Q: Who was the first ever atheist of the world? Josef Erdem, a teacher from Borlänge in central Sweden, first … Determining the exact number of atheists in any part of the world is difficult, and all of the data collected on the topic represents only a \"best guess\" scenario derived by researchers. His own preference is to emphasise the similarities between ancient and modern atheism, and to see Clitomachus and Lucretius as the forebears of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Nowadays, when the place of classics in the school curriculum is a spectral shadow of what it was in Yourcenar’s time, let alone during the Enlightenment, there are few atheists in the habit of looking back to Lucretius to sustain their own scepticism. Now, the number of religious people is increasing. For example, asking s… Born in 1792, Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a child of the Age of Enlightenment, was expelled from England's Oxford University in 1811 for submitting to the Dean an anonymous pamphlet that he wrote entitled, The Necessity of Atheism. For example, the WIN/GIA numbers from China were overestimated which in turn inflated global totals. A: Ngyla. The vast majority of U.S. atheists say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives (93%) … Honorable mention: United States. Albania The first ever Atheist Country in the World. It was always bubbling under the surface and occasionally shooting out sideways through someone who just couldn’t stand to keep it quiet. The great Athenian tragedians, too – despite the gods and prophecies that frequently featured in their plays, and the religious festival that provided the setting for performances of drama notwithstanding – are shown to have been fascinated by atheistic ideas, if not necessarily atheists in their own right. The Czech Republic where 72% of the people surveyed said to be atheist or non-religious. Albania The first ever Atheist Country in the World:Geography. In other words, atheists no less than believers can feel pride in the sheer pedigree of their beliefs. The most atheist countries are: China with only 9% of the people surveyed declaring themselves as religious. Bitter Winter first reported on the ban in January with examples of bans on Christian funerals in the provinces of Henan, ... Security guards told them that “religious hymns cannot be sung because China is an atheist country,” the church members said. Gora also organised the first World Atheist Conference in 1972. Get the New Statesman\'s Morning Call email. He later wrote more about positive atheism in his 1972 book, Positive Atheism. At first blush, claiming the United States is a good place for atheists seems preposterous. The idea that God didn’t really exist never completely went away, even when someone like Napoleon shut it down for a while. How agnostic Differs from atheist Epicurean atomism may have intrigued Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton, but it did not inspire their scientific breakthroughs, which derived from very different causes, and in the context of a world-view that was decidedly Christian. To draw on a fittingly Darwinian analogy, ancient atheists and their modern successors resemble one another in the way pterosaurs resemble bats: an example of similar features developing in unrelated species. The only value of research into the natural world, so Epicurus believed, was to enable the philosopher, by properly appreciating the pointlessness of superstition, to attain the state of tranquillity that was, so he taught his disciples, the ultimate goal of life. Turkish court 'blocks access to country's first official atheist website' Turkish internet users are reportedly unable to access the site. The most revelatory aspect of Battling the Gods, however, is a product of Whitmarsh’s detective work in tracing lines of evolution from the first philosophers to the networks of atheists which, he convincingly demonstrates, had come to exist across the Roman empire by the time of its heyday in the 2nd century AD. His materialist convictions were not, as his 17th-century admirers liked to imagine, bred of a scientific cast of mind, but of the precise opposite: a conviction that they would help him to attain inner peace. Yet it is possible, even in the light of this book, to interpret ancient atheism in a rather different way. Atheists, like believers, can feel pride in the pedigree of their beliefs, as Tim Whitmarsh's new book on atheism in the ancient world shows. [1] The most common religion practiced in Albania is Islam, the second-most is Christianity. Albania is constitutionally a secular country, and as such, "neutral in questions of belief and conscience". Nevertheless, Whitmarsh is too good a scholar not to acknowledge that the fragmented and ambivalent nature of the evidence is such that it remains hard to pin down the precise character of disbelief in antiquity. In terms of political geography Albania is located