatural) to ultimate questions of ontology ethics and meaning, but as any set of answers -- besides an apathetic 'beats me' -- to such questions. Hence, while atheism may not be a religion, it does seem, when coupled with an ardent and thoroughgoing naturalism (its most common concomitant today), to play a part in doing the sort of work religions do. And, again contra the claim that religion necessarily involves the supernatural, I'd tend to agree with Alvin Plantinga when he claims that naturalism itself (which is an even stronger claim than atheism: you can be an atheist but not a naturalist, but if you're a naturalist, you have to be an atheist) often does much of the work that we tend to think of religion as doing.

Sabio Lantz said...

I don't get it.
I will ask directly.
John, why do you care if we come up with an agreed definition of religion or worldview that incorporates Atheism?

Reasonable question, no?

Sabio Lantz said...

Definitions of Metaphysics:...the philosophical study of being and knowing

...the branch of philosophy which studies fundamental principles intended to describe or explain all that is, and which are not themselves explained by anything more fundamental; the study of first principles;

...the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the nature of the world. It is the study of being or reality. ...

Definitions of Metaphysical:...highly abstract and overly theoretical; "metaphysical reasoning"

------------------
Source: In google search, type "define: metaphysical"
And please don't nit-pick on source (I have kids and little time -- and remember my view on language)

Sabio's ConclusionI must say, I kind of assume that atheists come to the conclusion that "there is no god" via methods that make a worldview. Those methods entail a trust in naturalism and scientific method.

Indeed, I am an Atheist and have this worldview. And I am not uncomfortable with a Theist calling it my religion. Because I realize they are trying to discuss my belief sets.

So if they say, "You can't attack my religion, because you have a religion too!" all I have to do is illustrate the logical fallacy, I don't have to defend why my belief sets don't qualify as a religion (or worldview - if they used that instead).

See, I don't get excited about words (which are man made), but focus on influence and communication.

So am I missing something here, oh great gods of Mt. Debunk !

Please tell me that someone hears my point or maybe I should double up on my meds ! OK, or tell me that they see that I am not full of "hogwash" but have made a very simple mistake.

But to be hesitantly honest, I believe the reason we can't come to understanding is because we are after different goals and we have different temperaments and that this debate has little to do with understanding TRUTH. (-- thus my original note on Plato)

Peace out boys !

goprairie said...

I think of all this 'talking about it' stuff more like the civil rights movement or women's rights or gay rights. In a country where a large tho diminishing percentage of the population is Christian of some form or another, so many assumptions are made and so many decisions of policy are made with religious views underlying them. It is good to ber vigilent of such things and point them out and know how to talk about why separation of church and state is essential. In that we are a minority, support in dealing with the ramifications of that is a good thing to provide for each other. In that if we are openly atheist, we might be called on to 'defend' that, it is good to practice discussing it. Just as I practice discussing issues like affirmative action, gay marriage, hooter's restaurant, and so on. I also display bumper stickers regarding religous freedon and gay rights and anti-racism and women's rights. I have been to lectures or workshops on some of these topics. None of them are religions. I also attend and have even spoken at environmental gathering and display environmental themed bumper stickers. Interestingly, conservatives are fond of calling environmentalism a religion.

Steven said...

Atheists are skeptical that reality must ultimately be understood in terms of a conscious, personal being given that there is no concrete evidence pointing towards the existence of such a being beyond a great panoply of cultural traditions that contradict each other and often what we see in the world around us.There, fixed that for you.

Eric said...

"Atheists are skeptical that reality must ultimately be understood in terms of a conscious, personal being given that there is no concrete evidence pointing towards the existence of such a being beyond a great panoply of cultural traditions that contradict each other and often what we see in the world around us.There, fixed that for you."

Not exactly.

First, the part about atheists being merely 'skeptical' is both disingenuous (in many cases, though certainly not in all) and problematic. Hitchens isn't merely skeptical. Dawkins isn't merely skeptical. And, being merely skeptical of religious claims does not an atheist make. Again, I use the term atheism in accordance with its acceptation, i.e. as the denial that god exists. The attempt at the popular level to redefine atheism as the lack of belief in gods is far too messy, requiring as it does a host of qualifications even to be made sense of in ordinary usage. (And yes, I'm aware of the distinctions made between positive and negative atheism and the like; I merely reject negative atheism as a coherent category.)

