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   Absence of belief in the existence of deities
   "Atheist" redirects here. For other uses, see Atheist (disambiguation).

   Part of a series on
     * Concepts
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   Arguments for atheism
   Against God's existence
     * Atheist's Wager
     * Evil God Challenge
     * Fate of the unlearned
     * Free will
     * God of the gaps
     * Hitchens's razor
     * Incompatible properties
     * Inconsistent revelation
     * Nonbelief
     * Omnipotence paradox
     * Poor design
     * Problem of evil
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     * Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit

    Lists of atheists
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   Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the
   existence of deities.^[1]^[2]^[3]^[4] Less broadly, atheism is a
   rejection of the belief that any deities exist.^[5]^[6] In an even
   narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no
   deities.^[1]^[2]^[7]^[8] Atheism is contrasted with theism,^[9]^[10]
   which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity

   The etymological root for the word atheism originated before the 5th
   century BCE from the ancient Greek a'theo*s (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,^[13] those who were forsaken by the gods, or those who had no
   commitment to belief in the gods.^[14] The term denoted a social
   category created by orthodox religionists into which those who did not
   share their religious beliefs were placed.^[14] The actual term atheism
   emerged first in the 16th century.^[15] 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.^[16]^[15] The French Revolution, noted
   for its "unprecedented atheism", witnessed the first significant
   political movement in history to advocate for the supremacy of human

   Arguments for atheism range from philosophical to social and historical
   approaches. Rationales for not believing in deities include the lack of
   evidence,^[18]^[19] the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent
   revelations, the rejection of concepts that cannot be falsified, and
   the argument from nonbelief.^[18]^[20] Nonbelievers contend that
   atheism is a more parsimonious position than theism and that everyone
   is born without beliefs in deities;^[1] 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.^[21] Although
   some atheists have adopted secular philosophies (e.g. secular
   humanism),^[22]^[23] there is no ideology or code of conduct to which
   all atheists adhere.^[24]

   Since conceptions of atheism vary, accurate estimations of current
   numbers of atheists are difficult.^[25] According to global Win-Gallup
   International studies, 13% of respondents were "convinced atheists" in
   2012,^[26] 11% were "convinced atheists" in 2015,^[27] and in 2017, 9%
   were "convinced atheists".^[28] 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.^[29] An older survey by the British
   Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2004 recorded atheists as comprising
   8% of the world's population.^[30] Other older estimates have indicated
   that atheists comprise 2% of the world's population, while the
   irreligious add a further 12%.^[31] 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.^[32] 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", with France (40%) and Sweden (34%)
   representing the highest values.^[33] According to the 2017 WIN Gallup
   poll, China and Sweden were the most atheistic countries.^[34]
   [ ]


     * 1 Definitions and types
          + 1.1 Range
          + 1.2 Implicit vs. explicit
          + 1.3 Positive vs. negative
          + 1.4 Definition as impossible or impermanent
     * 2 Etymology
     * 3 Arguments
          + 3.1 Epistemological arguments
          + 3.2 Metaphysical arguments
          + 3.3 Logical arguments
          + 3.4 Reductionary accounts of religion
          + 3.5 Atheism, religions and spirituality
          + 3.6 Atheism and negative theology
     * 4 Atheistic philosophies
     * 5 Religion and morality
          + 5.1 Association with world views and social behaviors
          + 5.2 Irreligion
          + 5.3 Divine command
          + 5.4 Criticism of religion
     * 6 History
          + 6.1 Early Indian religions
          + 6.2 Classical antiquity
          + 6.3 Early Middle Ages to the Renaissance
          + 6.4 Early modern period
          + 6.5 Since 1900
          + 6.6 Other developments
          + 6.7 New Atheism
     * 7 Demographics
          + 7.1 Europe
          + 7.2 Asia
          + 7.3 Australasia
          + 7.4 United States
          + 7.5 Arab world
          + 7.6 Wealth and education
          + 7.7 Attitudes toward atheism
     * 8 See also
     * 9 Notes
     * 10 References
          + 10.1 Citations
          + 10.2 Sources
     * 11 Further reading
     * 12 External links

Definitions and types

   A diagram showing the relationship between the definitions of
   weak/strong and implicit/explicit atheism.
   Explicit strong/positive/hard atheists (in purple on the right) assert
   that "at least one deity exists" is a false statement.
   Explicit weak/negative/soft atheists (in blue on the right) reject or
   eschew belief that any deities exist without actually asserting that
   "at least one deity exists" is a false statement.
   Implicit weak/negative atheists (in blue on the left), according to
   authors such as George H. Smith, would include people (such as young
   children and some agnostics) who do not believe in a deity but have not
   explicitly rejected such belief.
   (Sizes in the diagram are not meant to indicate relative sizes within a

   Writers disagree on how best to define and classify atheism,^[35]
   contesting what supernatural entities are considered gods, whether
   atheism is a philosophic position in its own right or merely the
   absence of one, and whether it requires a conscious, explicit
   rejection. However the norm is to define atheism in terms of an
   explicit stance against theism.^[36]^[37]^[38]

   Atheism has been regarded as compatible with
   agnosticism,^[39]^[40]^[41]^[42] but has also been contrasted with


   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 variety of wildly different conceptions
   of God and deities lead 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

   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.^[47]

Implicit vs. explicit

   Main article: Implicit and explicit atheism

   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 is commonly defined as 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."^[48] Similarly, George H. Smith 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."^[49] 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 the
   mere absence of theistic belief as a type of atheism.^[50] 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.^[51]

Positive vs. negative

   Main article: Negative and positive atheism

   Philosophers such as Antony Flew^[52] and Michael Martin^[46] 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^[52] and in Catholic apologetics.^[53]

   While Martin, for example, asserts that agnosticism entails negative
   atheism,^[41] many agnostics see their view as distinct from
   atheism,^[54]^[55] which they may consider no more justified than
   theism or requiring an equal conviction.^[54] 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.^[56]^[57] Common atheist responses to this argument include that
   unproven religious propositions deserve as much disbelief as all other
   unproven propositions,^[58] and that the unprovability of a god's
   existence does not imply an equal probability of either
   possibility.^[59] 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."^[60] 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".^[61]