in south Balkan region,right north of Greece . And the first one in a country with a predominantly muslim population. Sweden where 73% of the people surveyed said to be atheist or non-religious. This pamphlet is considered by scholars as the first at… [4], According to sociologist Phil Zuckerman, broad estimates of those who have an absence of belief in a god range from 500 to 750 million people worldwide. The first Atheist Association in Turkey is founded a few weeks ago. Public Atheist Monument Going Up Near Courthouse In Starke, Florida, Is Country's First By Jaweed Kaleem A small city in heavily Christian northern Florida is about to become home to the first public monument in the United States dedicated to atheism. See also: French atheism The University of Cambridge reports the following historical relationship between atheism and the French Revolution: The Reign of Terror of the French Revolution established established a state which was anti-Roman Catholicism/anti-Christian in nature (anti-clerical deism and anti-religious atheism and played a significant role in the French Revolution), with the official ideology being the Cult of Reason; during this time thousands of believers were suppressed and executed by th… In 1967 Enver Hoxha, the head of state of Albania, declared Albania to be the "first atheist state of the world". Thucydides, whose project of explaining human affairs without reference to divine interference provides historical practice today with its ultimate model, is given due acknowledgement for his originality and boldness. ; And south of mountengro,west of mecedonia and Kosovo and off the coast of lonian and Adriatic Seas. Tom Holland’s most recent book is “Dynasty: the Rise and fall of the House of Caesar” (Little, Brown), Batting the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World by Tim Whitmarsh is published by Faber & Faber (304pp, £25). Irreligion, which may include deism, agnosticism, ignosticism, anti-religion, atheism, … [6], Each poll uses different questions and methods:-. Some if not most of the communist nations were officially atheist. There is no state religion in Norway. His account of the Peloponnesian War, Whitmarsh writes, “can reasonably be claimed to be the earliest surviving atheist narrative of human history”. The French Revolution of 1789 catapulted atheistic thought into political notability in some Western countries, and opened the way for the nineteenth century movements of Rationalism, Freethought, and Liberalism. Either the gods do not exist or else, like wanton boys, they kill for sport. Two-Thirds of People Still Claim to be Religious", https://web.archive.org/web/20171114113506/http://www.wingia.com/web/files/news/370/file/370.pdf, "WIN-Gallup International 'Religiosity and Atheism Index' reveals atheists are a small minority in the early years of 21st century", "GLOBAL INDEX OF RELIGIOSITY AND ATHEISM – 2012", List of top international rankings by country, Brazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_countries_by_irreligion&oldid=994071761, Articles with Japanese-language sources (ja), Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 13 December 2020, at 23:44. A graveyard free of any religious symbols has been opened in Sweden to cater to the country’s growing number of atheists. Mencken first came up with that description in 1924 for the Southeastern quarter of the United States, a place with about 2.5 Baptist churches per person. [6], Countries with the greatest number of people without religion as of 2020 according to Pew Research Center:[11], Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association, "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050", "Losing our Religion? In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (2). The actual term atheism emerged first in the 16th century. The world's most populous country is also the globe's least religious. However, the given numbers do not necessarily constitute the exact number of people who claim to be non-believers in God. The great achievement of Battling the Gods is to trace in a manner that can be followed readily the evolution of sceptical attitudes towards the divine across the whole span of ancient history. Voltaire, in a celebrated early poem, had consciously modelled himself on the Roman poet Lucretius, whose materialism and contempt for religion had been exciting freethinkers ever since the rediscovery of his masterpiece On the Nature of Things back in the Renaissance. Marxist–Leninist authorities in Albania claimed that religion was foreign to Albania and used this to justify their policy of state atheism and suppression of religion. That there are Catholic and Protestant atheists is an old joke. You have never heard of her. A few decades after the death of Hadrian, a philosopher named Sextus listed the most prominent atheists in history, but the only one whose influence was destined to endure into the Enlightenment was Epicurus. Epicurus, for instance, though he featured in Sextus’s list of famous atheists, not only believed in gods but was an initiate of the local mysteries, and went as far as to demand sacrifices from his followers “for the care of my holy body”. 