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Author: Ted Fairchild

Define atheism and agnosticism and recognize the reasons for adopting these worldviews.

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Hello. Welcome in the study religions there's also a significant amount of energy that gets spent on considering the philosophy of atheism, the belief that God doesn't exist. Well, this is no small idea. And it has impacted religions, religious thought, philosophy, and the lives of many people, religious and nonreligious alike. So let's take a look at this idea of atheism.

Our definition of atheism suggests that there is some manner of commitment to the idea that there is no God. Often to the extent that it might form a person's worldview, affecting many areas of his or life. So what would the reasons be for adopting an atheistic worldview?

Well, one argument for atheism is that God is not provable or knowable through the senses. And another points to evil. [INAUDIBLE] there's a question about why a supposedly beneficent god would allow evil in the world, then evil as proof of the absence of God. And finally, one might argue that, with the vast variety of religions in the world which in fact have logical differences, all claiming the ground of universal truth, how can there be one universal, all-encompassing truth?

Working it through, there might be logical inconsistencies. Therefore, science and certain rational arguments are learned on in support of atheism. For example, Darwinism. Darwinian evolution which, according to some interpretations, undermines the uniqueness of human beings. This theory of evolution effectively leaves space open to discredit the creation stories that are the foundations of the different religions. In other words evolution, according to some definitions, fills the logical gaps that many religions, in fact, approach with a leap of faith.

In the light of all this confusion it's a good idea to introduce our last key term, agnosticism. One might just not know, and therefore subscribe to the belief that the existence of God has not been proven, or that the existence of God can never be proven.

So now let's summarise and review. We started by saying that atheism is a philosophy that is committed to the idea that there is no God, and that this idea has impacted religions, religious philosophy, secular philosophy, and the lives of many individuals. We looked at a couple of arguments for an atheistic perspective. And then we introduced our other key term, agnosticism. The idea that one just cannot know, and that it might be impossible to know at all whether or not there is a God.

And finally, we suggested that both orientations have their own history, shared in various ways with religious thought and that, in the study religions, questions and doubts and perhaps even absences are inevitable in one way or another.

Terms to Know

Either the belief that the existence of god(s) has not been proven, or the belief that the existence of god(s) can never be proven.


The belief that god does not exist.


The natural philosophy of Charles Darwin, most often associated with the theory of evolution.