Causes of atheism

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In 1932, the brutal atheist dictator and militant atheist Joseph Stalin penned a repressive “Five Year Plan of Atheism”.[1] See also: State atheism and Atheism and mass murder

There are a number of reasonable explanations for the causes of atheism:

1. Moral depravity: The history of the atheist community and various studies concerning the atheist community point to moral depravity being a causal factor for atheism.[2] In addition, there is the historical matter of deceit being used in a major way to propagate atheism from the time of Charles Darwin onward. Also, Bible exegesis points to the moral depravity of atheists. Moral depravity is certainly one of the prime causes of atheism. Francis Thompson wrote: "Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman." (see also: Atheism and morality )

2. Hatred towards God. Angry, bitter and juvenile attacks on Christianity and Christians are due to hatred towards Jesus Christ and the Bible.[3][4] See also: Atheism and hatred of God

3. Atheistic upbringing. However, according to recent research by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, in the United States, a majority of those surveyed who were raised in atheist or agnostic households, or where there was no specific religious attachment, later chose to join a religious faith.[5][6] A notable example, of a person raised in a atheistic household who later became a Christian is William J. Murray. Mr. Murray was raised by Madalyn Murray O'Hair who founded the organization American Atheists.

In addition, Christianity is experiencing rapid growth in atheistic communist China and has experienced rapid growth in former communist countries. [7][8][9]

4. Poor relationship with father/mother/parents:

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism which was edited by the atheist philosopher Michael Martin declared:

Continuity and discontinuity in any identity may be a function of interpersonal networks, especially involving intimate relations. Apostasy and conversion can both be seen as a rejection of parental identity and parental beliefs. It “might well be symptomatic of familial strain and dissociation... apostasy is to be viewed as a form of rebellion against parents” (Caplovitz and Sherrow, 1977:50).[10]

A troubled/non-existent relationship with a father can influence a person to become an atheist.[11] Dr. Paul Vitz wrote a book entitled Faith of the Fatherless in which he points out that after studying the lives of more than a dozen leading atheists he found that a large majority of them had a father who was present but weak, present but abusive, or absent.[12][13] Dr. Vitz also examined the lives of prominent theists who were contemporaneous to their atheist counterparts and from the same culture and in every instance these prominent theists had a good relationship with his father.[14] Dr. Vitz has also stated other common factors he observed in the leading atheists he profiled: they were all intelligent and arrogant.[15]

The book Atheist Persona: Causes and Consequences by John J. Pasquini, Th.D. indicates that many of the prominent atheists (and prominent practical atheists) who had dysfunctional/absent fathers that he lists in his book also had dysfunctional/absent mothers.[16]

5. Rebellion: Atheism stems from a choice to ignore the reality of God's existence [17][18] Dinesh D'Souza declared: "Look at Satan's reason for rebelling against God. It's not that he doesn't recognize that God is greater than he is. He does. It's just that he doesn't want to play by anybody else's rules. This idea that it is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven is Satan's motto, and it turns out that this is also the motto of contemporary atheists such as Christopher Hitchens." [19]

6. Immaturity.[20][21][22][23] In 2012, a Georgetown University study was published indicating that only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household in the United States remain atheists as adults. [24] A 2012 study by the General Social Survey of the social science research organization NORC at the University of Chicago found that belief in God rises with age, even in atheistic nations.[25] See: Atheism has a lower retention rate compared to other worldviews and Atheism and immaturity

Vox Day writes about immaturity being a causal factor for atheism: "the age at which most people become atheists indicates that it is almost never an intellectual decision, but an emotional one. (This is why most self-identified atheists are angry, bitter, and immature. The anger, bitterness, and immaturity are usually the cause of the atheism, they are not, as many Christians erroneously suppose, the effects).[26]

7. Bitterness.[27] See also: Militant atheism

8. Hedonism.[28] The Apostle Paul wrote that in the end times, men would be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4). See: Atheism and hedonism

9. Naiveté/Gullibility: Many atheists have embraced a number of far fetched, unworkable, and errant notions and ideologies such as communism, abiogenesis, and evolution despite abundant evidence of their falsity. See also: Causes of evolutionary belief

10. Irrational thinking: As noted earlier, a comprehensive study by Baylor University found that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.[29] Also, as noted above, a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer found irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born again Christian college students were found to be the least likely.[30]