48 Dan Barker (b. The most revelatory aspect of Battling the Gods, however, is a product of Whitmarsh’s detective work in tracing lines of evolution from the first philosophers to the networks of atheists which, he convincingly demonstrates, had come to exist across the Roman empire by the time of its heyday in the 2nd century AD. Iceland. “O vehicle of the earth and possessor of a seat on earth,” Hecuba, the Trojan queen, prays, “whoever you are, most difficult to know, Zeus, whether you are the necessity of nature or the mind of men: I offer you my prayers.” Predictably, Zeus does not answer her; and, throughout the play, misery follows swift upon misery. The very first occurrences of atheistic schools are found in Indian thought and have existed from the times of ancient Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world. A play such as The Trojan Women, in which the women of fallen Troy struggle fruitlessly to find meaning in the annihilation of their city, is one where atheism comes to seem almost a palliative. The only way to identify a person's religion is through polling, and polls have a few notorious weaknesses.First, the questions asked and the way in which religion is presented may have a significant effect on the answers received. The more we know about those philosophers whom the ancients described as atheoi, the less like contemporary sceptics they seem. “Atheism, in my opinion,” he declares, “is demonstrably at least as old as the monotheistic religions of Abraham.” This is to cast it as the equivalent of Judaism or Christianity; a recognisably coherent tradition that has evolved unbroken over the millennia, so that Christopher Hitchens can be viewed as the heir of Diagoras and ancient philosophy as the seedbed of modern secularism. But few scholars are better equipped to combat this misapprehension than he. When he claims that belief in the supernatural has been shadowed throughout history and across the world by disbelief, he may well be right; and yet, if so, the implication is that atheism, in its origins and manifestations, is just as likely to be multiform as is religion. Naturally, there are starring roles for the particular heroes of the Enlightenment: Lucretius, of course, but also Epicurus, the Greek philosopher who first inspired On the Nature of Things, and whose atomistic vision of the universe delighted scientists in the 17th century. Indeed, Tim Whitmarsh worries there are many who believe that atheism is an exclusively modern phenomenon, a fruit of the 18th century. For expressing an Atheist opinion Atheist opinion, they kill for sport narrative... 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This article appears in the 28 January 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Should Labour split? First, as to the distribution of atheism in the world, a clear pattern can be discerned. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. Perhaps the first atheist President would respond to the Chief Justice by quoting Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC – A.D. 65) (Seneca the Younger), a Roman philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and humorist, who said “Religion is regarded by the common people as … Belief in God declines in more developed countries and atheism is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64 percent nonbelievers), Denmark (48 percent), France (44 percent) and Germany (42 percent). Wednesday 04 March 2015 19:27. She lived in a tribe in the middle-east some 88,000 years ago. Atheist definition is - a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods : one who subscribes to or advocates atheism. Then the early feminists of England and the United States made it plenty clear that they considered religion to be a stu… “Just when the gods had ceased to be, and the Christ had not yet come, there was a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, when man stood alone.”, These words were not her own, but a quotation from Flaubert, whose aestheticisation of atheism was deeply appealing to Yourcenar and had exercised a strong influence on her portrayal of Hadrian. Although his specialisation is the culture of the very period that Flaubert identified as the one “when man stood alone”, his appointment to the professorship of Greek culture at Cambridge in 2014 was due recognition of his mastery of the whole sweep of ancient history. Doubly condemned to oblivion, first by their more god-fearing contemporary opponents and then by Christians, philosophers who promoted disbelief in the supernatural rarely survived as much more than a name. › Amid market turmoil and confusion, there are four key economic trends shaping society, Boris Johnson has treated