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Is Atheism A Cult?

similarities cult-like Atheism

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#1 gilbo12345

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 12:30 PM

I've been doing some research into scientology recently, as the stories against it I find interesting, and the sheer wackiness of it and how people can (literally) "buy" into it is amusing.

Anyway, in my cyber-travels I found this

"Brainwashing is frighteningly effective against even the brightest of people. Scientology exerts control over its members by means of typical cult tactics, including but not limited to controlling information about internal doctrine & criticism of the organization, severely restricting social contact outside the cult (including the practice of “disconnecting” with any family who question the credibility & trustworthiness of the cult), creating an “us against them” mentality by villainizing a specific out-group (for Scientology, it’s psychiatrists), & claiming all those outside the cult are unenlightened
http://www.sptimes.c.../Tampab…
http://www.factnet.o...alContr… http://www.freedomof...urcecen…
http://xenu.net/arch...story/f…"

http://uk.answers.ya...12143803AAN86uJ


Now I find this very similar to the NEW atheism movement.

1- Controlling information: One part of the advocacy of the new atheism movement is belief in evolution, yet the data that evolution doesn't fit well with is never brought to light, (since it would bring doubt to evolution and thus atheism)

2- Criticism is never met well with by the New atheists, just a cursory look at Dawkins fan site or youtube will show how ignorant many are to people's criticism of atheism. Again looking on here can lead to such things about evolution, (part of the foundation of New Atheism claims).

3- Social contact can be restricted, though I'm sure its down to the individual rather than part of a code of conduct etc. However this would stem from point 4. Then again, considering the virulence of many hardcore Dawkins fans their group mentality / peer pressure can cause this to occur.

4- Creating the us vs them mentality: This is quite aparant in the cursory look at youtube / Dawkins fan site which was done for point 2. This stems from point 5.

5- Villianising a specific out-group: This is fairly obvious, considering Dawkins claims that he discusses mainly Christianity, then its clear that Christianity is the outgroup to be villianised.

6- Claiming all others are "unenlightened": This also is very apparant considering the self-given title of "Brights" to the New atheists, and the constant verbal abuse from Dawkins about how idiotic others are, (and from his fans too... from that cursory look for point 2 and 4).




Now considering these similarities I am begining to think that the new atheism movement is in fact a cult. Am I wrong?

#2 JayShel

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 02:25 PM

I've been doing some research into scientology recently, as the stories against it I find interesting, and the sheer wackiness of it and how people can (literally) "buy" into it is amusing.

Anyway, in my cyber-travels I found this

"Brainwashing is frighteningly effective against even the brightest of people. Scientology exerts control over its members by means of typical cult tactics, including but not limited to controlling information about internal doctrine & criticism of the organization, severely restricting social contact outside the cult (including the practice of “disconnecting” with any family who question the credibility & trustworthiness of the cult), creating an “us against them” mentality by villainizing a specific out-group (for Scientology, it’s psychiatrists), & claiming all those outside the cult are unenlightened
http://www.sptimes.c.../Tampab…
http://www.factnet.o...alContr… http://www.freedomof...urcecen…
http://xenu.net/arch...story/f…"

http://uk.answers.ya...12143803AAN86uJ


Now I find this very similar to the NEW atheism movement.

1- Controlling information: One part of the advocacy of the new atheism movement is belief in evolution, yet the data that evolution doesn't fit well with is never brought to light, (since it would bring doubt to evolution and thus atheism)

2- Criticism is never met well with by the New atheists, just a cursory look at Dawkins fan site or youtube will show how ignorant many are to people's criticism of atheism. Again looking on here can lead to such things about evolution, (part of the foundation of New Atheism claims).

3- Social contact can be restricted, though I'm sure its down to the individual rather than part of a code of conduct etc. However this would stem from point 4. Then again, considering the virulence of many hardcore Dawkins fans their group mentality / peer pressure can cause this to occur.

4- Creating the us vs them mentality: This is quite aparant in the cursory look at youtube / Dawkins fan site which was done for point 2. This stems from point 5.

5- Villianising a specific out-group: This is fairly obvious, considering Dawkins claims that he discusses mainly Christianity, then its clear that Christianity is the outgroup to be villianised.

6- Claiming all others are "unenlightened": This also is very apparant considering the self-given title of "Brights" to the New atheists, and the constant verbal abuse from Dawkins about how idiotic others are, (and from his fans too... from that cursory look for point 2 and 4).

Now considering these similarities I am begining to think that the new atheism movement is in fact a cult. Am I wrong?


