Some folks of a religious persuasion have asserted that atheism is a religion. Hearing this, Bill Maher said, "If atheism is a religion, then abstinence is a sexual position." Similar analogies rebutting the jejune idea that non-belief could be a religion are out there, such as, “if atheism is a religion, then “bald” is a hair color and “off” is a TV channel. You get the idea.
By definition, those who follow a religion share a set of common beliefs. The only thread atheists have in common is disbelief—in a god or gods. That’s not much of a religion.
Wikipedia suggests there are about 4200 religions on planet earth. How are religions commonly understood? For starters, they are associated with organized, defined sets of beliefs or world views. Religions have narratives, symbols and expectations that members are expected to fulfill. Religions have supernatural qualities, with belief in the existence of things for which there is no evidence or naturalistic explanation. Examples include beliefs in heaven and hell, an afterlife, miracles, the efficacy of prayers or other attempts (e.g., rain dances, voodoo) to alter the course of nature or human affairs.
Atheists by any name (e.g., freethinkers, secular humanists, infidels, agnostics and so on) hold no such “religious” perspectives.
On this basis, it seems that REAL wellness, a philosophy that embraces and extolls reason and all that science entails, would hardly qualify as a religion. Well, that’s what I thought. Then I saw the artwork and cover created for my new book, co-authored with Dr. Grant Donovan, the enigmatic philosopher from Perth, Australia. In a final edit, Grant had written a sentence in the cover blurb of blurb for Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy.
I suggested we rework the last sentence that reads:
Orgasms, wellness orgasms, that is, have never sounded so wholesome, so appealing or so practical as the authors present REAL wellness as the only religion.
Donovan’s Thinking in Labeling REAL Wellness A Religion
Since atheism by any name is not a religion, unless the definition of “religion” is so stretched as to be meaningless, the sentence seemed in need of repair. Surely we would not want to represent REAL wellness as a religion. I wrote to Grant and made my case.
The great polymath explained the rationale for this unsettling explanation:
Au contraire, great Tzar of WO. The last sentence personifies irony, satire, sarcasm and hyperbole all in one tiny, tiny corner of infinite space. It will be the sentence they study at WO universities and seminaries a hundred years from now, and wonder in amazement.
I can also see a Fox reporter interviewing you when the book is released.
Fox Reporter: 'Dr Ardell, you denounce religion in your book but then you claim REAL wellness and WOs are the only religion. Is that not a tad hypocritical?'
Don: 'Not in the least, Mr. Peabrain. It has been proven throughout the entire history of human meaninglessness that most people need mind-altering drugs and virgins in the clouds to make their miserable life experiences even mildly bearable. WOs and the pursuit of REAL wellness gives meaning to wretched lives in a quasi-secular, religious-type way. Besides, ISUS (irony and satire in the U.S.) is a far superior religious movement to ISIS. We just need to carve out a WO-based caliphate from Tampa to New York.'
Well, I do love “irony, satire, sarcasm and hyperbole,” even more when it’s bound in a tiny, tiny corner of infinite space. And, if this sentence will spark an interview at Fox TV and provide a bit of fodder for undergraduates in the 22nd century, why stand in the way?
Even if REAL wellness is slightly linked with religion in this playful tongue-in-cheek manner, few readers of WO will mistake either of us as enthusiasts for religion. After all, we both believe, along with Pat Condell, that religion (other than REAL wellness) “disapproves of original thought the way Dracula does sunlight.”
Be well and look as much as you can on the bright side of life—and reason.