Atheism is also not a religion
in the normal sense. It has two main definitions:
The lack of a belief in a deity that exists. American
Atheists define an Atheist to be a person who "...does not believe
in a god or gods, or other supernatural entities."
Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines
Atheism as "a disbelief in the existence of deity."
is confined to one factor: the existence or non-existence of a deity.
There is a general consensus that:
A person who believes in a specific
God is a Theist.
A person who actively denies the
existence of God is an Atheist.
A person who feels that we have no
method by which we can conclude whether a deity exists is an Agnostic.
Atheism is not a religion in the
sense that Christianity is, in that Christianity includes a belief in God, who
in turn has given us a moral code. Rather, an Atheist's belief system about the
supernatural is confined to one factor: the existence or non-existence of a
deity. He or she will have a personal moral code; what they don't know is
where this moral code came from.
Most Atheists have analyzed the
available material evidence for the existence of God and have concluded that
there is no real evidence of the existence of God. They believe that the
universe, earth and its life probably evolved by Evolution. They see no evidence of intervention by a supernatural entity. They
generally feel that ethical and moral systems governing human behavior can be
developed without reference to any code of behavior of allegedly divine origin.
Other Atheists are people who have simply never been exposed to belief in a God and therefore have no belief in them.
In ancient Greece, the term was used to
refer to people who did not believe in the official pagan religion; i.e.
unbelievers. "Atheism is derived from the Greek, atheos, and means
simply 'away from the belief in a god or gods.' " In ancient Rome,
Christians were often called Atheists because they did not believe in the
pantheon of Roman gods and goddesses. Until the word Agnosticism
came into general usage during the 19th century, people we now call Agnostics
were commonly lumped together with Atheists.
Not Communists, although many
Communists are Atheists. Communism is a political and economic belief system.
Atheism is a religious belief. The two are not necessarily related but usually
Not Satanists. Most
Agnostics; they look upon Satan as a symbol.
Not all secular Humanists, although
many Humanists are Atheists.
The antonym of Atheism is Theism -
belief in the existence of a deity. There are thousands of different forms of
Theism, just as there are thousands of gods that Theists believe
Atheists have always constituted a very
small percentage of the population. The number of people who identify themselves
as Atheists has grown rapidly, particularly over the last few decades. This
increase may have been partly caused by the decline of attendance at Sunday
schools, and churches. It probably also reflects the general increase in
secularism within society.
Madalyn Murray (later O'Hair), wrote a
document used in the court case Murray v. Curlett, April 27, 1961. It reads, in
"An Atheist loves himself and
his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist knows that heaven is
something for which we should work now - here on earth - for all men together
to enjoy. An Atheist thinks that he can get no help through prayer but that he
must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to
grapple with it, to subdue, and enjoy it. An Atheist thinks that only in a
knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the
understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment. Therefore, he seeks to
know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist knows
that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist knows that a
deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement
in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty
vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man. He wants
an ethical way of life. He knows that we cannot rely on a god nor channel
action into prayer nor hope for an end to troubles in the hereafter. He knows
that we are our brother's keeper and keepers of our lives; that we are
responsible persons, that the job is here and the time is now."
To the atheist who doesn't believe that a Creator
exists, the God of creation responds, "The fool hath said in his
heart, there is no God."
An atheist only needs to look around and
have all the confirmation they need to find
that a God exists. Romans 1:16-32