Second, even atheists like Michael Shermer will concede that the strength of the arguments for god's existence is just about equal with the strength of the naturalistic counters to them. And it's simply not the case that the only 'evidence' we have for the existence of such a god is to be found in the various religious traditions (qua traditions) of the world. There are a number of philosophical arguments for god's existence that can be made independently of any specific tradition. Also, religious experience, while interpreted in terms of various traditions, seems to transcend any tradition. Remember, my only point about the philosophical arguments and experiential data is that they are not necessarily tied to any tradition, which is all I need to counter your claim.

Lee Randolph said...

Sabio,
in your definition you left out the characteristic that it prefers not to us empiricism. That is the difference with natural science which grew out of it.

Lee Randolph said...

you guys should really stop using the term "metaphysics".
unless you want to keep equivocating it to mischaracterise people.

really, atheists are as diverse in philosophy as christians.

here is a what is wrong with using metaphysics to describe anything from the stanford encyclopediaand anyone that claims metaphysics places as high a value on empircism or depends on empiricism as much as natural science or atheists has a misconception.

if nothing else metaphysics transcends empiricism.

Lee Randolph said...

Kyle p.
after reading your links, minus the comments, I still stand by my assertion that you haven't understood what you read on stephen laws blog.

If nothing else, logic is a description of relationships.
simple, nothing magical about it.

Lee Randolph said...

Eric,
The attempt at the popular level to redefine atheism as the lack of belief in gods is far too messy, requiring as it does a host of qualifications even to be made sense of in ordinary usage.
so are there different branches of atheism depending on which god they deny?

Or does it make more sense that we don't believe in any of them, therefore, we deny they exist? Is it really such a meaningful distinction from "I don't believe in any gods" to "i deny any gods exist"?

Second, even atheists like Michael Shermer will concede that the strength of the arguments for god's existence is just about equal with the strength of the naturalistic counters to them.
I'd like to see a citation for that.

It seems that a key element in belonging to a religion is to consider yourself part of a religion.

Is it possible to be put into a religion by someone else?

It seems that is what is going on here. People that deny having or belonging to a religion are forcibly being put into the religion of atheism or the religion of science by others.

Hogwash.
thats my new word. of course its a euphemism for "bullshit", and so much more politically correct, it can be used anywhere, even in meetings!

Lee Randolph said...

One more thing before I go back to my cave and work on my next article.

what is the scope and definition of God?

What are the qualifications to be a god?
Who qualifies?
How many are there?

Would the real God please stand up?

No? is it because you don't want to, or because you're not there to hear the request?

Which is more likely, a god too proud and insecure to respond to a request, or a god that isn't there to do anything?

If the theist is going to attribute human qualities to their god,
What human attributes culminate in a person ignoring a request for information?

God are you there?
God, which God are you?
God, who is right?

nope, nothing. Just like I'd predict if no one was in the room with me, or no one existed to respond to the request.

Debunking in a nutshell.

Alejandro Izaguirre Martín said...

Atheism is a religion in the same sense that being healthy is a disease.

Kyle P. said...

Lee, you totally missed my point (possibly because I was unclear). My point is simply that you do not have to deny the existence of supernatural entities/things in order to be an atheist. You need only deny the existence of "god", a pseudo-specific entity of the same kind.

An example is that many of the atheists I know still believe in souls. It's stupid, in my opinion, but it's still atheism.

Russ said...

Brad Haggard,

Part 1

If we assume for argument's sake your point that atheism has some characteristics of a religion, I can at least find great solace in not being morally abhorrent like so many of today's industrial commercial religions like that at Tates Creek Christian Church.

Sure you'll trot out your list of what you erroneously construe as great atheist genocides to disrupt such solace, but, of course, you fail to recognize that the likes of Pol Pot killed indiscriminantly, atheist and non-atheist, rich and poor, intellectual and non-intellectual alike, anyone who stood in dissent. You miss that regimes that sought to eliminate religions - all unsuccessful I might add - did so not to advance atheism or even to retard religious belief, but instead to dissolve the most common means whereby the populace assembled, spoke freely among themselves, and organized protests and uprisings.

