|Part of a series on|
|Atheism Portal ·|
Atheism, as an explicit position, either affirms the nonexistence of gods or rejects theism. Atheism, in its broadest definition is the absence of Theism, viz Nontheism is a term that covers a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of&mdashor the rejection of&mdash Theism or any belief in a Antireligion is opposition to Religion. Antireligion is distinct from Atheism, although many antireligionists are also atheists Antitheism (sometimes anti-theism) is active opposition to Theism. Agnosticism ( Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge after Gnosticism) is the philosophical view that the Secular humanism is a humanist philosophy that upholds Reason, Ethics and Justice, and specifically rejects the Supernatural This article covers metaphysical naturalism as a worldview Naturalism (philosophy discusses methodological naturalism Strong atheism is a term generally used to describe atheists who accept as true the proposition " gods do not exist" Implicit atheism and explicit atheism are subcategories of Atheism coined by George H Although the term Atheism originated in the 16th century, based on Ancient Greek ἄθεος "godless denying the gods ungodly" The Age of Enlightenment or The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a phase in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that Beliefs should be formed on the basis of Science and Logic and should not be influenced Criticism of religion involves Criticism of the concept of Religion, the validity of religion the practice of religion and the consequences of religion Religious belief refers to a mental state in which trust ( Faith) is placed in a Creed related to the Supernatural, Sacred, or divine Criticism of atheism is made chiefly by Theistic sources though some forms of Atheism also receive criticism from nontheistic sources It is difficult to quantify the number of Atheists in the world Irreligion is a lack of religion indifference to religion or hostility to religion State atheism is the official promotion of Atheism by a Government, typically by active suppression of Religious freedom and practice Discrimination against atheists is a negative categorical bias against atheists. Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers theologians and others See also List of deities A deity is a Postulated Preternatural or Supernatural Being, who is always Theism, in its most inclusive usage is the belief in at least one Deity.  When defined more broadly, atheism is the absence of belief in deities, alternatively called nontheism. Nontheism is a term that covers a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of&mdashor the rejection of&mdash Theism or any belief in a  Although atheism is often equated with irreligion, some religious philosophies, such as Jainism, secular theology and some varieties of Buddhism such as Theravada do not include belief in a personal god as a tenet of the religion. Irreligion is a lack of religion indifference to religion or hostility to religion A religion is a set of Tenets and practices often centered upon specific Supernatural and moral claims about Reality, the Cosmos Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma / Shraman Dharma (जैन धर्म is an ancient religion of India. The field of secular theology, a subfield of Liberal theology advocated by Anglican bishop John A Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices History Origin of the school The Theravāda school is ultimately derived from the Vibhajjavāda (or 'doctrine of analysis' grouping which was a continuation The expression Personal God, refers to the belief that God is - and can be related to as - a Person.
Many self-described atheists are skeptical of all supernatural beings and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Self-concept or self identity refers to the global understanding a sentient being has of him or herself In ordinary usage skepticism or scepticism ( Greek 'σκέπτομαι' skeptomai, to look about to consider see also spelling differences The term supernatural or supranatural ( Latin: super, supra "above" + natura "nature" pertains to entities events In Philosophy, empiricism is a theory of Knowledge which asserts that knowledge arises from Experience. Others argue for atheism on philosophical, social or historical grounds. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism and naturalism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere. Secularism is generally the assertion that governmental practices or institutions should exist separately from Religion or religious beliefs Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal Philosophical naturalism has been described in various ways In its broadest and strongest sense naturalism is the metaphysical position that "nature is all there is 
The term atheism originated as a pejorative epithet applied to any person or belief in conflict with established religion. Words and phrases are pejorative if they imply disapproval or contempt An epithet (from Greek ἐπίθετον - epitheton, neut of ἐπίθετος - epithetos, "attributed added" is a  With the spread of freethought, scientific skepticism, and criticism of religion, the term began to gather a more specific meaning and has been increasingly used as a self-description by atheists. Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that Beliefs should be formed on the basis of Science and Logic and should not be influenced Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism ( also spelled scepticism) sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a scientific or practical Criticism of religion involves Criticism of the concept of Religion, the validity of religion the practice of religion and the consequences of religion
In early Ancient Greek, the adjective atheos (ἄθεος, from the privative ἀ- + θεός "god") meant "godless". The Ancient Greek language is the historical stage in the development of the Hellenic language family spanning the Archaic (c The privative a (also known as privative alpha or α privativum) is the prefix a- which expresses negation or absence (e The word began to indicate more-intentional, active godlessness in the 5th century BCE, acquiring definitions of "severing relations with the gods" or "denying the gods, ungodly" instead of the earlier meaning of ἀσεβής (asebēs) or "impious". Modern translations of classical texts sometimes render atheos as "atheistic". As an abstract noun, there was also ἀθεότης (atheotēs), "atheism". Cicero transliterated the Greek word into the Latin atheos. Marcus Tullius Cicero ( Classical Latin ˈkikeroː usually ˈsɪsərəʊ in English January 3, 106 BC &ndash December 7, 43 BC was a Roman Latin ( lingua Latīna, laˈtiːna is an Italic language, historically spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. 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. Early Christianity is commonly defined as the Christianity of the three centuries between the Crucifixion of Jesus ( c Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in Ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. 
In English, the term atheism was derived from the French athéisme in about 1587. English is a West Germanic language originating in England and is the First language for most people in the United Kingdom, the United States French ( français,) is a Romance language spoken around the world by 118 million people as a native language and by about 180 to 260 million people  The term atheist (from Fr. athée), in the sense of "one who denies or disbelieves the existence of God", predates atheism in English, being first attested in about 1571.  Atheist as a label of practical godlessness was used at least as early as 1577.  Related words emerged later: deist in 1621, theist in 1662; theism in 1678; and deism in 1682. Theism, in its most inclusive usage is the belief in at least one Deity. Deism is the belief that a supreme God exists and created the physical universe and that religious truths can be arrived at by the application of reason alone without dependence on revelation  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 doctrine. 
