Atheism Is Not A Religion

"Atheism is a religion!" I'm sure pretty much everyone's heard that. I'm sure some people of any belief position hold or have held that idea, because in a twisted way it makes sense - equating belief positions to religions and saying that holding certain ideas is the same as being dogmatic. (Well, it makes sense if you concentrate on the details and ignore the bigger picture, which is disturbingly easy to do.)

Sorry to say this (not really), but phrases like "Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair colour" or "Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby" don't help. They're right, but they don't seem to get the point across.

Atheism is not a religion, it's an idea. It's the idea of "not-a-God". That's basically it - and ideas aren't religions. Atheists don't have not-God-worship services or take The God Delusion or God Is Not Great as our holy text. We don't recite not-prayers to our not-God, or excommunicate people or other. There are various creeds floating around, but I for one don't follow them.

The lack of organisation, the lack of a specific lifestyle to follow, the lack of anything much beyond a central position on the existence of a deity or deities (and fundamentally that is all atheism is) makes it not a religion.