Obviously, these were not regimes claiming to follow the absolute moral law from a god of love or a prince of peace while throughout history mercilessly massacring people by the millions. Despite their own claims to the contrary, theistically-religious people have rarely distinguished themselves as moral exemplars. But, then we really can't expect more from a group who believe that acts of genocide like Noah's flood are also acts of love; that sparing rattlesnakes, cockroaches and rats from the deluge while allowing newborn human infants, toddlers and mothers carrying the unborn to be washed away like so much garbage demonstrates care and compassion. That's morally abhorrent

Now, if atheism is a religion then I'm consoled that my religion is not the one that after thousands of years of studying the absolute morality of a deity concludes that it is morally acceptable to put my hands in a child's pants, disrobe and rape that child. Yet, that is exactly where the Catholic clergy align on that issue. The abusers are not and never have been rogue odd-man-out sorts. The abuse has been supported throughout the Catholic clerical hierarchy. Before becoming that moral paragon The Pope, Benedict told US church leaders to cover up the cases until the statute of limitations ran out. The abuse has always been known ubiquitiously throughout the clergy yet none were moral enough to stand up for the victims, many of whom were gangbanged by 5 or more priests at a time. Thousands of priests were abusers and all the rest covered it up. The victims were further abused by church lawyers and henchmen if they came forward.

I'm really glad that that is not my religion. That's Christianity; that's your religion, Brad.

I'm a complete materialist so, I gues you could say my clergy, my high priests, are the members of the National Academy of Science, almost all of whom are atheists. In a study of criminal activity a few years ago, among Academy members there was no criminal activity at all. That gives theists a nice target to strive toward.

If atheism is a religion I find great comfort in it not being the kind that would let a child die of an easily cured affliction like the Christians called Christian Scientists. While only a few make the headlines, hundreds of children of Christian Science parents die each year in the US from maladies having proven cures, like antibiotics. Many die long drawn-out agonizing deaths from straightforwardly treatable afflictions like diabetes or cellulitis. Being born to you, Brad, or almost any atheist means the child would most often live; being born to Christian Science parents means a death sentence.

Again, I'm really glad that that is not my religion. That's Christianity; that's your religion, Brad.

Russ said...

Brad Haggard,

Part 2

Then, too, I'm glad that my religion is not the type that claims that what they believe
The Bible to be divinely inspired, inerrant, and our only authority for faith and the Christian life. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
No sane, moral person can live according to the notions in the Bible.

You cited what you suggest would be my sacred books if atheism is my religion. Sacred is undoubtedly an inappropriate term here, since I treat nothing as cast in stone. For me, all things are subject to change in the face of new evidence. I would abandon any idea - gravitational theory, atomic theory, evolutionary theory, Newtonian mechanics, plate tectonics, relativity, astronomy, and the billions of years of earth and cosmic history - in the light of new evidence.

It is noteworthy that while theistic religions claim to have all kinds of revelations, though those revelations never lead to something useful for mankind. We can rest assured that none of the above-mentioned ideas will ever be impacted by the revelations of theistic religion except as those religions work to destroy the acceptance of science in its congregants. As always, theistic religion seeks to destroy anything that challenges what it sees as its right to claim authority from that sad, silly and morally disgusting book, the Bible.

To state it plainly, those claiming to be Biblical inerrantists are outright liars. They peruse the Bible for the nuggets that suit their pre-determined purposes and ignore the rest. They study that Bible in detail to find those precious pearls that define and hold their groups together, justify pre-existing hatreds and biases, and delineate the enemy.

Biblical literalists and inerrantists love original sin, but they never stone their children to death for being stubborn and rebellious(Muslims do). Them Bible-believers love any verse that supports their existing hatred of homosexuals, but they sit on the same furniture that menstruating females have sat on; they don't confine menstruating females to a shed; and they never sacrifice doves when the lady's period has ended. They don't chop off limbs for petty crimes(be thankful for secular society). They don't heed Biblically dictated dietary restrictions, or farming practices or textiles made from more than one type of fiber. They don't sell their daughters into slavery or keep slaves as the spoils of war.

To be sure some fundamentalists believe wholeheartedly in witchcraft to the extent that in Nigeria for instance many children of Pentacostalist parents are being tortured, maimed and murdered on the urging of their clergy.

Again, those claiming to be Biblical inerrantists are outright liars.

Russ said...

Brad Haggard

Part 3


So, if atheism is a religion, I'm glad that I don't have to lie to keep my religion afloat. As I pointed out to you, Brad, under the Loftus post "The Perpetual Miracle Objection," if your god is the one true god, it clearly cares more for the atheistic Danes and Finns than it does for Fundamentalist Christians in the US.