the public like fools – and we are paying the price, Boris Johnson overpromised on Christmas – the mistake made throughout the pandemic, Daniel Lopatin on making music in the “unbelievable psychic peril” of a pandemic, Why the simplistic bashing of London needs to end, Why Iran’s execution of Ruhollah Zam should be seen as a warning in the West, The best children’s books for Christmas 2020, NS Recommends: New books from David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, Iain Dale and Robin Turner, How Jürgen Klopp became the Mersey messiah. [5] According to sociologists Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera's review of numerous global studies on atheism, there are 450 to 500 million positive atheists and agnostics worldwide (7% of the world's population), with China having the most atheists in the world (200 million convinced atheists). “How admirable he is,” Voltaire wrote, “in his encomia, in his descriptive passages, in his ethics, and in all his criticisms of superstition.”. Atheism in the United States: The Unchurched Belt(s) Most people know about the Bible Belt. When asked if religion was an important part of their lives, only 62% of Norwegians responded that it was. have advised caution with WIN/Gallup International figures since more extensive surveys which have used the same wording for decades and have bigger sample sizes, have consistently reached lower figures. Albania: The First Atheist State ROBERT ROYAL But after the communist takeover 1946 tens of thousands of common people perished for religious reasons. This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit our website. Albania is not an Atheist nation. The first individuals to identify themselves using the word atheist lived … Whitmarsh may not have intended it to do so, but Battling the Gods – learned, sweeping and stimulating as it is – stands as a monument above all to that recurrent phenomenon in history, convergent evolution. The Atheist Centre is an institute working for social change. When he hails Diagoras of Melos as “the first person in history to self-identify in a positive way as an atheist”, or describes Clitomachus, a sceptic from Carthage who ended up leading a philosophical school in Athens, as “that prodigious figure in the history of atheism”, it is a measure of his scholarship that we are able to accept the force of these descriptions. The WIN-Gallup International Association (WIN/GIA) poll results below are the totals for "not a religious person" and "a convinced atheist" combined. In a way, this is a historic event. Western atheism has its roots in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, but did not emerge as a distinct world-view until the late Enlightenment. The poet Percy Shelley proved to be one such person, getting himself kicked out of Oxford in 1811 for expressing an atheist opinion. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies. When Memoirs of Hadrian was published in 1951 it included a postscript in which its author, Marguerite Yourcenar, explained why she had fixed on the 2nd century AD as the setting for her novel. The lesson that Whitmarsh teaches in Battling the Gods – though it is one he seems reluctant to draw for himself – is that there are monotheist and non-monotheist atheists, too, and that they are often very different beasts. An… This is not only the first atheist organisation in Turkey, but also the first one in the large region of Middle East and Caucasus. The closest modern parallel is probably not Richard Dawkins but rather Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A surveyed list has been made of the top twenty countries that hold the highest number of individuals who are said to be either atheists, or agnostics. Journalist H.L. Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. Finland ( 28 - 60% Atheist) The largest religious organisation in Finland is the Evangelical Lutheran … According to reports from the Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association's (WIN/GIA) four global polls: in 2005, 77% were a religious person and 4% were "convinced atheists" while in 2012, 23% were not a religious person and an additional 13% were "convinced atheists";[2] in 2015, 22% were not a religious person and an additional 11% were "convinced atheists";[3] and in 2017, 25% were not a religious person and an additional 9% were "convinced atheists". According to a new study, 90 percent of all Chinese consider themselves to be atheists or not to be religious. [2] It's a secular nation. Flaubert in turn was heir to assorted philosophes, libertines and natural philosophers whose daring rejection of Christian orthodoxies had been much seasoned with allusions to classical precedents. The northern lights in Keflavik: a change in Icelandair's flight schedule left a reader out of … Related: 'Persecuted Even after Death' – China Bans Christian Funerals. Most notably, Euripides, whom Aristophanes openly accused of promoting disbelief in the divine, repeatedly portrayed his heroes as ruined by their trust in the beneficence of the gods. Other great names from antiquity are placed in eye-opening perspective by Whitmarsh’s narrative. 