Worship and Idols P3

Following on from parts one and two, we have part three of this particular debate/discussion with Citizen Tom, who issued his latest post here. I’ll confess to needing to clarify what we’re meant to be debating, because I am no longer sure, so before I begin to examine his post in detail, I’ll put up my thoughts as to this thread.

Tom initially (from what I can gather) posted on this subject with this post, and went on to make a few other posts, and I wonder if in all the discussion/debate, we have become somewhat tangled in knots. I’ll try to explore what I consider to be the subject matter, then reply to Tom.

Worship tends to be considered to be a form of religious activity. It is associated with religious behaviours, such as prayer. Idolatry is defined as the worship of idols, and within say, Christian circles, idolatry is considered an affront to God, as the subject of idolatry is not God, and the Bible commands that no one shall worship anyone other than God. Worship outside of religious connotations does not involve ritual or prayer, and someone idolising say, a football player or movie star, isn’t venerating them as a deity. Context matters.

This context is important. Tom has argued (more than once) that since atheists ‘worship’ and ‘idolise’, atheism is a form of religious belief. I disagree. Atheists do not attend holy sites to perform holy gestures on a weekly basis. There is no book of atheism with detailed instructions on how to live. Some atheists might speak out, rather forcefully, on why they are atheists, but the religious are commanded to evangelise. Atheists do not knock on people’s doors, or stop people in the street. The religious do. The use of similar terms in respect of atheists and the religious does not equate to similar behaviour.

To consider it another way, Barabbas said in the comments of Tom’s site:

Don’t care how much they love stuff or God. Stuff isn’t idolatry, because they arent worshipping it as God. You are putting that context on it, not them for themselves. That’s why it’s so dishonest to do so.

To put it my way, the worship of God is different to someone saying they worship a film star. The film star is not being treated as God. It is not the same thing.

Whether or not any of that makes sense, I have no idea!

On to the meat of Tom’s post:

A picture of a lightbulb is often used to represent a person having a bright idea. Atheists think they have a bright idea, and many insist upon sharing it.

I don’t quite get Tom’s meaning with the opening, for it can just as easily be used to describe the religious. Indeed, on the basis of historical behaviours, it is more appropriate to apply it to the religious.

So, what is the problem? When Ben Berwick responded to the second sequel (The Worship of Idols P2), he focused on the meaning of words, trying to get across the idea that Atheism is not a religion. Why is that important?

Because of political agendas, widespread indifference, and confusion, we define the words ideology, religion, philosophy, and even science rather loosely. Atheists in particular, because many have political agenda, promote confusion over these words. Why? If your goal is to secularize the public square, especially education, then you have to get around the First Amendment.

What is a religion? What do all religions have in common? A religion is an ideology designed to answer the big questions in life (see WHAT DO ATHEISTS WORSHIP? — THE SECOND SEQUEL). Why is there confusion about this? The word religion (n.) goes back to 1200 A.D. There weren’t very many non-Christians, much less Atheists back then. However, words exist to help us communicate and live together in peace. When our language doesn’t allow us to properly communicate ideas, we have an increased probability of conflict.

I don’t believe that atheists as a group are organised with the intent of shaping how we define what religion is, or what science is. Atheists are a wildly disparate bunch, despite attempts to shove them into a box and categorise them. Nor do I believe there is any organised effort to ‘secularise’ the public arena.

With that in mind, consider the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.HTTPS://WWW.ARCHIVES.GOV/FOUNDING-DOCS/BILL-OF-RIGHTS-TRANSCRIPT#TOC-AMENDMENT-I

If Atheists can convince enough people that secularizing our society is rational and scientific and not a religious activity, then they can use the government to officially establish Atheism and drive other beliefs from the public square. That in fact has been happening. Anyone who has not noticed the rapid erosion of our cultural heritage is just too young to have couple of decades of perspective.

Contemplate in just a small way where Secularism is taking us.

  • Marriage and the definition of the family. Will the state replace the family and parents in rearing of children? Will we allow our children to become guinea pigs for social experimentation? Are you ready to have your little child confused about his/her sex and then transgendered?
  • The rising importance of victim/identity group one belongs to versus loss in the importance of the content of one’s character. What standard of justice will we use? Will we judge people based upon on their race, “sexual identity,” creed, wealth, social connections, and so forth, or will we judge people based upon their wisdom, integrity, and competence?
  • Socialism. Will we protect the God-given rights of our people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or will we each become pawns in the hands of our overlords to grow the power of the state?

