Atheism is the absence of belief that God, and other deities, exist. It is difficult to ascertain how many of the world’s population are atheist as surveys don’t tend to differentiate between the irreligious and atheist. However, it is clear from polls that Europe and East Asia are the regions with the highest proportion of non-believers. In 2015, over 60% of people in China said they were atheist in a survey. It is also clear that numbers of atheists are growing across the world. How much do you know about this belief system? Julian Baggini, author of Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, tells us the ten things we never knew about atheism:
- The name is an historical accident as atheists have to be defined as contrasting to our historically theistic culture.
- ‘A’ is not ‘anti’; not all atheists are anti-religion.
- Atheism is not necessarily dogmatic.
- Being an atheist means that you believe the balance of evidence shows that God does not exist. This is not the same as saying that you are 100% certain God does not exist.
- Atheists are found in the clergy.
- Atheists believe morality is independent of God.
- It is a myth that the Soviet Union was a completely atheist state.
- It’s factually untrue that most people on their deathbed turn to religion.
- Atheism is not the same as Scientism.
- There are still around a dozen countries where atheists can face death for their beliefs.
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