11. Superficiality: Noted ex-atheist and psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz has stated that he had superficial reasons for becoming an atheist such as the desire to be accepted by his Stanford University professors who were united in disbelief regarding God.[31]

evolution darwin theory
Late in Charles Darwin's life, Darwin told the Duke of Argyll that he frequently had overwhelming thoughts that the natural world was the result of design.[32] In a letter to Asa Gray, Darwin confided: "...I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science."[33] See: Irreligion and superstition and Religious views of Charles Darwin

12. Error: Some argue that atheism partly stems from a failure to fairly and judiciously consider the facts [34]

13. State churches: In regards to the causes of atheism, rates of atheism are much higher in countries with a state sanctioned religion (such as many European countries), and lower in states without a sanctioned religion (such as the United States). Some argue this is because state churches become bloated, corrupt, and/or out of touch with the religious intuitions of the population, while churches independent of the state are leaner and more adaptable. It is important to distinguish "state-sanctioned churches," where participation is voluntary, from "state-mandated churches" (such as Saudi Arabia) with much lower atheism rates because publicly admitted atheism is punishable by death. [35]

14. Decline of family in a culture - Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, found the decline of family values leads to a rise in secularization.[36]

15. Socialism [37] and communist/leftist governments.

According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[38] Vitalij Lazarʹevič Ginzburg, a Soviet physicist, wrote that the "Bolshevik communists were not merely atheists but, according to Lenin's terminology, militant atheists."[39] However, prior to this, the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution established an atheist state, with the official ideology being the Cult of Reason; during this time thousands of believers were suppressed and executed by the guillotine.[40][41][42]

The atheism in communist regimes has been and continues to be militant atheism and various acts of repression including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.[43]

Currently, Communist China, the world's largest country in terms of adherents to atheism, is seeing an explosive growth of Christianity. See: Global Christianity and Global atheism and Atheism has a lower retention rate compared to other worldviews

16. Self-deception[44]

17. Satanic deception [45] (see also: Atheism and satanic deception )

18. Division in religion: According to Sir Francis Bacon, atheism is caused by "divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division addeth zeal to both sides, but many divisions introduce atheism."[46]

C. S. Lewis, photographed in 1947.

19. Ignorance.

The ex-atheist C.S. Lewis wrote: "In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere--"Bibles laid open, millions of surprises," as Herbert says, "fine nets and stratgems." Sir Francis Bacon wrote: "A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." See also: Christian apologetics

Individuals such as Calvin Smith of Creation Ministries International have reported leaving atheism after finding out the falsehood of evolutionary pseudoscience and the evidence for biblical creation.[47]

The ex-atheist Lee Strobel in his book "The Case for Christ" indicates how he used his journalist skills and legal training to discover the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. See also: Christian legal apologetics

For more information see: Atheism and education

20. Indoctrination and ease of life: Francis Bacon argued that atheism was partly caused by:"Learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men’s minds to religion."[48] See also: Atheism and economics

In addition, Jewish columnist Dennis Prager has stated that a causal factor of atheism is the "secular indoctrination of a generation."[49] Prager stated that "From elementary school through graduate school, only one way of looking at the world – the secular – is presented. The typical individual in the Western world receives as secular an indoctrination as the typical European received a religious one in the Middle Ages." [50] In 2013, an study found that academia was less likely to hire evangelical Christians due to discriminatory attitudes.[51]

Dinesh D'Souza has pointed out that atheists have focused considerable efforts on the public schools in order to indoctrinate young people into atheistic beliefs.[52] In addition, in communist countries (such as the former Soviet Union) atheistic indoctrination occurred in the educational system through such venues as schools, atheist museums, and clubs (see also: Militant atheism).[53][54] Atheists and secularists rarely point out that universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, and many others were founded by Christians.[55][56]

See also: Does atheism thrive on economic prosperity and religion prosper when people are desperate and ignorant?