Tom might have to forgive me here, for I do not understand how any of this is relevant to the original subject at hand. I’m not going to dive into any of that here, and will move on a few paces…

Tom posts a few definitions of atheism, then this:

Many Atheists now want us to believe they have no belief about God, and Atheists insist that Agnostics are simply uncertain. Why? No one can prove God doesn’t exist, and it is common knowledge that it is blatantly illogical to assert God doesn’t exist. So, why don’t such Atheists just call themselves Agnostics? Good question. That is probably because in Greek the term “agnostic” means without knowledge, and few of us have such modesty. However, if we really don’t whether God exist, then we are ignorant of something that is profoundly important.

No one can prove God does exist. Even if proof of a supernatural deity turned up tomorrow, it would not automatically valid Christianity. It’s not logical to assert God’s existence, and I am not aware of this ‘common knowledge’ Tom insists is the case. Again, how much of this is actually relevant to whether or not atheists worship in the manner the religious worship?

This strikes me as clever wordplay, to imply atheism is a religious belief of sorts, but it isn’t. Atheists have no reason to believe in God, and agnostics are uncertain. That is the distinction. Different minds draw different conclusions from the evidence, and atheists have certainty that the observable universe and sum of human history do not require God. Agnostics lack the certainty. To be fair, there are overlapping areas. Some atheists reject the Christian version of God. They do not believe there is evidence to support the Bible being literal truth. They might not reject the idea of a deity completely. ‘Agnostic atheist’ might be a term to apply here.

Tom goes on to look at the term worship.

The origin of the term worship (n.) presents a problem similar to the problem we find with the term religion (n.). The term “worship” goes back to 1300 A.D. when few people were Atheists.

worship (n.)

Old English worðscipwurðscip (Anglian), weorðscipe (West Saxon) “condition of being worthy, dignity, glory, distinction, honor, renown,” from weorð “worthy” (see worth) + -scipe (see -ship). Sense of “reverence paid to a supernatural or divine being” is first recorded c. 1300. The original sense is preserved in the title worshipful “honorable” (c. 1300).FROM => HTTPS://WWW.ETYMONLINE.COM/SEARCH?Q=WORSHIP

However, consider one of the modern definitions of worship.

to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion

| a celebrity worshipped by her fansHTTPS://WWW.MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM/DICTIONARY/WORSHIP

The first entry of a Google search asking for the definition of worship is from the Oxford Languages, one of the definitive dictionaries of the last 150 years.


  1. 1.the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”worship of the Mother Goddess”
  2. 2.BRITISHused in addressing or referring to an important or high-ranking person, especially a magistrate or mayor.”we were soon joined by His Worship the Mayor”


  1. show reverence and adoration for (a deity).”the Maya built jungle pyramids to worship their gods”

So, according to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, worship’s first association is with religious believes. It relates to a deity. This makes sense. Most people will associate worship with religious acts. Atheists do not perform regular acts of prayer and thus, do not worship in the same sense of the word. Therefore, under that particular set of criteria, atheism should not considered a religion.

When did Atheists become immune to regarding people or things with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion? If Atheists have no belief in God, then why would it bother an Atheist if they regarded a person or thing with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion? A Christian believes it a sin to worship a person or thing instead of God, but an Atheist? If Atheists have no belief in the divine, then materialism is all that is left to them.

I’m not aware of atheists being ‘bothered’ by regarding a regular human being with reverence. If an atheist is ‘bothered’ by anything, it’s the false notion that because they hold someone (or even something) in high regard, they to receive judgement from the religious for doing so, and receive false comparisons to religious behaviours. It doesn’t affect the religious if an atheist ‘worships’ (under a different format to religious worship, as we have already established) a celebrity. Why then, would the religious persist with a misleading narrative? For what purpose?

Is it to make the suggestion that atheists are nothing but materialistic creatures, and look down upon atheists as a result? I could say I ‘worship’ my wife, in the sense that I love and adore her. Does that make me materialistic, because I love my wife more than a god I am not sure I believe in? I hold my daughter in high regard, does that make me materialistic, because I love her more than a deity I cannot be sure exists?

One of the overall, developing themes here is judgement. The Christian preens, and behaves as though they are better than the atheists and agnostics of this world. They look down upon the atheists and agnostics, sneer at them, but can they claim to be better? In the end, is that not what these series are all about? Is Tom not seeking to demonstrate that atheists are inferior to Christians? Is this some sort of effort to paint atheists as the enemy? Perhaps that is where the remarks about secularism come from. Tom, and other Christians like him, would have us believe that secular ideals, practiced by atheists (as though atheists are some form of homogenous group, as opposed to a vast bunch of disparate individuals) are bad, and that they are part of an agenda to erode good, traditional societal values.

If we rewind for a moment…

  • Marriage and the definition of the family. Will the state replace the family and parents in rearing of children? Will we allow our children to become guinea pigs for social experimentation? Are you ready to have your little child confused about his/her sex and then transgendered?
  • The rising importance of victim/identity group one belongs to versus loss in the importance of the content of one’s character. What standard of justice will we use? Will we judge people based upon on their race, “sexual identity,” creed, wealth, social connections, and so forth, or will we judge people based upon their wisdom, integrity, and competence?
  • Socialism. Will we protect the God-given rights of our people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or will we each become pawns in the hands of our overlords to grow the power of the state?

