History of Atheism

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The brutal proponent of atheism Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union. Professor R. J. Rummel is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Rummel's mid estimate is that communism under Stalin, Mao and other dictators caused the death of approximately 110 million people between 1917 and 1987.[1]

The history of atheism, depending on how one defines the term, can be dated to as early as the 6th century BC, or as recently as the late 18th century AD. The word atheism itself was not coined until the 16th century.[2]

The earliest possible examples of atheism involve Eastern religions such as Jainism, Buddhism and Taoism, which do not include a deity. These date back to the 6th century BC, but there is some dispute over whether these religions can be classified as atheistic, in the sense of denying the existence of gods, as many other branches of these religions do incorporate deity worship. In some such religions, the question of the existence of gods is considered to be unimportant rather than a question which can be answered one way or the other. This stance can be better described by the neologism apatheism.

Atheism can also be traced to Ancient Greece in the 5th century BC. Diagoras of Melos is often referred to as "The First Atheist", and other men who claimed to be atheists include Theodorus of Cyrene and Euhemerus. Epicurus and Lucretius, who are often described as atheists, believed that the gods existed but that they were unconcerned with human affairs: a position better described as Deism than atheism. Protagoras espoused a position which we would describe today as agnosticism, stating that "With regard to the gods I am unable to say either that they exist or do not exist."[3] At the time, however, atheism was a capital offense in Greece - it was the crime for which Socrates was executed, though he denied the charge. It is therefore possible that some individuals may have concealed their true beliefs.

In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, instances of atheism are rare. The existence of arguments put forward to demonstrate God's existence by Aquinas, Anselm and others suggests that non-belief was not unheard of, but few records of it are known.

Modern atheism did not begin until the Enlightenment. In addition, the French Revolution increased the spread of atheism in Europe.[4] Baron D'Holbach's book The System of Nature was the first publication which explicitly denied the existence of God. Other atheists from this time included the philosopher David Hume. Others denied being atheists (heresy and blasphemy were capital offences) but held materialistic, empiricist, broadly deistic views; these include Voltaire, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Paine, John Locke, Immanuel Kant and Benjamin Franklin.

Contents

French Revolution and atheism

On July 14, 1789, the Bastille was stormed by a mob and its prisoners freed, which is regarded as the start of the French Revolution.

The University of Cambridge reports the following historical relationship between atheism and the French Revolution:

Between 1700 and 1750 thousands of atheistic clandestine manuscripts circulated across Europe (although still only read by a very small minority)...

The French Revolution (1789-94) would dramatically transform the power relationship between belief and unbelief in Europe: whereas before atheism had been 'high brow', discussed in the cafes and salons of Paris, henceforth it would set itself down among the people. A strident unbelief became a real political factor in public life, as the anticlerical 'dechristianisation' period following the revolution would demonstrate. The impact of the French Revolution in inspiring people to put the irreligious ideas of the Enlightenment into practice would extend beyond France to other European countries, and to the American colonies (although in the latter it would take a deistic rather than atheistic form).[5]

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.[6][7][8]

Atheism and atheistic communism

See also: Militant atheism and Atheism and communism

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."[9] Vitalij Lazarʹevič Ginzburg, a Soviet physicist, wrote that the "Bolshevik communists were not merely atheists but, according to Lenin's terminology, militant atheists."[10]

Oppression in atheistic communist regimes

See also: Atheism and mass murder and Atheism and communism

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.[11]

It has been estimated that in less than the past 100 years, governments under the banner of communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40,472,000 to 259,432,000 human lives.[12] Dr. R. J. Rummel, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, is the scholar who first coined the term democide (death by government). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987.[13]

The perverse and cruel atheist Marquis de Sade advocated induced abortion.[14]

Atheism and abortion

The father of medicine, Hippocrates, expressly prohibited abortion in his ethical Oath long before Christianity.

The Journal of Medical Ethics declared concerning the atheist and sadist Marquis de Sade, who was imprisoned a number of times before being committed to an insane asylum:

In 1795 the Marquis de Sade published his La Philosophic dans le boudoir, in which he proposed the use of induced abortion for social reasons and as a means of population control. It is from this time that medical and social acceptance of abortion can be dated, although previously the subject had not been discussed in public in modern times. It is suggested that it was largely due to de Sade's writing that induced abortion received the impetus which resulted in its subsequent spread in western society."[15]

Women, history and atheism

See also: Atheism and women

In the 1770s, the French philosopher Paul-Henri Thiry observed a dearth of female atheists.[16] The English poet Edward Young (June 5, 1681 – April 5, 1765) wrote to satirically signal earthly apocalypse: "Atheists have been rare, since nature’s birth; Till now, she-atheists ne’er appear’d on earth."[17] In a letter written in the 1760s, the English essayist Bonnell Thornton wrote: "Good God! A Female Atheist! … One is not half so shocked at the idea of a Female Murderer; A Female Murderer, in the worse of senses, of her own children, of herself."[18] In 1813, the prominent doctor Thomas Cogan (founder of the Royal Humane Society) declared: "Men contemplate a female atheist with more disgust and horror than if she possessed the hardest features embossed with carbuncles."[19]

Atheism and religion

Contrary to the opinions of evangelical atheists, atheism is a religion which has repeatedly attempted to take away the religious liberties of Christians in order to support their false religion.[20] Using unproven theories, Darwinists indoctrinate youths in the United States in high school and college. Although atheists claim that atheism is a religion the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that atheism is a religion as it fits in the definition of how “[a] religion is based on a belief in the existence of God [or] religions founded on different beliefs."[21]

See also:

Atheism and the persecution of homosexuals

Schools of atheist thought

see: Schools of atheist thought and Atheist factions

See also

External Links

Recommended Reading

  • Dimitry Pospielovsky, (December, 1987), A History of Marxist-Leninist Atheism and Soviet Antireligious Policies, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0312381328
  • Dimitry Pospielovsky, (November, 1987), Soviet Antireligious Campaigns and Persecutions (History of Soviet Atheism in Theory and Practice and the Believers, Vol 2), Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0312009054
  • Dimitry Pospielovsky, (August, 1988), Soviet Studies on the Church and the Believer's Response to Atheism: A History of Soviet Atheism in Theory and Practice and the Believers, Vol 3, Palgrave Macmillan, hardcover: ISBN 0312012918, paperback: ISBN 0312012926

References

  1. http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM
  2. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism
  3. Cicero, De Natura Deorum
  4. http://www.investigatingatheism.info/historyeighteenth.html
  5. http://www.investigatingatheism.info/historyeighteenth.html
  6. 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.”
  7. 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."”
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.”
  10. 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.”
  11. http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM
  12. http://jme.bmj.com/content/6/1/7.abstract
  13. http://jme.bmj.com/content/6/1/7.abstract
  14. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  15. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  16. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  17. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  18. http://shockawenow.blogspot.com/2011/10/cutting-off-air-supply-of-atheism_573.html
  19. http://factschurch.com/sermons/sermon004.html


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