The New York Times introduces is latest “Room for Debate” segment, asking “Is Atheism a Religion?”
In Britain, where the Church of England is a laughing stock lately, the percentage of Britons professing no faith has nearly doubled in the last decade — which might explain the rise of an atheist church.
In the U.S., Susan Jacoby recently wrote, moments of tragedy can be a reminder “of what atheism has to offer.” The philosopher Gary Gutting adds that atheists, like religious people, ought to articulate reasons for their beliefs (or lack thereof).
Can atheism replace religion? Is it a religion?
Two Episcopalians out of three wrote for the “Theist” side of the debate: Phyllis Tickle and Diana Butler Bass
Like a religion, (atheism) can offer community and common cause to its adherents. But it lacks mystery, transcendence and beauty.
As for atheism replacing religion, even Christopher Hitchens said that religious faith was “ineradicable” as long as human beings fear death and each other. Atheism is — and will continue to be — a lively alternative for those weary and wary of institutional religion, those who find transcendent explanations meaningless or intellectually unsatisfactory, and fret over the dangers of religious triumphalism. As there is no shortage of people in the United States who find religion worrisome in public life and tedious in private, there is an ever-larger audience willing to entertain the possibility of a post-religious life. Atheism might never replace religion, but it certainly is giving bad and boring religion a real run for the money.