Atheism, dogmatism and strong atheism

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Diagoras of Melos was an ancient Greek atheist, poet and Sophist of the 5th century BC. See: History of atheism

Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and other philosophy reference works, is the denial of the existence of God.[1] Paul Edwards, who was a prominent atheist and editor of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, defined an atheist as "a person who maintains that there is no God."[2] See: Definition of atheism. This traditional definition of atheism is also known as strong atheism or positive atheism.

Beginning in the latter portion of the 20th century and continuing beyond (around 1979), many agnostics and atheists have argued that the definition of atheism should be a lack of belief in God or gods.[2][3][4][5] This newer definition of atheism is also known as weak atheism.

Because the traditional definition of atheism existed for centuries, the existence of outspoken and dogmatic atheists (see: New Atheism and Atheist activist) and because atheism lacks proof and evidence that it is true, atheism and/or atheists are often accused of being dogmatic.

For example, in his BBC documentary The Trouble with Atheism the award-winning journalist Rod Liddle indicates:

Some atheists have become rather dogmatic. Terribly certain in their conviction that there is no God and anyone who thinks there is is a deluded and dangerous fool. ...atheists are becoming as intransigent about their own views as the people they so despise.

Atheism is becoming a religion of its own. It already has its gurus and its revered sacred texts... It has its magnificent temples within which lie mysteries and unknowable truths.[6]

The journalist Marjorie Steele states:

I’m not so much saying atheists as individuals are dogmatic, as I am that atheism is, as an ideology. Atheism takes a firmly negative stance on anything supernatural, asserting it does not exist, which is very different from asserting that it’s unknown. That premise alone makes atheism as dogmatic as religion.[7]

In addition, research indicates that atheists are more dogmatic/closed-minded (see: Atheism and open-mindedness and Atheism and dogmatism).

See also


  1. Multiple references:
    • Smart, J. J. C. (August 8, 2011). "Atheism and agnosticism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
    • "atheism" (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Dictionary [online]. "Definition of atheism 1 a: a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods b: a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods [example sentences omitted] Origin and Etymology of atheism Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god"; "god" (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Dictionary [online]. "Definition of god 1 capitalized: the supreme or ultimate reality: such as a: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe" [definitions 2 and 3 omitted.] Retrieved on April 22, 2018.
    • Atheism: a + theos, denying god, (Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology-1966).
    • Sarfati, Jonathan, Ph.D. (23 June 2007). "Atheism is more rational?". See Creation Ministries International, Jonathan Sarfati.
    • Day, Donn R. (2007). "Atheism - etymology".
    • Putting the Atheist on the Defensive by Kenneth R. Samples, Christian Research Institute Journal, Fall 1991, and Winter 1992, page 7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Putting the Atheist on the Defensive by Kenneth R. Samples, Christian Research Institute Journal, Fall 1991, and Winter 1992, page 7.
  3. Day, Donn R. (2007). "Atheism - etymology".
  4. Definition of atheism by William Lane Craig
  5. Britain is a less religious country than the United States and the online Oxford Dictionaries offers both the narrow/broad definitions of atheism (As noted in a previous footnote the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which is a traditional American dictionary, offers a more narrow definition of atheism similar to the definition that major encyclopedias of philosophy use). Oxford Dictionaries: Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.[1]
  6. BBC Documentary The Trouble With Atheism BBC Horizon Documentary
  7. Journalist Marjorie Steele on atheism