I had intended to move on from atheism and theism and look at pantheism but I came across an article about atheism symbols and became intrigued.
I touched upon the definition of religion in an earlier post. Religion is not just having a belief in God but extends to include purpose and worship of artefacts, places or even symbols. Proudly displaying a symbol is a basic sign of religious behaviour and it seems the atheist community are scrambling around in an attempt to come to some agreement as to what that symbol might be.
An atheism symbol certainly takes atheists one step closer to becoming a religion. Whatever next? Soon we will see organised groups of atheists taking a pilgrimage to the Galapagos Islands in tribute to their founder. Will Galapagos become the New Jerusalem? An atheist location as a place of ultimate worship, hmm, another criterion ticked for what it is that defines a religious group.
The point I wish to make is the one concerning the candidates for the new atheism symbol. One serious candidate, and a symbol which I think has become popular as a bumper sticker in North America, is the Darwinian fish. For those who haven’t seen the Darwinian fish it is the same as the Christian fish, also popular on cars but the Darwinian fish has legs attached. Now I actually think that the Darwinian fish is funny on one level, but philosophically it is not very well thought out.
A second symbol I have noticed as a candidate for the symbol of atheism is a line diagram of an atom; three long ellipses, representing the paths of electrons, orbiting a central dot which is the nucleus. This is yet another poorly thought out symbol.
It is true that some theists deny evolution and in its place they promote creationism or something else which is equally unscientific. But you do not have to promote creationism in order to be a theist. It is quite possible to be a theist and accept evolution. Evolution has no bearing on the question of whether or not there is a God of theism. Only scientific ideas which are wrapped up in philosophical materialism can oppose theism. Some scientists have all too frequently been happy to peddle the notion that evolution is necessarily materialistic, but that assumption is false. Evolution can survive on its own without any requirement of a doctrine of materialism being attached. Materialism, for the record is a philosophical position which has no foundation in science and which should not and cannot be assumed to be true. If you assert materialism as a truth then you are in effect stating a belief. I am sure that peddling beliefs as fact was another candidate for what is required for an organisation to be considered a religious group!
The atomic symbol, as should be clear already, is expressing a symbol of matter or of materialism. It is not representative of any factual representation of the world. Rather it is more representative of a materialist doctrine which has no solid grounds to be believed over any other philosophical position. Both the Darwinian fish and the atomic symbol are not an expression of disbelief but expressions of belief in materialism.
The conclusion I am working to then is; if an atheist asserts that evolution demonstrates non-theism then he is misrepresenting the facts. Evolution does not necessarily deny theism. Evolution only denies those whacko theists who believe in creationism. Creationism is not a prerequisite, or a consequence of theistic belief. If the Darwinian fish is representing evolution as an idea that is wrapped in materialism, then the atheist is no longer someone who is merely negating a belief. The atheist has now become someone who is peddling a belief in a specific and non-provable philosophy. The atheism symbol therefore takes on the role of being an assertion of a belief, rather than the negation of a belief.
The adoption of a symbol may not in itself make any statement about the religious nature or otherwise of atheist groups. Adopting the Darwinian fish or the atomic diagram in the role of atheism symbol however probably does take the position of atheism one step closer to being a religious stance.