When Biblical inerrantists leave the Bible, they keep right on lying. Most reprehensible are their lies about modern science, especially any branch of science offering support to evolutionary theory. Mind you these same sciences are warmly embraced when they provide in vitro fertilization, chemotherapy, thyroid treatments, antibiotics and other drug therapies. They just conveniently ignore the underlying science in those cases. Like they cherry-pick the Bible verses to support their loves and hates, they also cherry-pick science by what they love and hate, ignorant of the fact that the science forms a consistent whole and that the science they love sits squarely on a bedrock of the science they hate.

One way or another theists will make the world into what they want it to be. They will lie, deceive, and confuse as needed to keep their dogma alive while they rely on 100 percent supernatural-free science for their lives, lifestyles and livelihoods.

This is a religion of perpetuated ignorance. They teach their children obvious lies about science, significantly reducing the likelihood that those young people will be candidates for the good jobs, good incomes, and opportunities to contribute to solving the world's gnarliest problems. This intellectually impoverishes all of mankind. Yet, those parents will do whatever it takes to preserve the dogma. That's not morally respectable. That is morally repugnant.

Once more, I'm really glad that that is not my religion. That's Christianity; that's your religion, Brad, literally.

So, even if my atheism is my religion at least I know it's not some vulgar twisted Christianity that molests children, lets children die, kills children as witches, or inculcates its children with ignorance to preserve and perpetuate dogma. That's your religion, Brad.

Lee Randolph said...

kyle p
yes I did.
thanks for clarifying, I'll try to do better in the future.

Cromm said...

Eric

There are a number of philosophical arguments for god's existence that can be made independently of any specific tradition.I'm not so sure about that. I've seen a number of philosophical arguments that can be used to render belief in spooky things unseen somewhat less risible than they would otherwise be, and they are indeed carefully formulated so as not to be tied down to specific religions.

But I don't think they completely succeed. Even using the word "god", as you've done, when referring to the thing(s) that these arguments supposedly support is to immediately connect the arguments to a number of religious traditions.

ZAROVE said...

As Ive said before, the question is actulaly silly.


its like me saying Theism isnt a religion. Of coruse Athism itself isnt a relgion, the probl,em is, Atheistnm is not a lack of religion, and atheists actually do have religious beleifs, because a religion really is just the philosophy we hold to about the world.

People who bleive in Christianiy think its true, and htink of it in the same way they rhink of other things not directly related to Christianity. The same applies for Buddhism, or Shinto.

And the same woudl apply to a Humanist, as most Atheists here are.

Humanism, as a Philosophy designed to explain and understand our world and role in it, is every bit a religion, just as other such Philosopheis are. The fact thta its Atheistic doesnt mean its not. And, even nonhumanist Atheists still have a Philosophicla understanding.

There is no such thing as a nonreligious person.

Ian Andreas Miller said...

"There is no such thing as a nonreligious person."

In that case, "religious" has been stretched to the point that it means nothing more than "philosophical." This sounds like something Humpty Dumpty would do. In that case, one might as well just say "There is no such thing as a nonphilosophical person," which would be more accurate.

Chris said...

Religions whether Eastern or Western posit a world that is metaphysically flawed and posit some form of salvation for overcoming that flaw through contact with some extra-ordinary aspect of reality (i.e. the supernatural, oneness of the universe, nirvana, etc.). Atheism and agnosticism do not posit such claims. When people claim that just any metaphysical view or belief is a religious belief they commit the fallacy of equivocation and depart from the ordinary usage of the term religion.

The Rev. said...

If Jesus and Christianity is nothing more than superstition and silliness, why would someone spend so much time an deffort in debunking them?

I don't believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny and I could care less, so I don't spend any time on those things.

If you were truly an athiest, you would care less - but then again, we all know that you are not athiests, but rather, you are pissed at God because of something(s) that happened in your life.

So what was it? The deaht of a loved one? A priest rape you? Didn't hit the Lotto? Did some girl dump you?

Why are you pissed at God?

ZAROVE said...

Ian, a Religion is just a Philosophy. Thats the point. Peopel dont have seperate Religious eeifs apart from thir real lives, and how one approaches the world is Philosophical.

Its not really stretchign the term, its what Religion actually is.


Chris-

Religions whether Eastern or Western posit a world that is metaphysically flawed and posit some form of salvation for overcoming that flaw through contact with some extra-ordinary aspect of reality (i.e. the supernatural, oneness of the universe, nirvana, etc.). Atheism and agnosticism do not posit such claims.I don't kno where to begin with this.