1949) Barker, a former Protestant minister, is a jazz pianist, composer, author, … The numbers come from different years, and might not be accurate for countries with governments that require or urge religion or secularism. Although Whitmarsh declares in his preface that it is not his aim “to prove the truth (or indeed falsehood) of atheism as a philosophical position”, his distaste for theism is evident throughout the book, as is his admiration for the ancient philosophers who dared to battle it. Gora expounded his philosophy of positive atheism as a way of life. Whitmarsh’s accomplishment is to give to some of these ghosts at least a semblance of solidity. Thus, unsurprisingly, his new book on atheism in the ancient world is as learned as it is intellectually thrilling. Covering the millennium and more that separates Homer from Theodosius the Great, Battling the Gods fills a gap that probably few of us had even been aware of, and does so comprehensively. Irreligion, which may include deism, agnosticism, ignosticism, anti-religion, atheism, skepticism, ietsism, spiritual but not religious, freethought, anti-theism, apatheism, non-belief, pandeism, secular humanism, non-religious theism, pantheism and panentheism, varies in the countries around the world. In 1967, the Albanian government under Enver Hoxha announced the closure of all religious institutions in the country and declared Albania the world's first officially atheist state. Keysar et al. However, as is the case in many highly industrialized countries, a large number of Norwegiansstill culturally identify with Christianity without practicing the religion. Heather Saul @heatheranne9 . East Germany had the largest population of non-religious people. By 1970, all 22 of the nations of central and eastern Europe which were behind the Iron Curtain were effectively atheistic. > Q: Who was the first ever atheist of the world? Josef Erdem, a teacher from Borlänge in central Sweden, first … Determining the exact number of atheists in any part of the world is difficult, and all of the data collected on the topic represents only a \"best guess\" scenario derived by researchers. His own preference is to emphasise the similarities between ancient and modern atheism, and to see Clitomachus and Lucretius as the forebears of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Nowadays, when the place of classics in the school curriculum is a spectral shadow of what it was in Yourcenar’s time, let alone during the Enlightenment, there are few atheists in the habit of looking back to Lucretius to sustain their own scepticism. Now, the number of religious people is increasing. For example, asking s… Born in 1792, Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a child of the Age of Enlightenment, was expelled from England's Oxford University in 1811 for submitting to the Dean an anonymous pamphlet that he wrote entitled, The Necessity of Atheism. For example, the WIN/GIA numbers from China were overestimated which in turn inflated global totals. A: Ngyla. The vast majority of U.S. atheists say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives (93%) … Honorable mention: United States. Albania The first ever Atheist Country in the World. It was always bubbling under the surface and occasionally shooting out sideways through someone who just couldn’t stand to keep it quiet. The great Athenian tragedians, too – despite the gods and prophecies that frequently featured in their plays, and the religious festival that provided the setting for performances of drama notwithstanding – are shown to have been fascinated by atheistic ideas, if not necessarily atheists in their own right. The Czech Republic where 72% of the people surveyed said to be atheist or non-religious. Albania The first ever Atheist Country in the World:Geography. In other words, atheists no less than believers can feel pride in the sheer pedigree of their beliefs. The most atheist countries are: China with only 9% of the people surveyed declaring themselves as religious. Bitter Winter first reported on the ban in January with examples of bans on Christian funerals in the provinces of Henan, ... Security guards told them that “religious hymns cannot be sung because China is an atheist country,” the church members said. Gora also organised the first World Atheist Conference in 1972. Get the New Statesman\'s Morning Call email. He later wrote more about positive atheism in his 1972 book, Positive Atheism. At first blush, claiming the United States is a good place for atheists seems preposterous. The idea that God didn’t really exist never completely went away, even when someone like Napoleon shut it down for a while. How agnostic Differs from atheist Epicurean atomism may have