Karen Armstrong writes that "During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the word 'atheist' was still reserved exclusively for polemic . Karen Armstrong (born 14 November 1944 in Wildmoor Worcestershire) is a British author of numerous works on Comparative religion, who first rose to prominence with Polemics (pəˈlɛmɪks/ /poʊ- is the practice of disputing or controverting religious, philosophical, or political matters . . The term 'atheist' was an insult. Nobody would have dreamed of calling himself an atheist. " Atheism was first used to describe a self-avowed belief in late 18th-century Europe, specifically denoting disbelief in the monotheistic Abrahamic god. For the Celtic Frost album see Monotheist (album In Theology, monotheism (from Greek grc [[wiktμόνος μόνος]]  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". Globalization (or globalisation) in its literal sense is the process of transformation of local or regional phenomena into global ones  Most recently, there has been a push in certain philosophical circles to redefine atheism as the "absence of belief in deities", rather than as a belief in its own right; this definition has become popular in atheist communities, though its mainstream usage has been limited. 
Writers disagree how best to define and classify atheism, contesting what supernatural entities it applies to, whether it is an assertion in its own right or merely the absence of one, and whether it requires a conscious, explicit rejection. A variety of categories have been proposed to try to distinguish the different forms of atheism, most of which treat atheism as "absence of belief in deities" in order to explore the varieties of this nontheism.
Some of the ambiguity and controversy involved in defining atheism arises from difficulty in reaching a consensus for the definitions of words like deity and god. The plurality of wildly different conceptions of god and deities leads to differing ideas regarding atheism's applicability. See also God Conceptions of God can vary widely despite the use of the same term for them all In contexts where theism is defined as the belief in a singular personal god, for example, people who believe in a variety of other deities may be classified as atheists, including deists and even polytheists. Theism, in its most inclusive usage is the belief in at least one Deity. For the Celtic Frost album see Monotheist (album In Theology, monotheism (from Greek grc [[wiktμόνος μόνος]] The expression Personal God, refers to the belief that God is - and can be related to as - a Person. Deism is the belief that a supreme God exists and created the physical universe and that religious truths can be arrived at by the application of reason alone without dependence on revelation Polytheism is belief in or worship of multiple Gods (usually assembled in a pantheon) together with associated Mythology and Rituals In the 20th century, this view has fallen into disfavor as theism has come to be understood as encompassing belief in any divinity. 
With respect to the range of phenomena being rejected, atheism may counter anything from the existence of a god, to the existence of any spiritual, supernatural, or transcendental concepts, such as those of Hinduism and Buddhism. The term supernatural or supranatural ( Latin: super, supra "above" + natura "nature" pertains to entities events In Religion, transcendence is a condition or state of being that surpasses physical existence and in one form is also independent of it 
Definitions of atheism also vary in the degree of consideration a person must put to the idea of gods to be considered an atheist. Implicit atheism and explicit atheism are subcategories of Atheism coined by George H Minimally, atheism may be seen as the absence of belief in one or more gods. It has been contended that this broad definition includes 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. Paul-Henri Thiry baron d'Holbach ( 1723 – 1789) was a French - German Author, Philosopher and Encyclopedist. " Similarly, George H. Smith (1979) suggested that: "The man who is unacquainted with theism is an atheist because he does not believe in a god. George Hamilton Smith (born February 10, 1949 in Japan, the son of a U 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. " Smith coined the term implicit atheism to refer to "the absence of theistic belief without a conscious rejection of it" and explicit atheism to refer to the more common definition of conscious disbelief.
In Western civilization, the view that children are born atheist is relatively recent. Before the 18th century, the existence of God was so universally 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. Innatism is a philosophical doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge and that therefore the mind is not a ' Blank slate ' at birth as early empiricists  There is 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. A deathbed conversion is the adoption of a particular Religious Faith shortly before dying " Some proponents of this view claim that the anthropological benefit of religion is that religious faith enables humans to endure hardships better (c. The anthropology of religion involves the study of religious institutions in relation to other social institutions and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across Cultures f. opium of the people Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher February, 1844). " Religion is the Opiate of the people " is one of the most frequently quoted statements of Karl Marx. Some atheists emphasize the fact that there have been examples to the contrary, among them examples of literal "atheists in foxholes. "
Philosophers such as Antony Flew and Michael Martin have contrasted strong (positive) atheism with weak (negative) atheism. Strong atheism is a term generally used to describe atheists who accept as true the proposition " gods do not exist" Professor Antony Garrard Newton Flew (born 11 February 1923 is a British Philosopher. Michael L Martin (born 3 February 1932) is an analytic philosopher and professor emeritus at Boston University. Strong atheism is the explicit affirmation that gods do not exist. Weak atheism includes all other forms of non-theism. According to this categorization, anyone who is not a theist is either a weak or a strong atheist.  The terms weak and strong are relatively recent; however, the equivalent terms negative and positive atheism have been used in the philosophical literature and (in a slightly different sense) in Catholic apologetics.  Under this demarcation of atheism, most agnostics qualify as weak atheists. Agnosticism ( Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge after Gnosticism) is the philosophical view that the
While agnosticism can be seen as a form of weak atheism, most agnostics see their view as distinct from atheism, which they may consider no more justified than theism, or requires an equal conviction.  The supposed unattainability of knowledge for or against the existence of gods is sometimes seen as indication that atheism requires a leap of faith. A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning is the act of believing in something without or in spite of available Empirical evidence.  Common atheist responses to this argument include that unproven religious propositions deserve as much disbelief as all other unproven propositions, and that the unprovability of a god's existence does not imply equal probability of either possibility. Faith is a Belief in the trustworthiness of an Idea. Formal usage of the word "faith" is usually reserved for concepts of Religion, as in  Scottish 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 generalised philosophical scepticism which would preclude us from saying that we know anything whatever, except perhaps the truths of mathematics and formal logic. John Jamieson Carswell "Jack" Smart AC (born 1920 often referred to as J For a general discussion of skepticism see Skepticism. Philosophical skepticism (from Greek σκέψις - skepsis meaning " Consequently, some popular atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins prefer distinguishing theist, agnostic and atheist positions by the probability assigned to the statement "God exists". Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL (born 26 March 1941 is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and Popular science Popularized by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, the spectrum of theistic probability is a way of categorizing one's belief regarding the Probability 
The broadest demarcation of atheistic rationale is between practical and theoretical atheism. The different forms of theoretical atheism each derive from a particular rationale or philosophical argument. In contrast, practical atheism requires no specific argument, and can include indifference to and ignorance of the idea of gods.