I'll start by sayign that Theism doesn't make such claism either. because it doens't.

Relaly, the problem is less that Athism itself is a Religion, and ore in the idea that, since Atheism itself isnt a Religion an Atheist is not Religious. Atheism is simply a position on one thing, and that is the existnce of a god. Athism denies the existance of any god, and his is what Atheism is. But, Atheism is never the sole idea in the mind of an Atheist, and they surely have a Metaphysical understandign of the world aroudn them, which is formed from a collection of ideas they hodl to as fundamentlaly true.

As I said, Atheism isnt a Religion, but neither is Theism, and all Athists have a Reliion, it sjust that their religion is rooted aroudn an Atheistic undertanding, rather than a theistic one.

By the way, not all Religions see thre world as Metaphysiclaly flawed. In fact, none do. Even fundamentlaist CHristanity, the subject of this blog, woudl see humanity as morlaly flawed, not the universe itself.

Lets nto forget that a Zen Buddhist doens't see the world as flawed either, nor does a member of Shinto.




When people claim that just any metaphysical view or belief is a religious belief they commit the fallacy of equivocation and depart from the ordinary usage of the term religion.No, we dont. If you wan tot say a Metaphysical ebelif isnt nessisairly Religious, then you have to defien what Religious acutlaly is.

If a Relgiion is not a set of beelifs about the nature of the world, wthen what is it?

Because thats exaclty what Religison are to the peopel who practice them.


Religiosn arent theistic by nessesity, and dont need the supernatural either. This laves Metaphysical claims, and philosophicla concepts. If ou remove that, Religion becomes a meanignelss term thatis arbitrarily assigned to things.

Ironiclaly this is what most NEoAthists do. Buddhism is a Religion even if its an Atheisytic variety, btu Secular Humanism is not a Relgiion precicvely because its Athistic.

Its raher pick-and-choose.

Cromm said...

Hey Rev;

If Jesus and Christianity is nothing more than superstition and silliness, why would someone spend so much time an deffort in debunking them?Because millions of people make major life decisions on the basis of those superstitions, and those decisions often affect us.

If you were truly an athiest, you would care less - but then again, we all know that you are not athiests, but rather, you are pissed at God because of something(s) that happened in your life.You're half right, in that we would be kinda pissed at a god with the attributes you seem to be fond of. As it is, our "anger" is somewhat similar to my "anger" at Moff Tarkin for having used the Death Star to blow up Alderaan. That bastard!

Why are you pissed at God?'Cause your imaginary friend would be a colossal dick if he existed, and he seems to appeal to a similar caliber of person.

ZAROVE said...

Cromm, by arguign that God, if he existed, was such a terirble person and htose hwo follow him are also terirble, you illustrate why I find it laughable that people clam they want rid of theim (WHich today is caleld "Religion" even htugh as noted not all Religions are theistic) in the name of TOlerance.

Surly you know many Christians who arne't relaly horrible people, and I know for a fac tthat many many Chfistaisn are decent and upstanding. Saying beleif in the God found in Chrustianity attracts those who are undesirable is patently wrong.

I'd also argue that your critisms of God hismelf is unfounded. I realsie thet arnet your alone ans you got them form elsewhere, but I think ti sjust a distorte dimage.

And it does come off that yor angry with God.

EVen if you lciam nto to beelive in him.

The Rev. said...

Cromm

I prefer to engage on a more intellectual level than "Death Stars" and "colossal dicks."

As to others making important decisions based on their beliefs that you don't like, I guess I have to ask - why do you care what others are doing? Do you have a lot of control issues?

What decisions have decisions made that effect you? The pledge of allegiance? I for one could care less if "under God" was in there or not." Even so, no one is holding a gun to your head and making you say it. What other sorts of things would you cite?

Maybe I wouldn't like the decisions that you would like to impose, then where do we stad?

I frankly wish the best for you, but if you want to hurt yourself, I recognize your God given right to do so.

Good luck out there.

The Rev.

Jeff said...

"What decisions have decisions made that effect you? The pledge of allegiance? I for one could care less if "under God" was in there or not." Even so, no one is holding a gun to your head and making you say it. What other sorts of things would you cite?"

Abortion, same sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, education in evolutionary science....the list goes on. Not all Christians are opposed to this, but typically those opposed to these are Christians and get their ideas from the Bible/Christian tradition.

