Faithology, The. "Atheism Overview." Faithology.com. Faithology, 26 March 2013. Web. 19 May 2013.
Staff, T.F.E. (2013, Mar 26). Atheism Overview. Faithology.
Staff, The, et. al. "Atheism Overview" Faithology, LLC. Last modified March 26, 2013.
Faithology, LLC, 2012. (Accessed May 19, 2013).. Atheism Overview.
- Jones, Lindsay, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 15 vols.
- Martin, Michael, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- Last Updated: March 26, 2013
- Originally Published: June 21, 2012
is the modern name for the willful denial of the existence of deities. This belief functions chiefly as a response to the cross-cultural belief in an , , and supreme deity that is responsible for the creation of the world or universe.
- Atheists by definition believe in the non-existence of any deity of any kind. This is the only belief that unites all atheists.
- Belief systems that do not recognize deities are not truly atheistic unless they teach the non-existence of deities.
- Atheists generally embrace scientific explanations for the creation of the world and of humans, rejecting any and all religious explanations for these events.
- It is difficult to determine who the first actual atheist was, but it is clear that ancient Greek philosophers and writers did understand what it meant to be atheistic.
- Atheism did not emerge as an exclusive belief system until the seventeenth century, when the science of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) supplanted the earlier views of Aristotle (384-322 BCE).
- Atheism emerged first in Europe, chiefly as a response to Christian explanations for natural phenomena. Thus, even though atheists refute the belief in all deities worldwide, the monotheistic God of Christianity is generally the most frequent target of atheists.
- Since the 17th century, a vast number of theologians, philosophers, scientists, and religious historians have put forth their own ideas or proofs for the existence or nonexistence of the divine.
The Ancient Greek Roots of the Willful Rejection of the Divine
Atheism in ancient Greece has been traced to the philosopher Protagoras (c. 485-420 BCE), who first questioned the existence of deities, believing that one is unable to determine whether the gods exist or not.Although his question of the deities set the stage for the full rejection of the divine in Greece, this never developed into a popular .
After Protagoras, several Greek philosophers and authors of the 5th century BCE composed strong atheistic statements in their works. For example, Anaxagoras (c. 500-428 BCE) proclaimed that the sun was a red-hot mass of metal, implying that it was not the Greek solar deity, Helios. Contemporaries of Socrates (469-339 BCE) also purportedly stated that Socrates had also rejected the divine due to his endless studies of nature, the earth, and the sciences.
The Sophist, Prodicus of Keos(c. 465-395 BE), is said to have stated that the deities of popular belief do not exist. In addition, Greek authors Euripides (c. 480-406 BCE) and Critias (460-403 BCE) are cited as professing atheistic attitudes in their works. Euripides is inferred to have been an atheist because in his play, Bellerophon, the titular character expresses that there are indeed no gods in heaven. Critias, however, is well known to have been an atheist: in one of his works he claims specifically that man invented the fear of the gods in order to foster morality and deter evil behavior.