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.^[62] 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".^[63]
   There have, however, been examples to the contrary, among them examples
   of literal "atheists in foxholes".^[64] 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.^[65]


   The Greek word atheoi (atheoi), as it appears in the Epistle to the
   Ephesians 2:12^[66] on the early 3rd-century Papyrus 46. It is usually
   translated into English as "[those who are] without God".^[a]

   In early ancient Greek, the adjective atheos (a'theo*s, from the
   privative a- + theo'*s "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 aseby%*s (asebes) 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 atheos as "atheistic". As an abstract noun, there was
   also atheo'ty*s (atheotes), "atheism". Cicero transliterated the Greek
   word into the Latin atheos. 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.^[13]

   The term atheist (from the French athee), in the sense of "one who ...
   denies the existence of God or gods",^[68] predates atheism in English,
   being first found as early as 1566,^[69] and again in 1571.^[70]
   Atheist as a label of practical godlessness was used at least as early
   as 1577.^[71]

   The term atheism was derived from the French atheisme,^[72] and appears
   in English about 1587.^[73] An earlier work, from about 1534, used the
   term atheonism.^[74]^[75]

   Related words emerged later: deist in 1621,^[76] theist in 1662,^[77]
   deism in 1675,^[78] and theism in 1678.^[79]

   Deism and theism changed meanings slightly around 1700 due to the
   influence of atheism; deism was originally used as a synonym for
   today's theism but came to denote a separate philosophical

   Karen Armstrong writes that "During the 16th and 17th 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."^[16]

   Atheism was first used to describe a self-avowed belief in late
   18th-century Europe, specifically denoting disbelief in the
   monotheistic Abrahamic god.^[b]

   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".^[46]


   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

Epistemological arguments

   Further information: Agnostic atheism and Theological noncognitivism

   Skepticism, based on the ideas of David 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".^[82] The allocation of agnosticism to atheism is disputed;
   it can also be regarded as an independent, basic worldview.^[83]

   There are three main conditions of epistemology: truth, belief and
   justification. Michael Martin argues that atheism is a justified and
   rational true belief, but offers no extended epistemological
   justification because current theories are in a state of controversy.
   Martin instead argues for "mid-level principles of justification that
   are in accord with our ordinary and scientific rational practice."^[84]

   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

Metaphysical arguments

   Further information: Monism and Physicalism

   Philosopher, Zofia Zdybicka writes:

     Metaphysical atheism ... includes all doctrines that hold to
     metaphysical monism (the homogeneity of reality). Metaphysical
     atheism may be either: a) absolute -- an explicit denial of God's
     existence associated with materialistic monism (all materialistic
     trends, both in ancient and modern times); b) relative -- the
     implicit denial of God in all philosophies that, while they accept
     the existence of an absolute, conceive of the absolute as not
     possessing any of the attributes proper to God: transcendence, a
     personal character or unity. Relative atheism is associated with
     idealistic monism (pantheism, panentheism, deism).^[87]

   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:^[88] "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

   Most atheists lean toward metaphysical monism: the belief that there is
   only one kind of ultimate substance. Historically, metaphysical monism
   took the form of philosophical materialism, the view that matter formed
   the basis of all reality; this naturally omitted the possibility of a
   non-material divine being.^[89] Describing the world as "basically
   matter" in the twenty-first century would be contrary to modern
   physics, so it is generally seen as an older term that is sometimes
   mistakenly used interchangeably with physicalism. Physicalism can
   incorporate the non-matter based physical phenomena, such as light and
   energy, into its view that only physical entities with physical powers
   exist, and that science defines and explains what those are.^[89]
   Physicalism is a monistic ontology: one ultimate substance exists, and
   it exists as a physical reality.^[90]

   Physicalism opposes dualism (the view that there's physical substance
   and separate mental activities): there is no such thing as a soul, or
   any other abstract object (such as a mind or a self) that exists
   independently of physicality. It also opposes neutral monism, which
   holds to one kind of substance for the universe but makes no claim
   about its nature, holding to the view that the physical and the mental
   are both just differing kinds of the same fundamental substance that is
   in itself neither mental nor physical.^[91]^[87] Physicalism also
   opposes idealism (the view that everything known is based on human
   mental perception).^[92]

   Naturalism is also used by atheists to describe the metaphysical view
   that everything that exists is fundamentally natural, and that there
   are no supernatural phenomena.^[89] Naturalism focuses on how science
   can explain the world fully with physical laws and through natural
   phenomena. It's about the idea that the universe is a closed system.
   Naturalism can be interpreted to allow for a dualist ontology of the
   mental and physical.^[93] Philosopher Graham Oppy references a
   PhilPapers survey that says 56.5% of philosophers in academics lean
   toward physicalism; 49.8% lean toward naturalism.^[94]

   According to Graham Oppy, direct arguments for atheism aim at showing
   theism fails on its own terms, while indirect arguments are those
   inferred from direct arguments in favor of something else that is
   inconsistent with theism. For example, Oppy says arguing for naturalism
   is an argument for atheism since naturalism and theism "cannot both be
   true".^[95]^: 53 Fiona Ellis says that while Oppy's view is common, it
   is dependent on a narrow view of naturalism. She describes the
   "expansive naturalism" of John McDowell, James Griffin and David
   Wiggins as giving "due respect to scientific findings" while also
   asserting there are things in human experience which cannot be
   explained in such terms, such as the concept of value, leaving room for
   theism.^[96] Christopher C. Knight asserts a theistic naturalism that
   relies on what he terms an "incarnational naturalism" (the doctrine of
   immanence) and does not require any special mode of divine action that
   would put it outside nature.^[97] Nevertheless, Oppy argues that a
   strong naturalism favors atheism, though he finds the best direct
   arguments against theism to be the evidential problem of evil, and
   arguments concerning the contradictory nature of God were He to
   exist.^[95]^: 55-60

