Often we hear religious apologists claim that atheism is just another religion, and that one must have “faith” to be an atheist just as one must have faith to worship Jesus.
But atheism is not a positive belief system at all. It merely rules out belief in God and the supernatural. Atheism is no more a religion than “a-Santa-Claus-ism” is. It is possible and desirable for an atheist to build a system of beliefs rooted in the evidence and integrated by reason. Such beliefs do not compose a religion, either, nor are they expressions of religious faith.
Religious pluralism — the ability of people of many faiths or no faith to live together in harmony — rests on the idea that people can reach some common ground beyond religion, a common recognition of facts and reason available to each of our natural faculties. What happens when no such common ground exists?
A recent letter in the Free Press illustrates the problems:
The barriers to truth on this issue regarding prayer by government officials are primarily psychological, not logical. Most of the confusion is born from a misunderstanding of proper “church” and state separation, along with two logical impossibilities — actual neutrality in government and genuine religious pluralism. Both assertions are nonsense. … [A]theism actually presupposes and surreptitiously relies on theism to even have the appearance of cogency.
In other words, absent a common ground of reason, people of each religion must attempt to enforce their faith by law, to the extent of discouraging (by means unstated) other religions. The word for such a system is theocracy.