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{{redirect|Atheist}}{{pp-move-indef}}{{pp-semi-indef}}{{short description|Absence of belief in the existence of deities}}{{Use American English|date=September 2019}}{{Use dmy dates|date=September 2019}}{{featured article}}{{Atheism sidebar}}{{Irreligion sidebar|atheism}}{{God |isms}}Atheism is, in the broadest sense, an absence of belief in the existence of deities.ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink, Atheism, Oxford University Press, 2017-04-23,weblink" title="">weblink 11 September 2016, live, Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Atheism and Agnosticism, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, J.J.C. Smart,weblink 11 December 2016, live, J.J.C. Smart, 2017, Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.BOOK, Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd, 1989, Belief in a deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism, WEB,weblink Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, ...belief in the existence of a god or gods..., 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 14 May 2011, live, WEB, Smart, J.J.C., Atheism and Agnosticism, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Zalta, Edward N.,weblink 26 April 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 2 December 2013, live, 9 March 2004, The etymological root for the word atheism originated before the 5th century BCE from the ancient Greek (atheos), meaning "without god(s)". In antiquity, it had multiple uses as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshiped by the larger society, those who were forsaken by the gods, or those who had no commitment to belief in the gods. The term denoted a social category created by orthodox religionists into which those who did not share their religious beliefs were placed.BOOK, Whitmarsh, Tim, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, Knopf Doubleday, 978-0-307-94877-9, 8. Atheism on Trial, 2016, The actual term atheism emerged first in the 16th century.BOOK, Wootton, David, Hunter, Michael, Wootton, David, Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment, 1992, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 978-0-19-822736-6, 1. New Histories of Atheism, With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves using the word atheist lived in the 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment.{{sfn|Armstrong|1999}} The French Revolution, noted for its "unprecedented atheism," witnessed the first major political movement in history to advocate for the supremacy of human reason.BOOK, Hancock, Ralph, The Legacy of the French Revolution, 1996, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, Massachusetts, 978-0-8476-7842-6, 22,weblink 2015-05-30,weblink 30 September 2015, live, Extract of page 22 {{Webarchive|url= |date=29 September 2015 }}Arguments for atheism range from philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in deities include arguments that there is a lack of empirical evidence,WEB,weblink Skepticism about the Supernatural, Shook, John R., 2012-10-02,weblink" title="">weblink 18 October 2012, live, the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, the rejection of concepts that cannot be falsified, and the argument from nonbelief. Nonbelievers contend that atheism is a more parsimonious position than theism and that everyone is born without beliefs in deities; therefore, they argue that the burden of proof lies not on the atheist to disprove the existence of gods but on the theist to provide a rationale for theism.{{harvnb|Stenger|2007|pp=17–18}}, citing BOOK, Parsons, Keith M., God and the Burden of Proof: Plantinga, Swinburne, and the Analytical Defense of Theism, 1989, Amherst, New York, Prometheus Books, 978-0-87975-551-5, Although some atheists have adopted secular philosophies (e.g. secular humanism),BOOK, Fales, Evan, Naturalism and Physicalism, in {{harvnb|Martin|2006|pp=122–131}}. there is no one ideology or code of conduct to which all atheists adhere.{{harvnb|Baggini|2003|pp=3–4}}.Since conceptions of atheism vary, accurate estimations of current numbers of atheists are difficult.BOOK, Zuckerman, Phil, Martin, Michael T, The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, 2007, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 978-0-521-60367-6, 22379448M, 56,weblink 2011-04-09,weblink 31 October 2015, live, According to global Win-Gallup International studies, 13% of respondents were "convinced atheists" in 2012,WEB,weblink Religiosity and Atheism Index, WIN/GIA, 27 July 2012, Zurich, 2013-10-01, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 21 October 2013, dmy-all, 11% were "convinced atheists" in 2015,WEB,weblink New Survey Shows the World's Most and Least Religious Places, NPR, 13 April 2015, 2015-04-29,weblink" title="">weblink 6 May 2015, live, and in 2017, 9% were "convinced atheists". However, other researchers have advised caution with WIN/Gallup figures since other surveys which have used the same wording for decades and have a bigger sample size have consistently reached lower figures.BOOK, Keysar, Ariela, Navarro-Rivera, Juhem, Bullivant, Stephen, Ruse, Michael, The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, 2017, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-964465-0, 36. A World of Atheism: Global Demographics, An older survey by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2004 recorded atheists as comprising 8% of the world's population. Other older estimates have indicated that atheists comprise 2% of the world's population, while the irreligious add a further 12%. According to these polls, Europe and East Asia are the regions with the highest rates of atheism. In 2015, 61% of people in China reported that they were atheists.WEB, Gallup International Religiosity Index,weblink Washington Post, WIN-Gallup International, April 2015, 9 January 2016,weblink 1 February 2016, live, The figures for a 2010 Eurobarometer survey in the European Union (EU) reported that 20% of the EU population claimed not to believe in "any sort of spirit, God or life force".BOOK, Social values, Science and Technology, Directorate General Research, European Union, 2010, 207,weblink 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 30 April 2011, dead,

Definitions and types

File:AtheismImplicitExplicit3.svg|thumb|A diagram showing the relationship between the definitions of weak/strong and implicit/explicitimplicit/explicitWriters disagree on how best to define and classify atheism, contesting what supernatural entities are considered gods, whether it is a philosophic position in its own right or merely the absence of one, and whether it requires a conscious, explicit rejection. Atheism has been regarded as compatible with agnosticism, but has also been contrasted with it. A variety of categories have been used to distinguish the different forms of atheism.


Some of the ambiguity and controversy involved in defining atheism arises from difficulty in reaching a consensus for the definitions of words like deity and god. The plurality of wildly different conceptions of God and deities leads to differing ideas regarding atheism's applicability. The ancient Romans accused Christians of being atheists for not worshiping the pagan deities. Gradually, this view fell into disfavor as theism came to be understood as encompassing belief in any divinity.{{sfn|Martin|2006}}With respect to the range of phenomena being rejected, atheism may counter anything from the existence of a deity, to the existence of any spiritual, supernatural, or transcendental concepts, such as those of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism.

Implicit vs. explicit

Definitions of atheism also vary in the degree of consideration a person must put to the idea of gods to be considered an atheist. Atheism has sometimes been defined to include the simple absence of belief that any deities exist. This broad definition would include newborns and other people who have not been exposed to theistic ideas. As far back as 1772, Baron d'Holbach said that "All children are born Atheists; they have no idea of God."BOOK, d'Holbach, P.H.T., Baron d'Holbach, Good Sense,weblink 1772, 2011-04-07,weblink" title="">weblink 23 June 2011, live, Similarly, George H. Smith (1979) suggested that: "The man who is unacquainted with theism is an atheist because he does not believe in a god. This category would also include the child with the conceptual capacity to grasp the issues involved, but who is still unaware of those issues. The fact that this child does not believe in god qualifies him as an atheist."{{harvnb|Smith|1979|p=14}}. Implicit atheism is "the absence of theistic belief without a conscious rejection of it" and explicit atheism is the conscious rejection of belief.For the purposes of his paper on "philosophical atheism", Ernest Nagel contested including mere absence of theistic belief as a type of atheism.BOOK, Basic Beliefs: The Religious Philosophies of Mankind, Philosophical Concepts of Atheism, Ernest, Nagel, Ernest Nagel, 1959, Sheridan House, I must begin by stating what sense I am attaching to the word "atheism," and how I am construing the theme of this paper. I shall understand by "atheism" a critique and a denial of the major claims of all varieties of theism.  ... atheism is not to be identified with sheer unbelief, or with disbelief in some particular creed of a religious group. Thus, a child who has received no religious instruction and has never heard about God, is not an atheist – for he is not denying any theistic claims. Similarly in the case of an adult who, if he has withdrawn from the faith of his father without reflection or because of frank indifference to any theological issue, is also not an atheist – for such an adult is not challenging theism and not professing any views on the subject.  ... I propose to examine some philosophic concepts of atheism ..., reprinted in Critiques of God, edited by Peter A. Angeles, Prometheus Books, 1997. Graham Oppy classifies as innocents those who never considered the question because they lack any understanding of what a god is. According to Oppy, these could be one-month-old babies, humans with severe traumatic brain injuries, or patients with advanced dementia.{{sfn|Oppy|2018|p=4|ps=: Agnostics are distinguished from innocents, who also neither believe that there are gods nor believe that there are no gods, by the fact that they have given consideration to the question whether there are gods. Innocents are those who have never considered the question whether there are gods. Typically, innocents have never considered the question whether there are gods because they are not able to consider that question. How could that be? Well, in order to consider the question whether there are gods, one must understand what it would mean for something to be a god. That is, one needs to have the concept of a god. Those who lack the concept of a god are not able to entertain the thought that there are gods. Consider, for example, one-month-old babies. It is very plausible that one-month-old babies lack the concept of a god. So it is very plausible that one-month-old babies are innocents. Other plausible cases of innocents include chimpanzees, human beings who have suffered severe traumatic brain injuries, and human beings with advanced dementia}}

Positive vs. negative

Philosophers such as Antony Flew{{harvnb|Flew|1976|pp=14ff}}: "In this interpretation an atheist becomes: not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God; but someone who is simply not a theist. Let us, for future ready reference, introduce the labels 'positive atheist' for the former and 'negative atheist' for the latter."and Michael Martin{{sfn|Martin|2006}} have contrasted positive (strong/hard) atheism with negative (weak/soft) atheism. Positive atheism is the explicit affirmation that gods do not exist. Negative atheism includes all other forms of non-theism. According to this categorization, anyone who is not a theist is either a negative or a positive atheist.The terms weak and strong are relatively recent, while the terms negative and positive atheism are of older origin, having been used (in slightly different ways) in the philosophical literature and in Catholic apologetics.JOURNAL,weblink On the Meaning of Contemporary Atheism, The Review of Politics, Jacques, Maritain, July 1949, 11, 3, 267–280, 10.1017/S0034670500044168, harv, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 13 November 2005, Under this demarcation of atheism, most agnostics qualify as negative atheists.While Martin, for example, asserts that agnosticism entails negative atheism, many agnostics see their view as distinct from atheism,WEB,weblink Why I'm Not an Atheist: The Case for Agnosticism, 28 May 2013, Huffington Post, 2013-11-26,weblink" title="">weblink 9 December 2013, live, which they may consider no more justified than theism or requiring an equal conviction.BOOK, Anthony, Kenny, Anthony Kenny, What I believe, Why I Am Not an Atheist, Continuum, 978-0-8264-8971-5, The true default position is neither theism nor atheism, but agnosticism ... a claim to knowledge needs to be substantiated; ignorance need only be confessed., 2006, The assertion of unattainability of knowledge for or against the existence of gods is sometimes seen as an indication that atheism requires a leap of faith.NEWS, Many atheists I know would be certain of a high place in heaven,weblink O'Brien, Breda, Breda O'Brien, Irish Times, 2011-04-09, 7 July 2009,weblink" title="">weblink 20 May 2011, live, WEB, Warner, Matthew,weblink More faith to be an atheist than a Christian, 8 June 2012, 2013-11-26,weblink" title="">weblink 3 June 2013, live, Common atheist responses to this argument include that unproven religious propositions deserve as much disbelief as all other unproven propositions,{{harvnb|Baggini|2003|pp=30–34}}. "Who seriously claims we should say 'I neither believe nor disbelieve that the Pope is a robot', or 'As to whether or not eating this piece of chocolate will turn me into an elephant I am completely agnostic'. In the absence of any good reasons to believe these outlandish claims, we rightly disbelieve them, we don't just suspend judgement."and that the unprovability of a god's existence does not imply equal probability of either possibility.{{harvnb|Baggini|2003|p=22}}. "A lack of proof is no grounds for the suspension of belief. This is because when we have a lack of absolute proof we can still have overwhelming evidence or one explanation which is far superior to the alternatives."Australian philosopher J.J.C. Smart even argues that "sometimes a person who is really an atheist may describe herself, even passionately, as an agnostic because of unreasonable generalized philosophical skepticism which would preclude us from saying that we know anything whatever, except perhaps the truths of mathematics and formal logic."WEB,weblink Atheism and Agnosticism, J.C.C., Smart, 9 March 2004, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2011-04-09,weblink 30 January 2012, live, Consequently, some atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins prefer distinguishing theist, agnostic and atheist positions along a spectrum of theistic probability—the likelihood that each assigns to the statement "God exists".{{sfn|Dawkins|2006|p=50}}

