Meaning of Atheism
What is Atheism:
Atheism is the position or conviction that there is no god or supreme being. It also denies the truth of all faith or belief related to divine or supernatural beings, or doctrines based on their existence.
The etymology of atheism comes from the Greek ἄθεος (atheist), which in turn is made up of the prefix ἄ, which means ‘without’, and the noun θεος which means ‘god’. It is formed with the suffix -ism, which means 'doctrine' or 'trend'. Atheism would be, then, the absence of belief in God.
Philosophically, the followers of atheism resort to various arguments to question the existence of God. On the one hand, they question the empirical evidence of its existence. They also point out the contradictions of the omnipotent and benevolent nature of God since, according to this, then he should not allow the existence of evil and suffering in the world.
They are also based on the argument from divine revelations, which is inconsistent and contradictory to each other in the various world religions.
The variety of positions of atheism makes it possible to distinguish several types. There is strong and weak atheism, theoretical and practical atheism, Christian atheism and even state-promoted atheism.
The most widespread symbol of atheism is a stylized "A," created in 2007 by American artist Diane Reed for the International Atheist Alliance. However, there are many atheistic organizations and each has its own symbol, so there is no universal reference.
The opposite of atheism is theism, which is the belief in a god, gods, or supreme beings that transcend the earthly plane. Generally, theism is channeled and dogmatized by a certain religious doctrine.
Types of atheism
There are different types of atheism. Some categorically deny the existence of a god or divine entity; others simply do not consider their influence. Atheism can also be exercised institutionally, from the State, as we will see below.
Strong or positive atheism
He outright denies the existence of any god or supernatural entity. For strong atheism, there is no such thing as a creator god or gods of the known universe since the universe has always existed; therefore, it does not need a creator to justify its existence.
Weak or negative atheism
It is a more flexible type of atheism and closer to agnosticism, since it does not categorically deny the possibility of the existence of gods, but simply does not believe in them.
Practical or pragmatic atheism
It does not deny the existence of God, but excludes his influence when explaining natural phenomena. In addition, practical atheism is expressed in a disinterest in questioning the existence of a god, since for this current it is a topic that has no relevance in everyday life.
It is dedicated to raising arguments that confirm the inexistence of gods or deities. For theoretical atheism, there is sufficient scientific and philosophical evidence that validates the nonexistence of a higher or divine-origin entity.
Christian atheism or atheism of Christian values denies the existence of God, but practices the teachings of Jesus. In this sense, Jesus is taken not as a divine being, but as a reference of the values that people should put into practice in their day to day life.
It is when states are against religious institutions or are directly antireligious. An example was the People's Republic of Albania, which was declared an atheist state by the dictator Enver Hoxha between 1967 and 1991.
See also: Atheist
Difference between atheism and agnosticism
Although agnosticism is often seen as a type of atheism, it is a different stance towards the existence and nature of the divine. Agnosticism does not affirm the existence of God, but neither does it deny it outright, since it considers that this knowledge is beyond human understanding.
Atheism, on the other hand, is a position that categorically denies the existence of God, the gods or any higher entity that transcends the strictly material plane.
History of atheism
In ancient Greece, philosophers like Epicurus or Diagoras, who is known as "the first atheist", tried to explain the world by moving away from the supernatural. This gave rise to atomism, which stated that the universe was made up of small particles called atoms. This vision removed any possibility of divine intervention in natural phenomena.
In the Middle Ages, questions about the divine nature of phenomena were silenced by the strong influence of the Church. This changed in the Renaissance, as Renaissance humanism favored an environment of debate and reflection centered on man and not on divinity. This paved the way for the consolidation of a secular culture.
In the Modern Age, criticism of European Christianity and scientific advancement led to the appearance of atheism as a concept. Thinkers like Baruch Spinoza, Mattias Knutzen or Inmanuel Kant openly questioned the existence of God, generating new currents of thought oriented to materialism.
These currents would have their apogee in the 19th and 20th centuries, and among them the Marxist theory stood out, which considers religion as an invention of the elites to oppress the working class.