Russ said...

The Rev. said,
If Jesus and Christianity is nothing more than superstition and silliness, why would someone spend so much time an deffort in debunking them?
I don't believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny and I could care less, so I don't spend any time on those things.
If you were truly an atheist, you would care less - but then again, we all know that you are not athiests, but rather, you are pissed at God because of something(s) that happened in your life.
This is a joke, right? Today, no thinking person with access to any social information at all - the major news outlets, for instance - can ask such a question in earnest. However, TheRev, since in the tagline on your own blog you describe yourself as "A semi mentally ill Lutheran Pastor," let me lay out for you why in today's world debunking religion is a high priority.

One reason debunking religion is a high priority undertaking is that religion is greatly harming our children, physically and psychologically. As I emphasized to Brad in my long comment above,
even if my atheism is my religion at least I know it's not some vulgar twisted Christianity that molests children, lets children die, kills children as witches, or inculcates its children with ignorance to preserve and perpetuate dogma. That's your religion, Brad.
That's your Christianity, too, TheRev, isn't it?

All of these atrocities against children are happening right now, today, as a direct and vile consequence of the way that religion adversely affects people's thinking processes. In the case of the Nigerian Pentacostals who are killing their children because they view them as witches - real supernatural entities by the way if you swallow the malarkey in the Bible - we see that those people's minds have been so screwed up by their religion that they can no longer even protect their children. Religion is the cause of those children's plight. Morally, this requires active intervention which includes loudly, publicly denouncing the root cause, so that means debunking religious nonsense.

Since most religious persons willfuly ignore moral horrors committed in the name of religion, the responsibility for speaking out with as much fervor as we can muster falls to those of us outside the morally ugly edifice called religion.

Personally, I debunk religion because it's absolutely necessary. Right this minute, people are being tortured, maimed and murdered because religion shuts off its follower's naturally ingrained compassion, empathy, and instinct to protect one's offspring.

Think of this TheRev: millions of US Christians will froth and foam about "really important issues" like abortion, stem cell research, evolution and gay marriage, while they ignore actual ongoing horrors. Millions of African people die every year from AIDS as a direct result of the Roman Catholic stance on contraception. By the time the African AIDS epidemic is under control, Roman Catholics will be complicit in more human deaths than all the fatalities of World War II. But, US Christians go blithely about their business of ignoring ongoing atrocities, real crimes against humanity, carried out by other Christians.

As for being pissed off at your god, that's just not the case. Christians are acting out roles of their own making. From the diversity Christianities, we know thousands of Christian gods that don't exist. Besides, it's a pathetic excuse for a deity and it clearly does not inspire people to be more caring, compassionate, or generous, in a way that addresses real needs in the human community.

Every society conducts humanitarian aid, so that activity does not morally elevate Christians over non-Christians and atheists. The most generous country in the world per capita is Sweden, and most Swedes are atheists.

People need to see that we can dump religion, and the innate human traits of empathy and compassion will lead us to confront human need without resorting to superstitious motivations and their horrific consequences. Religion needs to be debunked.

ZAROVE said...

Jeff, it could equelly be argued that Aboprtion, Same Sex marirage, and Emrbyonic Stem Cell Research, whch is opposed actulsly because of Abortion, are issues modern Athists flock to which shows that, duspite the "No stamp collecting" analogy to why it snot a Religion, acutlaly prove there is far more to the modern Atheism than just lack of beleif in a god.

Nothing in the definitiin of Atheism says you have ot be for Abortion or Same Sex marriage, and in fact the Soviets where all Atheist and opposed Homosexuality, as did Ateists in the US in the 1960's.

The Rev. said...

I have to laugh at the presuppositions that so many "atheists" are operating under when it coms to Christianity.

I for one am a Libertarian politically, I could give a rat's ass if two guys want to butt pummel each other all night. I for one don't want to hear about it, I don't get it because I like girls, but what you want to do in the privacy of your own home is between consenting adults and God.

As to abortion and stem cell research. I have a brother who is in the biotech industry. He tells me that the most success that they are having is from bone marrow stem cells from adults. If this is true, why do we need to abort infants for stem cells?

Abortion - when does it become a human life? Even in the infamous Roe V Wade case, the court said that they didn't know when the fetus was a human, but then they went ahead and declared that there are 3 trimesters of gustation and then went ahead and made a guess.

When is it a human life? Do we as Americans not protect human life?