Definition as impossible or impermanent

Before the 18th century, the existence of God was so accepted in the Western world that even the possibility of true atheism was questioned. This is called theistic innatism—the notion that all people believe in God from birth; within this view was the connotation that atheists are simply in denial.BOOK, Cudworth, Ralph, Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe: the first part, wherein all the reason and philosophy of atheism is confuted and its impossibility demonstrated, 1678, There is also a position claiming that atheists are quick to believe in God in times of crisis, that atheists make deathbed conversions, or that "there are no atheists in foxholes".See, for example: NEWS,weblink Atheist Group Moves Ahead Without O'Hair, Sue Anne, Pressley, The Washington Post, 8 September 1996, 2014-10-22,weblink" title="">weblink 8 October 2017, live, There have, however, been examples to the contrary, among them examples of literal "atheists in foxholes".WEB, Lowder, Jeffery Jay, 1997, Atheism and Society,weblink 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 22 May 2011, live, Some atheists have challenged the need for the term "atheism". In his book Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris wrote:In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist". We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.{{sfn|Harris|2006|p=51}}

Pragmatic atheism

Pragmatic atheism is the view one should reject a belief in a god or gods because it is unnecessary for a pragmatic life. This view is related to apatheism and practical atheism.WEB,weblink What is a Pragmatic Atheist?, 24 November 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 24 November 2016, live,


File:D'Holbach.jpg|thumb|Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach, an 18th-century advocate of atheism. "The source of man's unhappiness is his ignorance of Nature. The pertinacity with which he clings to blind opinions imbibed in his infancy, which interweave themselves with his existence, the consequent prejudice that warps his mind, that prevents its expansion, that renders him the slave of fiction, appears to doom him to continual error."Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach, System of Nature; or, the Laws of the Moral and Physical World (London, 1797), Vol. 1, p. 25]]

Epistemological arguments

{{Further|Agnostic atheism|Theological noncognitivism}}Atheists have also argued that people cannot know a God or prove the existence of a God. The latter is called agnosticism, which takes a variety of forms. In the philosophy of immanence, divinity is inseparable from the world itself, including a person's mind, and each person's consciousness is locked in the subject. According to this form of agnosticism, this limitation in perspective prevents any objective inference from belief in a god to assertions of its existence. The rationalistic agnosticism of Kant and the Enlightenment only accepts knowledge deduced with human rationality; this form of atheism holds that gods are not discernible as a matter of principle, and therefore cannot be known to exist. Skepticism, based on the ideas of Hume, asserts that certainty about anything is impossible, so one can never know for sure whether or not a god exists. Hume, however, held that such unobservable metaphysical concepts should be rejected as "sophistry and illusion". The allocation of agnosticism to atheism is disputed; it can also be regarded as an independent, basic worldview.{{harvnb|Zdybicka|2005|p=20}}.Other arguments for atheism that can be classified as epistemological or ontological, including ignosticism, assert the meaninglessness or unintelligibility of basic terms such as "God" and statements such as "God is all-powerful." Theological noncognitivism holds that the statement "God exists" does not express a proposition, but is nonsensical or cognitively meaningless. It has been argued both ways as to whether such individuals can be classified into some form of atheism or agnosticism. Philosophers A.J. Ayer and Theodore M. Drange reject both categories, stating that both camps accept "God exists" as a proposition; they instead place noncognitivism in its own category.Drange, Theodore M. (1998). "Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism {{Webarchive|url= |date=10 May 2013 }}". Internet Infidels, Secular Web Library. Retrieved 2007-APR-07.Ayer, A. J. (1946). Language, Truth and Logic. Dover. pp. 115–116. In a footnote, Ayer attributes this view to "Professor H.H. Price".

Metaphysical arguments

{{Further|Monism|Physicalism}}Philosopher, Zofia Zdybicka writes:.}}File:Epikouros BM 1843.jpg|thumb|left|Epicurus is credited with first expounding the problem of evil. David Hume in his (Dialogues concerning Natural Religion]] (1779) cited Epicurus in stating the argument as a series of questions:{{sfn|Hume|1779}}"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?")

Logical arguments

{{further|Existence of God#Arguments against the existence of God|l1=Arguments against the existence of God|Problem of evil|Argument from nonbelief|l3=Divine hiddenness}}Some atheists hold the view that the various conceptions of gods, such as the personal god of Christianity, are ascribed logically inconsistent qualities. Such atheists present deductive arguments against the existence of God, which assert the incompatibility between certain traits, such as perfection, creator-status, immutability, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, transcendence, personhood (a personal being), non-physicality, justice, and mercy.WEB, Various authors,weblink Logical Arguments for Atheism, Internet Infidels, The Secular Web Library, 2012-10-02,weblink" title="">weblink 17 November 2012, live, Theodicean atheists believe that the world as they experience it cannot be reconciled with the qualities commonly ascribed to God and gods by theologians. They argue that an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God is not compatible with a world where there is evil and suffering, and where divine love is hidden from many people.WEB, Theodore M., Drange, Theodore Drange, 1996,weblink The Arguments From Evil and Nonbelief, Internet Infidels, Secular Web Library, 2012-10-02,weblink" title="">weblink 10 January 2007, live, A similar argument is attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.V.A. Gunasekara, WEB,weblink The Buddhist Attitude to God,weblink" title="">weblink 2 January 2008, In the Bhuridatta Jataka, "The Buddha argues that the three most commonly given attributes of God, viz. omnipotence, omniscience and benevolence towards humanity cannot all be mutually compatible with the existential fact of dukkha."

Reductionary accounts of religion

{{Further|Evolutionary origin of religions|Evolutionary psychology of religion|Psychology of religion}}Philosopher Ludwig FeuerbachFeuerbach, Ludwig (1841) The Essence of Christianityand psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud have argued that God and other religious beliefs are human inventions, created to fulfill various psychological and emotional wants or needs, or a projection mechanism from the 'Id' omnipotence; for Vladimir Lenin, in 'Materialism and Empirio-criticism', against the Russian Machism, the followers of Ernst Mach, Feuerbach was the final argument against belief in a god. This is also a view of many Buddhists.Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught. Grove Press, 1974. pp. 51–52. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, influenced by the work of Feuerbach, argued that belief in God and religion are social functions, used by those in power to oppress the working class. According to Mikhail Bakunin, "the idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, in theory and practice." He reversed Voltaire's aphorism that if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him, writing instead that "if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him."WEB,weblink God and the State, Bakunin, Michael, Michael Bakunin, 1916, New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 21 May 2011, live,

Atheism, religions and spirituality

{{further|Nontheistic religions}}Atheism is not mutually exclusive with respect to some religious and spiritual belief systems, including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Syntheism, Raëlism,BOOK, The Raelian Foundation, Intelligent Design,weblink 2005, 312, 11 July 2014,weblink" title="">weblink 7 July 2014, live, and Neopagan movementsBOOK, Claydon, David, Harper, Anne C., Morehead, John W., 1, Johnson, Philip, Clifford, Ross, Lewis, Mark, Madsen, Ole Skjerbaek, Morehead, John W., Mulholland, Ken, Payne, Simeon, Riecke, Christina, Smulo, John, 1, 2005, Religious and Non-Religious Spirituality in the Western World ("New Age"), A New Vision, A New Heart, A Renewed Call, 2, William Carey Library, 978-0-87808-364-0, 194,weblink Although Neo-Pagans share common commitments to nature and spirit there is a diversity of beliefs and practices ... Some are atheists, others are polytheists (several gods exist), some are pantheists (all is God) and others are panentheists (all is in God)., such as Wicca.BOOK, Matthews, Carol S.,weblink New Religions, Chelsea House Publishers, There is no universal worldview that all Neo-Pagans/Wiccans hold. One online information source indicates that depending on how the term God is defined, Neo-Pagans might be classified as monotheists, duotheists (two gods), polytheists, pantheists, or atheists., 2009, 978-0-7910-8096-2, Ä€stika schools in Hinduism hold atheism to be a valid path to moksha, but extremely difficult, for the atheist cannot expect any help from the divine on their journey.BOOK, Chakravarti, Sitansu, Hinduism, a way of life, Motilal Banarsidass, 1991, 65,weblink 978-81-208-0899-7, For the thoroughgoing atheist, the path is extremely difficult, if not lonely, for he can not develop any relationship of love with God, nor can he expect any divine help on the long and arduous journey., 13 August 2015,weblink 13 April 2017, live, Jainism believes the universe is eternal and has no need for a creator deity, however Tirthankaras are revered beings who can transcend space and timeWEB, Pattanaik, Devdutt, 63 worthy beings, Mid-day, 18 August 2009,weblink 2014-07-15, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 27 September 2012, and have more power than the god Indra.BOOK, Muni Nagraj, Ä€gama and Tripiá¹­aka: A Comparative Study : a Critical Study of the Jaina and the Buddhist Canonical Literature, Volume 1, Today & Tomorrow's Printers and Publishers, 978-81-7022-730-4, 203, 1986, Secular Buddhism does not advocate belief in gods. Early Buddhism was atheistic as Gautama Buddha's path involved no mention of gods. Later conceptions of Buddhism consider Buddha himself a god, suggest adherents can attain godhood, and revere BodhisattvasBOOK,weblink Kedar, Nath Tiwari, 1997, Comparative Religion, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0293-3, 50, 21 September 2016,weblink 24 December 2016, live, and Eternal Buddha.

Atheism and negative theology

{{further|Apophatic theology#Apophatic theology and atheism{{!}}Atheism and negative theology}}Apophatic theology is often assessed as being a version of atheism or agnosticism, since it cannot say truly that God exists.BOOK, Kvanvig, Jonathan, Jonathan Kvanvig, 2015, 7. The Ineffable, Inconceivable, and Incomprehensible God. Fundamentality and Apophatic Theology,weblink Jacobs, Jonathan D., Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion. Volume 6,weblink Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-872233-5, 168, 22 April 2017,weblink 23 April 2017, live, "The comparison is crude, however, for conventional atheism treats the existence of God as a predicate that can be denied ("God is nonexistent"), whereas negative theology denies that God has predicates".BOOK, Fagenblat, Michael, 2017, Negative Theology as Jewish Modernity,weblink Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 978-0-253-02504-3, 3, 19 April 2017,weblink 16 April 2017, live, "God or the Divine is" without being able to attribute qualities about "what He is" would be the prerequisite of positive theology in negative theology that distinguishes theism from atheism. "Negative theology is a complement to, not the enemy of, positive theology".BOOK, Bryson, Michael E., 2016, The Atheist Milton,weblink Routledge, Abingdon-on-Thames, 978-1-317-04095-8, 114, 19 April 2017,weblink 16 April 2017, live,

Atheistic philosophies

{{Further|Atheist existentialism|Secular humanism}}Axiological, or constructive, atheism rejects the existence of gods in favor of a "higher absolute", such as humanity. This form of atheism favors humanity as the absolute source of ethics and values, and permits individuals to resolve moral problems without resorting to God. Marx and Freud used this argument to convey messages of liberation, full-development, and unfettered happiness. One of the most common criticisms of atheism has been to the contrary: that denying the existence of a god either leads to moral relativism and leaves one with no moral or ethical foundation,WEB,weblink Common Misconceptions About Atheists and Atheism, Gleeson, David, 10 August 2006, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 31 December 2013, live, or renders life meaningless and miserable.{{harvnb|Smith|1979|p=275}}. "Perhaps the most common criticism of atheism is the claim that it leads inevitably to moral bankruptcy." Blaise Pascal argued this view in his Pensées.Pascal, Blaise (1669). Pensées, II: "The Misery of Man Without God".French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre identified himself as a representative of an "atheist existentialism"{{sfn|Sartre|2004|p=127}}concerned less with denying the existence of God than with establishing that "man needs ... to find himself again and to understand that nothing can save him from himself, not even a valid proof of the existence of God."{{sfn|Sartre|2001|p=45}}Sartre said a corollary of his atheism was that "if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and ... this being is man."{{sfn|Sartre|2004|p=127}}The practical consequence of this atheism was described by Sartre as meaning that there are no a priori rules or absolute values that can be invoked to govern human conduct, and that humans are "condemned" to invent these for themselves, making "man" absolutely "responsible for everything he does".{{sfn|Sartre|2001|p=32}}

Religion and morality

{{See also|Atheism and religion|Criticism of atheism|Secular ethics|Secular morality}}