intrigued Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton, but it did not inspire their scientific breakthroughs, which derived from very different causes, and in the context of a world-view that was decidedly Christian. To draw on a fittingly Darwinian analogy, ancient atheists and their modern successors resemble one another in the way pterosaurs resemble bats: an example of similar features developing in unrelated species. The only value of research into the natural world, so Epicurus believed, was to enable the philosopher, by properly appreciating the pointlessness of superstition, to attain the state of tranquillity that was, so he taught his disciples, the ultimate goal of life. Turkish court 'blocks access to country's first official atheist website' Turkish internet users are reportedly unable to access the site. The most revelatory aspect of Battling the Gods, however, is a product of Whitmarsh’s detective work in tracing lines of evolution from the first philosophers to the networks of atheists which, he convincingly demonstrates, had come to exist across the Roman empire by the time of its heyday in the 2nd century AD. His materialist convictions were not, as his 17th-century admirers liked to imagine, bred of a scientific cast of mind, but of the precise opposite: a conviction that they would help him to attain inner peace. Yet it is possible, even in the light of this book, to interpret ancient atheism in a rather different way. Atheists, like believers, can feel pride in the pedigree of their beliefs, as Tim Whitmarsh's new book on atheism in the ancient world shows. [1] The most common religion practiced in Albania is Islam, the second-most is Christianity. Albania is constitutionally a secular country, and as such, "neutral in questions of belief and conscience". Nevertheless, Whitmarsh is too good a scholar not to acknowledge that the fragmented and ambivalent nature of the evidence is such that it remains hard to pin down the precise character of disbelief in antiquity. In terms of political geography Albania is located in south Balkan region,right north of Greece . And the first one in a country with a predominantly muslim population. Sweden where 73% of the people surveyed said to be atheist or non-religious. This pamphlet is considered by scholars as the first at… [4], According to sociologist Phil Zuckerman, broad estimates of those who have an absence of belief in a god range from 500 to 750 million people worldwide. The first Atheist Association in Turkey is founded a few weeks ago. Public Atheist Monument Going Up Near Courthouse In Starke, Florida, Is Country's First By Jaweed Kaleem A small city in heavily Christian northern Florida is about to become home to the first public monument in the United States dedicated to atheism. See also: French atheism The University of Cambridge reports the following historical relationship between atheism and the French Revolution: The Reign of Terror of the French Revolution established established a state which was anti-Roman Catholicism/anti-Christian in nature (anti-clerical deism and anti-religious atheism and played a significant role in the French Revolution), with the official ideology being the Cult of Reason; during this time thousands of believers were suppressed and executed by th… In 1967 Enver Hoxha, the head of state of Albania, declared Albania to be the "first atheist state of the world". Thucydides, whose project of explaining human affairs without reference to divine interference provides historical practice today with its ultimate model, is given due acknowledgement for his originality and boldness. ; And south of mountengro,west of mecedonia and Kosovo and off the coast of lonian and Adriatic Seas. Tom Holland’s most recent book is “Dynasty: the Rise and fall of the House of Caesar” (Little, Brown), Batting the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World by Tim Whitmarsh is published by Faber & Faber (304pp, £25). Irreligion, which may include deism, agnosticism, ignosticism, anti-religion, atheism, … [6], Each poll uses different questions and methods:-. Some if not most of the communist nations were officially atheist. There is no state religion in Norway. His account of the Peloponnesian War, Whitmarsh writes, “can reasonably be claimed to be the earliest surviving atheist narrative of human history”. The French Revolution of 1789 catapulted atheistic thought into political notability in some Western countries, and opened the way for the nineteenth century movements of Rationalism, Freethought, and Liberalism. Either the gods do not exist or else, like wanton boys, they kill for sport. Two-Thirds of People Still Claim to be Religious", https://web.archive.org/web/20171114113506/http://www.wingia.com/web/files/news/370/file/370.pdf, "WIN-Gallup International 'Religiosity and Atheism Index' reveals atheists are a small minority in the early years of 21st century", "GLOBAL INDEX OF RELIGIOSITY AND