Marriage was a civil institution long before it was co-opted by the big religions. It was not created by Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, or any other religion. Marriage was once a form of uniting families for political and financial power. It has changed over the centuries, to be focused more on love. We are, as a society, letting go of stigmas about unmarried couples and families, and about time too. The stuff about social experimentation? I see that as fear-mongering, without substance.

When it comes to how we judge others, what element of society is keener to judge along racial lines, or judge the LGBT community? Which element of society is opposing the teaching of true racial history, banning books, and fanning the flames of racial unrest?

The socialism remarks are quite interesting. Is it better to be wedded to a system that rips people off without restraint, for the sake of greed and profit, or is it better to try and help those in need? What would Jesus do?

Next, we come to evangelising.

So, what about that last word, “evangelize”? Let’s look at its origin.

evangelize (v.)

late 14c., from Old French evangeliser “to spread or preach the Gospel,” and directly from Church Latin evangelizare, from Greek euangelizesthai (see evangelist). Related: EvangelizedevangelizingHTTPS://WWW.ETYMONLINE.COM/SEARCH?Q=EVANGELIZE&REF=SEARCHBAR_SEARCHHINT

Atheists don’t have their own “good news” or Gospel. Atheists don’t have organizations (check out
Category:Atheist organizations or just do a search on Atheist organizations), effectively churches, spreading their own “good news.” Of course, they do.

Do the same search for Christian organisations, and you get over 500 pages of results. That’s not considering how many Churches, cathedrals, and other holy buildings exist, all around the world (indeed, the number of Churches in the USA alone would dramatically outstrip the number of global atheist organisations). Do these atheist organisations go out and spread the word, knocking on people’s doors, or approaching people in the street? Does Tom believe they have a unified Gospel that every atheist shares, and swears to every morning? There’s a stark difference here. These organisations are disparate in their practices, and I am willing to bet they have various takes on various topics. The much higher number of Christian institutions will quite literally sing from the same hymn sheet.

Since Ben Berwick is fairly thorough, he addressed scatterwisdom‘s comment in his post. scatterwisdom addressed the topic of evangelism quite well, here it is.

Tom,- Ben Berwick

Perhaps this following quote and excerpt that may help Ben better understand Tom’s argument that atheism is a religion.

Quote -You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. – Carl Gustav Jung It is important to acknowledge the fact that our actions define us and not our choices.

Excerpt – Atheism in Practice

Atheism fits many theoretical definitions of religion, and it is also practiced like other religions. In daily conversation, atheism is equated with other religions. When asked, “Are you a Christian?” most atheists will respond with “No, I’m an atheist.” Atheist, then, becomes a religious label just like “No, I’m a Buddhist.”

Atheists also evangelize, though they do not want to use that word to describe their conversion attempts. “Evangelize” is most commonly used in relationship to Christianity, but it can be used to describe other religion’s attempts to gain converts, and atheism aggressively seeks to create new converts. Many atheists feel a sense of obligation or desire to “open people’s eyes” to what they see as the folly of other religions.

There is no difference between an atheist attempting to get a Jew to admit there is no God and a Christian seeking to get a Hindu to denounce the idea of reincarnation. Both people are trying to convert a person from one belief system to another. Atheists’ conversion attempts are also blatantly religious because they are focused on beliefs about and in God.



So, let’s try the Duck Test: “If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

Atheists have their own answers to the big questions about life. — Walks like a duck.

  1. Where did I come from? => EVOLUTION.
  2. Who am I? => AN ACCIDENT
  3. Why am I here? => WHY DO I WANT TO BE HERE? IT IS UP TO ME.
  4. How should I live? => AS I CHOOSE.
  5. Where am I going? => IT DOESN’T MATTER (until it does).


Atheists worship people and things related to stuff, sex, science, state, and self. — Looks like a duck.

Atheists promote their ideas and beliefs about stuff, sex, science, state, and self. That is, they evangelize. — Quacks like a duck.

It’s a religion. — It’s a duck.

I don’t know why Tom is so determined to present atheism as a religion.

Asking philosophical questions does not make one religious. Anyone can ask those questions.

Atheists don’t worship people, or stuff, in the way the religious worship deities, so no, not a duck here.

Atheists don’t preach from a unified code or gospel. I have never seen atheists on the corner of the street with placards invoking texts from sacred documents. I have never been approached by atheists to ask me questions, or to try and convert me. I never been invited to an atheist holy building. Not a duck there.

So, no, atheism is not a religion. I’m curious to know why it’s so important to Tom that it’s treated as one.

Please follow and like us: