Atheism is the belief that God, deities, and spiritual beings do not exist. The term "Atheism" is a combination of a, which means without, and theism, which means belief in God or gods. According to Atheism, people do not need to rely on gods or holy writings to create moral codes to rule life. Many Atheists are avid secularists and are against the inclusion of religion in public affairs. Some people who are Atheists are actually religious. Religions as Buddhism comply with principles of Atheism, as do religions that grew out of Judaism and Christianity that take a more humanistic approach and do not focus on the existence of God. Richard Dawkins is a widely recognized atheist and considered to be the father of modern atheism.

History of Atheism

Most Atheists attribute their history to the Greek and Roman philosophers Epicurus, Democritus, and Lucretius. These philosophers are considered the first Atheist writers, even though they did not state that gods did not exist, but simply said that gods were not involved in the life of humans. During the 18th and 19th centuries, philosophers like Thomas Hobbes started doubting the literal value of religious books. Ludwig Feuerbach believed that God was invented by humans. In the late 19th century, Atheism experienced a rise in popularity because of the spread of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and other scientific advancements that questioned religion. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared that God was killed by humanity and so people could not believe in God. Writers, like George Eliot, joined in saying that the Bible contained too much hostility. The 19th century brought the rise of the secularist movement, which was against the involvement of the Church in state affairs. In the meantime believers of Atheism were being imprisoned.

Beliefs in Atheism

Most Atheists have a personal reason as to why they do not believe in following a religion that is centered on God or gods. Many people choose Atheism, because they believe that religions are irrational and that there is not enough evidence to prove the existence of any religion. They believe that religious people are not self-reliant because they turn to God or gods. Atheism also appeals to people who have lost faith in religion or who are not interested in it. Atheists also believe that religion often causes division and war, undermines basic human rights, and prevents scientific research. On the other hand, many Atheists think that religion does offer positive things like charities that help those in need, art, music, wisdom, and a sense of community. Since Atheism is not based on religious beliefs, each Atheist has a personal moral code which is based on secular factors.

Atheism Customs

Atheism celebrates the life stages, like birth, marriage, and death, with ceremonies that are personally significant. Atheist naming ceremonies welcome babies into the world. Family and friends attend the ceremony which usually features chosen mentors or supporting adults who promise to support and protect the child. According to Atheism, people get married through a non-religious wedding, which is very personal and devoid of any supernatural presence and religious rituals. Likewise, Atheist funerals are not religious, but personal reflections of the person who has died.

By Ryan Brown