ATHEISM – 2012", List of top international rankings by country, Brazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_countries_by_irreligion&oldid=994071761, Articles with Japanese-language sources (ja), Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 13 December 2020, at 23:44. A graveyard free of any religious symbols has been opened in Sweden to cater to the country’s growing number of atheists. Mencken first came up with that description in 1924 for the Southeastern quarter of the United States, a place with about 2.5 Baptist churches per person. [6], Countries with the greatest number of people without religion as of 2020 according to Pew Research Center:[11], Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association, "Religious Composition by Country, 2010-2050", "Losing our Religion? In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (2). The actual term atheism emerged first in the 16th century. The world's most populous country is also the globe's least religious. However, the given numbers do not necessarily constitute the exact number of people who claim to be non-believers in God. The great achievement of Battling the Gods is to trace in a manner that can be followed readily the evolution of sceptical attitudes towards the divine across the whole span of ancient history. Voltaire, in a celebrated early poem, had consciously modelled himself on the Roman poet Lucretius, whose materialism and contempt for religion had been exciting freethinkers ever since the rediscovery of his masterpiece On the Nature of Things back in the Renaissance. Marxist–Leninist authorities in Albania claimed that religion was foreign to Albania and used this to justify their policy of state atheism and suppression of religion. That there are Catholic and Protestant atheists is an old joke. You have never heard of her. A few decades after the death of Hadrian, a philosopher named Sextus listed the most prominent atheists in history, but the only one whose influence was destined to endure into the Enlightenment was Epicurus. Epicurus, for instance, though he featured in Sextus’s list of famous atheists, not only believed in gods but was an initiate of the local mysteries, and went as far as to demand sacrifices from his followers “for the care of my holy body”. 48 Dan Barker (b. The most revelatory aspect of Battling the Gods, however, is a product of Whitmarsh’s detective work in tracing lines of evolution from the first philosophers to the networks of atheists which, he convincingly demonstrates, had come to exist across the Roman empire by the time of its heyday in the 2nd century AD. Iceland. “O vehicle of the earth and possessor of a seat on earth,” Hecuba, the Trojan queen, prays, “whoever you are, most difficult to know, Zeus, whether you are the necessity of nature or the mind of men: I offer you my prayers.” Predictably, Zeus does not answer her; and, throughout the play, misery follows swift upon misery. The very first occurrences of atheistic schools are found in Indian thought and have existed from the times of ancient Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world. A play such as The Trojan Women, in which the women of fallen Troy struggle fruitlessly to find meaning in the annihilation of their city, is one where atheism comes to seem almost a palliative. The only way to identify a person's religion is through polling, and polls have a few notorious weaknesses.First, the questions asked and the way in which religion is presented may have a significant effect on the answers received. The more we know about those philosophers whom the ancients described as atheoi, the less like contemporary sceptics they seem. “Atheism, in my opinion,” he declares, “is demonstrably at least as old as the monotheistic religions of Abraham.” This is to cast it as the equivalent of Judaism or Christianity; a recognisably coherent tradition that has evolved unbroken over the millennia, so that Christopher Hitchens can be viewed as the heir of Diagoras and ancient philosophy as the seedbed of modern secularism. But few scholars are better equipped to combat this misapprehension than he. When he claims that belief in the supernatural has been shadowed throughout history and across the world by disbelief, he may well be right; and yet, if so, the implication is that atheism, in its origins and manifestations, is just as likely to be multiform as is religion. Naturally, there are starring roles for the particular heroes of the Enlightenment: Lucretius, of course, but also Epicurus, the Greek philosopher who first inspired On the Nature of Things, and whose atomistic vision of the universe delighted scientists in the 17th century. Indeed, Tim Whitmarsh worries there are many who believe that atheism is an exclusively modern phenomenon, a fruit of the 18th century. For expressing an Atheist opinion Atheist opinion, they kill for sport narrative... 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