  Logical arguments

   Further information: Arguments against the existence of God, Problem of
   evil, and Divine hiddenness

   A statue of the Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu, 1208, Kofukuji Temple,
   Nara, Japan

   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

   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.^[20]

   A similar argument is attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of
   Buddhism.^[98] The medieval Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (4/5th
   century) who outlined numerous Buddhist arguments against God, wrote in
   his Sheath of Abhidharma (Abhidharmakosha):

     Besides, do you say that God finds joy in seeing the creatures which
     he has created in the prey of all the distress of existence,
     including the tortures of the hells? Homage to this kind of God! The
     profane stanza expresses it well: "One calls him Rudra because he
     burns, because he is sharp, fierce, redoubtable, an eater of flesh,
     blood and marrow.^[99]

  Reductionary accounts of religion

   Further information: Evolutionary origin of religions, Evolutionary
   psychology of religion, and Psychology of religion

   Philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach^[100] and 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.^[101]
   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."^[102]

  Atheism, religions and spirituality

   Further information: Nontheistic religions

   Atheism is not mutually exclusive with respect to some religious and
   spiritual belief systems, including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism,
   Syntheism, Raelism,^[103] and Neopagan movements^[104] such as
   Wicca.^[105] Astika 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.^[106] Jainism believes the
   universe is eternal and has no need for a creator deity, however
   Tirthankaras are revered beings who can transcend space and time^[107]
   and have more power than the god Indra.^[108] 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 Bodhisattvas.^[109]

  Atheism and negative theology

   Further information: 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.^[110] "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".^[111] "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".^[112]

Atheistic philosophies

   Further information: Atheist existentialism and 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.^[83] 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,^[113] or renders life meaningless and
   miserable.^[114] Blaise Pascal argued this view in his Pensees.^[115]

   French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre identified himself as a
   representative of an "atheist existentialism"^[116] 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."^[117] 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."^[116] Sartre described the practical consequence of this atheism
   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".^[118]

Religion and morality

   See also: Atheism and religion, Criticism of atheism, Secular ethics,
   and Secular morality

   Joseph Baker and Buster Smith assert that one of the common themes of
   atheism is that most atheists "typically construe atheism as more moral
   than religion".^[119]

  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.^[120]^[121] 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


   Main article: Irreligion

   Buddhism is sometimes described as nontheistic because of the absence
   of a creator god, but that can be too simplistic a view.^[124]^[125]

   People 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.^[126] In recent years, certain religious
   denominations have accumulated a number of openly atheistic followers,
   such as atheistic or humanistic Judaism^[127]^[128] and Christian
   atheists.^[129]^[130]^[131] 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.^[132] Atheism is
   accepted as a valid philosophical position within some varieties of
   Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.^[133] Philosophers such as Alain de
   Botton^[134] and Alexander Bard and Jan Soederqvist,^[135] have argued
   that atheists should reclaim useful components of religion in secular

  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.^[137]^[138]^[139] 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.^[140] 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".^[141]^[142]^[143]

   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

   Philosophers Susan Neiman^[145] and Julian Baggini^[146] (among others)
   assert that behaving ethically only because of a 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.^[147] 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.^[148] 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.^[149]

  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 Jose
   Saramago--have criticized religions, citing harmful aspects of
   religious practices and doctrines.^[150]

   Karl Marx

   The 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."^[151]
   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 ..."^[152]

   Sam Harris criticizes Western religion's reliance on divine authority
   as lending itself to authoritarianism and dogmatism.^[153] There is a
   correlation between religious fundamentalism and extrinsic religion
   (when religion is held because it serves ulterior interests)^[154] and
   authoritarianism, dogmatism, and prejudice.^[155] 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.^[156]
   Believers counter-argue that some regimes that espouse atheism, such as
   the Soviet Union, have also been guilty of mass murder.^[157]^[158] 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


   Main article: History of atheism

   While the earliest-found usage of the term atheism is in 16th-century
   France,^[72]^[73] ideas that would be recognized today as atheistic are
   documented from the Vedic period^[161] and the classical

  Early Indian religions

   Main article: Atheism in Hinduism

     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, concerning the origin of the universe, Rig Veda,

   Atheistic schools are found in early Indian thought and have existed
   from the times of the historical Vedic religion.^[161] 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.^[166] The thoroughly materialistic and
   anti-theistic philosophical Carvaka (or Lokayata) 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 Indian
   philosophy. It is noteworthy as evidence of a materialistic movement in
   ancient India.^[167]^[168]

   Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Carvaka
   philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of the ideas by
   other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:^[169]

     Though materialism in some form or other has always been present in
     India, and occasional references are found in the Vedas, the
     Buddhistic literature, the Epics, as well as in the later
     philosophical works we do not find any systematic work on
     materialism, nor any organized school of followers as the other
     philosophical schools possess. But almost every work of the other
     schools states, for refutation, the materialistic views. Our
     knowledge of Indian materialism is chiefly based on these.

   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.^[170]

  Classical antiquity

   In Plato's Apology, Socrates (pictured) was accused by Meletus of not
   believing in the gods.^[171]^[172]

   Western atheism has its roots in pre-Socratic Greek
   philosophy,^[173]^[162] but atheism in the modern sense was extremely
   rare in ancient Greece.^[174]^[175]^[162] 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,^[171] but did not explicitly deny the gods' existence.^[171]
   Anaxagoras, whom Irenaeus calls "the atheist",^[176] 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.^[177] 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" (a'theo*s) after he made
   fun of the Eleusinian Mysteries,^[175]^[171] but he fled the city to
   escape punishment.^[175]^[171] In antiquity, philosophers such as
   Epicurus, Philodemus and Cicero described Diagoras as an "atheist" who
   categorically denied the existence of the gods,^[178]^[179] but this
   assessment has varied in modern classical scholarship. Marek Winiarczyk
   has defended the view that Diagoras was not an atheist in the modern
   sense,^[175] but this has been challenged by others, including Tim