21. Negative experiences with theists

22. Materialist pseudoscience. (See: Evolution and Abiogenesis). Countries with higher rates of Darwinism also have higher rates of atheism.[57][58] Biblical creationists, such as advocates of the Question evolution! campaign, assert that evolutionism is an ideological "air supply of atheism" and that reducing Darwinism will reduce the prevalence of atheism. [59]

23. Scientism: Science has in many ways become a new god.[60][61][62] Scientism is self-refuting. William Lane Craig wrote: "Scientism tells us that we should not believe any proposition that cannot be scientifically proven. But what about that very proposition itself? It cannot itself be scientifically proven."[63]

24. Pursuit of prestige within secular circles.[64]

25. Intellectual cowardice. See: Atheism and cowardice

26. In cultures not receptive to atheism, atheists appear to be more likely to be social outcasts (see: Atheism and social outcasts).


Errant notion that atheism is the result of higher intelligence

See also: Atheism and intelligence and Atheism and education

A common errant notions among atheists is the mistaken belief that atheism is the result of higher intelligence. This mistaken belief is due to excessive pride, the foolish nature of atheists and self-deception. There is a wealth of information that dispels the idea that atheism is the result of higher intelligence (see: Atheism and intelligence).

Citing data from the General Social Survey (GSS), Vox Day writes: "..the two most common types of atheists are the High Church atheists with +2SD IQs (128+) and Low Church atheists with -2SD IQs (65-72). Note that the Low Church atheists actually outnumber the High Church atheists, 22.9 to 17.2 percent."[65] (click on the graph above to enlarge)

The General Social Survey (GSS) is the "largest project funded by the Sociology Program of the National Science Foundation. Except for the U.S. Census, the GSS is the most frequently analyzed source of information in the social sciences."[66]

Citing data from the General Social Survey, Vox Day writes about atheist intelligence quotient (IQ) scores:

"..the two most common types of atheists are the High Church atheists with +2SD IQs (128+) and Low Church atheists with -2SD IQs (65-72). Note that the Low Church atheists actually outnumber the High Church atheists, 22.9 to 17.2 percent...

Now, the statistically naive might look at this chart, note that the +2SD theists only account for 3.5 percent of the theistic population, and assume that this means there are more highly intelligent atheists than highly intelligent theists. This is not the case. As it happens, there are 11.4x more +2SD theists who either know God exists or believe God exists despite having the occasional doubt than there are +2SD atheists who don't believe God exists.[67]

In a 2010 article, Vox Day writes:

Never forget that the smarter and more knowledgeable act put on by many atheists is inevitably nothing more than that, an act, and one that has absolutely no basis in empirical reality except for a three-point average advantage in IQ which is almost surely a statistical artifact of their insignificant numbers and self-selected identification.[68]

Also, due the lack of evidence for atheism and the great amount of evidence for Christianity, atheism is not a respectable intellectual position. For example, God's creation plainly points to the existence of God [69] (see also: Atheism has a lower retention rate compared to other worldviews).

See Also

Other articles relating to atheism:

External Links


  1. Was Stalin an atheist? Is atheism or communism responsible for mass murders?
  2. Christopher Hitchens: Staring Death in the Face And the difference that Biblical Creation makes!
  3. The Argument for Atheism from Immaturity
  9. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, edited by Michael Martin, page 302, published in 2006
  11. Vitz, Paul, The Psychology of Atheism, September 24, 1997 (lecture notes taken by an audience member).
  12. Anders, Kerby, Atheists and Their Fathers (Probe Ministries)
  15. Atheist Persona: Causes and Consequences by John J. Pasquini, 2014, University Press of America, page 3
  16. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse..." —Romans 1:19-20 (NKJV)
  17. Atheist talking points
  18. The Apologist, An Interview with Dinesh D'Souza, Author of What's So Great About Christianity by Marcia Segelstein
  19. Answering an atheist's question
  20. The Argument for Atheism from Immaturity
  21. [ Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  22. Belief in God rises with age, even in atheist nations
  23. [ Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  24. Belief in God rises with age, even in atheist nations
  25. [Answering an atheist's question]
  26. Answering an atheist's question
  27. Why do atheists hate God?
  33. "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere--'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,' as Herbert says, 'fine nets and stratagems.' God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous." -- C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy.
  35. An Interview With Mary Eberstadt On Her New Book “How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization
  36. Does atheism thrive on economic prosperity? Does religion prosper when people are desperate and ignorant?
  37. Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  38. Vitalij Lazarʹevič Ginzburg (2009). On Superconductivity and Superfluidity: A Scientific Autobiography. Springer Science+Business Media. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The Bolshevik communists were not merely atheists but, according to Lenin's terminology, militant atheists.”
  39. James Adair (2007). Christianity. JBE Online Books. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Although the Civil Constitution called for religious liberty, which was extended to Jews as well as Christians, many revolutionaries pushed for the establishment of a new state religion, either the Cult of Reason (atheists) or the Cult of the Supreme Being (Deists). Changes toAlthough the Civil Constitution called for religious liberty, which was extended to Jews as well as Christians, many revolutionaries pushed for the establishment of a new state religion, either the Cult of Reason (atheists) or the Cult of the Supreme Being (Deists). Changes to the calendar eliminated references to Christian holidays, and even the ancient seven-day week, and a ist of officially recognized saints included such famous thinkers such as Socrates, Jesus, Marcus Aurelius, and Jean-Jacques Rosseau. A period of political persecution, often with religious overtones, broke out, known as the Reign of Teror. Thousands of people were executed by the guillotine, including many of the original leaders of the French Revolution.”
  40. William Belsham (1801). Memoirs of the reign of George III. to the session of parliament ending A.D. 1793, Volume 5. G.G. & J. Robinson. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Reign of this portentous period, it has been eloquently tenor, and energetically observed, " that the reign of atheism in France was avowed the reign of terror. In the full madness of their career, in the highest climax of their horrors, they shut up the temples of God, abolished His worship, and proclaimed death to be an eternal sleep:-in the very centre of Christendom, Revelation underwent a total eclipse, while atheism, performing on a darkened theatre its strange and fearful tragedy, confounded the first elements of society, blended every age, rank, and sex ,indiscriminate proscription and massacre, and convulsed all Europe to its centre, that the imperishable memorial of these events might teach the last generations of mankind to consider religion as the pillar of society, the parent of social order, and the safe-guard of nations." It is wonderful that, amid the horrors of this dismal period, while "the death dance of democratic revolution" was still in rapid movement, among the tears of affliction, and the cries of despair, "the masque, the song, the theatric scene, the buffoon laughter, went on as regularly as in the gay hour of festive peace."”
  41. William Kilpatrick (2012). Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West. Ignatius Press. Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “Actually, it's helpful to think in terms of two Enlightenments: the Enlightenment that cut itself off from God. The former led to the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the abolition of slavery, and the civil rights movement. The latter led to the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, the suppression of church by state, and the godless philosophies of Marx and Nietzsche and their offspring-National Socialism and communism. More recently the abandonment of God has led to the regime of cultural relativism that regards rights as arbitrary constructions. It's this second Enlightenment tradition that Cardinal Ratzinger referred to when he wrote, "The radical detachment of the Enlightenment philosophy from its roots ultimately leads it to dispense with man." Actually this transition happened no "ultimately" but almost immediately. The first instance occurred when Enlightenment worship of abstract "reason" and "liberty" degenearated quickly into the mass murders committed during the antireligious Reign of Terror in France. "Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name", said Madam Rolande as she faced the statue of Liberty in the Place de la Revolution movements before her death at the guillotine. She was one of the early victims of a succession of secular systems based on rootless notions of "liberty", "equality", and "reason". As many historians have pointed out, the atheist regimes of modern times are guilty of far more crimes than any committed in the name of religion. Communist governments alone were guilty of more than one hundred million murders, most of them committed against their own people.”
  42. Atheism - Satanic deception and self-deception
  43. Atheism - Satanic deception and self-deception
  44. Francis Bacon, Of atheism - essay
  45. Calvin Smith - short bio
  46. Francis Bacon, Of atheism - essay
  49. Suspicions Confirmed: Academia Shutting Out Conservative Professors
  50. The atheist indoctrination project
  51. Marxist-Leninist 'Scientific Atheism' and the Study of Religion and Atheism By James Thrower, page 325
  52. Communism's Struggle with Religion in Lithuania
  55. Atheist populations in various countries
  56. Belief in evolution in various countries
  57. Cutting off the air supply of atheism
  58. The religion of scientism
  59. Dawkins, Dilbert and the Illogical Scientists
  60. Exposing the religion of scientism
  61. Is scientism self-refuting?
  62. Atheist talking points
  63. Mailvox: The distribution of atheist intelligence
  64. About the General Social Survey
  65. Mailvox: The distribution of atheist intelligence
  66. Always call their bluff
  67. Creation vs. evolution
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