Well loosely based on this, almost everyone is in a cult. I would say that words that define it are religion:

1.a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2.a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3.the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion


and worldview:

n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
http://www.thefreedi...y.com/worldview



Rather than controlling information, atheists have apologists, who defend their faith and answer criticism, therefore as far as point 2, criticism is scoffed at. 3, social contact isn't really restricted as you pointed out, people just don't tend to hang out with people that they disagree with, unless they share a commonality. 4, the us vs them mentality is sort of what unites all social groups. Creations share a feeling of solidarity based on this as well, as do agnostics. Villianizing a specific outgroup is a more extreme us vs them scenario, usually for socio-political reasons, such as keeping creation out of schools, or criticizing our moral objection to h*m*s*xuality. Claiming all others are unenlightened is also similar. I would say that the biggest identifiers for cults are information control/social isolation and more severe villainizing out groups (especially when combined with information control).

*Obvious? Disclaimer*:Cults are also limited to a group within a nation, and do not include government control, otherwise I might as well be describing certain nations as cults.

#3 gilbo12345

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 06:46 PM

Well loosely based on this, almost everyone is in a cult. I would say that words that define it are religion:



and worldview:




Rather than controlling information, atheists have apologists, who defend their faith and answer criticism, therefore as far as point 2, criticism is scoffed at. 3, social contact isn't really restricted as you pointed out, people just don't tend to hang out with people that they disagree with, unless they share a commonality. 4, the us vs them mentality is sort of what unites all social groups. Creations share a feeling of solidarity based on this as well, as do agnostics. Villianizing a specific outgroup is a more extreme us vs them scenario, usually for socio-political reasons, such as keeping creation out of schools, or criticizing our moral objection to h*m*s*xuality. Claiming all others are unenlightened is also similar. I would say that the biggest identifiers for cults are information control/social isolation and more severe villainizing out groups (especially when combined with information control).

*Obvious? Disclaimer*:Cults are also limited to a group within a nation, and do not include government control, otherwise I might as well be describing certain nations as cults.


Right on, I was sure it was a long shot however the similarities were kinda amusing. It does portray a sense of desperation to establish their own worldview.

I agree the information isn't as controlled as it is in a cult such as scientology, where its a level based system; in the new atheism its generally ignored all together.

#4 MarkForbes

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:16 PM

I guess it depends on what atheist or group of atheists you are dealing with. But they do show signs of a cult. However I rarely have seen ALL criteria for thought reform according to Lifton with them. They got "sacred science", but i.e. no "cult of confession" (yet).

#5 Mike Summers

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:32 AM

Hi Gilbo


One of the things you may want to consider is this; most bad ideas are good ideas carried to a ridiculous extreme. Take the concept of the so called group. The concept has some function. But, can we really give away our autonomy to a non-existent entity? We are after all autonomous individuals. If we are controlled, we are controlled by our own individual worldviews.

Most of us personify concepts. Technically in the Bible God call it idolatry when we "believe" something externally controls us. Idolatry is giving lifelike quality to inanimate objects and or ideas & concepts. At an extreme level. the idea of belonging to a group disagrees with the idea of individuality. God holds us individually responsible for what we say and do.

As humans we buy and sell ideas from each other all the time. That is what is going on in what you call a “cult.” you call Scientology. Scientology is just another name for what is currently called a worldview. Believe it or not Ayn Rand (herself an atheist) gave one of the best descriptions of a worldview (philosophy of life) I have ever read. You may read it at skysite.org. Scroll down to “Philosophy Reason & Emotion.”

Atheism is at best one of the most arrogant philosophical concepts one can hold. As I've mentioned in other posts its core meaning is that a finite source of information (an individual) themselves the idea of who can and cannot exist.

#6 JayShel

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:50 AM

Technically in the Bible God call it idolatry when we "believe" something externally controls us. Idolatry is giving lifelike quality to inanimate objects and or ideas & concepts.


Giving lifelike quality to an inanimate object, idea, or concept is personification, not idolatry.

In the simplest sense, idolatry is worshiping a false god. It also means placing more value in things or people over God, such as money, s@x, food, a person, or your car etc. This means spending more time, money, time thinking about it/them, or effort pursuing them, etc. Essentially it is a worship issue. We were made to worship God, and our worship falls on other things in our fallen state leading to addiction and suffering.

#7 MarkForbes

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 12:12 PM

...In the simplest sense, idolatry is worshiping a false god. It also means placing more value in things or people over God, such as money, s@x, food, a person, or your car etc. This means spending more time, money, time thinking about it/them, or effort pursuing them, etc. Essentially it is a worship issue. We were made to worship God, and our worship falls on other things in our fallen state leading to addiction and suffering.

I'd agree far going, but I think you are on about the importance of value placed into that, which isn't necessary about the amount of time. There are some things we certainly spent extensively on i.e. sleeping, possibly working etc.
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#8 JayShel

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 02:58 PM

I'd agree far going, but I think you are on about the importance of value placed into that, which isn't necessary about the amount of time. There are some things we certainly spent extensively on i.e. sleeping, possibly working etc.


Your right! Good catch!

#9 agnophilo123

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:29 PM

This is nothing but a laundry list of negative generalizations against atheists, and is no more intelligent a topic than "are jews greedy?" Or "are christians bigots?"





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