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Atheism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is the denial of the existence of any God.[1][2]

The term "atheism" often is used to include uncertainty about whether God exists or not, that is, people who never believe in God or actively deny His existence (see also agnosticism). There are two kinds of atheism, strong atheism, or someone who believes strongly that there is no God, and weak atheism, or someone who believes that there probably is no God. Atheists often equivocate that they actually have a lack of belief in any God, as opposed to having the positive belief that there is no God. This equivocation stems from the fact that if they hold positive beliefs, then their worldview can be categorized as a religion.

Biblical View of Atheism

The Bible states:

"The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God. - Psalm 14:1 (KJV)}}

In addition, the Bible states:

"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 1:20 (KJV)}}

Minority View and Well Known Atheists

In recorded history atheism has been a minority view, although there have been pockets of atheistic thought such as amongst the literati in pre-modern China who followed Confucian teachings.

Well-known atheists include Joseph Stalin, Bertrand Russell, Ayn Rand, Richard Dawkins ,Douglas Adams, Ernest Hemingway, and David Hume.

Atheism and Communism

Karl Marx coined the saying "Religion is the opium of the people". Karl Marx also wrote: "Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction."

Vladimir Lenin similarly wrote: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could."

Atheist morality

Although it is difficult to generalize about atheism because it has no creed in a way that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam do, atheists typically hold that no religious text can be the only source of morality; they do not look for their morality in revelation, but rather in reason or some other internal force. However, many atheists believe that religious texts contain useful ideas and principles, such as the Golden Rule. Such people would, however, assert that useful principles entered religion because they are useful, and not the other way around. As atheists do not believe in any form of deity, books purported to be based upon the revealed words of such deities are not considered to have any more inherent moral authority than books written by people, as they consider them to be one and the same.

Atheist Population

It is difficult to accurately determine the proportion of the population that is atheist because survey definitions, and even real life definitions, are often unclear. Some people are unsure of the existence of God, but they are sometimes counted as atheists. People who think that the existence of god cannot be proven or disproven are called agnostics (see Agnosticism). Furthermore, surveys containing an option for "no religion" are not necessarily identifying atheists. Individuals may believe in some form of god but not subscribe to any particular religion.

Specific research on atheists conducted in 2006 suggests that the true proportion of atheists is 4% in the United States, 17% in Great Britain and 32% in France.

Concern about Atheists in America

Research in the American Sociological Review finds that atheists are the group that Americans least relate to for shared vision or want to have marry into their family. [3]

This Group Does Not At All Agree with My Vision of American Society: I Would Disapprove if My Child Wanted to Marry a Member of This Group:
Atheist 39.6% 47.6%
Muslim 26.3% 33.5%
Homosexual 22.6% NA
Conservative Christian 13.5% 6.9%
Recent Immigrant 12.5% Not Asked
Hispanic 7.6% 18.5%
Jew 7.4% 11.8%
Asian American 7.0% 18.5%
African American 4.6% 27.2%
White American 2.2% 2.3%

External Links


  3. Edgell, Gerteis & Hartmann 2006