   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.^[181]^[175]^[182]^[162] This statement, however, originally
   did not mean that the gods themselves were nonexistent, but rather that
   their powers were a hoax.^[162] 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."^[183]^[174]

   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.^[171]^[172]
   Aristophanes' comic play The Clouds (performed 423 BCE) portrays
   Socrates as teaching his students that the traditional Greek deities do
   not exist.^[171]^[172] Socrates was later tried and executed under the
   charge of not believing in the gods of the state and instead
   worshipping foreign gods.^[171]^[172] Socrates himself vehemently
   denied the charges of atheism at his trial^[171]^[172]^[184] 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.^[171] Euhemerus (c. 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.^[185] Although not strictly an atheist, Euhemerus was later
   criticized for having "spread atheism over the whole inhabited earth by
   obliterating the gods".^[186]

   The most important Greek thinker in the development of atheism was
   Epicurus (c. 300 BCE).^[162] 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).^[187] Although Epicurus
   still maintained that the gods existed,^[188]^[162]^[187] he believed
   that they were uninterested in human affairs.^[187] 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.^[187]

   In the 3rd-century BCE, the Greek philosophers Theodorus
   Cyrenaicus^[179]^[189] and Strato of Lampsacus^[190] did not believe in
   the existence of gods.

   The Pyrrhonist philosopher Sextus Empiricus (approx. 160-210 CE)^[191]
   compiled a large number of ancient arguments against the existence of
   gods, recommending that one should suspend judgment regarding the
   matter.^[192] His relatively large volume of surviving works had a
   lasting influence on later philosophers.^[193]

   The meaning of "atheist" changed over the course of classical
   antiquity.^[175] Early Christians were widely reviled as "atheists"
   because they did not believe in the existence of the Graeco-Roman
   deities.^[194]^[175]^[195]^[196] 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.^[196]^[197] 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.^[198] When Christianity became the state
   religion of Rome under Theodosius I in 381, heresy became a punishable

  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 rationalists and freethinkers who were skeptical about
   prophecy and revealed religion, such as Muhammad al Warraq (fl. 9th
   century), Ibn al-Rawandi (827-911), and Abu Bakr al-Razi (c.
   865-925),^[199] as well as outspoken atheists such as al-Maarri
   (973-1058). Al-Ma'arri wrote and taught that religion itself was a
   "fable invented by the ancients"^[200] and that humans were "of two
   sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but
   no brains."^[201] Despite the fact that these authors were 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.^[202]

   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.^[203]
   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.^[203]

   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 Niccolo Machiavelli, Bonaventure des Periers, Michel
   de Montaigne, and Franc,ois Rabelais.^[193]

  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".^[204] 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.^[205]

   Criticism 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

   The first known explicit atheist was the German critic of religion
   Matthias Knutzen in his three writings of 1674.^[207] He was followed
   by two other explicit atheist writers, the Polish ex-Jesuit philosopher
   Kazimierz L/yszczynski and in the 1720s by the French priest Jean
   Meslier.^[208] In the course of the 18th century, other openly
   atheistic thinkers followed, such as Baron d'Holbach, Jacques-Andre
   Naigeon, and other French materialists.^[209] 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.^[210]

   The philosopher David Hume developed a skeptical epistemology grounded
   in empiricism, and Immanuel Kant's philosophy has strongly questioned
   the very possibility of metaphysical knowledge. Both philosophers
   undermined the metaphysical basis of natural theology and criticized
   classical arguments for the existence of God.^[citation needed]

   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 religion.

   Blainey 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."^[211] 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".^[212]

   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 clerics 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 Hebert 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.^[citation needed]

   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

   In 1842, George Holyoake was the last person imprisoned in Great
   Britain due to atheist beliefs. Stephen Law notes that he may have also
   been the first imprisoned on such a charge. Law states that Holyoake
   "first coined the term 'secularism'".^[214]^[215]

  Since 1900

   Further information: 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,^[216] and the general
   scientific^[217] and rationalist movement.^[citation needed]

   1929 cover of the USSR League of Militant Atheists magazine, showing
   the gods of the Abrahamic religions being crushed by the Communist
   five-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,^[218] 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.^[219]^[220] After Mao, the Chinese Communist Party remains an
   atheist organization, and regulates, but does not forbid, the practice
   of religion in mainland China.^[221]^[222]^[223]

   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",^[224] 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.^[225] Blackford and Schueklenk 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."^[226]

   Logical 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 Levi-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.^[60]^[227]

  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.^[228] 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

   Atheist Vashti McCollum was the plaintiff in a landmark 1948 Supreme
   Court case that struck down religious education in US public
   schools.^[230] Madalyn Murray O'Hair was 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.^[231] In
   1966, Time magazine asked "Is God Dead?"^[232] 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.^[233] 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.^[234]^[235]

   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-`a-vis secular
   movements and ideologies."^[236] However, Gregory S. Paul and Phil
   Zuckerman consider this a myth and suggest that the actual situation is
   much more complex and nuanced.^[237]

   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.^[238]

   In 2012, the first "Women in Secularism" conference was held in
   Arlington, Virginia.^[239] Secular Woman was organized in 2012 as a
   national organization focused on nonreligious women.^[240] The atheist
   feminist movement has also become increasingly focused on fighting
   sexism and sexual harassment within the atheist movement itself.^[241]
   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".^[242]^[243]^[244]

   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.^[245]^[246]^[247]

  New Atheism

   Main article: New Atheism

   "New Atheism" is 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."^[248] The movement is commonly
   associated with Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J.
   Stenger, Christopher Hitchens, and to some extent Ayaan Hirsi
   Ali.^[249]^[250] Several best-selling books by these authors, published
   between 2004 and 2007, form the basis for much of the discussion of
   "New" Atheism.^[250] 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.^[251]


   Main article: Demographics of atheism

   Further information: Religiosity and education

   Nonreligious population by country, 2010.^[252]

