Atheism and beliefs

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There are number of beliefs that are common among proponents of Western World atheism which will shortly be covered. In addition, there is diversity as far as there being various schools of atheist thought (see: Schools of atheist thought and Atheist factions).

In addition, although many atheists deny that atheism is a worldview, atheists commonly share a number of beliefs such as naturalism, belief in evolution and abiogenesis.[1] At the same time, when it comes to belief in life after death and other matters, a significant portion of atheists do not strictly hold to the philosophy of naturalism (see: Atheists and supernatural beliefs).

An examination of the subject of atheism and beliefs quickly leads to the reasonable conclusion that the beliefs held in "faith" by atheists are without any supporting evidence. Atheism has become a religion (see: Atheism is a religion). See also: Common arguments against atheism and Arguments for the existence of God and Christian apologetics

Atheism and the origin of the universe

See also: Atheism and the origin of the universe

Although many atheists indicate that they do not know how the universe came into being, some prominent atheists claim that the universe came into existence from nothing.[2][3] For more information, please see: Atheism and the origin of the universe

As a theory which addresses the origins of the universe, the Big Bang has always carried theological implications, most notably, the concept of creatio ex nihilo, which stems from the Genesis creation narrative.[4][5][6][7][8] In light of the theistic implications of the Big Bang, Fred Hoyle, an atheist scientist did not accept the Big Bang,[9] preferring a model that did not have a single epoch of creation which would eliminate the need for a creator.[10] As a result, Fred Holyle, Thomas Gold, and Hermann Bondi developed the steady state theory, which appealed to atheist cosmologists because it avoided a creation event and the religious implications associated with one.[11] As such, English physicist and statistical thermodynamicist, Peter Theodore Landsberg, has written that this tension is often seen as that between a Christian-Judaic Big Bang and a communist-atheist steady-state model of the universe.[12][13][14] According to the ideology of the Soviet communism, as it was forumulated in the late 1930s, cosmologial models with heat death, and hence a finite upper time scale, were rejected as well because of their theistic implications.[15]

Atheism and beliefs about the origins of life

See also: Atheism and evolution

  • Abiogenesis: atheists assert that cellular life was materialistically generated from inorganic material, the "primordial soup." Abiogenesis has not been established in any scientific study, and is profoundly unlikely, given the miniscule odds of the right mix of chemical and environment existing, which are necessary for organic life.
  • Materialistic Evolution: atheists believe that all life on earth developed from the first organic cells, according to Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Importantly, they categorically reject the potential of God's hand in this process, though without cause (see: Theistic evolution for a different take). See The Theory of Evolution for the inherent problems of this belief.

A significant portion of atheists see their lives and the world being the product of purpose

One of the most popular arguments for God's existence is the teleological argument. Derived from the Greek word telos, which refers to purpose or end, this argument hinges on the idea that the world gives evidence of being designed, and concludes that a divine designer must be posited to account for the orderly world we encounter.

Research and historical data indicate that a significant portion of atheists/agnostics often see the their lives and the world as being the product of purposeful design (see: Atheism and purpose).[16]

Atheism and life after death

See: Atheism and death and Atheism and the supernatural

Although a majority of atheists do not believe in life after death due to holding to the worldview of naturalism, a significant number of atheists believe in life after death (see: Atheism and death).

Irreligion and superstition

The Wall Street Journal reported: "A comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows ...that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians."[17]

See also: Irreligion and superstition

In September of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported:

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians....

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.[18]


Atheism and beliefs about history

  • Science and Christianity: atheists believe that religion is antithetical to scientific research and deny that Christianity was important to the development of science, when in fact the Scientific Revolution was brought about by scientists seeking a greater knowledge of the world that they believe was created by God. See also: Christianity and science and Atheism and the suppression of science
  • Democracy and Christianity: atheists believe that democracy does not rely on Christianity, even though they are clearly linked in Western history and no atheist democracy has ever succeeded.
  • Atheists deny that many of the Founding Fathers were Christian, pretending instead that they were Deists.[20]

General philosophy

See also: Schools of atheist thought

  • Naturalism: atheists believe that the universe only operates through natural processes, and is limited to what can be observed. Most scientists, (from Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein to present) on the other hand, assert that while the observable universe follows natural processes, first causes are unknowable, and our knowledge is limited to what we can detect, leaving open the potential for the spiritual, the soul, and divine acts of God. See: Atheism and Miracles
  • Scientism: atheists believe that all knowledge and aspects of life can be refined to a science (see Comte and positivism), including religious belief, ethics, morality, and the soul.
  • Human improvement: atheists believe that humans have grown increasingly moral and intelligent as time has gone on, and that people can be improved or perfected through education and liberal institution-crafting, without relying upon God to cleanse sin.[21] See also: Atheism and morality
  • Unbounded reason: atheists believe that human reason is capable of comprehending absolutely anything, a theory long since rejected by moral philosophers such as Kant.[22] See also: Atheism and irrationality

Religion and God

  • Comprehensible God: extending from an arrogance in their own reason, atheists believe that if God exists, He and His works must be comprehensible. Therefore, they argue that God does not exist from paradoxes and such arguments as the Problem of Evil, which God transcends.[23] See: Atheism and the problem of evil
  • Disbelief from silence: atheists believe that God does not exist, merely because there is no absolute proof that he does exist, a logical fallacy. Atheists believe that science disproves God[24] but have no actual evidence that this is the case.
  • Moral superiority: atheists believe that religion causes strife and that atheists are inherently morally superior to theists. This flies in the face of actual evidence, which shows that atheists are markedly less generous than theists.[25] See: Moral failings of the atheist community
  • Moral relativism: atheists believe that no absolute morals exist, God-inspired or otherwise, and thus rely on vague, transient, and corrupting notions of morality. See: Atheism and morality
  • Superior intellect: atheists often believe that atheists are inherently more intelligent than theists. See: Atheism and intelligence

See Also

External links


  1. Atheists Respond to my Challenge to Put Up or Shut Up! by Dr. Don Boys
  2. “Atheists do not claim that nothing created everything.”
  3. Robert J. Russell. Cosmology: From Alpha to Omega. Fortress Press. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Amazingly, some secularists attribute to t=0 a direct implication. The June 1978 issue of the New York Times contained an article by NASA's Robert Jastrow, an avowed agnostic, entitled "Found God?" Here Jastrow depicts the theologians to be "delighted" that astronomical evidence "leads to a biblical view of Genesis." Though claiming to be agnostic, he argued without reservation for the religious significance of t=0: It is beyond science and leads to some sort of creator.” 
  4. Michael Corey. God and the New Cosmology. Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Indeed, creation ex nihilo is a fundamental tenent of orthodox Christian theology. Incredibly enough, modern theoretical physicists have also speculated that the universe may have been produced through a sudden quantum appearance "out of nothing." Physicist Paul Davies has claimed that the particular physicis involved in the Big Bang necessitates creation ex nihilo.” 
  5. Eric J. Lerner. The Big Bang Never Happened: A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe. Vintage Books. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “From theologians to physicists to novelists, it is widely believed that the Big Bang theory supports Christian concepts of a creator. In February of 1989, for example, the front-page article of the New York Times Book Review argued that scientists argued that scientists and novelists were returning to God, in large part through the influence of the Big Bang.” 
  6. Neil A. Manson. God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science. Routledge. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “The Big Bang theory strikes many people as having theological implications, as shown by those who do not welcome those implications.” 
  7. John Jefferson Davis. The Frontiers of Science & Faith. InterVarsity Press. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Genesis' concept of a singular, ex nihilo beginning of the universe essentially stands alone among the cosmolgies of the ancient world and exhibts, at this point, convergence with recent big bang cosmological models.” 
  8. S.K. Basu. Encyclopædic Dictionary of Astrophysics. Global Vision Publishing House. Retrieved on 2007–10–18. “While having no argument with Edwin Hubble's discovery that the universe was expanding, Hoyle disagreed on its interpretation. An atheist, he found the idea that the universe had a beginning to be philosophically troubling, as many argue that a beginning implies a cause, and thus a creator (see Kalam cosmological argument).” 
  9. David H. Clark, Matthew D. H. Clark. Measuring the Cosmos: How Scientists Discovered the Dimensions of the Universe. Rutgers University Press. Retrieved on 2007–10–18. “Hoyle wanted a universe without a beginning and without an end, a universe that had always existed and would always exist, a universe that did not have a single epoch of creation and therefore would not need a "creator"–a univserse that was truly eternal. Hence Hoyle, Bondi, and Gold produced their "steady state" hypothesis as an alternative to the big bang. The steady state universe was indeed envisaged as being eternal.” 
  10. Don O'Leary. Roman Catholicism and Modern Science: A History. Continuum International Publishing Group. Retrieved on 2007–10–18. “Several eminent scientists, especially those who were resolutely atheistic, repudiated the Big Bang theory. In 1948, Fred Holyle, Hermann Bondi, and Thomas Gold proposed an alternative explanation. Their steady state theory envisaged that the universe was unchanged in time and was uniform in space. matter was spontaneosly and continuously generated to fill the extra space caused by cosmic expansion. In the 1950s and early 1960s steady state theory offered a robust challenge to the idea of the Big Bang. Its appeal to atheistic cosmologists was that it avoided a creation event–with all its concomitant religious implications.” 
  11. Peter Theodore Landsberg. Seeking Ultimates: An Intuitive Guide to Physics, Second Edition. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved on 2007–10–18. “Some people seem to have felt that there was a struggle between a Christian-Judaic Big Bang and a communist-atheist steady-state model of the universe.” 
  12. Isaĭ Shoulovich Davydov, Joseph Davydov. God Exists: New Light on Science and Creation. Schreiber Publishing, Inc.. Retrieved on 2007–10–18. “It is the "theory" of the steady-state (and not the evolutionary) Universe which depicts the latter as eternal and unchanged and thus tries to refute the Biblical model of the creation of the world.” 
  13. Polly Jones. The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization: Negotiating Cultural and Social Change in the Khrushchev Era. Routledge. Retrieved on 2007–10–18. “The theory of the 'Big Bang' was to be desisively repudiated.” 
  14. Helge Kragh. Entropic Creation. Ashgate Publishing. Retrieved on 2007–10–18. “In part because of Engels's opposition to finite space and time, and because of the long tradition of associating these concepts with idealism, clericalism and bourgeois thought, infinite space and time became incorporated in twentieth-century dialectical materialism and in this way obtained status as official doctrines in communist thinking. According to the ideology of the Soviet communism, as it was forumulated in the late 1930s, cosmologial models with heat death, and hence a finite upper time scale, had to be rejected because of their theistic implications.” 
    • Does everything happen for a reason?, New York Times, October 17, 2014
    • Children see the world as designed by David Catchpoole, Creation Ministries International, Published: 16 July 2009
    • Atheist Jean-Paul Sartre made the candid confession: "As for me, I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator; and this idea of a creating hand that created me refers me back to God. Naturally this is not a clear, exact idea that I set in motion every time I think of myself. It contradicts many of my other ideas; but it is there, floating vaguely. And when I think of myself I often think rather in this way, for wont of being able to think otherwise." Source: Escape from God: The Use of Religion and Philosophy to Evade Responsibility By Dean Turner, page 109
    • The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy declares: "In 1885, the Duke of Argyll recounted a conversation he had had with Charles Darwin the year before Darwin's death: In the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the Fertilization of Orchids, and upon The Earthworms, and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature — I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of Mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, 'Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,' and he shook his head vaguely, adding, 'it seems to go away.'(Argyll 1885, 244)Notes to Teleological Arguments for God's Existence
  18. James Thrower, A Short History of Western Atheism, 212.
  20. James Thrower, A Short History of Western Atheism, 14.
  21. James Thrower, A Short History of Western Atheism, 33.
  23. Brooks, Arthur C., Religious Faith and Charitable Giving, Policy Review, Oct-Dec 2003, p.2.