The title stands, in spite of the fact that approximately 4 out of 5 Christians will tell me atheism is a religion… or an act of faith. So, too, will apologists trying to undercut the solid rhetoric of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, et. al. But it is a canard.
I call this “Atheism is a religion, too!” argument the “Shutup, you’re one too!” defense. It almost always arises late in the argument, when the believer is pressed firmly to the wall. I get the feeling they almost palpably feel that their views “MIGHT” contain some error; they’re breaking, teetering…
That’s when it snaps. The pre-implanted memes kick in and they mentally do the calculation, “Yeah, I might believe some wierd, unsubstantiatable shit, but hey… you atheists do too, so stop throwing stones in glass houses, buster!!”
This is essentially a inverted use of Jesus’ reputed admonition to not judge, lest ye be judged. “Let he who has not sinned throw the first stone.” Sounds like a wonderful bit of tolerance, eh? When it is deployed to protect an innocent, it seems innocuous. But when someone uses it as a protective shield for themselves it seems a bit craven and self deluding. As long as the religious believer can convince him/her self that Atheists live in a glass house too, they can continue to ignore the substance of their own wackabilly beliefs. It’s a red herring. A diversion. A distraction. Mystical sleight of hand. They want to believe that it’s a good argument to appeal to atheists to stop confronting religious belief. It isn’t. Where’s my rock?