   It 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.^[253] A Hindu atheist
   would declare oneself as a Hindu, although also being an atheist at the
   same time. Most of the time this happens because atheism and irreligion
   are not officially recognised in India. Apostasy is allowed under the
   right to freedom of religion in the Constitution (but blasphemy is
   prohibited), there are no specific laws catering to atheists and they
   are considered as belonging to the religion of their birth for
   administrative purposes.^[254]^[255] A 2010 survey published in
   Encyclopaedia 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.^[256] The average
   annual change for atheism from 2000 to 2010 was -0.17%.^[256] Broad
   estimates of those who have an absence of belief in a god range from
   500 million to 1.1 billion people worldwide.^[257]^[258] Scholars have
   indicated that global atheism may be in decline as a percentage of the
   global population due to irreligious countries having the lowest birth
   rates in the world and religious countries generally having higher
   birth rates.^[259]^[260]^[261]

   According to global Win-Gallup International studies, 13% of
   respondents were "convinced atheists" in 2012,^[262] 11% were
   "convinced atheists" in 2015,^[27] and in 2017, 9% were "convinced
   atheists".^[28] As of 2012^[update], 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%).^[263] A 2012 study
   by the NORC found that East Germany had the highest percentage of
   atheists while Czech Republic had the second highest amount.^[264]


   Percentage of people in various European countries who said: "I don't
   believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force." (2010)^[265]

   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%.^[33] 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.^[266]

   According to a Pew Research Center survey in 2012, about 18% of
   Europeans are religiously unaffiliated, including agnostics and
   atheists.^[267] 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%).^[267]


   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%).^[267]


   According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 30% of Australians
   have "no religion", a category that includes atheists.^[268]

   In a 2013 census, 42% of New Zealanders reported having no religion, up
   from 30% in 1991.^[269]

  United States

   According to the World Values Survey, 4.4% of Americans self-identified
   as atheists in 2014.^[270] However, the same survey showed that 11.1%
   of all respondents stated "no" when asked if they believed in
   God.^[270] 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%.^[271] 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.^[272]

   According to the American Family Survey, 34% were found to be
   religiously unaffiliated in 2017 (23% 'nothing in particular', 6%
   agnostic, 5% atheist).^[273]^[274] 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%).^[275]
   According to a PRRI survey, 24% of the population is unaffiliated.
   Atheists and agnostics combined make up about a quarter of this
   unaffiliated demographic.^[276]

  Arab world

   In recent years, the profile of atheism has risen substantially in the
   Arab world.^[277] In major cities across the region, such as Cairo,
   atheists have been organizing in cafes and social media, despite
   regular crackdowns from authoritarian governments.^[277] A 2012 poll by
   Gallup International revealed that 5% of Saudis considered themselves
   to be "convinced atheists."^[277] 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.^[278] 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%.^[278]

  Wealth and education

   Various studies have reported positive correlations between levels of
   education, wealth and IQ with atheism.^[279]^[280]^[281]^[122] In a
   2008 study, researchers found intelligence to be negatively related to
   religious belief in Europe and the United States. In a sample of 137
   countries, the correlation between national IQ and disbelief in God was
   found to be 0.60.^[281] 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
   far fewer atheists.^[282]

   The relationship between atheism and IQ, while statistically
   significant, is not a large one, and the reason for the relationship is
   not well understood.^[279] One hypothesis is that the negative
   relationship between IQ and religiosity is mediated by individual
   differences in nonconformity; in many countries, religious belief is a
   conformist choice, and there is evidence that more intelligent people
   are less likely to conform.^[283] Another theory is that people of
   higher IQ are more likely to engage in analytical reasoning, and that
   disbelief in religion results from the application of higher-level
   analytical reasoning to the assessment of religious claims.^[279]

   In a 2017 study, it was shown that compared to religious individuals,
   atheists have higher reasoning capacities and this difference seemed to
   be unrelated to sociodemographic factors such as age, education and
   country of origin.^[284] In a 2015 study, researchers found that
   atheists score higher on cognitive reflection tests than theists, the
   authors wrote that "The fact that atheists score higher agrees with the
   literature showing that belief is an automatic manifestation of the
   mind and its default mode. Disbelieving seems to require deliberative
   cognitive ability."^[285] A 2016 study, in which 4 new studies were
   reported and a meta-analysis of all previous research on the topic was
   performed, found that self-identified atheists scored 18.7% higher than
   theists on the cognitive reflection test and there is a negative
   correlation between religiosity and analytical thinking. The authors
   note that recently "it has been argued that analytic thinkers are not
   actually less religious; rather, the putative association may be a
   result of religiosity typically being measured after analytic thinking
   (an order effect)," however, they state "Our results indicate that the
   association between analytical thinking and religious disbelief is not
   caused by a simple order effect. There is good evidence that atheists
   and agnostics are more reflective than religious believers."^[286]

  Attitudes toward atheism

   See also: Discrimination against atheists

   Countries with punishment for blasphemy.
     Local restrictions
     Fines and restrictions

     Prison sentences

     Death sentences

   Countries with the death penalty for apostasy^[287]

   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.^[288] 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".^[289] 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

See also

     * Philosophy portal

     * Antireligion
     * A Rough History of Disbelief
     * Brights movement
     * Dysteleology
     * Lists of atheists
     * National Day of Reason
     * Outline of atheism
     * Religious trauma syndrome


    1. ^ The word atheoi--in any of its forms--appears nowhere else in the
       Septuagint or the New Testament.^[67]
    2. ^ 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.



