The irony is not often lost, even among the incredulous bunch that purports to be skeptics and free thinkers. While in the Western world, the atheist/ humanist movement does appear to be a reaction to the lack of empirical evidence supporting theological doctrines and the fixed nature of these prescriptions. The whole concept of absolute assertions being accepted on the basis of faith versus concrete evidence certainly seems to be erroneous and even preposterous in the eyes of those who question and reject religion. However, while it is an event that to be a part of a specific theological tradition you need to subscribe to its dogmatic elements to some degree. However, is this also the case for atheism? In the atheistic paradigm of theology, there is an unwavering and resolute rejection of the premise of a deity or higher power and of an afterlife. One could assert that atheism is equally fixed as the view of a religious zealot who undeniably professes the existence of their deity or deities.
While atheists proclaim that their claims are based on facts, this is equally as flawed as supporting the fact that there is without question a god. How can you even begin to prove or disprove the whole existence of a higher power conundrum? The scientific, empirical, and logical tools and means we have now are not equipped to rectify such an enigmatic question. The general retort atheists use to circumvent this unanswerable inquiry, through a misapplication of Occam’s Razor. Essentially the simplest explanation is typically the correct one. While in science we tend to reject an assertion and assume that it is untrue if we do not have enough information to support it. However, religion does not operate in the realm of factual truth but operates in the manner of faith and spiritual truth. It was never designed to be examined by the scrutiny of the scientific method. I to some extent personally perceive the atheistic approach to religion to not only be as absolute and dogmatic as religious devotees but to be as intellectually dishonest. All because there is not enough evidence to support something, does not make it completely untrue, we can not make an absolute assertion about its truth. To throw around absolute claims when it is not feasible to prove or disprove something is not properly addressing the issue. Also, to accept either assertion completely is adherence to a dogmatic thought process. To outright reject or accept the unknown, both reactions require faith.
For the purposes of transparency, I should disclose, personally, I am an agnostic when it comes to the topic of theology. I do not hold any strong beliefs either way, due to the lack of evidence from both camps. Also, I have never particularly found any comfort in religion, so it seems as if being skeptic is what was best suited for me. However, one observation I can make is how humanistic groups mirror the same theologically centered congregations you see in the same Christian churches atheists love to lambaste. I had a friend who was a hard atheist who would attend a myriad of these humanist “meet-ups”, he attempted to try to get me to attend. Part of the problem was he knew I was a skeptic and it felt as if he was trying to convert me to a full-blown non-believer. Right then and there I saw a glaring parallel between hard atheists and Evangelical Christians. The Evangelical sect of Christianity has the attribute of having its followers heavily advertise their beliefs and make ample attempts to convert non-believers and members of other Christian sects to their congregations. However, due to the fact that staunch atheists believe they have the absolute truth when it comes to religion and that they perceive spreading the truth as a political and social movement, they feel the need to espouse the truth to others. That means informing and converting as mean people as they can to their belief system and join the same atheist clubs. These clubs mirror churches in the sense that they are a congregation of people who share the same views on religion, essentially the same premise as a religious church, temple, mosque, etc.
While religious folks certainly have the reputation for being closed-minded, per stereotypes, I have a suspicion that the same could be pointed at atheists as well. If you only chose to accept concepts on the basis of scientific verification, when it may not even be applicable is certainly obtuse thinking. So I found this article from The Daily Caller, where they found that atheists had the propensity to be more close-minded. I am fully aware that this study could be riddled with erroneous methodology resulting in sampling error. The bias of the publication as well as the religious school that conducted the study, also makes the study suspect for bias. However, regardless of validity, it is certainly an interesting concept to explore and should be replicated in a neutral environment and institution.
The Catholic University of Louvain conducted a study where they examined the extent to which having a closed-minded is correlated with the extent of religious belief. Contrary to what you might expect, while both religious and none religious people were prejudiced towards specific ideas, however, the non-religious individuals were generally found to be more closed-minded. The study found that religious individuals were more apt to integrate diverging ideas into their own beliefs. The study included 788 Europeans, 445 non-believers; 17 Muslims, 3 Jews, 17 Buddhists, and the rest of the subjects were Christians. The researchers surmise that the results were most likely attributable to the fact that the non-believers came from highly secular societies in Western Europe, meaning little exposure to religious ideas, therefore making them less tolerant of religion .
Just to address the 800 lbs Gorilla in the room, yes I am aware of the fact that The Daily Caller is a conservative publication that will per their agenda, defend religion and present atheism in a bad light. However, as I stated earlier it would be interesting to see the study replicated by a secular institution. It is improbable that atheists are truly closed-minded as a whole, who knows and how do you even attempt to address it when there are some many potentially confounding variables? I certainly believe that there are aspects of the atheist movement that are dogmatic and are presented as objective fact when it is merely lacking evidence to be proven or disproved. So it is really intellectually honest to purport something is true when there is now a way to definitely prove it? I would say not, however, while atheism does have its flaws as a theological perspective does not mean it is completely wrong. The fact that atheists and skeptics often times question the motives and rationale behind religion is certainly a positive aspect of their movement. Many wars and other atrocities have been justified in the name of religion even if the means of achieving the core objective violated the very principles of the tenets of that religion. Also questioning the literal interpretation of religious texts has been perverted in attempts for opportunistic individuals to capitalize on for their own unsavory agenda. While atheism is flawed, it does have some positive points. Every belief system whether political, religious, philosophical, etc. has its negative and positive aspects to it. I would not flat out say that atheism is completely mindless, however, it is more anchored in dogmatic principles than the majority of atheists would like to admit.