My profile of the American Religious Rejectionist, which I am deciding to post in order to cite it in discussion. It is subject to change, just as my model of religion is.
I wanted to wait until this was properly written, and preferably until it was published, but too many discussions have arisen which require that I explain why American religious rejectionism is a religion. First, let me point out that this work is copyrighted, even if it is in draft form, so please cite it properly if you are to use it at all, and note that this work shall not be duplicated in its entirety without my consent.
Next, I want to be clear that I am not calling atheism a religion. Atheism is the absence of belief, which is a world apart from belief in nonexistence of gods.
I used the term “American” because it is my primary focus group, and a lot of Religious Rejectionism comes from America. However it seems that using the term has allowed for people to use the defense that they are not Americans, and so I will likely remove it from later revisions.
American Religious Rejectionism centers around the rejection of other religions. More specifically, any and all concepts thought of as being religious, to the Religious Rejectionist, is deemed false. This essentially constitutes all claims which are currently immune to empirical investigation. This is not the same as humanism, which can be secular or religious, although humanism is often a large component of Religious Rejectionism.
As addressed in my previous article, a religion possesses at least one religioid belief and needs to be integrated with elements from Smart’s seven dimensions of religion.
- There are no gods and there is no afterlife.
- The “natural world” is all that exists.
These are potential elements of each dimension, evidenced by discussions with a number of individuals. In order to see just how widepsread and how uniforn the dimensions are, a large scale survey would be needed. That survey can be created based on the elements expressed below.
American Religious Rejectionism is still relatively new and there aren’t too many rituals around it yet. There is the “National Day of Reason”
Narrative and Mythic
This is probably the most difficult. There isn’t much narrative that exists within the American Religious Rejectionist community that does not outside of it. Mythic narrative does not have to be false. It just needs to have significance within the context of the religion. The history of the American atheist and the history of scientific progress can both be seen to have significance, in light of the belief that there is no god.
Experiential and emotional
- A comment element among American religious rejectionists is the experience of “leaving religion” and coming to the realization that religion is false.
Social and institutional
- American Atheists and other “Atheist” communities
- Free Thought society, et. al.
Ethical and legal
Social justice and humanism, religion is harmful, separation of church and state
Doctrinal and philosophical
- Absence of evidence is evidence of absence, default to belief in nonexistence, can’t proven a negative. Burden of proof rests with those making “positive” claims. Reliance on science as the primary, if not sole method of investigating reality.
- Since many (if not all) religions profess to be the one true religion, and since doctrine of various religions contradict one another, and often contradict themselves, no religion is correct.
- Religion is a mental illness or derives from mental illness/delusions.
- Most wars are caused by religion.
- A position that the absence of necessity acts as evidence of nonexistence: since a god is not a necessary component of evolution or the origin of the universe, then a god must not be an agent in either of those occurring.
- If a god is not a necessary component, then it is irrelevant.
- Misunderstanding of Occam’s razor: conflation of selecting a theory for predictions and assuming that it is the correct one.
- The idea that using “probability” absolves one of burden of proof.
- Finally, and this may or may not be common, but it seems there is a conflation between existence and evidence of existence or effect. In other words, something exists, if there is evidence that it is interacting with our surroundings, and does not exist, if there is no evidence of its interaction.
- The natural world becomes the material aspect of this religion, Darwin Fish, Atheist Symbol, Pink Unicorn
While distinct from American Religious Rejectionism, many forms have syncretized with humanism.
There are some interesting aspects to American religious rejectionism that make it quite different from other religions. Besides the obvious point that the rejectionist defaults to a belief in nonexistence, the rejectionist also tends to have issues with religion and faith. Yet there is just as much faith required to sustain their religioid beliefs. This results in a complex system of ideology used to simply reconcile their own faith with the rejection of faith. Many of the ideological components addressed above are relied up, not so much for the belief that there are no gods and afterlives itself, but rather to reconcile the opposition to faith based world views with the extensive faith of defaulting to belief in nonexistence, even when there is no evidence in one direction or the other. This also results in a lot of double-speak where the Religious Rejectionist simultaneously claims that a religious position is false while also suggesting that he or she has made no such claim.
A final point to me made is that any attempt to study the religiosity of the American Religious Rejectionist comes with a great deal of opposition by the people being observed, at least if discussions of their religiosity occur. Unlike with other religions, since the religoius rejectionist essentially rejects the validity of religion, being identified as religious causes a significant amount of anxiety and resistence. Furthermore, the discussions have largely been in online forums. This may have skewed the results to a degree. Again, a survey would be useful in further identifying how widepsread and standardized American Religoius Rejectionism is. The survey would just have to limit how much the assertion of religiosity is made apparent, which may result in some ethical challanges.