    1. ^ ^a ^b ^c Harvey, Van A. Agnosticism and Atheism, in 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 the 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."
    2. ^ ^a ^b Simon Blackburn, ed. (2008). "atheism". The Oxford
       Dictionary of Philosophy (2008 ed.). Oxford University Press.
       ISBN 978-0-19-954143-0. Retrieved November 21, 2013. "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."
    3. ^ Most dictionaries (see the OneLook query for "atheism" Archived
       September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine) first list one of the
       more narrow definitions.
       Runes, Dagobert D., ed. (1942). Dictionary of Philosophy. New
       Jersey: Littlefield, Adams & Co. Philosophical Library.
       ISBN 978-0-06-463461-8. Retrieved April 9, 2011. "(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" - entry by Vergilius Ferm
    4. ^ "Atheism". OxfordDictionaries.com. Oxford University Press.
       Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved April
       23, 2017.
    5. ^ 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."
    6. ^ 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."
    7. ^ 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."
    8. ^ J.J.C. Smart (2017). "Atheism and Agnosticism". Stanford
       Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford
       University. Archived from the original on December 11, 2016.
    9. ^ "Definitions: Atheism". Department of Religious Studies,
       University of Alabama. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011.
       Retrieved December 1, 2012.
   10. ^ ^a ^b Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). 1989. "Belief in a
       deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism"
   11. ^ "Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary". Archived from the original
       on May 14, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. "...belief in the
       existence of a god or gods..."
   12. ^ Smart, J.J.C. (March 9, 2004). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). "Atheism
       and Agnosticism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring
       2013 Edition). Archived from the original on December 2, 2013.
       Retrieved April 26, 2015.
   13. ^ ^a ^b Drachmann, A.B. (1977) [1922]. Atheism in Pagan Antiquity.
       Chicago: Ares Publishers. ISBN 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 atheos and atheotes;
       to these the English words ungodly and ungodliness correspond
       rather closely. In exactly the same way as ungodly, atheos 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."
   14. ^ ^a ^b Whitmarsh, Tim (2016). "8. Atheism on Trial". Battling the
       Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World. Knopf Doubleday.
       ISBN 978-0-307-94877-9.
   15. ^ ^a ^b Wootton, David (1992). "1. New Histories of Atheism". In
       Hunter, Michael; Wootton, David (eds.). Atheism from the
       Reformation to the Enlightenment. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
       ISBN 978-0-19-822736-6.
   16. ^ ^a ^b Armstrong 1999.
   17. ^ Hancock, Ralph (1996). The Legacy of the French Revolution.
       Lanham, Massachusetts: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. p. 22.
       ISBN 978-0-8476-7842-6. Archived from the original on September 30,
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   18. ^ ^a ^b ^c "Logical Arguments for Atheism". The Secular Web
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       17, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
   19. ^ Shook, John R. "Skepticism about the Supernatural" (PDF).
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   20. ^ ^a ^b Drange, Theodore M. (1996). "The Arguments From Evil and
       Nonbelief". Secular Web Library. Internet Infidels. Archived from
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       the Burden of Proof: Plantinga, Swinburne, and the Analytical
       Defense of Theism. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books.
       ISBN 978-0-87975-551-5.
   22. ^ Honderich, Ted (Ed.) (1995). "Humanism". The Oxford Companion to
       Philosophy. Oxford University Press. p. 376. ISBN 0-19-866132-0.
   23. ^ Fales, Evan. Naturalism and Physicalism, in Martin 2006,
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   24. ^ Baggini 2003, pp. 3-4.
   25. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2007). Martin, Michael T (ed.). The Cambridge
       Companion to Atheism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 56.
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   26. ^ "Religiosity and Atheism Index" (PDF). Zurich: WIN/GIA. July 27,
       2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013.
       Retrieved October 1, 2013.
   27. ^ ^a ^b "New Survey Shows the World's Most and Least Religious
       Places". NPR. April 13, 2015. Archived from the original on May 6,
       2015. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
   28. ^ ^a ^b "Religion prevails in the world" (PDF). November 14, 2017.
       Archived from the original (PDF) on November 14, 2017. Retrieved
       February 27, 2018.
   29. ^ Keysar, Ariela; Navarro-Rivera, Juhem (2017). "36. A World of
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   30. ^ "UK among most secular nations". BBC News. February 26, 2004.
       Archived from the original on September 2, 2017. Retrieved January
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   31. ^ "Worldwide Adherents of All Religions by Six Continental Areas,
       Mid-2007". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2007. Archived from the
       original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
          + 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.
   32. ^ "Gallup International Religiosity Index" (PDF). Washington Post.
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   33. ^ ^a ^b Social values, Science and Technology (PDF). Directorate
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   34. ^ https://matadornetwork.com/read/mapped-words-atheist-countries/
   35. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Atheism" . Encyclopaedia Britannica
       (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. "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."
   36. ^ Paul Draper. "Atheism and Agnosticism". Stanford Encyclopedia of
       Philosophy. Retrieved October 24, 2021. "Departing even more
       radically from the norm in philosophy, a few philosophers and quite
       a few non-philosophers claim that "atheism" shouldn't be defined as
       a proposition at all, even if theism is a proposition. Instead,
       "atheism" should be defined as a psychological state: the state of
       not believing in the existence of God"
   37. ^ McCormick, Matt. "Atheism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
       Retrieved October 24, 2021. "It has come to be widely accepted that
       to be an atheist is to affirm the non-existence of God"
   38. ^ Michael Anthony. "Where's The Evidence". Philosophy Now.
       Retrieved October 24, 2021. "While the word `atheism' has been used
       in something like this sense (see for example Antony Flew's article
       `The Presumption of Atheism'), it is a highly non-standard use."
   39. ^ 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."
   40. ^ Holland, Aaron (April 1882). Agnosticism. The Journal of
       Speculative Philosophy, in 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."
   41. ^ ^a ^b 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
   42. ^ 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."
   43. ^ 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."
   44. ^ "Atheism". Encyclopaedia Britannica Concise. Merriam Webster.
       Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved December
       15, 2011. "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."
   45. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Atheism" . Encyclopaedia Britannica
       (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. "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."
   46. ^ ^a ^b ^c Martin 2006.
   47. ^ "Atheism as rejection of religious beliefs". Encyclopaedia
       Britannica. Vol. 1 (15th ed.). 2011. p. 666. 0852294735. Archived
       from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
   48. ^ d'Holbach, P.H.T. (1772). Good Sense. Archived from the original
       on June 23, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
   49. ^ Smith 1979, p. 14.
   50. ^ Nagel, Ernest (1959). "Philosophical Concepts of Atheism". Basic
       Beliefs: The Religious Philosophies of Mankind. 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.
   51. ^ Oppy 2018, p. 4: 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 of whether there are gods. Innocents are those who have
       never considered the question of whether there are gods. Typically,
       innocents have never considered the question of whether there are
       gods because they are not able to consider that question. How could
       that be? Well, in order to consider the question of 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
   52. ^ ^a ^b 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."
   53. ^ Maritain, Jacques (July 1949). "On the Meaning of Contemporary
       Atheism". The Review of Politics. 11 (3): 267-280.
       doi:10.1017/S0034670500044168. Archived from the original on
       November 13, 2005.
   54. ^ ^a ^b Kenny, Anthony (2006). "Why I Am Not an Atheist". What I
       believe. Continuum. ISBN 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
   55. ^ "Why I'm Not an Atheist: The Case for Agnosticism". Huffington
       Post. May 28, 2013. Archived from the original on December 9, 2013.
       Retrieved November 26, 2013.
   56. ^ O'Brien, Breda (July 7, 2009). "Many atheists I know would be
       certain of a high place in heaven". Irish Times. Archived from the
       original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
   57. ^ Warner, Matthew (June 8, 2012). "More faith to be an atheist than
       a Christian". Archived from the original on June 3, 2013. Retrieved
       November 26, 2013.
   58. ^ 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."
   59. ^ 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."
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   Altemeyer, Bob; Hunsberger, Bruce (1992). "Authoritarianism, Religious
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     ^ Harris, Sam (2005). "An Atheist Manifesto". Truthdig. Archived from
   the original on May 16, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. "In a world
   riven by ignorance, only the atheist refuses to deny the obvious:
   Religious faith promotes human violence to an astonishing degree."