In practical, or pragmatic, atheism, also known as apatheism, individuals live as if there are no gods and explain natural phenomena without resorting to the divine. Pragmatism generally considered to have originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Peirce, who first stated the Pragmatic maxim. The existence of gods is not denied, but may be designated unnecessary or useless; gods neither provide purpose to life, nor influence everyday life, according to this view.  A form of practical atheism with implications for the scientific community is methodological naturalism—the "tacit adoption or assumption of philosophical naturalism within scientific method with or without fully accepting or believing it. The scientific community consists of the total body of Scientists its relationships and interactions Philosophical naturalism has been described in various ways In its broadest and strongest sense naturalism is the metaphysical position that "nature is all there is Scientific method refers to bodies of Techniques for investigating phenomena "
Practical atheism can take various forms:
Historically, practical atheism was considered by some people to be associated with moral failure, willful ignorance and impiety. Those considered practical atheists were said to behave as though God, ethics and social responsibility did not exist; they abandoned duty and embraced hedonism. Hedonism is the Philosophy that Pleasure is of ultimate importance, the most important pursuit According to the French Catholic philosopher Étienne Borne, "Practical atheism is not the denial of the existence of God, but complete godlessness of action; it is a moral evil, implying not the denial of the absolute validity of the moral law but simply rebellion against that law. "
Theoretical, or contemplative, atheism explicitly posits arguments against the existence of gods, responding to common theistic arguments such as the argument from design or Pascal's Wager. Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers theologians and others Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers theologians and others A teleological argument, or argument from design, is an Argument for the Existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order purpose design Pascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French Philosopher Blaise Pascal that even though the Existence of God The theoretical reasons for rejecting gods assume various psychological, sociological, metaphysical, and epistemological forms.
Epistemological atheism argues that people cannot know God or determine the existence of God. Agnostic atheism, also called atheistic agnosticism, is a philosophical doctrine that encompasses both Atheism and Agnosticism. Theological noncognitivism is the argument that Religious Language, and specifically words like " God " (capitalized are not Cognitively The foundation of epistemological atheism is agnosticism, which takes a variety of forms. Agnosticism ( Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge after Gnosticism) is the philosophical view that the In the philosophy of immanence, divinity is inseparable from the world itself, including a person's mind, and each person's consciousness is locked in the subject. Immanence, derived from the Latin in manere "to remain within" refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of the divine as existing and acting within the mind Consciousness has been defined loosely as a constellation of attributes of Mind such as Subjectivity, Self-awareness, Sentience, and the Not to be confused with the subiectum or Hypokeimenon in Aristotelianism According to this form of agnosticism, this limitation in perspective prevents any objective inference from belief in a god to assertions of its existence. The rationalistic agnosticism of Kant and the Enlightenment only accepts knowledge deduced with human rationality; this form of atheism holds that gods are not discernible as a matter of principle, and therefore cannot be known to exist. In Epistemology and in its broadest sense rationalism is "any view appealing to Reason as a source of knowledge or justification" (Lacey 286 Immanuel Kant (ɪmanuəl kant 22 April 1724 12 February 1804 was an 18th-century German Philosopher from the Prussian city of Königsberg The Age of Enlightenment or The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a phase in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century Skepticism, based on the ideas of Hume, asserts that certainty about anything is impossible, so one can never know the existence of God. For a general discussion of skepticism see Skepticism. Philosophical skepticism (from Greek σκέψις - skepsis meaning David Hume (26 April 1711 25 August 1776 Scottish Philosopher, Economist, and Historian is an important figure in Western philosophy The allocation of agnosticism to atheism is disputed; it can also be regarded as an independent, basic world-view. 
Other forms of atheistic argumentation that may qualify as epistemological, including logical positivism and ignosticism, assert the meaninglessness or unintelligibility of basic terms such as "God" and statements such as "God is all-powerful". Logical positivism (later and more accurately called logical empiricism) is a school of philosophy that combines Empiricism, the idea that observational evidence is Ignosticism is the theological position that every other theological position (including Agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological Theological noncognitivism holds that the statement "God exists" does not express a proposition, but is nonsensical or cognitively meaningless. Theological noncognitivism is the argument that Religious Language, and specifically words like " God " (capitalized are not Cognitively It has been argued both ways as to whether such individuals classify into some form of atheism or agnosticism. Philosophers A. J. Ayer and Theodore M. Drange reject both categories, stating that both camps accept "God exists" as a proposition; they instead place noncognitivism in its own category. Sir Alfred Jules ("Freddie" Ayer ( October 29, 1910 &ndash June 27, 1989) better known as A Theodore "Ted" Michael Drange (1934&mdash is a Philosopher of religion and Professor Emeritus at West Virginia University, where he taught 
Metaphysical atheism is based on metaphysical monism—the view that reality is homogeneous and indivisible. Monism is the metaphysical and Theological view that all is one that all reality is subsumed under the most fundamental category of being or existence Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its Physical properties; that is that there are no kinds of things other Monism is the metaphysical and Theological view that all is one that all reality is subsumed under the most fundamental category of being or existence Absolute metaphysical atheists subscribe to some form of physicalism, hence they explicitly deny the existence of non-physical beings. Physicalism is a philosophical position holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its Physical properties; that is that there are no kinds of things other Relative metaphysical atheists maintain an implicit denial of a particular concept of God based on the incongruity between their individual philosophies and attributes commonly applied to God, such as transcendence, a personal aspect, or unity. In Philosophy, the adjective transcendental and the noun transcendence convey three different but related primary meanings all of them derived from the word's literal The expression Personal God, refers to the belief that God is - and can be related to as - a Person. Examples of relative metaphysical atheism include pantheism, panentheism, and deism. Pantheism ( Greek: πάν ( 'pan') = all and θεός ( 'theos') = God it literally means " God is All Panentheism (from Greek (pân "all" (en "in" and (Theós "God" "all-in-God" is a belief system Deism is the belief that a supreme God exists and created the physical universe and that religious truths can be arrived at by the application of reason alone without dependence on revelation 
