I’ve heard two claims a lot in the past year, and I’m going to set them out here for your perusal.
1. Atheism is a religion.
2. Look where atheism leads: godless Communism!
The irony of juxtaposing these frequent criticisms is rich. If atheism is a religion, why is the absence of religion to blame when considering the crimes of Stalin? Without a god–any god–to keep society in check, it degenerated into godless atheism…except…they had the “god” of atheism, because that’s a religion, of course…but atheism isn’t a “god” because Stalin’s Russia was godless…etc.
Atheism’s critics should make up their minds and not play on both sides of the critical fence here. The logical conclusion, of course, is to realize that atheism isn’t a religion, but political leader cults and dictatorships often are. In atheism, there are no gods, no dogma, no required beliefs, no rituals–nothing but the absence of one particular belief. This is an absence of belief that atheists can agree on with Muslims when discussing Hinduism, and agree on with Jews when discussing Christianity. It’s simply rejecting belief all gods instead of rejecting all but one as Muslims do. There is nothing in atheism to dictate what you (or Stalin) should do, but religion takes the opposite approach.