Association with world views and social behaviors

Sociologist Phil Zuckerman analyzed previous social science research on secularity and non-belief, and concluded that societal well-being is positively correlated with irreligion. He found that there are much lower concentrations of atheism and secularity in poorer, less developed nations (particularly in Africa and South America) than in the richer industrialized democracies.BOOK, Norris, Pippa, Ronald, Inglehart, 2004, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide, Cambridge University Press, BOOK, Bruce, Steve, 2003, Religion and Politics, Cambridge, His findings relating specifically to atheism in the US were that compared to religious people in the US, "atheists and secular people" are less nationalistic, prejudiced, antisemitic, racist, dogmatic, ethnocentric, closed-minded, and authoritarian, and in US states with the highest percentages of atheists, the murder rate is lower than average. In the most religious states, the murder rate is higher than average.JOURNAL, Phil, Zuckerman, 2009, Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions,weblink Sociology Compass, 3, 6, 949–971, 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00247.x, harv, 8 June 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 8 June 2015, dead, WEB,weblink Societies without God are more benevolent, The Guardian, 2 September 2010, 2013-11-21,weblink 25 February 2017, live,


File:Lightmatter buddha3.jpg|thumb|left|upright|Buddhism is sometimes described as nontheistic because of the absence of a creator godcreator godPeople who self-identify as atheists are often assumed to be irreligious, but some sects within major religions reject the existence of a personal, creator deity.BOOK, Winston, Robert, Human, New York: DK Publishing, Inc, 2004, 978-0-7566-1901-5, 299, Nonbelief has existed for centuries. For example, Buddhism and Jainism have been called atheistic religions because they do not advocate belief in gods., In recent years, certain religious denominations have accumulated a number of openly atheistic followers, such as atheistic or humanistic JudaismWEB,weblink Humanistic Judaism, 20 July 2006, BBC, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 16 April 2011, live, JOURNAL, Levin, S., May 1995, Jewish Atheism, New Humanist, 110, 2, 13–15, harv, Jewish atheism, and Christian atheists.WEB,weblink Christian Atheism, 17 May 2006, BBC, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 2 March 2007, live, BOOK, Altizer, Thomas J.J., Thomas J. J. Altizer, The Gospel of Christian Atheism,weblink 1967, London: Collins, 102–103, 2011-04-09, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 29 September 2006, JOURNAL, Lyas, Colin, January 1970, On the Coherence of Christian Atheism, Philosophy, 45, 171, 1–19, harv, 10.1017/S0031819100009578, The strictest sense of positive atheism does not entail any specific beliefs outside of disbelief in any deity; as such, atheists can hold any number of spiritual beliefs. For the same reason, atheists can hold a wide variety of ethical beliefs, ranging from the moral universalism of humanism, which holds that a moral code should be applied consistently to all humans, to moral nihilism, which holds that morality is meaningless.{{harvnb|Smith|1979|pp=21–22}} Atheism is accepted as a valid philosophical position within some varieties of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.BOOK, Chakravarti, Sitansu, Hinduism, a way of life, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1991, 71,weblink 978-81-208-0899-7, According to Hinduism, the path of the atheist is very difficult to follow in matters of spirituality, though it is a valid one., 2011-04-09, Philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek,Slavoj Žižek: Less Than Nothing (2012) Alain de Botton,Alain de Botton: Religion for Atheists (2012) and Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist,Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist: The Global Empire (2012) have all argued that atheists should reclaim religion as an act of defiance against theism, precisely not to leave religion as an unwarranted monopoly to theists.

Divine command

According to Plato's Euthyphro dilemma, the role of the gods in determining right from wrong is either unnecessary or arbitrary. The argument that morality must be derived from God, and cannot exist without a wise creator, has been a persistent feature of political if not so much philosophical debate.{{harvnb|Smith|1979|p=275}}. "Among the many myths associated with religion, none is more widespread {{sic}} – or more disastrous in its effects — than the myth that moral values cannot be divorced from the belief in a god."In Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (Book Eleven: Brother Ivan Fyodorovich, Chapter 4) there is the famous argument that If there is no God, all things are permitted.: "'But what will become of men then?' I asked him, 'without God and immortal life? All things are lawful then, they can do what they like?'"For Kant, the presupposition of God, soul, and freedom was a practical concern, for "Morality, by itself, constitutes a system, but happiness does not, unless it is distributed in exact proportion to morality. This, however, is possible in an intelligible world only under a wise author and ruler. Reason compels us to admit such a ruler, together with life in such a world, which we must consider as future life, or else all moral laws are to be considered as idle dreams ..." (Critique of Pure Reason, A811).Moral precepts such as "murder is wrong" are seen as divine laws, requiring a divine lawmaker and judge. However, many atheists argue that treating morality legalistically involves a false analogy, and that morality does not depend on a lawmaker in the same way that laws do.{{harvnb|Baggini|2003|p=38}}Friedrich Nietzsche believed in a morality independent of theistic belief, and stated that morality based upon God "has truth only if God is truth—it stands or falls with faith in God.".BOOK,weblink Human Rights, Virtue, and the Common Good, Rowman & Littlefield, That problem was brought home to us with dazzling clarity by Nietzsche, who had reflected more deeply than any of his contemporaries on the implications of godlessness and come to the conclusion that a fatal contradiction lay at the heart of modern theological enterprise: it thought that Christian morality, which it wished to preserve, was independent of Christian dogma, which it rejected. This, in Nietzsche's mind, was an absurdity. It amounted to nothing less than dismissing the architect while trying to keep the building or getting rid of the lawgiver while claiming the protection of the law., 2011-04-09, 978-0-8476-8279-9, 1996, BOOK,weblink The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, Wiley-Blackwell, Morality "has truth only if God is truth–it stands or falls with faith in God" (Nietzsche 1968, p. 70). The moral argument for the existence of God essentially takes Nietzsche's assertion as one of its premises: if there is no God, then "there are altogether no moral facts"., 2011-04-09, 978-1-4051-7657-6, 11 May 2009, BOOK,weblink Victorian Subjects, Duke University Press, Like other mid-nineteenth-century writers, George Eliot was not fully aware of the implications of her humanism, and, as Nietzsche saw, attempted the difficult task of upholding the Christian morality of altruism without faith in the Christian God., 2011-04-09, 978-0-8223-1110-2, 1991, For Immanuel Kant the reason for adjusting to rules comes in its value as: 'Categorical Imperatives', that contain in itself the reason to be fulfilled.There exist normative ethical systems that do not require principles and rules to be given by a deity. Some include virtue ethics, social contract, Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, and Objectivism. Sam Harris has proposed that moral prescription (ethical rule making) is not just an issue to be explored by philosophy, but that we can meaningfully practice a science of morality. Any such scientific system must, nevertheless, respond to the criticism embodied in the naturalistic fallacy.BOOK, Principia Ethica,weblink 1903, G.E., Moore, G. E. Moore, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 14 May 2011, live, Philosophers Susan NeimanVIDEO, Susan Neiman, Beyond Belief Session 6, Conference, The Science Network, Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, 6 November 2006, and Julian Baggini{{harvnb|Baggini|2003|p=40}}(among others) assert that behaving ethically only because of divine mandate is not true ethical behavior but merely blind obedience. Baggini argues that atheism is a superior basis for ethics, claiming that a moral basis external to religious imperatives is necessary to evaluate the morality of the imperatives themselves—to be able to discern, for example, that "thou shalt steal" is immoral even if one's religion instructs it—and that atheists, therefore, have the advantage of being more inclined to make such evaluations.{{harvnb|Baggini|2003|p=43}}The contemporary British political philosopher Martin Cohen has offered the more historically telling example of Biblical injunctions in favor of torture and slavery as evidence of how religious injunctions follow political and social customs, rather than vice versa, but also noted that the same tendency seems to be true of supposedly dispassionate and objective philosophers.101 Ethical Dilemmas, 2nd edition, by Cohen, M., Routledge 2007, pp 184–185. (Cohen notes particularly that Plato and Aristotle produced arguments in favour of slavery.) Cohen extends this argument in more detail in Political Philosophy from Plato to Mao, where he argues that the Qur'an played a role in perpetuating social codes from the early 7th century despite changes in secular society.Political Philosophy from Plato to Mao, by Cohen, M, Second edition 2008

Criticism of religion

{{See also|Criticism of religion}}Some prominent atheists—most recently Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins, and following such thinkers as Bertrand Russell, Robert G. Ingersoll, Voltaire, and novelist José Saramago—have criticized religions, citing harmful aspects of religious practices and doctrines.{{harvnb|Harris|2005}}, {{harvnb|Harris|2006}}, {{harvnb|Dawkins|2006}}, {{harvnb|Hitchens|2007}}, {{harvnb|Russell|1957}}File:Karl Marx.jpg|thumb|upright|Karl MarxKarl MarxThe 19th-century German political theorist and sociologist Karl Marx called religion "the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". He goes on to say, "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."Marx, K. 1976. Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Collected Works, v. 3. New York. Lenin said that "every religious idea and every idea of God is unutterable vileness ... of the most dangerous kind, 'contagion' of the most abominable kind. Millions of sins, filthy deeds, acts of violence and physical contagions ... are far less dangerous than the subtle, spiritual idea of God decked out in the smartest ideological costumes ..."Martin Amis(2003). Koba the Dread; London: Vintage Books; {{ISBN|978-0-09-943802-1}}; pp. 30–31.Sam Harris criticizes Western religion's reliance on divine authority as lending itself to authoritarianism and dogmatism.{{sfn|Harris|2006a}}There is a correlation between religious fundamentalism and extrinsic religion (when religion is held because it serves ulterior interests)JOURNAL, 10.1590/S1516-44462006005000006, Moreira-almeida, A., Neto, F., Koenig, H.G., 2006, Religiousness and mental health: a review, Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 28, 242–250, 16924349, 3, harv, and authoritarianism, dogmatism, and prejudice.See for example: JOURNAL, Kahoe, R.D., June 1977, Intrinsic Religion and Authoritarianism: A Differentiated Relationship, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 16, 2, 179–182, 1385749, 10.2307/1385749, harv, Also see: JOURNAL, Altemeyer, Bob, Bruce, Hunsberger, 1992, Authoritarianism, Religious Fundamentalism, Quest, and Prejudice, International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 2, 2, 113–133, 10.1207/s15327582ijpr0202_5, harv, These arguments—combined with historical events that are argued to demonstrate the dangers of religion, such as the Crusades, inquisitions, witch trials, and terrorist attacks—have been used in response to claims of beneficial effects of belief in religion.WEB, Harris, Sam, Sam Harris (author), An Atheist Manifesto,weblink 2011-04-09, Truthdig, 2005, In a world riven by ignorance, only the atheist refuses to deny the obvious: Religious faith promotes human violence to an astonishing degree.,weblink" title="">weblink 16 May 2011, dead, Believers counter-argue that some regimes that espouse atheism, such as the Soviet Union, have also been guilty of mass murder.BOOK,weblink Feinberg, John S., John S. Feinberg, Feinberg, Paul D., Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World, Greg Koukl, Stand To Reason, Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.' Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.', 2007-10-18, 978-1-58134-712-8, 2010, WEB,weblink Answering Atheist's Arguments, Catholic Education Resource Center, D'Souza, Dinesh, Dinesh D'Souza, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 28 October 2016, live, In response to those claims, atheists such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have stated that Stalin's atrocities were influenced not by atheism but by dogmatic Marxism, and that while Stalin and Mao happened to be atheists, they did not do their deeds in the name of atheism.{{sfn|Dawkins|2006|p=291}}10 myths and 10 truths about Atheism {{Webarchive|url= |date=25 May 2013 }} Sam Harris