Philosophers such as Ludwig Feuerbach and Sigmund Freud argued that God and other religious beliefs are human inventions, created to fulfill various psychological and emotional wants or needs. Psychology of religion is the psychological study of Religious experiences Beliefs and activities Neurotheology Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach ( July 28, 1804 &ndash September 13, 1872) was a German Philosopher and Anthropologist Sigmund Freud (ˈziːkmʊnt ˈfʁɔʏt born Sigismund Shlomo Freud (May 6 1856 &ndash September 23 1939 was an Austrian Psychiatrist who founded This is also a view of many Buddhists. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices  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. Friedrich Engels (28 November 1820 – 5 August 1895 was a German social scientist and philosopher, who 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. Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin ( - July 1 1876) was a well-known Russian Revolutionary and theorist of Collectivist anarchism. " He reversed Voltaire's famous 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. François-Marie Arouet ( 21 November 1694 30 May 1778) better known by the Pen name Voltaire, was a French "
Logical atheism holds that the various conceptions of gods, such as the personal god of Christianity, are ascribed logically inconsistent qualities. Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers theologians and others In the Philosophy of religion and Theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of Evil or Suffering in the world The argument from nonbelief (also known as the argument from divine hiddenness) is a philosophical Argument which seeks to prove the non-existence of God See also God Conceptions of God can vary widely despite the use of the same term for them all The expression Personal God, refers to the belief that God is - and can be related to as - a Person. 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), nonphysicality, justice and mercy. Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers theologians and others Immutability is the doctrine of classical Christian theism that God cannot change this has been variously interpreted to mean either that God's nature cannot change Omniscience (ɒm'nɪsɪəns (or Omniscient Point-of-View in writing is the capacity to know everything infinitely or at least everything that can be known about a character Omnipresence is the ability to be present in every place at any and/or every time unbounded or universal presence Omnipotence ( Omni Potens: "all Power " is unlimited power Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite Benevolence " In Philosophy, the adjective transcendental and the noun transcendence convey three different but related primary meanings all of them derived from the word's literal JUSTICE is a Human rights and law reform organisation based in the United Kingdom. Mercy ( Middle English, from Anglo-French merci, from Medieval Latin merced-, merces, from Latin, "price 
Theodicean atheists believe that the world as they experience it cannot be reconciled with the qualities commonly ascribed to God and gods by theologians. Theodicy (θiːˈɒdɪsi (adjectival form theodicean) is a specific branch of Theology and Philosophy that attempts to reconcile the existence of 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. Omniscience (ɒm'nɪsɪəns (or Omniscient Point-of-View in writing is the capacity to know everything infinitely or at least everything that can be known about a character Omnipotence ( Omni Potens: "all Power " is unlimited power Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite Benevolence " In the Philosophy of religion and Theology, the problem of evil is the problem of reconciling the existence of Evil or Suffering in the world Suffering, or pain, is an individual's basic Affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm The argument from nonbelief (also known as the argument from divine hiddenness) is a philosophical Argument which seeks to prove the non-existence of God  A similar argument is attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Siddhārtha Gautama ( Sanskrit; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual Teacher from Ancient India and the founder Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices 
Axiological, or constructive, atheism rejects the existence of gods in favor of a "higher absolute", such as humanity. Philosophical anthropology is the attempt to unify disparate ways of understanding behaviour of Humans as both creatures of their Social environments and creators of See also philosophical Humanism For the Renaissance liberal arts movement see Renaissance humanism Humanism is Axiology (from Greek grc ἀξιᾱ axiā, "value worth" and grc -λογία -logia) is the study of quality or value Human nature is the concept that there are a set of logical characteristics including ways of thinking feeling and acting that all 'normal' human beings have in common 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, Nietzsche, Freud, and Sartre all used this argument to convey messages of liberation, full-development, and unfettered happiness. The Übermensch ( German; English: Overman, Superman) is a Concept in the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. 
One of the most common criticisms of atheism has been to the contrary—that denying the existence of a just God leads to moral relativism, leaving one with no moral or ethical foundation, or renders life meaningless and miserable. Criticism of atheism is made chiefly by Theistic sources though some forms of Atheism also receive criticism from nontheistic sources This article attempts to confine itself to discussion of relativism in morals and ethics See also Western philosophy, Eastern religions, Eastern philosophy The  Blaise Pascal argued this view in 1669. Blaise Pascal (blɛz paskal (June 19 1623 &ndash August 19 1662 was a French Mathematician, Physicist, and religious Philosopher 
Although the term atheism originated in 16th-century France, ideas that would be recognized today as atheistic are documented from classical antiquity and the Vedic period. Although the term Atheism originated in the 16th century, based on Ancient Greek ἄθεος "godless denying the gods ungodly" This article is about the country For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic France topics. Classical antiquity (also the classical era or classical period) is a broad term for a long period of cultural History centered on the Mediterranean The Vedic Period (or Vedic Age) is the period in the History of India during which the Vedas, the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, were being
Atheistic schools are found in Hinduism, which is otherwise a very theistic religion. Atheism ( Sanskrit: nir-īśvara-vāda, lit "statement of no Lord " "doctrine of godlessness" or disbelief in God or gods Atheism ( Sanskrit: nir-īśvara-vāda, lit "statement of no Lord " "doctrine of godlessness" or disbelief in God or gods Hinduism is a religious tradition that originated in the Indian subcontinent. The thoroughly materialistic and anti-religious philosophical Cārvāka School that originated in India around 6th century BCE is probably the most explicitly atheistic school of philosophy in India. Cārvāka is a system of Indian philosophy that assumed various forms of philosophical skepticism and religious indifference India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country This branch of Indian philosophy is classified as a heterodox system and is not considered part of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism, but it is noteworthy as evidence of a materialistic movement within Hinduism.  Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Cārvāka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of the ideas by other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:
