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Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists. The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without god", which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves as "atheist" appeared in the 18th century. Atheists tend to be skeptical of supernatural claims, citing a lack of empirical evidence. Atheists have offered various rationales for not believing in any deity. These include the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, and the argument from nonbelief. Other arguments for atheism range from the philosophical to the social to the historical. Although some atheists have adopted secular philosophies, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere. In Western culture, some atheists are frequently assumed to be irreligious, although other atheists are spiritual. Moreover, atheism also figures in certain religious and spiritual belief systems, such as Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Neopagan movements such as Wicca. Jainism and some forms of Buddhism do not advocate belief in gods, whereas Hinduism holds atheism to be valid, but difficult to follow spiritually.
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Since conceptions of atheism vary, determining how many atheists exist in the world today is no easy task. According to one estimate, about 2.3% of the world's populations are atheists, while a further 11.9% are nonreligious. According to another, rates of self-reported atheism are among the highest in Western nations, although also to quite varying degrees. United States (4%), Italy (7%), Spain (11%), Great Britain (17%), Germany (20%), and France (32%).
* = Both Sweden and Finland have controversial statistics, check sources for detailed explanations.
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Full name: Albert Einstein Age: 76 (1876-1955) Known for: Incredible breakthroughs in Physics Proof: “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954. It is included in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, published by Princeton University Press.
"I have never talked to a Jesuit prest in my life. I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist." From a correspondence between Ensign Guy H. Raner and Albert Einstein in 1945 and 1949. Einstein responds to the accusation that he was converted by a Jesuit priest.
"If this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?" Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), p. 27.
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Full name: Clinton Richard Dawkins Age: 70 (1941- ) Known for: Gene-centered view of evolution, concept of the meme, advocacy of atheism and science. Proof: “We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” Transcribed from a short video titled, Russels Teapot.wmv found on yoism.org “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” “There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?”
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Full name: Clinton Richard Dawkins Age: 84 (1847-1931) Known for: Famous Inventor Proof: "So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake... Religion is all bunk." "I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God." “I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul. . . . I am an aggregate of cells, as, for instance, New York City is an aggregate of individuals. Will New York City go to heaven? . . . . No; nature made us--nature did it all--not the gods of the religions.” The New York Times, Oct. 2, 1910 ("No Immortality of the Soul" Says Thomas A. Edison).
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Atheist Alliance International
Secular Student Alliance
AAI is a global network of atheists around the world whose aim it is to transform society into one that understands and respects atheism, supports and respects a worldview based on the values of reason, empiricism and naturalism and protects the separation of religion and government.
American Atheists has been the premier organization laboring for the civil liberties of atheists and the total, absolute separation of government and religion. It is dedicated to working for the civil rights of atheists, promoting separation of state and church, and providing information about atheism.
SSA aims to organize, unite, educate, and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human-based ethics.
American Humanist Association
United Coalition of Reason
AHA brings together humanists and nontheists of all stripes together toward the cause of progressive social change.
The United Coalition of Reason is a national organization that works to raise the visibility of local nontheistic groups all over America.
RI is a forum for rationalist ideas and positions of global concern. It aims to represent the rationalist view where public opinion is formed and making the voice of reason heard where decisions are taken which will shape our future.
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Wikipedia. (n.d.). Atheism. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism
Statistics of Disbelief: Wikipedia page for each nations respective Religious demographics, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_US or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Switzerland
Atheist Empire. (n.d.). Great Minds; Atheist Quotes. Retrieved from http://atheistempire.com/greatminds/templates/gmtext.html
Atheist Empire. (n.d.). Albert Einstein; Atheist Quotes. Retrieved from http://atheistempire.com/greatminds/quotes.php?author=9
ThinkExist. (n.d.). Richard Dawkins Quotes. Retrieved from http://thinkexist.com/quotes/richard_dawkins/
Atheist Empire. (n.d.). Thomas Edison; Atheist Quotes. Retrieved from http://www.atheistempire.com/greatminds/quotes.php?author=11
Atheist/Humanist Organizations: Website of each organization; occasionally the Wikipedia page. e.g. http://www.secularstudents.org/about or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheist_Alliance_International
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