File:Ephesians 2,12 - Greek atheos.jpg|thumb|left|The Greek word (atheoi), as it appears in the Epistle to the Ephesians ({{bibleverse-nb||Ephesians|2:12}}) on the early 3rd-century Papyrus 46. It is usually translated into English as "[those who are] without God".The word —in any of its forms—appears nowhere else in the Septuagint or the (New Testament]]. BOOK, Robertson, A.T., Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1932, 1960, Broadman Press, Ephesians: Chapter 2,weblink Old Greek word, not in LXX, only here in N.T. Atheists in the original sense of being without God and also in the sense of hostility to God from failure to worship him. See Paul's words in Ro 1:18–32., 2011-04-09, )In early ancient Greek, the adjective {{Transl|grc|átheos}} (, from the privative á¼€- + "god") meant "godless". It was first used as a term of censure roughly meaning "ungodly" or "impious". In the 5th century BCE, the word began to indicate more deliberate and active godlessness in the sense of "severing relations with the gods" or "denying the gods". The term (:wikt:ἀσεβής|ἀσεβής) ({{Transl|grc|asebÄ“s}}) then came to be applied against those who impiously denied or disrespected the local gods, even if they believed in other gods. Modern translations of classical texts sometimes render {{Transl|grc|átheos}} as "atheistic". As an abstract noun, there was also ({{Transl|grc|atheotÄ“s}}), "atheism". Cicero transliterated the Greek word into the Latin . The term found frequent use in the debate between early Christians and Hellenists, with each side attributing it, in the pejorative sense, to the other.BOOK, Drachmann, A.B., Atheism in Pagan Antiquity,weblink Chicago: Ares Publishers, 1977, 1922, 978-0-89005-201-3, Atheism and atheist are words formed from Greek roots and with Greek derivative endings. Nevertheless they are not Greek; their formation is not consonant with Greek usage. In Greek they said {{Transl, grc, átheos, and {{Transl |grc |atheotÄ“s}}; to these the English words ungodly and ungodliness correspond rather closely. In exactly the same way as ungodly, {{Transl |grc |átheos}} was used as an expression of severe censure and moral condemnation; this use is an old one, and the oldest that can be traced. Not till later do we find it employed to denote a certain philosophical creed.}}The term atheist (from Fr. ), in the sense of "one who ... denies the existence of God or gods",WEB,weblink atheist, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2009, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 27 November 2013, live, predates atheism in English, being first found as early as 1566,BOOK, English recusant literature, 1558–1640, 203, A Replie to Mr Calfhills Blasphemous Answer Made Against the Treatise of the Cross,weblink John, Martiall, John Marshall (priest), Louvain, 1566, 49, 23 April 2017,weblink 23 April 2017, live, and again in 1571.Rendered as Atheistes: BOOK, Golding, Arthur, Arthur Golding, The Psalmes of David and others, with J. Calvin's commentaries, 1571, Ep. Ded. 3, The Atheistes which say..there is no God., John Calvin, Translated from Latin.Atheist as a label of practical godlessness was used at least as early as 1577.BOOK, Hanmer, Meredith, Meredith Hanmer, The auncient ecclesiasticall histories of the first six hundred years after Christ, written by Eusebius, Socrates, and Evagrius, London, 1577, 63, 55193813, The opinion which they conceaue of you, to be Atheists, or godlesse men., The term atheism was derived from the French , and appears in English about 1587.Rendered as Athisme: BOOK, Translated from French to English by Arthur Golding & Philip Sidney and published in London, 1587, Philippe de Mornay, Philippe, de Mornay, A Woorke Concerning the Trewnesse of the Christian Religion: Against Atheists, Epicures, Paynims, Iewes, Mahumetists, and other infidels, 1581, De la vérite de la religion chréstienne (1581, Paris), Athisme, that is to say, vtter godlesnes., An earlier work, from about 1534, used the term atheonism.BOOK,weblink c. 1534, Polydore, Vergil, English history, Godd would not longe suffer this impietie, or rather atheonisme., 2011-04-09, The Oxford English Dictionary also records an earlier, irregular formation, atheonism, dated from about 1534. The later and now obsolete words athean and atheal are dated to 1611 and 1612 respectively. BOOK, The Oxford English Dictionary, Second, 1989, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-861186-8, prep. by J.A. Simpson ..., Oxford English Dictionary, Related words emerged later: deist in 1621,BOOK, Burton, Robert, Robert Burton (scholar), The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621, Part III, section IV. II. i, Cousin-germans to these men are many of our great Philosophers and Deists,weblink deist, 2011-04-09, harv, theist in 1662,BOOK, Martin, Edward, His opinion concerning the difference between the Church of England and Geneva [etc.], London, 1662, Five Letters, 45, To have said my office..twice a day..among Rebels, Theists, Atheists, Philologers, Wits, Masters of Reason, Puritanes [etc.]., deism in 1675,BOOK,weblink An universal etymological English dictionary, Nathan, Bailey, 1675, and theism in 1678."Secondly, that nothing out of nothing, in the sense of the atheistic objectors, viz. that nothing, which once was not, could by any power whatsoever be brought into being, is absolutely false; and that, if it were true, it would make no more against theism than it does against atheism ..." Cudworth, Ralph. The true intellectual system of the universe. 1678. Chapter V Section II p. 73At that time "deist" and "deism" already carried their modern meaning. The term theism came to be contrasted with deism.Karen Armstrong writes that "During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the word 'atheist' was still reserved exclusively for polemic ... The term 'atheist' was an insult. Nobody would have dreamed of calling himself an atheist."{{sfn|Armstrong|1999}}Atheism was first used to describe a self-avowed belief in late 18th-century Europe, specifically denoting disbelief in the monotheistic Abrahamic god.In part because of its wide use in monotheistic Western society, atheism is usually described as "disbelief in God", rather than more generally as "disbelief in deities". A clear distinction is rarely drawn in modern writings between these two definitions, but some archaic uses of atheism encompassed only disbelief in the singular God, not in polytheistic deities. It is on this basis that the obsolete term adevism was coined in the late 19th century to describe an absence of belief in plural deities.In the 20th century, globalization contributed to the expansion of the term to refer to disbelief in all deities, though it remains common in Western society to describe atheism as simply "disbelief in God".{{sfn|Martin|2006}}


While the earliest-found usage of the term atheism is in 16th-century France,{{citation |url= |title=Merriam-Webster Online:Atheism |quote=First Known Use: 1546 |accessdate=2013-11-21 |archive-url= |archive-date=21 November 2013 |url-status=live }} ideas that would be recognized today as atheistic are documented from the Vedic period and the classical antiquity.

Early Indian religions

{{Rquote|right|"Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?"|Nasadiya Sukta, concerns the origin of the universe, Rig Veda, 10:129-6 BOOK, Kenneth Kramer, World Scriptures: An Introduction to Comparative Religions,weblink January 1986, Paulist Press, 978-0-8091-2781-8, 34–, 3 April 2019,weblink 18 April 2017, live, BOOK, David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History,weblink 1 September 2011, University of California Press, 978-0-520-95067-2, 18–, 3 April 2019,weblink 23 June 2016, live, BOOK, Upinder Singh, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century,weblink 2008, Pearson Education India, 978-81-317-1120-0, 206–, 3 April 2019,weblink 3 May 2016, live, }}Atheistic schools are found in early Indian thought and have existed from the times of the historical Vedic religion.BOOK, Pandian, India, that is, sidd, Allied Publishers, 1996, 64,weblink 978-81-7023-561-3, 2011-04-09, Among the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, Samkhya, the oldest philosophical school of thought, does not accept God, and the early Mimamsa also rejected the notion of God.BOOK, Dasgupta, Surendranath, A history of Indian philosophy, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, 1992, 258,weblink 978-81-208-0412-8, The thoroughly materialistic and anti-theistic philosophical Cārvāka (or Lokāyata) school that originated in India around the 6th century BCE is probably the most explicitly atheistic school of philosophy in India, similar to the Greek Cyrenaic school. This branch of Indian philosophy is classified as heterodox due to its rejection of the authority of Vedas and hence is not considered part of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism, but it is noteworthy as evidence of a materialistic movement within Hinduism.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore. A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. (Princeton University Press: 1957, Twelfth Princeton Paperback printing 1989) pp. 227–249. {{ISBN|0-691-01958-4}}.Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Cārvāka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of the ideas by other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:Satischandra Chatterjee and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Eighth Reprint Edition. (University of Calcutta: 1984). p. 55.Other Indian philosophies generally regarded as atheistic include Classical Samkhya and Purva Mimamsa. The rejection of a personal creator God is also seen in Jainism and Buddhism in India.JOURNAL, Joshi, L.R., 1966, A New Interpretation of Indian Atheism, Philosophy East and West, 16, 3/4, 189–206, 10.2307/1397540, harv, 1397540,

Classical antiquity

File:Socrates Louvre.jpg|thumb|upright|In Plato's Apology, Socrates (pictured) was accused by MeletusMeletusWestern atheism has its roots in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy,{{harvnb|Baggini|2003|pp=73–74}}. "Atheism had its origins in Ancient Greece but did not emerge as an overt and avowed belief system until late in the Enlightenment." but atheism in the modern sense was nonexistent or extremely rare in ancient Greece.BOOK, Garland, Robert, Ancient Greece: Everyday Life in the Birthplace of Western Civilization, 2008, Sterling, New York City, 978-1-4549-0908-8, 209, BOOK, Winiarczyk, Marek, Diagoras of Melos: A Contribution to the History of Ancient Atheism, 2016, Zbirohowski-KoÅ›cia, Witold, Walther de Gruyter, Berlin, 978-3-11-044765-1, 61–68,weblink harv, Pre-Socratic Atomists such as Democritus attempted to explain the world in a purely materialistic way and interpreted religion as a human reaction to natural phenomena,BOOK, Burkert, Walter, Walter Burkert, 1985, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 978-0-674-36281-9, 311–317, harv, but did not explicitly deny the gods' existence. Anaxagoras, whom Irenaeus calls "the atheist",Irenaeus. Against Heresies II 14, 2 (D. 171) = 59 B 113 DK. See on this topic: Duran, Martin (2019). Wondering About God: Impiety, Agnosticism, and Atheism in Ancient Greece. Barcelona. Independently Published. p. 28. {{ISBN|978-1-08061-240-6}}. was accused of impiety and condemned for stating that "the sun is a type of incandescent stone", an affirmation with which he tried to deny the divinity of the celestial bodies.Flavius Josephus. Against Apion II, 265 = 59 A 19 DK; Plutarch. On superstition 10 p. 169 F – 170 A; Diogenes Laërtius, II 12-14; Olympiodorus the Younger. Commentary on Aristotle's Meteorology p. 17, 19 Stüve = 59 B 19 DK. In the late fifth century BCE, the Greek lyric poet Diagoras of Melos was sentenced to death in Athens under the charge of being a "godless person" (ἄθεος) after he made fun of the Eleusinian Mysteries, but he fled the city to escape punishment. Later writers have cited Diagoras as the "first atheist",Solmsen, Friedrich (1942). Plato's Theology {{Webarchive|url= |date=2 November 2015 }}. Cornell University Press. p. 25.... nullos esse omnino Diagoras et Theodorus Cyrenaicus ... Cicero, Marcus Tullius: De natura deorum. Comments and English text by Richard D. McKirahan. Thomas Library, Bryn Mawr College, 1997, p. 3. {{ISBN|0-929524-89-6}} but he was probably not an atheist in the modern sense of the word.A fragment from the lost satyr play Sisyphus, which has been attributed to both Critias and Euripides, claims that a clever man invented "the fear of the gods" in order to frighten people into behaving morally.BOOK, Woodruff, P., Smith, N.D., 2000,weblink Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-535092-0, harv, JOURNAL, Kahn, Charles, 1997, Greek Religion and Philosophy in the Sisyphus Fragment, Phronesis, 42, 3, 247–262, harv, 4182561, 10.1163/15685289760518153, BOOK, 2010, Mulsow, Martin, Atheism, The Classical Tradition,weblink Grafton, Anthony, Anthony Grafton, Most, Glenn W., Glenn W. Most, Settis, Salvatore, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 978-0-674-03572-0, 96–97, harv, 20 February 2018,weblink 6 December 2017, live, This statement, however, originally did not mean that the gods themselves were nonexistent, but rather that their powers were a hoax. Atheistic statements have also been attributed to the philosopher Prodicus. Philodemus reports that Prodicus believed that "the gods of popular belief do not exist nor do they know, but primitive man, [out of admiration, deified] the fruits of the earth and virtually everything that contributed to his existence". Protagoras has sometimes been taken to be an atheist, but rather espoused agnostic views, commenting that "Concerning the gods I am unable to discover whether they exist or not, or what they are like in form; for there are many hindrances to knowledge, the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life."BOOK, Bremmer, Jan, Atheism in Antiquity, in {{harvnb|Martin|2006|pp=12–13}}The Athenian public associated Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE) with the trends in pre-Socratic philosophy towards naturalistic inquiry and the rejection of divine explanations for phenomena. Aristophanes' comic play The Clouds (performed 423 BCE) portrays Socrates as teaching his students that the traditional Greek deities do not exist. Socrates was later tried and executed under the charge of not believing in the gods of the state and instead worshipping foreign gods. Socrates himself vehemently denied the charges of atheism at his trialBOOK, Bremmer, Jan, Atheism in Antiquity, in {{harvnb|Martin|2006|pp=14–19}}BOOK, Thomas C., Brickhouse, Smith, Nicholas D., Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Plato and the Trial of Socrates, 2004, Routledge, 978-0-415-15681-3, 112, In particular, he argues that the claim he is a complete atheist contradicts the other part of the indictment, that he introduced "new divinities". and all the surviving sources about him indicate that he was a very devout man, who prayed to the rising sun and believed that the oracle at Delphi spoke the word of Apollo. Euhemerus ({{circa}} 300 BCE) published his view that the gods were only the deified rulers, conquerors and founders of the past, and that their cults and religions were in essence the continuation of vanished kingdoms and earlier political structures.Fragments of Euhemerus' work in Ennius' Latin translation have been preserved in Patristic writings (e.g. by Lactantius and Eusebius of Caesarea), which all rely on earlier fragments in Diodorus 5,41–46 & 6.1. Testimonies, especially in the context of polemical criticism, are found e.g. in Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus 8. Although not strictly an atheist, Euhemerus was later criticized for having "spread atheism over the whole inhabited earth by obliterating the gods".Plutarch, Moralia—Isis and Osiris 23The most important Greek thinker in the development of atheism was Epicurus ({{circa}} 300 BCE). Drawing on the ideas of Democritus and the Atomists, he espoused a materialistic philosophy according to which the universe was governed by the laws of chance without the need for divine intervention (see scientific determinism).WEB,weblink Epicurus (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy),, 2013-11-10,weblink" title="">weblink 3 June 2012, live, Although Epicurus still maintained that the gods existed,BOOK, Hickson, Michael W., McBrayer, Justin P., Howard-Snyder, Daniel, 2014, A Brief History of Problems of Evil, The Blackwell Companion to The Problem of Evil,weblink Hoboken, New Jersey, Wiley-Blackwell, 978-1-118-60797-8, 26–27, harv, 15 September 2018,weblink 20 November 2016, live, he believed that they were uninterested in human affairs. The aim of the Epicureans was to attain ataraxia ("peace of mind") and one important way of doing this was by exposing fear of divine wrath as irrational. The Epicureans also denied the existence of an afterlife and the need to fear divine punishment after death. In the 3rd-century BCE, the Greek philosophers Theodorus CyrenaicusDiogenes Laërtius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, ii and Strato of LampsacusCicero, Lucullus, 121. in Reale, G., A History of Ancient Philosophy. SUNY Press. (1985). did not believe in the existence of gods. The Roman philosopher Sextus Empiricus held that one should suspend judgment about virtually all beliefs—a form of skepticism known as Pyrrhonism—that nothing was inherently evil, and that ataraxia is attainable by withholding one's judgment. His relatively large volume of surviving works had a lasting influence on later philosophers.Stein, Gordon (Ed.) (1980). "The History of Freethought and Atheism {{webarchive|url= |date=30 September 2007 }}". An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism. New York: Prometheus. Retrieved 2007-APR-03.The meaning of "atheist" changed over the course of classical antiquity. Early Christians were widely reviled as "atheists" because they did not believe in the existence of the Graeco-Roman deities.CE1913, Atheism, BOOK, Ferguson, Everett, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 1993, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 978-0-8028-0669-7, 556–561, second, JOURNAL, Sherwin-White, A.N., Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted? – An Amendment, Past and Present, April 1964, 27, 23–27, 649759, During the Roman Empire, Christians were executed for their rejection of the Roman gods in general and the Imperial cult of ancient Rome in particular.Maycock, A.L. and Ronald Knox (2003). Inquisition from Its Establishment to the Great Schism: An Introductory Study {{Webarchive|url= |date=30 October 2015 }}. {{ISBN|0-7661-7290-2}}. There was, however, a heavy struggle between Christians and pagans, in which each group accused the other of atheism, for not practicing the religion which they considered correct.BOOK, Duran, Martin, Wondering About God: Impiety, Agnosticism, and Atheism in Ancient Greece, 2019, Independently Published, Barcelona, 978-1-08-061240-6, 171–178, When Christianity became the state religion of Rome under Theodosius I in 381, heresy became a punishable offense.{{clear}}