"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 reputation, 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. Sankhya, also Samkhya, ( सांख्य, IAST: sānkhya - 'enumeration' is one of the six schools of classical Indian philosophy. Mīmāṃsā, a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" (compare Greek ἱστορία) is the name of an Astika ("orthodox" school The rejection of a personal creator God is also seen in Jainism and Buddhism in India. Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma / Shraman Dharma (जैन धर्म is an ancient religion of India. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices 
Western atheism has its roots in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, but did not emerge as a distinct world-view until the late Enlightenment. The Pre-Socratic Greek philosophers were active before Socrates or contemporaneously but expounding knowledge developed earlier Ancient Greek philosophy focused on the role of Reason and Inquiry. The Age of Enlightenment or The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a phase in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century  The 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher Diagoras is known as the "first atheist", and strongly criticized religion and mysticism. Diagoras the Atheist of Melos (Διαγόρας ὁ Μήλιος was a Greek Poet and Sophist of the 5th century BC Critias viewed religion as a human invention used to frighten people into following moral order. Critias is also a work by Plato see Critias (dialogue. Critias ( Greek, 460-403 BC born in Athens son of Callaeschrus was  Atomists such as Democritus attempted to explain the world in a purely materialistic way, without reference to the spiritual or mystical. In Natural philosophy, atomism is the theory that all the objects in the universe are composed of very small indestructible building blocks - Atoms Or stated in Democritus ( Greek:) was a pre-Socratic Greek Materialist Philosopher (born at Abdera in Thrace ca The Philosophy of materialism holds that the only thing that can be truly proven to exist is Matter, and is considered a form of Physicalism. Other pre-Socratic philosophers who probably had atheistic views included Prodicus and Protagoras. Prodicus of Ceos ( Greek: Πρόδικος Pródikos, (c 465 BC - 415 BC was a Greek philosopher, part of the first generation of Sophists. Protagoras ( Greek:) (ca 490&ndash 420 BC was a pre-Socratic Greek Philosopher and is numbered as one of the Sophists by In the 3rd-century BCE the Greek philosophers Theodorus and Strato of Lampsacus also did not believe gods exist. Theodorus (Θεόδωρος the Atheist, of Cyrene, was a philosopher of the Cyrenaic school who lived around 300 BC. Strato of Lampsacus (c 335-c 269 BC was an Peripatetic Philosopher, who was mainly interested in Physics, and was the third director of the Lyceum
Socrates (c. SOCRATES is the European Community action programme in the field of Education. 471–399 BCE), was accused of being an atheist for impiety (see Euthyphro dilemma) on the basis that he inspired questioning of the state gods. Impiety is a lack of proper concern for the obligations owed to cult; that is to the outward practices of a belief system The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro "Is the pious ( τὸ ὅσιον A state religion (also called an official religion, established church or state church) is a religious body or Creed officially  Although he disputed the accusation that he was a "complete atheist", he was ultimately sentenced to death. The trial of Socrates refers to the Trial and the subsequent execution of the Athenian Philosopher Socrates in 399 BC.
Euhemerus (c. Euhemerus (Εὐήμερος (working late fourth century BC was a Greek mythographer at the court of Cassander, the king of Macedon. 330–260 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.  Although not strictly an atheist, Euhemerus was later criticized for having "spread atheism over the whole inhabited earth by obliterating the gods". 
Atomic materialist Epicurus (c. 341–270 BCE) disputed many religious doctrines, including the existence of an afterlife or a personal deity; he considered the soul purely material and mortal. AfterLife is a film drama set in Scotland directed by Alison Peebles made in 2003 about an ambitious Scottish journalist forced to choose between The expression Personal God, refers to the belief that God is - and can be related to as - a Person. The soul, according to many religious and philosophical beliefs is the self-awareness, or Consciousness, unique to a particular living While Epicureanism did not rule out the existence of gods, he believed that if they did exist, they were unconcerned with humanity. 
The Roman poet Lucretius (c. Titus Lucretius Carus (ca 99 BC- ca 55 BC was a Roman Poet and Philosopher. 99–55 BCE) agreed that, if there were gods, they were unconcerned with humanity and unable to affect the natural world. For this reason, he believed humanity should have no fear of the supernatural. He expounds his Epicurean views of the cosmos, atoms, the soul, mortality, and religion in De rerum natura ("On the nature of things"), which popularized Epicurus' philosophy in Rome. On the Nature of Things (Latin De rerum natura) is a first century BC Poem by the Roman Poet and Philosopher Ancient Rome was a Civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC 
The Roman philosopher Sextus Empiricus held that one should suspend judgment about virtually all beliefs—a form of skepticism known as Pyrrhonism—that nothing was inherently evil, and that ataraxia ("peace of mind") is attainable by withholding one's judgment. Sextus Empiricus (c 160-210 AD was a Physician and Philosopher, and has been variously reported to have lived in Alexandria, Rome, or Pyrrhonism, or Pyrrhonian skepticism, was a school of Skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BC and recorded by Sextus Empiricus Ataraxia (Ἀταραξία is a Greek term used by Pyrrho and Epicurus for a limpid state characterized by freedom from worry or any His relatively large volume of surviving works had a lasting influence on later philosophers. 
The meaning of "atheist" changed over the course of classical antiquity. The early Christians were labeled atheists by non-Christians because of their disbelief in pagan gods.  During the Roman Empire, Christians were executed for their rejection of the Roman gods in general and Emperor-worship in particular. The Roman Empire was the post-Republican phase of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial This is a list of Roman deities with brief descriptions Major Deities Apollo - god of the sun poetry music and oracles and a Dii When Christianity became the state religion of Rome under Theodosius I in 381, heresy became a punishable offense. Flavius Theodosius (January 11 347 – January 17 395 also called Theodosius I and Theodosius the Great ( Greek: Θεοδόσιος Α΄ Heresy, as a blanket term describes a practice or belief that is labeled as unorthodox 
The espousal of atheistic views was rare in Europe during the Early Middle Ages and Middle Ages (see Medieval Inquisition); metaphysics, religion and theology were the dominant interests. The Early Middle Ages is a period in the History of Europe following the fall of the Western Roman Empire spanning roughly five centuries from AD 500 The Medieval Inquisition is a series of Inquisitions ( Roman Catholic Church bodies charged with suppressing Heresy) from around 1184, including the  There were, however, movements within this period that forwarded 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. David of Dinant ( ca 1160 - ca 1217) was a pantheistic philosopher Amalric of Bena ( Amaury de Bène or Amaury de Chartres; Almaricus Amalricus Amauricus; died c The Brothers or Brethren of the Free Spirit (Brüder und Schwestern des Freien Geistes was a lay Christian movement which flourished in northern Europe in Pantheism ( Greek: πάν ( 'pan') = all and θεός ( 'theos') = God it literally means " God is All Nicholas of Cusa held to a form of fideism he called docta ignorantia ("learned ignorance"), asserting that God is beyond human categorization, and our knowledge of God is limited to conjecture. Fideism is the view that Religious belief relies primarily on Faith or Special revelation, rather than rational inference or observation De docta ignorantia (On learned ignorance is a Book on Philosophy and Theology by Nicholas of Cusa (or Nicolaus Cusanus) who finished 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. William of Ockham (also Occam, Hockham, or any of several other spellings ˈɒkəm (c Nominalism is a metaphysical view in Philosophy according to which general or abstract terms and predicates exist but that either universals In Philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is and which it has by necessity Followers of Ockham, such as John of Mirecourt and Nicholas of Autrecourt furthered this view. John of Mirecourt was a Cistercian scholastic philosopher of the Fourteenth century, from Lorraine. Nicholas or Nicolaus of Autrecourt (in French Nicholas d'Autrécourt; in Latin Nicolaus de Autricuria or Nicolaus de Ultricuria) (ca The resulting division between faith and reason influenced later theologians such as John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, and Martin Luther. John Wycliffe (ˈwɪklɪf also spelled Wyclif, Wycliff, Wiclef, Wicliffe, or Wickliffe) (mid-1320s – 31 December Jan Hus ( (ˈjan ˈɦus alternative spellings John Hus, Jan Huss, John Huss) (c Martin Luther (November 10 1483 February 18 1546 was a German Monk, theologian, university professor Father of Protestantism, and church reformer 
The Renaissance did much to expand the scope of freethought and skeptical inquiry. The Renaissance (from French Renaissance, meaning "rebirth" Italian: Rinascimento, from re- "again" and nascere Individuals such as Leonardo da Vinci sought experimentation as a means of explanation, and opposed arguments from religious authority. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci ( April 15 1452 – May 2 1519 was an Italian Polymath, having been a scientist Mathematician, Engineer An appeal to authority or argument by authority is a type of argument in Logic called a fallacy Other critics of religion and the Church during this time included Niccolò Machiavelli, Bonaventure des Périers, and François Rabelais. Bonaventure des Périers (c 1501 &ndash 1544 was a French author 
The Renaissance and Reformation eras witnessed a resurgence in religious fervor, as evidenced by the proliferation of new religious orders, confraternities, and popular devotions in the Catholic world, and the appearance of increasingly austere Protestant sects such as the Calvinists. The Renaissance (from French Renaissance, meaning "rebirth" Italian: Rinascimento, from re- "again" and nascere The Protestant Reformation was a reform movement in Europe that began in 1517 though its roots lie further back in time Calvinism (sometimes called the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) is a theological system and an approach to the This era of interconfessional rivalry permitted an even wider scope of theological and philosophical speculation, much of which would later be used to advance a religiously skeptical world-view.
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. Throughout the History of Christianity, a wide range of Christians and non-Christians alike have offered criticisms of Christianity, the Church, and Christians Malaise is a feeling of general discomfort or uneasiness an "out of sorts" feeling often the first indication of an infection or other disease Some Protestant thinkers, such as Thomas Hobbes, espoused a materialist philosophy and skepticism toward supernatural occurrences. Thomas Hobbes (born 5 April 1588died 4 December 1679 was an English philosopher, whose famous 1651 book Leviathan established the foundation In the late 17th century, Deism came to be openly espoused by intellectuals such as John Toland, and practically all the philosophes of 18th-century France and England held to some form of Deism. Deism is the belief that a supreme God exists and created the physical universe and that religious truths can be arrived at by the application of reason alone without dependence on revelation John Toland ( November 30, 1670 - March 11, 1722) was an Irish Philosopher. The philosophes ( French for Philosophers ' were a group of intellectuals of the 18th century Enlightenment. Despite their ridicule of Christianity, many Deists held atheism in scorn. The first known atheist who threw off the mantle of deism, bluntly denying the existence of gods, was Jean Meslier, a French priest who lived in the early 18th century. Jean Meslier (1664 – 1729 was a Catholic Priest who was discovered upon his death to have written a book-length philosophical essay promoting Atheism  He was followed by other openly atheistic thinkers, such as Baron d'Holbach, who appeared in the late 18th century, when expressing disbelief in God became a less dangerous position.  David Hume was the most systematic exponent of Enlightenment thought, developing a skeptical epistemology grounded in empiricism, undermining the metaphysical basis of natural theology. David Hume (26 April 1711 25 August 1776 Scottish Philosopher, Economist, and Historian is an important figure in Western philosophy
The French Revolution took atheism outside the salons and into the public sphere. The French Revolution (1789–1799 was a period of political and social upheaval in the History of France, during which the French governmental structure previously an Attempts to enforce the Civil Constitution of the Clergy led to anti-clerical violence and the expulsion of many clergy from France. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy ( "Constitution civile du clergé") was a law passed on July 12, 1790 during the French Revolution The chaotic political events in revolutionary Paris eventually enabled the more radical Jacobins to seize power in 1793, ushering in the Reign of Terror. The Jacobin Club was the largest and most powerful political club of the French Revolution. Saint justjpg|thumbnail|200px| Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just]] The Reign of Terror' (5 September 1793 &ndash 28 July 1794 or simply The Terror (la Terreur was At its climax, the more militant atheists attempted to forcibly de-Christianize France, replacing religion with a Cult of Reason. The Cult of Reason (Culte de la Raison was a creed based on Secularism and Atheism devised during the French Revolution by Jacques Hébert These persecutions ended with the Thermidorian Reaction, but some of the secularizing measures of this period remained a permanent legacy of French politics. The Thermidorian Reaction was a revolt in the French Revolution against the excesses of the Reign of Terror.
The Napoleonic era institutionalized the secularization of French society, and exported the revolution to northern Italy, in the hopes of creating pliable republics. Timeline of the Napoleonic eraThe Napoleonic Era is a period in the History of France and Europe In the 19th century, many atheists and other anti-religious thinkers devoted their efforts to political and social revolution, facilitating the upheavals of 1848, the Risorgimento in Italy, and the growth of an international socialist movement. The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout the European Italian Unification ( Italian: il Risorgimento, or "The Resurgence" was the political and social movement that unified different states of the Italian Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the Means of production and distribution
In the latter half of the 19th century, atheism rose to prominence under the influence of rationalistic and freethinking philosophers. In Epistemology and in its broadest sense rationalism is "any view appealing to Reason as a source of knowledge or justification" (Lacey 286 Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that Beliefs should be formed on the basis of Science and Logic and should not be influenced Many prominent German philosophers of this era denied the existence of deities and were critical of religion, including Ludwig Feuerbach, Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach ( July 28, 1804 &ndash September 13, 1872) was a German Philosopher and Anthropologist Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15 1844 August 25 1900 ( was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and classical philologist 
Atheism in the 20th century, particularly in the form of practical atheism, advanced in many societies. Atheistic thought found recognition in a wide variety of other, broader philosophies, such as existentialism, objectivism, secular humanism, nihilism, logical positivism, Marxism, feminism, and the general scientific and rationalist movement. Existentialism is a philosophical doctrine which posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives and that this essence follows from their existence Objectivism is a Philosophy developed by Ayn Rand in the 20th century that encompasses positions on Metaphysics, Epistemology, Secular humanism is a humanist philosophy that upholds Reason, Ethics and Justice, and specifically rejects the Supernatural Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing is a philosophical position that argues that Existence is without objective meaning Purpose Logical positivism (later and more accurately called logical empiricism) is a school of philosophy that combines Empiricism, the idea that observational evidence is Marxism is the political philosophy and practice derived from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Feminism is a discourse that involves various movements theories, and Philosophies which are concerned with the issue of Gender difference, advocate The modern rationalist movement is a philosophical doctrine that asserts that the Truth can best be discovered by reason and factual analysis rather than Faith
Logical positivism and scientism paved the way for neopositivism, analytical philosophy, structuralism, and naturalism. The term scientism can be used as a neutral term to describe the view that Natural science has authority over all other interpretations of life such as philosophical Logical positivism (later and more accurately called logical empiricism) is a school of philosophy that combines Empiricism, the idea that observational evidence is Analytic philosophy (sometimes analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of Philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century For the use of structuralism in biology see Structuralism (biology Structuralism is an approach to the human sciences that attempts to analyze Philosophical naturalism has been described in various ways In its broadest and strongest sense naturalism is the metaphysical position that "nature is all there is Neopositivism and analytical philosophy discarded classical rationalism and metaphysics in favor of strict empiricism and epistemological nominalism. Nominalism is a metaphysical view in Philosophy according to which general or abstract terms and predicates exist but that either universals Proponents such as Bertrand Russell emphatically rejected belief in God. Bertrand Arthur William Russell 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970 was a British Philosopher, Historian 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. Sir Alfred Jules ("Freddie" Ayer ( October 29, 1910 &ndash June 27, 1989) better known as A Relatedly the applied structuralism of Lévi-Strauss sourced religious language to the human subconscious in denying its transcendental meaning. For the use of structuralism in biology see Structuralism (biology Structuralism is an approach to the human sciences that attempts to analyze Claude Lévi-Strauss (klod levi stʁos born 28 November 1908 is a French Anthropologist. J. N. Findlay and J. J. C. Smart argued that the existence of God is not logically necessary. John Niemeyer Findlay, known as J N Findlay, ( Pretoria, 25 November 1903 – 27 September 1987) was a South African John Jamieson Carswell "Jack" Smart AC (born 1920 often referred to as J 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. John Dewey (October 20 1859 &ndash June 1 1952 was an American Philosopher, Psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have 
The 20th century also saw the political advancement of atheism, spurred on by interpretation of the works of Marx and Engels. Friedrich Engels (28 November 1820 – 5 August 1895 was a German social scientist and philosopher, who After the Russian Revolution of 1917, increased religious freedom for minority religions lasted for a few years, before the policies of Stalinism turned towards repression of religion. Stalinism is the political regime named after Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union from 1929–1953 The Soviet Union and other communist states promoted state atheism and opposed religion, often by violent means. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR was a constitutionally Socialist state that existed in Eurasia from 1922 to 1991 Communist state is a term used by many Political scientists to describe a Form of government in which the State operates under a one-party system State atheism is the official promotion of Atheism by a Government, typically by active suppression of Religious freedom and practice  Other leaders like E. V. Ramasami Naicker (Periyar), a prominent atheist leader of India, fought against Hinduism and Brahmins for discriminating and dividing people in the name of caste and religion. Periyar E V Ramasamy (பெரியார் ( September 17, 1879 &ndash December 24, 1973) also known as Ramaswami India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country Hinduism is a religious tradition that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Brahmin ( Brāhmaṇa, sa ब्राह्मणः is the class of educators scholars and preachers in Brahminical Hinduism. Castes are Hereditary systems of occupation, Endogamy, social culture, Social class, and Political power.  This was highlighted in 1956 when he made the Hindu god Rama wear a garland made of slippers and made antitheistic statements. Rama ( IAST: rāma Devanāgarī: राम Khmer: Phreah Ream Thai: Phra Ram Lao: Phra Lam Tagalog: Antitheism (sometimes anti-theism) is active opposition to Theism. 
In 1966, Time magazine asked "Is God Dead?" 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 God. Time (trademarked in capitals as TIME) is a weekly American Newsmagazine, similar to Newsweek and " God is dead " ( German:; also known as the death of God) is a widely-quoted and sometimes misconstrued statement by German philosopher  The following year, the Albanian government under Enver Hoxha announced the closure of all religious institutions in the country, declaring Albania the world's first officially atheist state. This article is about the country in southern Europe For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Albania topics. (ɛnˈvɛɾ ˈhɔdʒa 16 October 1908 11 April 1985 was the leader of the People's Republic of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985 as the  These regimes enhanced the negative associations of atheism, especially where anti-communist sentiment was strong in the United States, despite the fact that prominent atheists were anti-communist. 
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the number of actively anti-religious regimes has reduced considerably. The Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer was a physical barrier separating West Berlin from the German Democratic Republic (GDR ( East Germany) including In 2006, Timothy Shah of the Pew Forum noted "a worldwide trend across all major religious groups, in which God-based and faith-based movements in general are experiencing increasing confidence and influence vis-à-vis secular movements and ideologies. The Pew Research Center is a Think tank based in Washington D " But Gregory S. Paul and Phil Zuckerman consider this a myth and suggest that the actual situation is much more complex and nuanced. Gregory S Paul (born 1954) is a Freelance Paleontologist, Author and Illustrator. 