This is not a "God thing," this is a civil liberties thing as we are granted the rights to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all of the sudden protect life if it is outside of the womb, even if the baby is 2 months premature, but on the other side of the vagina, it is just a blob, even if it is 2 weeks past due? What the hell is that all about?

Since when do we give rights based on where you live in America?

Crick and Watson discovered DNA. Francis Crick said that we should wait until a kid is about 5 years old and then give them a test to see if they are actually human (Hitler anyone?). "Viability" was defined as the ability to live without assistance. If this is viability, perhaps we need to exterminate all who are on government aid, or who have moved back in with mom and dad after college? It seems right if you take this whole thing to its logical conclusion.

See, my objections are not merely religious, but they are reasonable and rational. You can scream "it's my body, it's my right" all day long, but that's not very rational is it? I have met very few who say that and then agree that all drugs should be legal and easily accessible. I however believe that to be consistent with that logic, I should be able to do as I damn well please with my body, as long as I am not infringing on the rights of others.

I also believe in being 100% responsible for my own decisions and no one should be compelled to pay for my stupidity.

Charity toward idiots should be a choice and not under compulsion of the government.

Now, as a Christian, I have compassion for others, so I am moved to help. I have altruistic tendencies because I have been given such a gift that I never deserved nor asked for. I want to share the good things in my life with those who don't have as much. I do this freely, not by compulsion to please God nor to please the state. God is already happy with me and the state will never be happy enough with my bank account.

It seems that many people get worked up over the exclusivity of Christian claims. Every world religion (perhaps with the exception of Hindu) is exclusive in its claims, including atheism which excludes God or the possiblilty of God.

If God does exist, why would He force you to spend eternity with Him if you reject or hate Him? That would not be loving. Hell is often described as seperation from God. Seems to me that Athiests would prefer this sort of thing.

Peace, love and Elvis Costello
The REV

Jeff said...

Zarove, The Rev.,

I never said that these issues were inherently not based on reason or that they were necessarily split between religious vs. non-religious. All I said was that there are a significant chunk of Christians who base their opinions about these issues solely on the Bible/Christian tradition, and thus debunking such traditions will affect the conclusions that these people reach about such issues. I know that my views on them certainly changed when I left the faith - with no holy book telling me that homosexuality was evil, I had no reason to oppose gay marriage.

Again, let me repeat myself - I'm not saying all Christians oppose these things. I said that in my previous post, and I said it again now. I'm just saying that there is a non-trivial portion of Christians that do, and they oppose them for non-rational reasons (in other words "because God/my pastor says so" rather than such arguments as The Rev. was pointing out).

Therefore, because this collection of people exists, work done to "debunk" Christianity has an effect on public policy. One reason why someone would bother to "waste" their time trying to show that Christianity is false. Not the only reason by any means, but certainly one of them.

ZAROVE said...

But jeff, there are no nonreligious people. Lindbeck said that Religion was nothing but an abstract set of ideas and principles about how we udnerstood the world, and I highly douybt he woudl be as dismissed as I am here.

The toruble with you and others here is that you want to depict yourselfs as Non-Religious, which lends to the creation of fals enotions as these.

The reason peoel support Embryonic Stem Cell researhc has less to do with Science and roe to do with Ideology, and the sam applies to Abortion. Its n less a Religious reason for them as it is for htose opposed.

Simply put, those who embrace the new Atheisic movements of today are far, far more than just "Peopel who do not beleiv ein a god" but rather ar epeopel who have accepted a whole gammit of ideas and princioles that tie togather to form a comprehensive view of the world. And when you look at what Reliions are, you begin to realise they are just a set of ideas and principles that cform a comprehensive view of the world too.


Look at what you say abotu Homosexual marriage. Do you relalythink that Ahtiems automaticllay accpts Homsoexuality? Are you sure that you stoppedin thigning Homsoeuxality was worng just because you no longe rhad a Holy Book telign you it was?

Because Ive read works by Ahtiets form the 1960's who argued agaisnt the idea that Ahtiesm lead ot imorality, and oen of the examples was that an Athiest can still oppose unhealthy behaviurs like Homosexuality. They'd just do it base don Reason.

They argued that the Human Body was clelary designe dby Evoltiontocopulateandreproduce,andthat Homosexualconductwasobviosuly an unhealthy departurefromnatural selection andorder.

They claimedto oppose Homosexualitybasedon reaosn,toprove howAtheismdoens'tlead to Immorality.