Early Middle Ages to the Renaissance

During the Early Middle Ages, the Islamic world experienced a Golden Age. Along with advances in science and philosophy, Arab and Persian lands produced outspoken rationalists and atheists, including Muhammad al Warraq (fl. 9th century), Ibn al-Rawandi (827–911), Al-Razi (854–925), and Al-Maʿarri (973–1058). Al-Ma'arri wrote and taught that religion itself was a "fable invented by the ancients"Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, 1962, A Literary History of the Arabs, p. 318. Routledge and that humans were "of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."Freethought Traditions in the Islamic World {{webarchive |url= |date=14 February 2012 }} by Fred Whitehead; also quoted in Cyril Glasse, (2001), The New Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 278. Rowman Altamira. Despite their being relatively prolific writers, little of their work survives, mainly being preserved through quotations and excerpts in later works by Muslim apologists attempting to refute them.Al-Zandaqa Wal Zanadiqa, by Mohammad Abd-El Hamid Al-Hamad, first edition 1999, Dar Al-Taliaa Al-Jadida, Syria (Arabic) Other prominent Golden Age scholars have been associated with rationalist thought and atheism as well, although the current intellectual atmosphere in the Islamic world, and the scant evidence that survives from the era, make this point a contentious one today.In Europe, the espousal of atheistic views was rare during the Early Middle Ages and Middle Ages (see Medieval Inquisition); metaphysics and theology were the dominant interests pertaining to religion.{{harvnb|Zdybicka|2005|p=4}} There were, however, movements within this period that furthered heterodox conceptions of the Christian god, including differing views of the nature, transcendence, and knowability of God. Individuals and groups such as Johannes Scotus Eriugena, David of Dinant, Amalric of Bena, and the Brethren of the Free Spirit maintained Christian viewpoints with pantheistic tendencies. Nicholas of Cusa held to a form of fideism he called docta ignorantia ("learned ignorance"), asserting that God is beyond human categorization, and thus our knowledge of him is limited to conjecture. William of Ockham inspired anti-metaphysical tendencies with his nominalistic limitation of human knowledge to singular objects, and asserted that the divine essence could not be intuitively or rationally apprehended by human intellect. Followers of Ockham, such as John of Mirecourt and Nicholas of Autrecourt furthered this view. The resulting division between faith and reason influenced later radical and reformist theologians such as John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, and Martin Luther.The Renaissance did much to expand the scope of free thought and skeptical inquiry. Individuals such as Leonardo da Vinci sought experimentation as a means of explanation, and opposed arguments from religious authority. Other critics of religion and the Church during this time included Niccolò Machiavelli, Bonaventure des Périers, Michel de Montaigne, and François Rabelais.

Early modern period

Historian Geoffrey Blainey wrote that the Reformation had paved the way for atheists by attacking the authority of the Catholic Church, which in turn "quietly inspired other thinkers to attack the authority of the new Protestant churches".Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Viking; 2011; p. 388 Deism gained influence in France, Prussia, and England. The philosopher Baruch Spinoza was "probably the first well known 'semi-atheist' to announce himself in a Christian land in the modern era", according to Blainey. Spinoza believed that natural laws explained the workings of the universe. In 1661 he published his Short Treatise on God.Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Viking; 2011; p. 343Criticism of Christianity became increasingly frequent in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in France and England, where there appears to have been a religious malaise, according to contemporary sources. Some Protestant thinkers, such as Thomas Hobbes, espoused a materialist philosophy and skepticism toward supernatural occurrences, while Spinoza rejected divine providence in favor of a panentheistic naturalism. By the late 17th century, deism came to be openly espoused by intellectuals such as John Toland who coined the term "pantheist".WEB,weblink Online Etymology Dictionary, 2013-11-26,weblink" title="">weblink 2 December 2013, live, The first known explicit atheist was the German critic of religion Matthias Knutzen in his three writings of 1674.Winfried Schröder, in: Matthias Knutzen: Schriften und Materialien (2010), p. 8. See also Rececca Moore, The Heritage of Western Humanism, Scepticism and Freethought (2011), calling Knutzen "the first open advocate of a modern atheist perspective" online here {{Webarchive|url= |date=30 March 2012 }} He was followed by two other explicit atheist writers, the Polish ex-Jesuit philosopher Kazimierz ŁyszczyÅ„ski and in the 1720s by the French priest Jean Meslier.WEB,weblink Michel Onfray on Jean Meslier, William Paterson University, 2011-11-04,weblink" title="">weblink 12 January 2012, dead, In the course of the 18th century, other openly atheistic thinkers followed, such as Baron d'Holbach, Jacques-André Naigeon, and other French materialists.BOOK, d'Holbach, P.H.T., Baron d'Holbach, The System of Nature,weblink 2011-04-07, 1770, 2,weblink 17 June 2019, live, John Locke in contrast, though an advocate of tolerance, urged authorities not to tolerate atheism, believing that the denial of God's existence would undermine the social order and lead to chaos.Jeremy Waldron (2002). God, Locke, and Equality: Christian Foundations in Locke's Political Thought; Cambridge, p. 217The philosopher David Hume developed a skeptical epistemology grounded in empiricism, and Immanuel Kant's philosophy has strongly questioned the very possibility of a metaphysical knowledge. Both philosophers undermined the metaphysical basis of natural theology and criticized classical arguments for the existence of God.File:Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach.jpg|thumb|left|upright|Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity (1841) would greatly influence philosophers such as Engels, Marx, David Strauss, Nietzsche, and Max Stirner. He considered God to be a human invention and religious activities to be wish-fulfillment. For this he is considered the founding father of modern anthropology of religionanthropology of religionBlainey notes that, although Voltaire is widely considered to have strongly contributed to atheistic thinking during the Revolution, he also considered fear of God to have discouraged further disorder, having said "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Viking; 2011; pp. 390–391 In Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), the philosopher Edmund Burke denounced atheism, writing of a "literary cabal" who had "some years ago formed something like a regular plan for the destruction of the Christian religion. This object they pursued with a degree of zeal which hitherto had been discovered only in the propagators of some system of piety ... These atheistical fathers have a bigotry of their own ...". But, Burke asserted, "man is by his constitution a religious animal" and "atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and ... it cannot prevail long".WEB,weblink Reflections on the Revolution in France,, 25 November 2013,weblink" title="">weblink 3 December 2013, live, Baron d'Holbach was a prominent figure in the French Enlightenment who is best known for his atheism and for his voluminous writings against religion, the most famous of them being The System of Nature (1770) but also Christianity Unveiled. One goal of the French Revolution was a restructuring and subordination of the clergy with respect to the state through the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Attempts to enforce it led to anti-clerical violence and the expulsion of many clergy from France, lasting until the Thermidorian Reaction. The radical Jacobins seized power in 1793, ushering in the Reign of Terror. The Jacobins were deists and introduced the Cult of the Supreme Being as a new French state religion. Some atheists surrounding Jacques Hébert instead sought to establish a Cult of Reason, a form of atheistic pseudo-religion with a goddess personifying reason. The Napoleonic era further institutionalized the secularization of French society.In the latter half of the 19th century, atheism rose to prominence under the influence of rationalistic and freethinking philosophers. Many prominent German philosophers of this era denied the existence of deities and were critical of religion, including Ludwig Feuerbach, Arthur Schopenhauer, Max Stirner, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche.BOOK,weblink Subjectivity and Irreligion: Atheism and Agnosticism in Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Ray, Matthew Alun, 2003, 978-0-7546-3456-0, 2011-04-09, George Holyoake was the last person (1842) imprisoned in Great Britain due to atheist beliefs. Law notes that he may have also been the first imprisoned on such a charge. Stephen Law states that Holyoake "first coined the term 'secularism'".BOOK, Humanism. A Very Short Introduction,weblink Law, Stephen, Stephen Law, 2011, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-955364-8, 23, BOOK, Holyoake, G.J., George Holyoake, 1896, The Origin and Nature of Secularism. Showing that where Freethought Commonly Ends Secularism Begins,weblink London, Watts, 41ff.,

