Atheism, rites and rituals

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Atheism symbol
The atomic whirl is one of the common atheist symbols. This atheism symbol is used on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs grave headstones and markers.

Cultures mark major life events. The same is true with atheistic cultures (see also: Atheism and culture).

In addition, atheism is a religion and within the secular humanist faction of atheism (see: Schools of atheist thought and Atheist factions), there are "humanist celebrants" who perform humanist ceremonies (funerals, weddings, baby namings, etc.).[1] In recent years, secular humanists have launched some "atheist churches" (see: Sunday Assembly atheist church movement).

Suzanne Moore wrote in The Guardian about secular humanist events:

When it came to making a ceremony, I really did not want the austerity of some humanist events I have attended, where I feel the sensual world is rejected. This is what I mean about aesthetics....I found myself turning to flowers, flames and incense. Is there anything more beautiful than the offerings made all over the world, of tiny flames and blossom on leaves floating on water?[2]

Atheist weddings

See also: Atheist weddings

Atheist weddings in the Western World

Due to the Christianization of the Western World, in the West atheist weddings are generally similar to Christian weddings minus the religious elements.

Due to the limited amount of atheist music and atheist music about love and marriage (see: Atheist music and Atheism and romance and Atheism and love), atheist weddings often feature nonreligious songs, but not atheist wedding songs.

Other atheist wedding ceremonies in Asia

Atheist weddings in China

See: Atheist weddings in China

Atheist weddings in North Korea

See: Atheist weddings in North Korea

Atheistic cultures/subcultures and the naming of children

As far as Christian culture, in Western Christian cultures, children are often named Christopher, Christine and Christian. In Hispanic culture, boys are often named Jesus. In Islam, many children are named Mohamad.

A significant portion of atheists believe an atheist movement and atheist leadership is pointless. In short, they see no point to organized atheism or organized religion. So atheism never developed a tradition of naming children after prominent atheists. At the same time, in recent years celebrity atheists have begun to have cult-like followings, but atheists are not commonly naming their children after them (see: Atheism and groupthink and Richard Dawkins' cult of personality).

In addition, in religious cultures children are given attribute names such as "Faith", "Hope", Daniel (means God is my judge), etc. However, in the Western World, atheists do not name their child "Freethinker", "Rational" (rationalist), "Objective" (Objectivism), etc. Various names for atheists in the Western World are often considered pretentious in the wider society which would result in atheist children being bullied by their peers (See: Atheism and pretentious monikers).

Naming of children in specific atheistic countries

See also: Secular leftist governments and baby names

Secular leftists governments are often authoritarian with strong central governments and they have many rules and regulations. In a number of countries in secular Europe there are rules for the naming of your children.

As far as the naming of atheist children in countries with significantly high atheist/agnostic populations several have various rules and regulations (China, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, New Zealand, etc.), please see the article: 8 Countries With Fascinating Baby Naming Laws.

Naming your children after communist leaders of North Korea is forbidden is forbidden in North Korea

North Koreans cannot name their children Jong Un, and those who already share the name of the country's leader must change it. Similar directives prevented North Koreans from naming their children after Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's father, and Kim Il Sung, the North Korean leader's grandfather.[3]

Atheism is part of the ideology of communism (see: Atheism and communism).

North Korea has state atheism and public religion is actively discouraged.[4]

National Public Radio reports about communist North Korea:

North Koreans cannot name their children Jong Un, and those who already share the name of the country's leader must change it. That's according to a directive from 2011 obtained recently by KBS, South Korea's state-run broadcast network.

It's unclear how many people the ban affects, but Kim is a common Korean last name, and both males and females can be named Jong Un. The North Korean directive was dated January 2011, the KBS report said.

Similar directives prevented North Koreans from naming their children after Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's father, and Kim Il Sung, the North Korean leader's grandfather.[5]

Atheist funerals

See also: Atheist funerals and Atheism and death and Atheism and life after death and Atheism and Hell

Atheist funerals in the Western World

Giles Frasier

British Reverend Giles Fraser, on secular funerals, article in The Guardian:

In contrast to the religious funeral, the secular memorial service faces one massive problem. What if the deceased didn’t merit the effusive praise of the recently appointed biographer? What if they had done little of note? Or indeed, even more problematically, what if they had been a total sh*t throughout their lives and no one has a good word to say about them? The secular memorial service is generally based on the optimistic idea that the deceased was worthy of some sort of public commendation – which is why the whole idea of a secular memorial service for a paedophile or a mass murderer feels totally impossible. Would people really stand up to laud their achievements? Would people tell funny little stories about them? Of course not. I use this extreme example to make a point. The secular memorial service began as something for important statesmen and was then adopted by the increasingly Godless bourgeoisie as a way of celebrating their personal achievements. But it’s often poorly designed for those of us who are not a part of the great and the good.

And one unexpected consequence of the rise of the secular memorial service is that funerals are more full of half truths and evasions.[6]

Funerals in some Asian atheistic countries

Controversy about atheist funerals relating to a supporter of Madalyn Murray O'Hair

The atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, founder of the American Atheists, had a public relations controversy when one of her supporters suggested that an atheist funeral was a contradiction. The supporter said it was best to throw the body in a hole and move on.[7]

Atheism and holidays

See also: Atheism and holidays

Atheism has no holidays. The Jewish comedian Henny Youngman joked about atheism, "I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up . . . they have no holidays."[8]

Atheism is a worldview (see: Atheist worldview). Another worldview that lacks holidays is the Jehovah's Witnesses religion (See also: Retention rate of American atheists and Jehovah's Witnesses).

Atheism and Christmas

See: Atheism and Christmas

Darwin Day

See also: Darwin Day and Atheist cults

Darwin Day is an unofficial celebration of Charles Darwin's birthday, February 12. It is supported by various atheist, irreligious, antichristian, and evolutionist groups and organizations as well as schools and biology programs.

Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics.[9]

There is a cult of personality and type of religiousity currently surrounding Charles Darwin. Stephen Jay Gould wrote the following in 1978: ""... all theories [of natural selection] cite God in their support, and ... Darwin comes close to this status among evolutionary biologists ...".[10] In 2002, Michael White similarly wrote: "Of course today, for biologists, Darwin is second only to God, and for many he may rank still higher."[11]

Ritualistic atheists

Stain glass depiction of the Apostle John. See also: Atheists and church attendance

See also: Atheist art and Atheist music and Atheist poetry and Atheism and architecture and Argument from beauty

The Christian Post reported:

In a new study of the various types of nonbelievers, researchers from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga say "one of the most interesting and unexpected" types they examined is the "ritual" atheist or agnostic, who finds some value in religious teachings and practices.

Those who fall into this category, according to the researchers, are nonbelievers who may have a philosophical appreciation for certain religious teachings, who like being part of a community, who want to stay in touch with their ethnic identity or who simply find beauty in certain religious traditions, symbols or rituals.

"The implication of this particular typology is that you could be sitting next to somebody in church right now who may, in fact, not buy into the theology that the rest of the congregation buys into," said principal researcher Christopher F. Silver in an interview with The Christian Post.[12]

See also: Atheists and church attendance