     ^ Feinberg, John S.; Feinberg, Paul D. (2010). Ethics for a Brave New
   World. Stand To Reason. ISBN 978-1-58134-712-8. Retrieved October 18,
   2007. "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.'"

     ^ D'Souza, Dinesh. "Answering Atheist's Arguments". Catholic
   Education Resource Center. Archived from the original on October 28,
   2016. Retrieved April 9, 2011.

     ^ Dawkins 2006, p. 291.

     ^ 10 myths and 10 truths about Atheism Archived May 25, 2013, at the
   Wayback Machine Sam Harris

     ^ ^a ^b Pandian (1996). India, that is, sidd. Allied Publishers.
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     ^ ^a ^b ^c ^d ^e ^f ^g Mulsow, Martin (2010). "Atheism". In Grafton,
   Anthony; Most, Glenn W.; Settis, Salvatore (eds.). The Classical
   Tradition. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The Belknap Press of
   Harvard University Press. pp. 96-97. ISBN 978-0-674-03572-0. Archived
   from the original on December 6, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2018.

     ^ Kenneth Kramer (January 1986). World Scriptures: An Introduction to
   Comparative Religions. Paulist Press. pp. 34-. ISBN 978-0-8091-2781-8.
   Retrieved April 3, 2019.

     ^ David Christian (September 1, 2011). Maps of Time: An Introduction
   to Big History. University of California Press. pp. 18-.
   ISBN 978-0-520-95067-2. Archived from the original on June 23, 2016.
   Retrieved April 3, 2019.

     ^ Upinder Singh (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval
   India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India.
   pp. 206-. ISBN 978-81-317-1120-0. Archived from the original on May 3,
   2016. Retrieved April 3, 2019.

     ^ Dasgupta, Surendranath (1992). A history of Indian philosophy,
   Volume 1. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 258. ISBN 978-81-208-0412-8.

     ^ "The ancient connections between atheism, buddhism and Hinduism".
   Quartz.com. April 3, 2019. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019.

     ^ 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.

     ^ Satischandra Chatterjee and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction
   to Indian Philosophy. Eighth Reprint Edition. (University of Calcutta:
   1984). p. 55.

     ^ Joshi, L.R. (1966). "A New Interpretation of Indian Atheism".
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   JSTOR 1397540.

     ^ ^a ^b ^c ^d ^e ^f ^g ^h ^i ^j Burkert, Walter (1985). Greek
   Religion. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
   pp. 311-317. ISBN 978-0-674-36281-9.

     ^ ^a ^b ^c ^d ^e Bremmer, Jan. Atheism in Antiquity, in Martin 2006,
   pp. 14-19

     ^ 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."

     ^ ^a ^b Garland, Robert (2008). Ancient Greece: Everyday Life in the
   Birthplace of Western Civilization. New York City: Sterling. p. 209.
   ISBN 978-1-4549-0908-8.

     ^ ^a ^b ^c ^d ^e ^f ^g Winiarczyk, Marek (2016). Diagoras of Melos: A
   Contribution to the History of Ancient Atheism. Translated by
   Zbirohowski-Koscia, Witold. Berlin: Walther de Gruyter. pp. 61-68.
   ISBN 978-3-11-044765-1.

     ^ 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.

     ^ Flavius Josephus. Against Apion II, 265 = 59 A 19 DK; Plutarch. On
   superstition 10 p. 169 F - 170 A; Diogenes Laertius, II 12-14;
   Olympiodorus the Younger. Commentary on Aristotle's Meteorology p. 17,
   19 Stueve = 59 B 19 DK.

     ^ Phld. De Pietate col. 19, 519-26 ka psan m[ani'an -]pi'kouro*s
   m.[e'mqa-] to to*s t [theon -]k tn ntwn [anai-] rosin, *s ka[n ti]
   dwdeka'tw[i Pro-]di'kwi ka Dia[go'rai] ka `K'riti'ai ... from the
   edition of Dirk Obbink, On piety. Part 1 : critical text with
   commentary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

     ^ ^a ^b ... 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

     ^ Whitmarsh, T. (2016). Diagoras, Bellerophon and the Siege of
   Olympus. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 136 182-186

     ^ Woodruff, P.; Smith, N.D. (2000). Reason and Religion in Socratic
   Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-535092-0.