Since 1900

{{Further|Marxism and religion}}Atheism, particularly in the form of practical atheism, advanced in many societies in the 20th century. Atheistic thought found recognition in a wide variety of other, broader philosophies, such as existentialism, objectivism, secular humanism, nihilism, anarchism, logical positivism, Marxism, feminism,BOOK,weblink Overall, Christine, Feminism and Atheism, 2006, 2011-04-09, The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, 978-1-139-82739-3, in {{harvnb|Martin|2006|pp=233–246}} and the general scientific and rationalist movement.File:Bezbozhnik u stanka 22-1929.jpg|thumb|left|upright|1929 cover of the USSR League of Militant Atheists magazine, showing the gods of the Abrahamic religions being crushed by the Communist 5-year plan ]]In addition, state atheism emerged in Eastern Europe and Asia during that period, particularly in the Soviet Union under Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, and in Communist China under Mao Zedong. Atheist and anti-religious policies in the Soviet Union included numerous legislative acts, the outlawing of religious instruction in the schools, and the emergence of the League of Militant Atheists.Richard Pipes; Russia under the Bolshevik Regime; The Harvill Press; 1994; pp. 339–340Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Viking; 2011; p. 494 After Mao, the Chinese Communist Party remains an atheist organization, and regulates, but does not forbid, the practice of religion in mainland China.Rowan Callick; Party Time – Who Runs China and How; Black Inc; 2013; p. 112.WEB,weblink White Paper—Freedom of Religious Belief in China, Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America, October 1997, 2007-09-05,weblink" title="">weblink 24 June 2014, live, WEB,weblink International Religious Freedom Report 2007 — China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau), 2007, U.S.Department of State, 2007-10-02, While Geoffrey Blainey has written that "the most ruthless leaders in the Second World War were atheists and secularists who were intensely hostile to both Judaism and Christianity",Geoffrey Blainey (2011). A Short History of Christianity; Viking; p. 543 Richard Madsen has pointed out that Hitler and Stalin each opened and closed churches as a matter of political expedience, and Stalin softened his opposition to Christianity in order to improve public acceptance of his regime during the war.BOOK, Smith, S.A., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism, Oxford University Press, 2014, 978-0-19-960205-6, Religion Under Communism, Madsen, Richard, 588,weblinkweblink 13 August 2015,weblink 28 October 2015, live, Blackford and Schüklenk have written that "the Soviet Union was undeniably an atheist state, and the same applies to Maoist China and Pol Pot's fanatical Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in the 1970s. That does not, however, show that the atrocities committed by these totalitarian dictatorships were the result of atheist beliefs, carried out in the name of atheism, or caused primarily by the atheistic aspects of the relevant forms of communism."BOOK, Blackford, R., Schüklenk, U., 50 great myths about atheism, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, 978-0-470-67404-8,weblinkweblink Myth 27 Many Atrocities Have Been Committed in the Name of Atheism, 88, 13 August 2015,weblink 30 October 2015, live, File:Honourable Bertrand Russell.jpg|thumb|upright|The British philosopher Bertrand RussellBertrand RussellLogical positivism and scientism paved the way for neopositivism, analytical philosophy, structuralism, and naturalism. Neopositivism and analytical philosophy discarded classical rationalism and metaphysics in favor of strict empiricism and epistemological nominalism. Proponents such as Bertrand Russell emphatically rejected belief in God. In his early work, Ludwig Wittgenstein attempted to separate metaphysical and supernatural language from rational discourse. A.J. Ayer asserted the unverifiability and meaninglessness of religious statements, citing his adherence to the empirical sciences. Relatedly the applied structuralism of Lévi-Strauss sourced religious language to the human subconscious in denying its transcendental meaning. J.N. Findlay and J.J.C. Smart argued that the existence of God is not logically necessary. Naturalists and materialistic monists such as John Dewey considered the natural world to be the basis of everything, denying the existence of God or immortality.{{harvnb|Zdybicka|2005|p=16}}

Other developments

Other leaders like Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, a prominent atheist leader of India, fought against Hinduism and Brahmins for discriminating and dividing people in the name of caste and religion.BOOK, Michael, S.M., 1999, Dalit Visions of a Just Society, Michael, S. M., Lynne Rienner Publishers, Untouchable: Dalits in Modern India, 978-1-55587-697-5, 31–33, This was highlighted in 1956 when he arranged for the erection of a statue depicting a Hindu god in a humble representation and made antitheistic statements."He who created god was a fool, he who spreads his name is a scoundrel, and he who worships him is a barbarian." Hiorth, Finngeir (1996). "Atheism in South India {{Webarchive|url= |date=11 December 2013 }}". International Humanist and Ethical Union, International Humanist News. Retrieved 2013-11-21Atheist Vashti McCollum was the plaintiff in a landmark 1948 Supreme Court case that struck down religious education in US public schools.WEB, Martin, Douglas,weblink Vashti McCollum, 93, Plaintiff In a Landmark Religion Suit – Obituary, New York Times, 26 August 2006, 2013-11-10,weblink 27 July 2018, live, Madalyn Murray O'Hair was perhaps one of the most influential American atheists; she brought forth the 1963 Supreme Court case Murray v. Curlett which banned compulsory prayer in public schools.BOOK, Religion on Trial, Jurinski, James, 2004, AltraMira Press, Walnut Creek, California, 978-0-7591-0601-7, 48,weblink 2009-07-23, In 1966, Time magazine asked "Is God Dead?"Time Magazine cover {{Webarchive|url= |date=9 December 2013 }} online. 8 April 1966. Retrieved 2013-11-21. in response to the Death of God theological movement, citing the estimation that nearly half of all people in the world lived under an anti-religious power, and millions more in Africa, Asia, and South America seemed to lack knowledge of the Christian view of theology."Toward a Hidden God {{Webarchive|url= |date=27 November 2013 }}". Time Magazine online. 8 April 1966. Retrieved 2007-04-17. The Freedom From Religion Foundation was co-founded by Anne Nicol Gaylor and her daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor, in 1976 in the United States, and incorporated nationally in 1978. It promotes the separation of church and state.NEWS, The atheists' calling the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking its latest battle to the U.S. Supreme court. It's a milestone for the often-vilified but financially strong group, which has seen its membership grow to an all-time high,weblink 25 February 2010, Erickson, Doug, Wisconsin State Journal, 2013-06-30,weblink" title="">weblink 25 June 2017, live, WEB,weblink The Atheists' Calling, Wisconsin State Journal, Doug, Erickson, 25 February 2007, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 25 June 2017, live, Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the number of actively anti-religious regimes has declined considerably. In 2006, Timothy Shah of the Pew Forum noted "a worldwide trend across all major religious groups, in which God-based and faith-based movements in general are experiencing increasing confidence and influence vis-à-vis secular movements and ideologies.""Timothy Samuel Shah Explains 'Why God is Winning' {{Webarchive|url= |date=2 November 2013 }}." 2006-07-18. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Retrieved 2013-11-21.However, Gregory S. Paul and Phil Zuckerman consider this a myth and suggest that the actual situation is much more complex and nuanced.JOURNAL, Paul, Gregory, Gregory S. Paul, Zuckerman, Phil, Why the Gods Are Not Winning, Edge, 209, 2007,weblink harv, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 13 May 2007, live, A 2010 survey found that those identifying themselves as atheists or agnostics are on average more knowledgeable about religion than followers of major faiths. Nonbelievers scored better on questions about tenets central to Protestant and Catholic faiths. Only Mormon and Jewish faithful scored as well as atheists and agnostics.{{harvnb|Landsberg|2010}}In 2012, the first "Women in Secularism" conference was held in Arlington, Virginia.WEB,weblink Women in Secularism, 2013-11-21, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 30 July 2013, Secular Woman was organized in 2012 as a national organization focused on nonreligious women.WEB,weblink Secular Woman:About, 2013-11-21, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 21 November 2013, The atheist feminist movement has also become increasingly focused on fighting sexism and sexual harassment within the atheist movement itself.WEB,weblink A Timeline of the Sexual Harassment Accusations, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 13 November 2013, live, 13 August 2013, In August 2012, Jennifer McCreight (the organizer of Boobquake) founded a movement within atheism known as Atheism Plus, or A+, that "applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime".WEB,weblink Blaghag: Atheism+, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 27 September 2013, live, 19 August 2012, WEB,weblink How I unwittingly infiltrated the boys club, why it's time for a new wave of atheism, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 22 September 2013, live, WEB,weblink About Atheism+, 2013-11-21, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 22 August 2013, In 2013 the first atheist monument on American government property was unveiled at the Bradford County Courthouse in Florida: a 1,500-pound granite bench and plinth inscribed with quotes by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Madalyn Murray O'Hair.WEB,weblink First atheist monument on government property unveiled, Alligator News, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 5 July 2013, live, WEB,weblink Atheists unveil monument in Florida and promise to build 50 more, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 27 September 2013, live,

New Atheism

File:Four Horsemen.jpg|thumb|right|The "Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse" (clockwise from top left): Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam HarrisSam Harris"New Atheism" is the name that has been given to a movement among some early-21st-century atheist writers who have advocated the view that "religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises."NEWS,weblink The rise of the New Atheists, CNN, Simon, Hooper, 2010-03-16,weblink" title="">weblink 8 April 2010, live, The movement is commonly associated with Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger, Christopher Hitchens, and to some extent Ayaan Hirsi Ali.JOURNAL, Preview: The Four Horsemen of New Atheism reunited, Alice, Gribbin,weblink New Statesman, 22 December 2011, 2012-02-13,weblink" title="">weblink 10 April 2014, live, {{sfn|Stenger|2009}} Several best-selling books by these authors, published between 2004 and 2007, form the basis for much of the discussion of "New" Atheism.{{sfn|Stenger|2009}} The new atheists and Dawkins in particular have been accused of committing the strawman fallacy NEWS,weblink Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching, 32–34, 7 September 2019,weblink 6 September 2019, live, London Review of Books, 19 October 2006, Eagleton, Terry, and of creating a new religion: Scientism.BOOK, Midgley, Mary, Science and Poetry, 2001, Routledge, London, 0-415-37848-6, In best selling books, the religiously motivated terrorist events of 9/11 and the partially successful attempts of the Discovery Institute to change the American science curriculum to include creationist ideas, together with support for those ideas from George W. Bush in 2005, have been cited by authors such as Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, Stenger, and Hitchens as evidence of a need to move toward a more secular society.JOURNAL, Garfield, Alan E,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink dead, 2013-12-07, Vermont Law Review, 33 Book 2, Finding Shared Values in a Diverse Society: Lessons From the Intelligent Design Controversy, 2013-11-21,


{{Further|Religiosity and education}}File:Irreligion map.png|thumb|left|Proportion of atheists and agnosticagnosticIt is difficult to quantify the number of atheists in the world. Respondents to religious-belief polls may define "atheism" differently or draw different distinctions between atheism, non-religious beliefs, and non-theistic religious and spiritual beliefs.WEB,weblink Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents, Section on accuracy of non-Religious Demographic Data, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 22 April 2011, live, A Hindu atheist would declare oneself as a Hindu, although also being an atheist at the same time.BOOK, Huxley, Andrew, Religion, Law and Tradition: Comparative Studies in Religious Law, Routledge, 2002, 120,weblink 978-0-7007-1689-0, 7763963M, 2011-04-09,weblink 28 October 2015, live, A 2010 survey published in Encyclopædia Britannica found that the non-religious made up about 9.6% of the world's population, and atheists about 2.0%, with a very large majority based in Asia. This figure did not include those who follow atheistic religions, such as some Buddhists.WEB, Religion: Year in Review 2010: Worldwide Adherents of All Religions,weblink Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 2 July 2014, live, The average annual change for atheism from 2000 to 2010 was −0.17%. Broad estimates of those who have an absence of belief in a god range from 500 million to 1.1 billion people worldwide.{{citation|last=Zuckerman|first=Phil|title=Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns|work=Cambridge Companion to Atheism|date=2007|doi=10.1017/CCOL0521842700.004|pages=47–66}}BOOK,weblink Secularization and the World Religions, 2010, Hans, Joas, Klaus, Wiegandt, Liverpool University Press, 978-1-84631-187-1, 25285702M, 122 (footnote 1), 2012-04-18,weblink 30 October 2015, live, According to global Win-Gallup International studies, 13% of respondents were "convinced atheists" in 2012,WEB,weblink WIN-Gallup International "Religiosity and Atheism Index" reveals atheists are a small minority in the early years of 21st century, 6 August 2012, 2012-08-28, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 25 August 2012, dmy-all, 11% were "convinced atheists" in 2015, and in 2017, 9% were "convinced atheists".WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink dead, 2017-11-14, Wayback Machine, 2017-11-14, 2018-02-27, {{as of|2012}}, the top 10 surveyed countries with people who viewed themselves as "convinced atheists" were China (47%), Japan (31%), the Czech Republic (30%), France (29%), South Korea (15%), Germany (15%), Netherlands (14%), Austria (10%), Iceland (10%), Australia (10%), and the Republic of Ireland (10%).WEB, Global Index of Religion and Atheism,weblink Gallup (company), Gallup – Red C, REDC, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 16 October 2012,


(File:Europe No Belief enhanced 2010.png|thumb|Percentage of people in various European countries who said: "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force." (2010)WEB,weblink Special Eurobarometer: Biotechnology, 381, October 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 15 December 2010, )According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, the percentage of those polled who agreed with the statement "you don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force" varied from a high percentage in France (40%), Czech Republic (37%), Sweden (34%), Netherlands (30%), and Estonia (29%); medium-high percentage in Germany (27%), Belgium (27%), UK (25%); to very low in Poland (5%), Greece (4%), Cyprus (3%), Malta (2%), and Romania (1%), with the European Union as a whole at 20%. In a 2012 Eurobarometer poll on discrimination in the European Union, 16% of those polled considered themselves non believers/agnostics and 7% considered themselves atheists.{{citation |title=Discrimination in the EU in 2012 |work=Special Eurobarometer |year=2012 |series=383 |page=233 |url= |accessdate=14 August 2013 |publisher=European Commission |location=European Union |url-status=dead |archiveurl= |archivedate=2 December 2012}} The question asked was "Do you consider yourself to be...?", with a card showing: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Other Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, and non-believer/agnostic. Space was given for Other (Spontaneous) and DK. Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu did not reach the 1% threshold.According to a Pew Research Center survey in 2012 religiously unaffiliated (including agnostics and atheists) make up about 18% of Europeans.WEB,weblink Religiously Unaffiliated, 18 December 2012, Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, 7 November 2014,weblink" title="">weblink 30 July 2013, live, According to the same survey, the religiously unaffiliated are the majority of the population only in two European countries: Czech Republic (75%) and Estonia (60%).


There are another three countries, and one special administrative region of China or regions where the unaffiliated make up a majority of the population: North Korea (71%), Japan (57%), Hong Kong (56%), and China (52%).


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 30% of Australians have "no religion", a category that includes atheists.WEB,weblink Religion In Australia, 27 June 2017, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017-06-27,weblink" title="">weblink 7 August 2017, live, In a 2013 census, 42% of New Zealanders reported having no religion, up from 30% in 1991.WEB,weblink 2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity, 23 August 2017,weblink" title="">weblink 28 August 2017, live, Men were more likely than women to report no religion.

United States

According to the World Values Survey, 4.4% of Americans self-identified as atheists in 2014.WEB, WVS Database,weblink World Values Survey, Institute for Comparative Survey Research, March 2015, 7 January 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 5 January 2016, live, However, the same survey showed that 11.1% of all respondents stated "no" when asked if they believed in God. In 1984, these same figures were 1.1% and 2.2%, respectively. According to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center, 3.1% of the US adult population identify as atheist, up from 1.6% in 2007; and within the religiously unaffiliated (or "no religion") demographic, atheists made up 13.6%.America's Changing Religious Landscape {{Webarchive|url= |date=10 April 2019 }}, Pew Research Center, 12 May 2015. According to the 2015 General Sociological Survey the number of atheists and agnostics in the US has remained relatively flat in the past 23 years since in 1991 only 2% identified as atheist and 4% identified as agnostic and in 2014 only 3% identified as atheists and 5% identified as agnostics.WEB, Hout, Michael, Smith, Tom, Fewer Americans Affiliate with Organized Religions, Belief and Practice Unchanged: Key Findings from the 2014 General Social Survey,weblink General Social Survey, NORC, March 2015, 19 July 2015,weblink" title="">weblink 13 July 2015, live,


According to the American Family Survey, 34% were found to be religiously unaffiliated in 2017 (23% 'nothing in particular', 6% agnostic, 5% atheist).WEB,weblink 'Nones' are now the biggest religious group in the US – with families torn on priorities,, en, 2017-12-06,weblink 6 December 2017, live, WEB,weblink DN American Family Survey 2017,, en, 2017-12-06,weblink 6 December 2017, live, According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 22.8% of the American population does not identify with a religion, including atheists (3.1%) and agnostics (4%).WEB,weblink America's Changing Religious Landscape, Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life, May 12, 2015, 12 May 2015,weblink 10 April 2019, live, According to a PRRI survey, 24% of the population is unaffiliated. Atheists and agnostics combined make up about a quarter of this unaffiliated demographic.NEWS,weblink America's Changing Religious Identity, PRRI, 2017-12-16, en-US,weblink 31 January 2018, live,

Arab world

In recent years, the profile of atheism has risen substantially in the Arab world.WEB,weblink The rise of Arab atheism, 2016-02-08,weblink 6 February 2016, live, In major cities across the region, such as Cairo, atheists have been organizing in cafés and social media, despite regular crackdowns from authoritarian governments. A 2012 poll by Gallup International revealed that 5% of Saudis considered themselves to be "convinced atheists." However, very few young people in the Arab world have atheists in their circle of friends or acquaintances. According to one study, less than 1% did in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Jordan; only 3% to 7% in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Palestine.Muslim Millennial Attitudes on Religion and Religious Leadership, Arab World {{Webarchive|url= |date=8 February 2016 }}, Tabah Foundation, Abu Dhabi, 2016 When asked whether they have "seen or heard traces of atheism in [their] locality, community, and society" only about 3% to 8% responded yes in all the countries surveyed. The only exception was the UAE, with a percentage of 51%.

Wealth and education

Various studies have asserted positive correlations between leves of education, wealth and IQ with atheism.JOURNAL, Lynn, Richard, Richard Lynn, Harvey, John, Nyborg, Helmuth, Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations, Intelligence (journal), Intelligence, 2009, 37, 11–15, 10.1016/j.intell.2008.03.004, According to evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber, atheism blossoms in places where most people feel economically secure, particularly in the social democracies of Europe, as there is less uncertainty about the future with extensive social safety nets and better health care resulting in a greater quality of life and higher life expectancy. By contrast, in underdeveloped countries, there are virtually no atheists.Nigel Barber (2010). Why Atheism Will Replace Religion {{Webarchive|url= |date=17 October 2019 }}. Psychology Today. Retrieved 2013-05-22.

Attitudes toward atheism

{{See also|Discrimination against atheists}}Statistically, atheists are held in poor regard across the globe. Non-atheists, and possibly even fellow atheists, seem to implicitly view atheists as prone to exhibit immoral behaviors ranging from mass murder to not paying at a restaurant.NEWS, Carey, Benedict, The Serial Killer Test: Biases Against Atheists Emerge in Study,weblink 2018-01-23, The New York Times, 7 August 2017,weblink 23 January 2018, live, NEWS, Paris, Agence France-Presse in, Atheists tend to be seen as immoral – even by other atheists: study,weblink 2018-01-23, the Guardian, 7 August 2017,weblink 23 January 2018, live, JOURNAL, Gervais, Will M., Xygalatas, Dimitris, McKay, Ryan T., van Elk, Michiel, Buchtel, Emma E., Aveyard, Mark, Schiavone, Sarah R., Dar-Nimrod, Ilan, Svedholm-Häkkinen, Annika M., Riekki, Tapani, Klocová, Eva Kundtová, Ramsay, Jonathan E., Bulbulia, Joseph, Global evidence of extreme intuitive moral prejudice against atheists, Nature Human Behaviour, 7 August 2017, 1, 8, 0151, 10.1038/s41562-017-0151,weblink 11 September 2018,weblink 18 January 2018, live, 10138/246517, In addition, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center publication, 15% of French people, 45% of Americans, and 99% of Indonesians explicitly believe that a person must believe in God to be moral. Pew furthermore noted that, in a U.S. poll, atheists and Muslims tied for the lowest rating among the major religious demographics on a "feeling thermometer".WEB, 10 facts about atheists,weblink Pew Research Center, 2018-01-23, 1 June 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 21 January 2018, live, Also, a study of religious college students found that they were more likely to perceive and interact with atheists negatively after considering their mortality, suggesting that these attitudes may be the result of death anxiety.WEB,weblink Study: People don't like atheists because they serve as a grim reminder of death's finality, Dolan, Eric W., 6 May 2015,, en-US, live,weblink 20 October 2019, 2019-10-20,

See also

{{Wikipedia book|Atheism}}


{{Reflist|colwidth=30em|refs=BOOK, Harvey, Van A., Agnosticism and Atheism, in {{harvnb|Flynn|2007|p=35}}: "The terms ATHEISM and AGNOSTICISM lend themselves to two different definitions. The first takes the privative a both before the Greek theos (divinity) and gnosis (to know) to mean that atheism is simply the absence of belief in the gods and agnosticism is simply lack of knowledge of some specified subject matter. The second definition takes atheism to mean the explicit denial of the existence of gods and agnosticism as the position of someone who, because the existence of gods is unknowable, suspends judgment regarding them ... The first is the more inclusive and recognizes only two alternatives: Either one believes in the gods or one does not. Consequently, there is no third alternative, as those who call themselves agnostics sometimes claim. Insofar as they lack belief, they are really atheists. Moreover, since absence of belief is the cognitive position in which everyone is born, the burden of proof falls on those who advocate religious belief. The proponents of the second definition, by contrast, regard the first definition as too broad because it includes uninformed children along with aggressive and explicit atheists. Consequently, it is unlikely that the public will adopt it."{{harvnb|Nielsen|2013}}: "Instead of saying that an atheist is someone who believes that it is false or probably false that there is a God, a more adequate characterization of atheism consists in the more complex claim that to be an atheist is to be someone who rejects belief in God for the following reasons ... : for an anthropomorphic God, the atheist rejects belief in God because it is false or probably false that there is a God; for a nonanthropomorphic God ... because the concept of such a God is either meaningless, unintelligible, contradictory, incomprehensible, or incoherent; for the God portrayed by some modern or contemporary theologians or philosophers ... because the concept of God in question is such that it merely masks an atheistic substance—e.g., "God" is just another name for love, or ... a symbolic term for moral ideals."{{harvnb|Nielsen|2013}}: "atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable."ENCYCLOPEDIA, Atheism,weblink Encyclopædia Britannica Concise, Merriam Webster, 2011-12-15, Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial. It is rooted in an array of philosophical systems.,weblink" title="">weblink 21 January 2012, live, ENCYCLOPEDIA, Atheism as rejection of religious beliefs,weblink Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th, 1, 666, 2011, 0852294735, harv, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 12 May 2011, live, WEB,weblink Worldwide Adherents of All Religions by Six Continental Areas, Mid-2007, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007, 2013-11-21,weblink" title="">weblink 12 December 2013, live,
  • 2.3% Atheists: Persons professing atheism, skepticism, disbelief, or irreligion, including the militantly antireligious (opposed to all religion).
  • 11.9% Nonreligious: Persons professing no religion, nonbelievers, agnostics, freethinkers, uninterested, or dereligionized secularists indifferent to all religion but not militantly so.
EB1911, Atheism, The term as generally used, however, is highly ambiguous. Its meaning varies (a) according to the various definitions of deity, and especially (b) according as it is (i.) deliberately adopted by a thinker as a description of his own theological standpoint, or (ii.) applied by one set of thinkers to their opponents. As to (a), it is obvious that atheism from the standpoint of the Christian is a very different conception as compared with atheism as understood by a Deist, a Positivist, a follower of Euhemerus or Herbert Spencer, or a Buddhist., EB1911, Atheism, But dogmatic atheism is rare compared with the sceptical type, which is identical with agnosticism in so far as it denies the capacity of the mind of man to form any conception of God, but is different from it in so far as the agnostic merely holds his judgment in suspense, though, in practice, agnosticism is apt to result in an attitude towards religion which is hardly distinguishable from a passive and unaggressive atheism., {{harvnb|Edwards|2005}}: "On our definition, an 'atheist' is a person who rejects belief in God, regardless of whether or not his reason for the rejection is the claim that 'God exists' expresses a false proposition. People frequently adopt an attitude of rejection toward a position for reasons other than that it is a false proposition. It is common among contemporary philosophers, and indeed it was not uncommon in earlier centuries, to reject positions on the ground that they are meaningless. Sometimes, too, a theory is rejected on such grounds as that it is sterile or redundant or capricious, and there are many other considerations which in certain contexts are generally agreed to constitute good grounds for rejecting an assertion."BOOK, Holland, Aaron, Agnosticism, in {{harvnb|Flynn|2007|p=34}}: "It is important to note that this interpretation of agnosticism is compatible with theism or atheism, since it is only asserted that knowledge of God's existence is unattainable."{{harvnb|Rowe|1998}}: "As commonly understood, atheism is the position that affirms the nonexistence of God. So an atheist is someone who disbelieves in God, whereas a theist is someone who believes in God. Another meaning of 'atheism' is simply nonbelief in the existence of God, rather than positive belief in the nonexistence of God. ... an atheist, in the broader sense of the term, is someone who disbelieves in every form of deity, not just the God of traditional Western theology."{{harvnb|Martin|2006|p=2}}: "But agnosticism is compatible with negative atheism in that agnosticism entails negative atheism. Since agnostics do not believe in God, they are by definition negative atheists. This is not to say that negative atheism entails agnosticism. A negative atheist might disbelieve in God but need not."NEWS,weblink UK among most secular nations, BBC News, 2015-01-14, 26 February 2004,weblink" title="">weblink 2 September 2017, live, {{harvnb|Martin|1990|pp=467–468}}: "In the popular sense an agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves that God exists, while an atheist disbelieves that God exists. However, this common contrast of agnosticism with atheism will hold only if one assumes that atheism means positive atheism. In the popular sense, agnosticism is compatible with negative atheism. Since negative atheism by definition simply means not holding any concept of God, it is compatible with neither believing nor disbelieving in God."{{harvnb|Flint|1903|pp=49–51}}: "The atheist may however be, and not unfrequently is, an agnostic. There is an agnostic atheism or atheistic agnosticism, and the combination of atheism with agnosticism which may be so named is not an uncommon one."{{harvnb|Barker|2008|p=96}}: "People are invariably surprised to hear me say I am both an atheist and an agnostic, as if this somehow weakens my certainty. I usually reply with a question like, "Well, are you a Republican or an American?" The two words serve different concepts and are not mutually exclusive. Agnosticism addresses knowledge; atheism addresses belief. The agnostic says, "I don't have a knowledge that God exists." The atheist says, "I don't have a belief that God exists." You can say both things at the same time. Some agnostics are atheistic and some are theistic."BOOK, Why Should Atheists Be Persecuted?, Annie, Besant, Annie Wood Besant, in {{harvnb|Bradlaugh|Besant|Bradlaugh|Moss|1884|url = |pages=185–186]}}: "The Atheist waits for proof of God. Till that proof comes he remains, as his name implies, without God. His mind is open to every new truth, after it has passed the warder Reason at the gate."JOURNAL, Mr. Mackintosh's New God, George Jacob, Holyoake, George Holyoake, w:The Oracle of Reason, The Oracle of Reason, Or, Philosophy Vindicated]], 1, 23, 1842, 186,weblink On the contrary, I, as an Atheist, simply profess that I do not see sufficient reason to believe that there is a god. I do not pretend to know that there is no god. The whole question of god's existence, belief or disbelief, a question of probability or of improbability, not knowledge., 13 August 2015,weblink 30 October 2015, live, Honderich, Ted (Ed.) (1995). "Humanism". The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press. p. 376. {{ISBN|0-19-866132-0}}.Most dictionaries (see the OneLook query for "atheism" {{Webarchive|url= |date=30 September 2007 }}) first list one of the more narrow definitions.
  • BOOK,weblink Dictionary of Philosophy, Dagobert D., Runes, Dagobert D. Runes, 1942, Littlefield, Adams & Co. Philosophical Library, New Jersey, 978-0-06-463461-8, (a) the belief that there is no God; (b) Some philosophers have been called "atheistic" because they have not held to a belief in a personal God. Atheism in this sense means "not theistic". The former meaning of the term is a literal rendering. The latter meaning is a less rigorous use of the term though widely current in the history of thought, 2011-04-09, live, – entry by Vergilius FermDICTIONARY, Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, atheism,weblink 2013-11-21, 2008, 2008, Oxford University Press, Either the lack of belief that there exists a god, or the belief that there exists none. Sometimes thought itself to be more dogmatic than mere agnosticism, although atheists retort that everyone is an atheist about most gods, so they merely advance one step further., 9780199541430, WEB,weblink Definitions: Atheism, Department of Religious Studies, University of Alabama, 2012-12-01,weblink" title="">weblink 7 June 2011, live,
{{harvnb|Hume|1748|loc=Part III}}: "If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."}}


  • BOOK, Armstrong, Karen, Karen Armstrong, A History of God, 1999, London, Vintage, 978-0-09-927367-7, harv,
  • BOOK, Baggini, Julian, Julian Baggini, Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, 2003, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-280424-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Barker, Dan, Dan Barker, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists, 2008, New York, Ulysses Press, 978-1-56975-677-5, 24313839M, harv,
  • BOOK, Bradlaugh, Charles, Charles Bradlaugh, Besant, Annie, Bradlaugh, Alice, Moss, A. B., Cattell, C.C., Standring, G., Aveling, E., The Atheistic Platform, 1884, London, Freethought Publishing, harv,
  • BOOK, Dawkins, Richard, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion,weblink 2006, Bantam Press, 978-0-593-05548-9, harv,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Edwards, Paul, Paul Edwards (philosopher), Atheism, MacMillan Reference US (Gale), Donald M. Borchert, 1967, 2005, 2nd, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 1, 359, 978-0-02-865780-6, harv,
  • BOOK, Flew, Antony, Antony Flew, The Presumption of Atheism, and other Philosophical Essays on God, Freedom, and Immortality, New York, Barnes and Noble, 1976, harv,
  • BOOK, Flint, Robert, Robert Flint, Agnosticism: The Croall Lecture for 1887–88, 1903, William Blackwood and Sons, 7193167M, harv,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, Flynn, Tom, Tom Flynn (author), Prometheus Books, 25 October 2007, 978-1-59102-391-3, 8851140M,weblink harv, The new encyclopedia of unbelief,
  • BOOK, Harris, Sam, Sam Harris (author), The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005, harv,
  • BOOK, Harris, Sam, Sam Harris (author), Letter to a Christian Nation, 19 September 2006, Knopf, 978-0-307-27877-7, 25353925M,weblink harv,
  • JOURNAL, Harris, Sam, Sam Harris (author), The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos, Free Inquiry, 0272-0701, April 2006, 26, 3,weblink 2013-11-21, {{harvid, Harris, 2006a, }} alternate URL
  • BOOK, Hitchens, Christopher, Christopher Hitchens, god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Random House, 2007,weblink harv, 978-0-7710-4143-3,
  • BOOK, Hume, David, David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, 1779, 7145748M, London, harv, s:Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,
  • BOOK, Hume, David, David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748, London, harv, s:An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,
  • NEWS, Landsberg, Mitchell, Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says,weblink Los Angeles Times, 28 September 2010, 2011-04-08,weblink" title="">weblink 11 May 2011, live, harv,
  • BOOK, Martin, Michael, Michael Martin (philosopher), Atheism: A Philosophical Justification,weblink Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1990, 978-0-87722-642-0, 8110936M, 2011-04-09,weblink 19 May 2011, live, harv,
  • BOOK, Martin, Michael, Michael Martin (philosopher), The Cambridge Companion to Atheism,weblink Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, 978-0-521-84270-9, 22379448M, 2013-11-25, harv,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Nielsen, Kai, Kai Nielsen (philosopher), Atheism, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2013,weblink 2013-11-25, harv,
  • BOOK, Oppy, Graham, Graham Oppy, Atheism and Agnosticism, 2018,weblink Cambridge University Press, 978-1-108-55534-0, harv, 10.1017/9781108555340,
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA,weblink William L., Rowe, William L. Rowe, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Atheism, 1998, Edward Craig, 978-0-415-07310-3, Taylor & Francis, 2011-04-09, harv,
  • BOOK, Russell, Bertrand, Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian, and other essays on religion and related subjects, Simon and Schuster, 1957, harv,
  • BOOK, Sartre, Jean-Paul, Jean-Paul Sartre, 1946, Existentialism and Humanism, Priest, Stephen, Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings, 2001, Routledge, London, 45, 978-0-415-21367-7, harv,
  • BOOK, Sartre, Jean-Paul, 1946, An existentialist ethics, 2004, Gensler, Harry J., Spurgin, Earl W., Swindal, James C., Ethics: Contemporary Readings, London, Routledge, 127, 978-0-415-25680-3, harv,
  • BOOK, Smith, George H., George H. Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, 1979, Buffalo, New York, Prometheus Books, 978-0-87975-124-1, 79002726, 4401616M, harv,weblink
  • BOOK, Stenger, Victor J., Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, 2007, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 978-1-59102-652-5, harv,
  • BOOK, Stenger, Victor J., Victor J. Stenger, The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, 22 September 2009, Prometheus, 978-1-59102-751-5,weblink 2009-07-23, harv, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 11 October 2012,
  • BOOK, Zdybicka, Zofia J., 2005, Atheism,weblinkweblink Andrzej, Maryniarczyk, Universal Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1, Polish Thomas Aquinas Association, harv, 2011-04-09,

Further reading

{{Library resources box |by=no |onlinebooks=no |others=yes lcheading=Atheism}}
  • BOOK, Berman, David, A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell, 1990,weblink London: Routledge, 978-0-415-04727-2,
  • Bradlaugh, Charles, Annie Besant and others. (1884) The Atheistic Platform: 12 Lectures. London: Freethought Publishing. weblink
  • BOOK, Buckley, M.J., At the Origins of Modern Atheism, 1990, 978-0-300-04897-1, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,weblink
  • BOOK, Bullivant, Stephen, Michael, Ruse, The Oxford Handbook of Atheism,weblink 2013, Oxford UP, 978-0-19-964465-0,
  • BOOK, Duran, Martin, Wondering About God: Impiety, Agnosticism, and Atheism in Ancient Greece, 2019, Independently Published, Barcelona, 978-1-08-061240-6,
  • BOOK, Flew, Antony, Antony Flew, God and Philosophy, Prometheus Books, 978-1-59102-330-2, 2005,
  • BOOK, Tom Flynn, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 2007, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York, 978-1-59102-391-3,
  • BOOK, Gaskin, J. C. A., Varieties of Unbelief: From Epicurus to Sartre, •New York: Macmillan, 1989, 978-0-02-340681-2,
  • JOURNAL, Germani, Alan, The Mystical Ethics of the New Atheists, The Objective Standard, 3, 3, 15 September 2008,weblink 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 28 April 2011, live,
  • BOOK, Seven Types of Atheism, Gray, John, Penguin, 2018, 978-0-241-19941-1, Harmondsworth,
  • BOOK, Harbour, Daniel, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Atheism, London: Duckworth, 978-0-7156-3229-1, 2003, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Atheism,
  • NEWS,weblink The Problem with Atheism, Harris, Sam, 2 October 2007, The Washington Post, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 24 May 2011, live,
  • Howson, Colin (2011). Objecting to God. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {{ISBN|978-0-521-18665-0|}}
  • BOOK, Jacoby, Susan, Susan Jacoby, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, 2004, Metropolitan Books, 978-0-8050-7442-0,
  • BOOK, Krueger, D.E., What is Atheism?: A Short Introduction, New York: Prometheus, 1998, 978-1-57392-214-2,
  • JOURNAL, 10.1177/0952695112441301, The evolution of atheism: Scientific and humanistic approaches, 2012, Ledrew, S., History of the Human Sciences, 25, 3, 70,
  • BOOK, Le Poidevin, R., Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, London: Routledge,weblink 1996, 978-0-415-09338-5,
  • BOOK, Mackie, J.L., J. L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God, 1982, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-824682-4,
  • BOOK, Maritain, Jacques, The Range of Reason, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1952,weblink 2013-04-15, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 7 April 2013,
  • BOOK, Martin, Michael, Michael Martin (philosopher), Atheism. A Philosophical Justification,weblink Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1990, 978-0-87722-943-8,
  • BOOK, Michael Martin & Ricki Monnier, The Impossibility of God, 2003, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York, 978-1-59102-120-9,
  • BOOK, Michael Martin & Ricki Monnier, The Improbability of God, 2006, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York, 978-1-59102-381-4,
  • BOOK, McTaggart, John, McTaggart, Ellis, Some Dogmas of Religion, New, 1930, Edward Arnold & Co., London, 978-0-548-14955-3, 1906,
  • BOOK, Nielsen, Kai, Kai Nielsen (philosopher), Philosophy and Atheism, 1985, New York: Prometheus, 978-0-87975-289-7,weblink
  • BOOK, Nielsen, Kai, Naturalism and Religion, 2001, 978-1-57392-853-3, New York: Prometheus,
  • BOOK, Onfray, Michel, 2007, Atheist Manifesto,weblink Arcade Publishing, New York, 978-1-55970-820-3, 2011-04-09,weblink 30 October 2015, live,
  • BOOK, Oppy, Graham, Graham Oppy, 2006, Arguing about Gods,weblink Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-86386-5,
  • JOURNAL, Rafford, R.L., 1987, Atheophobia—an introduction, Religious Humanism, 21, 1, 32–37,
  • BOOK, Robinson, Richard, An Atheist's Values,weblink 978-0-19-824191-1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964, 2011-04-09,weblink" title="">weblink 25 April 2011, dead,
  • Rosenberg, Alex (2011). The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. {{ISBN|978-0-393-08023-0|}}
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Russell, Paul, Edward N. Zalta, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Hume on Religion,weblink 2013, Metaphysics Research Lab, 2013-11-24,
  • BOOK, Sharpe, R.A., The Moral Case Against Religious Belief, London: SCM Press, 1997, 978-0-334-02680-8,
  • BOOK, Shermer, Michael, Michael Shermer, How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God, William H Freeman, 1999, New York, 978-0-7167-3561-8,
  • BOOK, Thrower, James, A Short History of Western Atheism, London: Pemberton, 1971, 978-0-301-71101-0,
  • Walters, Kerry (2010). Atheism: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum. {{ISBN|978-0-8264-2493-8|}}
  • Whitmarsh, Tim. (2015), Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World
  • BOOK, Zuckerman, Phil, Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment, NYU Press, 2010, 978-0-8147-9723-5,
  • BOOK, Zuckerman, Phil, Atheism and secularity, 2010, Praeger, Santa Barbara, California, 978-0-313-35183-9,

External links

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