The Atheists

Literally, atheists are those "without any deity." This label is formed from the Greek theos meaning "god" and the prefix meaning "without."  Atheists live without a god-belief.

Interestingly, in ancient times when Jupiter, Juno, and their assorted cadre were the dominant religion and monotheism was making inroads in the Roman Empire, it was the Christians who were called "the atheists" because they were "without the (Roman) gods."

Characterization of the atheist as someone who is seeking to prove there is no God is ill suited to contemporary atheism. Atheists today are not concerned with disproving the claim that "God is." Rather, they say that, because there is no proof of God’s existence and no way to prove that God exists, we are therefore "without God" or "without a god."  They point out that the burden of proof concerning the existence of God (or any gods) rests not upon them, but upon those who make the claim that a supernatural being exists.

A vast majority of atheists today operate from a notion of probability.  They do not declare that a god is impossible, but they regard the probability as exceedingly slight.  Over thousands of years verifiable proofs of the existence of a god (or of any supernatural entities) have been lacking, so atheists deem it highly unlikely that they will encounter a valid proof within their lifetimes.  

Atheists include secularists and naturalists, who base their attitudes, their thinking and their conclusions on scientific explanations of nature and whose life commitment is to the world of the human without acceptance of supernaturalism. The materialists represent another form of atheism. (Materialism in this sense is not to be confused with the different connotation for the term in popular speech—a desire for material things). The following chart briefly outlines the thinking behind these forms of atheism. 

Philosophical Variants of Atheism (without a deity)

Secularism Focus is on secular issues, in particular on human well-being, using scientific outlook and no acceptance of supernaturalism in any form
Naturalism recognizes and stresses the affinity of the human and nature, viewing humans as a product of nature not above or apart from it; rejects dualism (body and sout) and any belief in an afterlife; having no doubt that inasmuch as there are no non-natural objects, events or causes, all objects and events are to be accounted for scientifically and explained in terms of natural causes
Materialism philosophy that physical matter in its modifications and movements is the only reality--all processes and phenomena (everything) in the universe are to be explained in terms of physical laws and as resulting from material agencies

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Last Updated 5/15/2005

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