1. Atheism has no scripture and no central texts.
One of the beautiful things about atheism is that to practice atheism, you don't need a text. Anyone can become an atheist just by a conscious and rational decision, of your own free will. Funnily enough, most atheists became atheists by putting away a text (namely the Bible).
Is there an atheist Bible? No.
Are there verses atheists can quote of the top of their head? No. The closest modern atheists get is scientific research.
This may then lead someone to ask, "So how do you guys know what to believe if you have no scripture or Bible?".
The answer: the one and only tenet of atheism is the rejection of belief in god/s. This you don't need a book for, nothing else is needed, and if you disprove this one tenet, you have put the whole of atheism to rest.
Anything above this one tenet is then a separate form or style of atheism, be it Humanism (my personal favourite), militant atheism, agnosticism, antitheism/misotheism, and so on.
2. Atheism has no central authority or central authority figure.
Catholicism has Pope Francis.
Scientology has David Miscavige.
Sunni Islam has Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.
Christianity has...Joel Osteen (for better or worse).
But who does atheism have as their authority figure? No one.
Who speaks for atheism? No one.
Who settles disputes and conjectures in atheism? It's a bit hard to have dispute when your one and only tenet is the rejection of a belief in god/s.
Some people may try place the Four Horsemen of Atheism as authority figures - Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. But these four do not define atheism - they have just presented atheism in such a manner that their arguments for atheism make more sense than the arguments for theism (namely Christianity).
But I'll put it like this:
If Pope Francis declared to the world tomorrow that '2 + 2 = 5', you'd have a lot of Catholics/Christians trying to twist mathematics to make 2 + 2 = 5 fit, because their guy, God's guy, is infallible.
If Sam Harris said '2 + 2 = 5', people would either laugh at him, or ask him for research and proof to back up the claim before it was accepted, but atheism would still go on because Sam Harris doesn't speak for atheism.
3. Atheism gets no tax breaks.
Under the Australian tax law, particularly the Charities Act 2013, "advancement of religion" is classified as a charitable activity. Thus, any recognised religion and their organisational bodies in Australia may be granted tax-exempt status.
However, as atheism is not a religion, an atheist organisation would have to apply for a tax exemption under one of the other clauses listed under 220.127.116.11 of the act, such as "advancing education" or "advancing human rights".
So while an atheist organisation actually has to do something beneficial to the public and ultimately worthwhile to get tax exemption, a religion can just say "We're a religion!" and bang, granted.
A long time ago (back in my Christian days), I once helped a church pastor fill out a form applying for tax-exemption status, and for charitable purpose section on the form, the pastor wrote (paraphrased), "The advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ".
While I don't understand the situation in other parts of the world, my general impression is that being a religious organisation automatically classifies you, or at least makes the process easier, for tax exemption.
4. Atheism has no church.
Again, there is no central authority, no one thing that binds atheists to an authority, or even a building.
This is because, again, it's a bit hard to have a religion, a formal structure or a building when you're based on only one tenet.
Even The Satanic Temple, who are either a nontheistic religion or an activist atheist organisation depending on your viewpoint, have seven tenets.
So, to clarify, atheism:
- has no scripture or text.
- no central authority or authority figure who commands or issues fiats.
- receives no automatic tax breaks.
- has no building dedicated to its purposes.
Whereas almost every established religion:
- has binding texts/scriptures.
- has either a singular person at the top of the organisational structure, or has separate organisation structures tied to a loose concept (e.g. modern non-denominational Christianity) whose authority and jurisdiction is limited to the members.
- receives tax breaks upon application for the simplest and spurious of reasons.
- builds multimillion dollar facilities, exclusively for use by adherents (though in some cases the buildings are also used/hired by outside groups for hire or local emergencies).
Ergo, atheism is not a faith or a religion.
Until next time, be good to each other, and yourself.