Yet hereyouareaccpetign Homosexualitybnecause you have no reaosn to opposeit without a Holy Book tellign you itsevil.

Coudl it be thatbeforeyouleft Christaintiyyouassociated Ahtiesm with accpetance of Homosexuality? I'd suggest htis is alrlgey the product of Inculteration, where you identify objection to Homosexualitywiht Religion,andaccpetyourself asa NonReligious person assomeone hwo shoudlfind noobjeciton to it.

Even thoug,by Ironymyour still aReligiosu person, as I said.

I just think a lot of hwat youbeleive coemsformaset of beelifs abotu what an Ahtiest shoudlbelivethat are culturlaly derived,rathe rthan the end result of raw reason.

Jeff said...

Zarove, you're putting words in my mouth and I don't like it at all. I made no argument for whether atheists use reason to determine their viewpoints about homosexuality. I made no argument about whether there can be such a thing as a "non-religious person." If you like, I could change the term that I used to "non-organized-religion-with-a-metaphysical-claim-of-an-omnipotent-deity person", but that's just ridiculous to even try and say. The least you could do is be charitable with my argument.

"Coudl [sic] it be thatbeforeyouleft [sic][sic][sic][sic] Christaintiyyouassociated [sic][sic][sic] Ahtiesm [sic] with accpetance [sic] of Homosexuality?"

No. I would (and did) argue just the opposite - before I left Christianity, I associated Christianity with a condemnation of homosexuality. Whether atheists are associated with accepting gay people, or whether their views have changed over time has absolutely nothing to do with my point. Let me try and spell it out for you, very clearly so my words don't get twisted around again (although I'm sure they still will anyway):

(1) A non-trivial portion of Christians condemn homosexuality.
(2) These Christians argue that their condemnation comes directly from their religious beliefs.
(3) Therefore, arguing against their religious beliefs will influence the secondary beliefs that they believe lead from their religious beliefs - for example, their stance on homosexuality and gay marriage.
(4) Therefore, inasmuch as one might find changing people's beliefs about homosexuality a worthy goal, one way to do this would be to argue against these people's religious beliefs.

Do you deny any of these statements, and why? I'm not asking about what your personal theology about homosexuality is; I'm not asking what you think that I think that atheists think; and I'm not asking for any sort of "Well yeah but you have a religion too!" crap that you keep spouting off at me. These are all irrelevant to my argument, and thus after this point I will ignore them. If you have nothing else to say beyond these things, then I might as well ignore you also.

My apologies for sounding harsh, but I really can't be bothered to defend the words someone else puts in my mouth.

ZAROVE said...

I'm not putting words in your mouth. I chose Homosxuality for an obvious reason.

Atheists in the preasnt talk of it a great deal, and use the same arguemnt you just did. The only reaosn they woudl oppose Homosexuality ( Or Same Sex marriage) is because of a Holy Text. Once they stopped beleiving in said Hly Text,they saw no reason to oppose Homosexuality.

But had you been born in 1940, rather than now, woudl you be making this same argument? Even if your ocndemnation came from the Scriptures, I doubt you, as an Athest in, say, 1962, would argue that you stopped htinking of Homosexuality as wrong when you stopped beleiving in the Bible.

My point is less ot put word sinto yur mouth, and more to show how many of the presumptions that go along with what it means to reject Christianity have changed. As much as you say that its the oposite, and the condemntation of Homosexuality came form the Bible, it is still a point fo rme, since I do wonder if you'd have come to the same conclusion, as an Atheist, in a past era.


so rather than this beign me outting words in your mouth, this is me wondering just how mch of your Morlaity you base don the bible you'd have rejected had this been another time. After all, you likely based your beleif on Honesty on the Bibnel too, but I soemhow doubt you'll argue that as an Ahtist you no longer view honesty as a good thing.

Yet as a Christian I bet you did argue your value of it bcame from the Bible.

So, thats more my point. Why did you abandon some beleifs you base don the Bible when you ceased beign a Christian, and not others? I still say its larlgey inculturation.

That said, your long and absurd statement is correct, btu it still doenst excise the whole "Non-Religiosu person" idea. Bashign Religion is popular, and Atheists liek to say they have no Religion, but its mroe accurate to say you disagree iwth Christianity, or hts or that idea, rather than try to make this about "Religion". Its not about Religion, since Relgiion is just the way we see the world.

Of which everyone has one.