A common belief among many atheists is that atheism is not a religion and has been proven to be true by science. There are a couple of reasons why they think this. First, it is commonly believed that a religion requires a belief in a supernatural being, uses rituals, and has an established set of beliefs that cannot be verified by science, thus a religion requires faith. Secondly, the theory of evolution is thought to prove that God is not needed, so God must not exist. Is this way of thinking correct? Is atheism scientific or is it a religious belief? Let’s take a look.
The Definitions of Science and Religion
The best place to begin this topic is by defining the words religion and science. The American Heritage Dictionary defines science as “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.” It gives two main definitions for religion. The first being a belief in a supernatural power and the second as “a cause or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.”
Furthermore, the word “religion” comes from the Latin religare, (re – back; ligare – to bind). This expresses the idea that a person is bound or tied to their beliefs. This, along with the definition above, shows us that a religion does not require the belief in a supernatural power. It also does not need rituals for the followers to perform. Although most religions do have these things, they are not required. It is also important to realize that if there are organized religions, like Christianity and Islam, then there must be unorganized religions as well. Interestingly, there are some atheists who do organize.
Has Atheism been proven by Science?
I have had the experience of speaking with atheists who will tell me that atheism is scientific fact since evolution is true. A problem with this idea is even if evolution is true that does not prove that there is no God, so this does not mean that atheism is fact. (I personally do not think that evolution has been proven true. I also have written articles [see here and here as well] in the past that show that the God of the Bible is not compatible with evolution.)
One cannot prove atheism through scientific observation and experimentation. You cannot put God, or no God, under a microscope and declare whether or not he exists. Ron Carlson and Ed Decker make a good point on this topic: “It is philosophically impossible to be an atheist, since to be an atheist you must have infinite knowledge in order to know absolutely that there is no God. But to have infinite knowledge, you would have to be God yourself. It’s hard to be God yourself and an atheist at the same time!”
Atheists must believe that life came from nothing through random chance. This means that everything came from nothing. How can material things spring into existence from nothing? Sir Fred Hoyle once said concerning evolution: “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials contained therein.”
This kind of thinking cannot be proved in a science laboratory. That does not mean that it did not happen, but that it has not been scientifically verified. To believe in something with no direct observational evidence is to have faith in it. Neither creation nor evolution can be proved or disproved by direct observation and experimentation. Both have to be accepted by faith.
The Major Beliefs of a Religion
Another point to make about atheism is that it gives answers to life’s most sought-after questions. These questions are typically sought after by a religion:
1) Where do we come from?
2) Where are we going? Is there an afterlife, etc.?
3) What about morality? Do right and wrong exist?
4) What is the meaning of life?
All human beings ask these questions at some point in their lives. Science cannot answer any of these. Why? You cannot go into a laboratory and observe morality. Neither can you observe the past, the future, or the meaning of life. These questions all fall under religion, not science. Whatever your belief is on these questions you are accepting them by faith.
Where do we come from?
Christians believe that we are created in God’s image. Atheists believe that we are nothing but accidents. We are nothing but randomly evolved creatures that emerged from the slim. Christianity teaches us that we are important while atheism teaches that humans are not.
Where are we going?
The Bible teaches us that God created the world perfect, but humanity rebelled against him and brought sin and death into creation. Scripture then tells us the account of God breaking into history as Jesus Christ. Jesus will return to restore the world back to its original pristine condition.
Atheists believe that there is no future for mankind or the universe. Eventually humanity and all life on earth will go extinct. The universe will run out of energy and will simply cease to exist. A good summary of what atheists think will happen in the future follows:
“…one day the universe will reach what is called a heat death, although it is in effect a cold death, for the temperature of the universe will be just a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. This will happen when all the energy that is available to do work will have been used up, and then nothing will happen – the universe will just ‘be.’ The time period for the universe to reach this state is almost unimaginable. It is thought that it will take about a thousand billion years for all the stars to use up all their fuel and fizzle out. By then, of course, there will be no life in the universe; every single life-form, including humans, will have become extinct billions of years previously. There will still be, however, occasional flashes of starlight in the dark universe as very large stars collapse in on themselves to form black holes. For the next 10122 (that is the figure 1 followed by 122 zeros!) years, this so-called Hawking radiation will be the only thing happening in the universe. Then, when all the black holes have evaporated, there will be darkness for 1026 years, during which time the universe will simply ‘be’ and nothing will happen.”
Christianity teaches us that the world will once again be perfect, but only those who believe in Jesus’ divinity and resurrection (Romans 10:9) will get to experience it. Atheism teaches that there is no ultimate future.
What about Morality?
Christianity teaches that humans are to do good and shun evil. God determines what good and evil are and humanity is to obey God. Atheism teaches that there is no ultimate good or evil. Since there is no absolute authority like God, then mankind determines what is right and wrong. Morality is relative and can change throughout time.
What is the Meaning of Life?
How we answer this question comes from our thinking about the previous questions – especially the first two about our origins and the future. Christianity gives us a history that the world was created good, fell into sin, and will ultimately be restored when Christ returns. This gives a good look at the reason why God created us in the first place. Genesis 3 tells us that God was actually present in Eden with Adam and Eve before they sinned. Revelation 21 speaks about how God will come back and live with us in the New Heavens and New Earth. The meaning of our lives is to live with and have a relationship with God (see this article for a more in-depth look at the subject).
Atheists believe that we have no ultimate meaning in life. We are born, we live a short life, and then we die. Our names will be forgotten and we will no longer exist. Eventually all of mankind (and everything else) will cease to exist. Everything that we do has no purpose.
One evolutionary biologist summarizes an atheistic point of view:
“There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.”
Atheism is a religion. It cannot be proved (or disproved) by science. In order for a person to believe in no God they must accept it by faith.
What do you think? Is atheism science or religion? Do you agree with the conclusion of the article? Leave a comment below and visit us on Facebook.
 Gary Bates. Alien Intrusion Updated and Expanded. (Powder Springs: Creation Book Publishers, 2004). Pg. 58.
 Ron Carlson and Ed Decker. Fast Facts on False Teachings (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1994). Pg. 17.
 “Hoyle on Evolution.” Nature, vol. 294, November 12, 1981. Quoted in Bates, 133.
 Tommy Mitchell and A.J. Monty White. “Is Evolution a Religion?” In The New Answers Book 2. Ken Ham ed. (Green Forest: Master Books, 2008). Pg. 216.
 William B. Provine. Origins Research 16, no. 1 (1994):9. Quoted in Mitchell and White, 213.