It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists in the world. 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.  In addition, people in some regions of the world refrain from reporting themselves as atheists to avoid social stigma, discrimination, and persecution. Discrimination against atheists is a negative categorical bias against atheists. A 2005 survey published in Encyclopædia Britannica finds that the non-religious make up about 11. The Encyclopædia Britannica is a general English-language encyclopaedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica Inc 9% of the world's population, and atheists about 2. 3%. This figure does not include those who follow atheistic religions, such as some Buddhists.  A November–December 2006 poll published in the Financial Times gives rates for the United States and five European countries. The Financial Times ( FT) is a British international business Newspaper. It found that Americans are more likely than Europeans to report belief in any form of god or supreme being (73%). Of the European adults surveyed, Italians are the most likely to express this belief (62%) and the French the least likely (27%). In France, 32% declared themselves atheists, and an additional 32% declared themselves agnostic. Agnosticism ( Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge after Gnosticism) is the philosophical view that the  An official European Union survey provides corresponding figures: 18% of the EU population do not believe in a god; 27% accept the existence of some supernatural "spiritual life force", while 52% affirm belief in a specific god. The European Union ( EU) is a political and economic union of twenty-seven member states, located primarily in The proportion of believers rises to 65% among those who had left school by age 15; survey respondents who considered themselves to be from a strict family background were more likely to believe in god than those who felt their upbringing lacked firm rules. 
A letter published in Nature in 1998 reported a survey suggesting that belief in a personal god or afterlife was at an all-time low among the members of the U. Nature is a prominent Scientific journal, first published on 4 November 1869 AfterLife is a film drama set in Scotland directed by Alison Peebles made in 2003 about an ambitious Scottish journalist forced to choose between S. National Academy of Science, only 7. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS is a corporation in the United States whose members serve Pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science 0% of whom believed in a personal god as compared with more than 85% of the general U. S. population.  In the same year Frank Sulloway of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michael Shermer of California State University conducted a study which found in their polling sample of "credentialed" U. Frank J Sulloway is a visiting Scholar in the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley and a Visiting Professor Michael Brand Shermer (born September 8, 1954 in Glendale California) is an American science writer historian of science founder of The Skeptics History Today's California State University system is the direct descendant of the California State Normal School (now San José State University) a S. adults (12% had Ph. Ds and 62% were college graduates) 64% believed in God, and there was a correlation indicating that religious conviction diminished with education level. In Probability theory and Statistics, correlation, (often measured as a correlation coefficient) indicates the strength and direction of a linear  An inverse correlation between religiosity and intelligence has been found by 39 studies carried out between 1927 and 2002, according to an article in Mensa Magazine. In Probability theory and Statistics, correlation, (often measured as a correlation coefficient) indicates the strength and direction of a linear The topic of religiosity and intelligence pertains to relationships between Intelligence and Religiosity, the extent to which someone is religious Mensa is the largest oldest and most famous high-IQ society in the world  These findings broadly agree with a 1958 statistical meta-analysis by Professor Michael Argyle of the University of Oxford. In Statistics, a meta-analysis combines the results of several studies that address a set of related research hypotheses Professor Michael Argyle ( 11 August 1925, Nottingham – 6 September 2002) was one of the best known English social The University of Oxford (informally "Oxford University" or simply "Oxford" located in the city of Oxford, Oxfordshire, England is the He analyzed seven research studies that had investigated correlation between attitude to religion and measured intelligence among school and college students from the U. An Intelligence Quotient or IQ is a score derived from one of several different Standardized tests attempting to measure Intelligence. S. Although a clear negative correlation was found, the analysis did not identify causality but noted that factors such as authoritarian family background and social class may also have played a part. 
In the Australian 2006 Census of Population and Housing, in the question which asked What is the person's religion? Of the total population, 18. 7% ticked the box marked no religion or wrote in a response which was classified as non religious (e. g. humanism, atheist). This question was optional and 11. 2% did not answer the question.  In 2006, the New Zealand census asked, What is your religion?. Of those answering, 34. 7% indicated no religion. 12. 2% did not respond or objected to answering the question. 
Although people who self-identify as atheists are usually assumed to be irreligious, some sects within major religions reject the existence of a personal, creator deity. Irreligion is a lack of religion indifference to religion or hostility to religion  In recent years, certain religious denominations have accumulated a number of openly atheistic followers, such as atheistic or humanistic Judaism and Christian atheists. Humanistic Judaism is a movement within Judaism that emphasizes Jewish culture and history—rather than belief in God—as the sources of Jewish identity Agnostic theism is the philosophical view that encompasses both Theism and Agnosticism. 
As the strictest sense of positive atheism does not entail any specific beliefs outside of disbelief in God, 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. Moral universalism (or universal morality) is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics or a universal ethic applies universally, that Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appealing to universal Moral nihilism, also known as ethical nihilism, is the meta-ethical view that objective morality does not exist therefore no action is preferable to any other 
Some philosophers, however, have equated atheism with immorality, arguing that morality must be derived from God and cannot exist without a wise creator.  Moral precepts such as "murder is wrong" are seen as divine laws, requiring a divine lawmaker and judge. Divine law is any Law (or rule) that in the opinion of believers comes directly from the will of God (or a god. 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, based on the Euthyphro dilemma, which either renders God unnecessary or morality arbitrary. False analogy is an Informal fallacy applying to inductive arguments. The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro "Is the pious ( τὸ ὅσιον 
Philosophers Susan Neiman and Julian Baggini (among others) assert that behaving ethically only because of divine mandate is not true ethical behavior but merely blind obedience. Susan Neiman (1955&ndash is an American moral philosopher cultural commentator and essayist Julian Baggini (born 1968 is a British Philosopher and the Author of numerous books about philosophy written for a general audience 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. 
Atheists such as Sam Harris have argued that Western religions' reliance on divine authority lends itself to authoritarianism and dogmatism. Sam Harris (born 1967 is an American Non-fiction writer and Philosopher. Authoritarianism describes a Form of government characterized by an emphasis on the Authority of the State in a republic or union Dogma (the plural is either dogmata or dogmas, Greek, plural) is the established Belief or  Indeed, religious fundamentalism and extrinsic religion (when religion is held because it serves other, more ultimate interests) have been correlated with authoritarianism, dogmatism, and prejudice. Fundamentalism refers to a "deep and totalistic commitment" to a belief in and strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often Religious in nature a reaction Psychology of religion is the psychological study of Religious experiences Beliefs and activities  This argument, combined with historical events that are argued to demonstrate the dangers of religion, such as the Crusades, inquisitions, and witch trials, are often used by antireligious atheists to justify their views. The Crusades were a series of military campaigns of a religious character waged by much of Christian Europe against external and internal opponents The term Inquisition can refer to any one of several institutions charged with trying and convicting heretics within the Roman Catholic Church and Antireligion is opposition to Religion. Antireligion is distinct from Atheism, although many antireligionists are also atheists