Atheism

Atheism is the belief that no God, gods, divine beings, or supernatural phenomena exist.

Atheism can be described as a range of ideas about the non-existence of the divine, deities, or gods. In one sense, atheists are those who do not believe that any gods or divine beings exist, or are those who hold no belief in the supernatural. Atheists may also believe that there are no gods, as opposed to holding no beliefs about such existence.

No single originator is credited with having first identified the notion of atheism. However, the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, produced in India between c. 1500 and c. 500 BCE, make the first known references to the rejection of an idea of gods. In the Western world, the ancient Greek poet and philosopher Diagoras of Melos (fl. fifth century BCE) was widely recognized as being the first outspoken atheist, a belief that resulted in him having to flee Athens. The term “atheist” was also broadly applied to early Christians who did not believe in the pagan pantheon of the Roman Empire. However, widespread and public assertions that there were no gods did not become commonplace until after the French Revolution (1787-99).

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Is a man merely a mistake of God’s? Or is God merely a mistake of man?” Today, atheism is common in many nations, though rates of non-belief are often difficult to determine precisely.

The idea of gods, the divine, or supernatural agents is often closely related to very basic, driving questions. Who created the universe? How did we come to be here7 For the atheist, the answer does not rely upon a supernatural or divine basis. Atheism, though not a uniform set of beliefs or body of doctrine, allows for the possibility that there is no divine, godly answer to our questions.

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