     ^ Kahn, Charles (1997). "Greek Religion and Philosophy in the
   Sisyphus Fragment". Phronesis. 42 (3): 247-262.
   doi:10.1163/15685289760518153. JSTOR 4182561.

     ^ Bremmer, Jan. Atheism in Antiquity, in Martin 2006, pp. 12-13

     ^ Brickhouse, Thomas C.; Smith, Nicholas D. (2004). Routledge
   Philosophy Guidebook to Plato and the Trial of Socrates. Routledge.
   p. 112. ISBN 978-0-415-15681-3. In particular, he argues that the claim
   he is a complete atheist contradicts the other part of the indictment,
   that he introduced "new divinities".

     ^ 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
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Further reading

   Library resources about

     * Resources in your library
     * Resources in other libraries


   Berman, David (1990). A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to
   Russell. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-04727-2.

     Bradlaugh, Charles, Annie Besant and others. (1884) The Atheistic
   Platform: 12 Lectures. London: Freethought Publishing. [1]

     Buckley, M.J. (1990). At the Origins of Modern Atheism. New Haven,
   CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-04897-1.

     Bullivant, Stephen; Ruse, Michael, eds. (2013). The Oxford Handbook
   of Atheism. Oxford UP. ISBN 978-0-19-964465-0.

     Duran, Martin (2019). Wondering About God: Impiety, Agnosticism, and
   Atheism in Ancient Greece. Barcelona: Independently Published.
   ISBN 978-1-08-061240-6.

     Flew, Antony (2005). God and Philosophy. Prometheus Books.
   ISBN 978-1-59102-330-2.

     Tom Flynn, ed. (2007). The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Buffalo, New
   York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-391-3.

     Gaskin, J. C. A., ed. (1989). Varieties of Unbelief: From Epicurus to
   Sartre. o New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-02-340681-2.

     Germani, Alan (September 15, 2008). "The Mystical Ethics of the New
   Atheists". The Objective Standard. 3 (3). Archived from the original on
   April 28, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011.

     Gray, John (2018). Seven Types of Atheism. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
   ISBN 978-0-241-19941-1.

     Harbour, Daniel (2003). An Intelligent Person's Guide to Atheism.
   London: Duckworth. ISBN 978-0-7156-3229-1.

     Harris, Sam (October 2, 2007). "The Problem with Atheism". The
   Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved
   April 9, 2011.

     Howson, Colin (2011). Objecting to God. Cambridge: Cambridge
   University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-18665-0

     Inglehart, Ronald F., "Giving Up on God: The Global Decline of
   Religion", Foreign Affairs, vol. 99, no. 5 (September / October 2020),
   pp. 110-118.

     Jacoby, Susan (2004). Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism.
   Metropolitan Books. ISBN 978-0-8050-7442-0.

     Krueger, D.E. (1998). What is Atheism?: A Short Introduction. New
   York: Prometheus. ISBN 978-1-57392-214-2.

     Ledrew, S. (2012). "The evolution of atheism: Scientific and
   humanistic approaches". History of the Human Sciences. 25 (3): 70-87.
   doi:10.1177/0952695112441301. S2CID 145640287.

     Le Poidevin, R. (1996). Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the
   Philosophy of Religion. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-09338-5.

     Mackie, J.L. (1982). The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against
   the Existence of God. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-824682-4.

     Maritain, Jacques (1952). The Range of Reason. London: Geoffrey Bles.
   Archived from the original on April 7, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2013.

     Michael Martin & Ricki Monnier, ed. (2003). The Impossibility of God.
   Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-120-9.

     Michael Martin & Ricki Monnier, ed. (2006). The Improbability of God.
   Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-381-4.

     McTaggart, John; McTaggart, Ellis (1930) [1906]. Some Dogmas of
   Religion (New ed.). London: Edward Arnold & Co. ISBN 978-0-548-14955-3.

     Nielsen, Kai (1985). Philosophy and Atheism. New York: Prometheus.
   ISBN 978-0-87975-289-7.

     Nielsen, Kai (2001). Naturalism and Religion. New York: Prometheus.
   ISBN 978-1-57392-853-3.

     Onfray, Michel (2007). Atheist Manifesto. New York: Arcade
   Publishing. ISBN 978-1-55970-820-3. Archived from the original on
   October 30, 2015. Retrieved April 9, 2011.

     Oppy, Graham (2006). Arguing about Gods. Cambridge University Press.
   ISBN 978-0-521-86386-5.

     Rafford, R.L. (1987). "Atheophobia--an introduction". Religious
   Humanism. 21 (1): 32-37.

     Robinson, Richard (1964). An Atheist's Values. Oxford: Clarendon
   Press. ISBN 978-0-19-824191-1. Archived from the original on April 25,
   2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011.

     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

     Russell, Paul (2013). "Hume on Religion". In Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
   Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab.
   Retrieved November 24, 2013.

     Sharpe, R.A. (1997). The Moral Case Against Religious Belief. London:
   SCM Press. ISBN 978-0-334-02680-8.

     Shermer, Michael (1999). How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the
   Search for God. New York: William H Freeman. ISBN 978-0-7167-3561-8.

     Smolkin, Victoria. A Sacred Space is Never Empty: A History of Soviet
   Atheism (Princeton UP, 2018) online reviews

     Thrower, James (1971). A Short History of Western Atheism. London:
   Pemberton. ISBN 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

     Zuckerman, Phil, ed. (2010). Atheism and secularity. Santa Barbara,
   California: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-313-35183-9.

     Zuckerman, Phil (2010). Society without God: What the Least Religious
   Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment. NYU Press.
   ISBN 978-0-8147-9723-5.

External links

     * Atheism at PhilPapers
     * Atheism at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project

   Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). "Atheism and Agnosticism". Stanford
   Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

     "Atheism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

     The New Atheists. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

     Atheism at Curlie. Includes links to organizations and websites.

     Religion & Ethics--Atheism at bbc.co.uk.

     Secular Web library. Library of both historical and modern writings,
   a comprehensive online resource for freely available material on

     Is Agnosticism Just Timid Atheism? A Dialogue by Ted Cadsby 2017,

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