I got my school books today. We're using three different text books (and a copy of Sidhartha!) for my World Religions class. Being a curious sort, I went through and found the definition of atheism in all three.

Studying Religion: An Introduction Through Cases

In the glossary it says, "[Atheism is] The view that God does not exist as a being external to human thought." However, in the text itself it says, "Atheism, the claim that there is no God, is often based on a particular sort of analysis and explanation of religion. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872), for example, maintained that a careful analysis of religion shows that humans project their highest and best virtues into a spiritual realm and create a being called God. God is a projection of idealized humanity. We create our gods in our own images." Secular Humanism is not mentioned, and secularism is only mentioned as a threat to religion.


A World Religions Reader

On Amazon this book boasts a whole chapter on Secular Humanism "for contrast". It has no glossary, but at the end of the secular humanism chapter it defines atheism as "the belief that there is no ultimate reality." And, of course in the beginning of the chapter it paints agnosticism as the logical choice and says that Secular Humanism goes one step further and says there is no God.


Experiencing the World's Religions

Secularism, not Secular Humanism, is given a small blurb in a chapter called, "The Modern Search". It's lumped in with a bunch of other things like the Women's Right Movement and Naturism. There is no glossary, but at the end of the first chapter atheism is listed as a key term with this definition, "Literally meaning 'not God'; the position that holds that there is no God or gods." Atheism only has three index listings, two are in the first chapter, and the third is about whether Buddhists are atheists. I should add that the last section of the last chapter is entitled, "Personal Experience: A New Religion." My pomo sense is tingling.


Now, I know that not all non-religious people are atheists or humanists. As a group, we tend to not fit into stereotypes, fads, or trends. However, but the numbers straight out of the book the non-religious make up 15.5% of the population. We outnumber the Jews, Hindus, and every group of Christians except the Catholics, who only make up 18% of the population. Muslims only make up 19% of the population. Why are the non-religious so looked down upon, and why aren't we given the same time in religious texts for our viewpoint?