Atheism Information

Atheism is commonly defined as the position that there are no deities. It can also mean the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. A broader definition is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.

The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος , meaning "without gods", which was applied with a negative connotation to those thought to reject the gods worshiped 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. Today, about 2.3% of the world's population describes itself as atheist, while a further 11.9% is described as nontheist. Between 64% and 65% of Japanese describe themselves as atheists, agnostics, or non-believers, and to 48% in Russia. The percentage of such persons in European Union member states ranges as low as single digits in Italy and some other countries, and up to 85% in Sweden.

Atheists tend to lean towards skepticism regarding supernatural claims, citing a lack of empirical evidence. Common rationales for not believing in any deity 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 tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism,rationalism, and naturalism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere.

Wikipedia, Atheism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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