Atheism

Atheism (Time, 2011)
A synopsis of atheism from the 2011 Time magazine special issue "100 Ideas that Changes the World", attributing the world changing "idea" to: Diagoras, Percy Shelley, Thomas Huxley, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens . [15]
In terminology, atheism is disbelief in the existence of god (see: existence of god) or gods. About two dozen historical types or brands of atheism, e.g. Freudian atheism, Epicurean atheism, Nietzschean atheism, etc., exist, as are listed in: atheism types by denial and belief.

Polls
A 2014 Pew Research Center survey (Ѻ) asked Americans to rate groups on a “feeling thermometer” from zero (as cold and negative as possible) to 100 (the warmest, most positive possible rating). U.S. adults gave atheists an average rating of 41, comparable to the rating they gave Muslims (40) and far colder than the average given to Jews (63), Catholics (62) and evangelical Christians (61).

Physics & Chemistry | Closet atheism
See main: Closet atheism
A peculiar feature of atheism, per category of occupation, is the factoid, first pointed out by Napoleon Bonaparte, in his circa 1810 pollings of the French university physical scientists, is that while most physical scientists are atheists, few are willing to admit as such; the following are representative quotes:

“How comes it, then, that Laplace was an atheist? At the Institute neither he nor Monge, nor Berthollet, nor Lagrange believed in god. But they do not like to say so.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (c.1814), dialogue with Gaspard Gourgaud

“If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.”
— Robert Griffiths (1987) [12]

“At the University of California, Berkeley, where I was a professor for 18 years, we had 50 chemistry professors. But for many years there was only who was willing to publicly identify himself as an atheist, my good friend Robert Harris. A more recent addition to the Berkeley chemistry faculty is a second open atheist, Richard Saykally.”
— Henry Schaefer (2003), Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? [13]

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Overview
Atheism, according to Dale McGowan (2013), is a secular approach to reaction existence (life) based on the understanding that reality is an arrangement of physical matter, with no consideration of unverifiable spiritual forces. [7] In 2006, free-thought historian Bill Cooke published his Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism, and Humanism, aims to be a modern upgrade to: Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary (1764), Joseph McCabe’s Rationalist Encyclopedia (1948), Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary (1911), and John Saul’s Doubter’s Companion: a Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense (1994). [9]
Smart Atheism (SA C 8)
The 9 Sep draft cover for Libb Thims’ 2016 Smart Atheism: For Kids, a book version follow-up to Thims’ 10 Aug 2015 Zerotheism for Kids class, on how to "teach atheism", as Empedocles did in 450BC, to a 3 to 5 year old and or for kids aged 6 to 14 to read about. [11]

Chair of atheism
See main: Appignani chair of atheism
In circa 2004, American business magnate Louis Appignani, a former Catholic who turned atheist in his first week of college after reading Bertrand Russell, engaged into discussion with American philosopher Harvey Siegel, then chair of the philosophy department at the University of Miami, about starting some type of atheism professorship. In 2011, American sociologist Phil Zuckerman, author of Society Without God (2008), at Pitzer College, Ca, initiated a secular studies program and major, its most-popular class being “Secularism and Skepticism”. [10] In 2016, the University of Miami, stimulated by a $2.2 million donation by Louis Appignani, a former Catholic who turned atheist after reading Bertrand Russell, established the nation’s first chair for the study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics”.

“I’m trying to eliminate discrimination against atheists. This is a step in that direction, to make atheism legitimate.”
— Louis Appignani (2016), commentary on new University of Miami “Chair of Atheism” [10]

“I think it’s a very bold step of the University of Miami, and I hope there will be others. It’s enormously important to shake off the shackles of religion from the study of morality.”
Richard Dawkins (2016), on University of Miami atheism chair, May 20 [10]

The university, of note, resisted the chair proposal per reason that they didn’t want the name “atheism” in the title of the chair, preferring to call it instead: “philosophical naturalism”.

“There was great reluctance on the part of the university to have an endowed chair with the word ‘atheism’ in the name, and that was a deal-breaker for Lou. He wasn’t going to do it unless it had the word atheism in it.”
— Harvey Siegel (2016), on University of Miami atheism chair, May 20 [10]

The overt reason for resisting the name atheism in the chair title, was: “We didn’t want anyone to misunderstand and think that this was to be an advocacy position for someone who is an atheist”, said Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost, said in an interview. The holder of the chair, according to David Kling, professor and chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Miami, is to (a) offer one course annually on the history, philosophy, and influence of atheism; (b) engage with the community (university and public); for example, through public lectures, forums, or conferences.” Moreover, that the academic objective of the new position “would be to examine questions of science, knowledge, ethics, and social policy from a strictly atheistic perspective.” (Ѻ) In May 2016, YouTube atheism activist Aron Nelson, in his “Professor of Atheism?”, blogged his confusion about an atheism professorship; the gist of which is as follows: “There’s no belief system, no body of dogma to rehearse: none of that. Just the things that everyone should already be studying anyway, minus all the volumes of imaginary nonsense that you get with religion. So it occurs to me that a professor of atheism wouldn’t actually have a field of study.” (Ѻ)
Relgious IQ
A cartoon on anti-free thinking effect of religious indoctrination (see: religious IQ); possible rendition of:

“Is there an intellectually honest Christian evolutionist position? Or do we simply have to check our brains at the church house door?”
— Anon (c.1997), query to The Scientist from a San Antonio attorney; cited by Lee Strobel (2004) in The Case for a Creator (pg. #)

Greek atheism | History
See main: Four horsemen of atheism
In overview, the origin of atheism, in the dominate sense, seems to have originated with the rise of Greek atomic theory.

American theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the third president of Princeton, in one of his circa 1750 works, refers to Greek atomic theorist Epicurus as the “chief father of atheism.” (Ѻ)

Sudanese-born American philosopher Monydit Malieth, likewise, credits Epicurus as being the "father of atheism". [8]

As stated by English scientific philosopher Francis Bacon in his 1597 essay “Of Atheism”: [1]

“Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty, without a divine marshal.”

Of the atomic school, Greek philosopher Epicurus is often seen as the champion of atheism owing to his queried view, often classified as the "problem of evil", that:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

which is one of the better known logic disproofs of the existence of God.

French atheism
In the 1620s, in France, in the wake of Michel Montaigne’s Essays and follower Pierre Charron’s Of Wisdom (De la sagesse), the latter characterized as a “seminary of atheism”, French theologian-philosopher Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) (Ѻ) asserted that Paris, with a population of 400,000, contained some 50,000 atheists (Ѻ), i.e. a 12.5% atheism population (Hecht, 2004; pg. 309).

When the intellectual salons of France began to open in the late 18th century, amid the rise of the encyclopedists, such as Denis Diderot, explicit, open, and extreme atheism points of view began to emerge.

In 1773, Pierre Chaumette, Josephe Fouche, and Jacques Hebert, three self-proclaimed atheists, introduced the "cult of reason", in Paris, France’s first state-sponsored (Ѻ) atheistic religion (compare: Russian atheism), which culminated in a grand "festival of reason" thrown in Notre Dame in Paris. [14]

In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte, the new leader of France, the rising global superpower, both intellectually and militarily, went around to all the leading scientists of France and queried them about their religious beliefs and in particular belief in the existence of God, according to which he found that they all were atheists. The most direct of these scientists was Pierre Laplace who when queried in circa 1802 as to why there was no mention of a deity in his new Celestial Mechanics, replied famously "I had no need of that hypothesis." (see: Napoleon Laplace anecdote)

Napoleon, in the decades to follow, during his various debates with others on religion, would frequently refer back to these early conversations with Laplace, Lagrange, and the other faculty members of the École Polytechnique, about their convictions that there is no God, as sorts of anchor points to get his own bearings, right up until his last years. In one debate with his personal assistant General Baron Gaspard Gourgaud, during the years 1812-1816, on the subject of Gourgaud’s opinion that staring up at the starry heavens leads one to an amazement and wonder in the greatness of God, Napoleon replied: [4]

“How comes it, then, that Laplace was an atheist? At the Institute neither he nor Monge, nor Berthollet, nor Lagrange believed in God. But they do not like to say so.”

This statement, made about the great leading scientists of Napoleon’s day is more or less a verbatim description of the views held by the leading scientists of our day—nearly all do not believe in God, but do not like to say so. This issue will be a central focal point of this book. In other words, although scientists no longer believe in God, considering divine intervention as being an unneeded hypothesis, what exactly scientists do believe remains a bit of an obscure picture.

Gourgaud went on to comment in rebuttal or rather defense of his Christian beliefs that ‘I own that I believe firmly in God, and cannot conceive how men can be atheists. To proclaim themselves such seems to me mere mental braggadocio’. To this abrasive comment, Napoleon retorted:

“Bah! Laplace was an atheist, and Berthollet too. At the Institute they all were atheists, and yet Newton and Leibnitz were believers. Atheists compare man to a clock; but the clock-maker is a being of superior intelligence. They grant that creation is the result of matter, as warmth is the effect of fire.”

To pause and reflect on this frank statement, we notice, firstly, a definite century shift in the thinking mindset of the modern intellectual, specifically from that of a science framed in the workings of a creator God, the Newtonian universe (1727), to that of a science framed in the workings of a Godless universe, the Laplacian universe (1827).

Russian atheism
In 1925 to 1947, the League of Militant Atheists (Ѻ) arose in Russian co-aligned with the communist ideals; it had 3.5M members at its height.

Church and State

American atheism | Separation of church and state
In 1802, Thomas Jefferson famously announced the governmental need for the separation of church and state. The following are example quotes:

Question with boldness even the existence of God
Thomas Jefferson (date)

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”
— John F. Kennedy (date)

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Nietzsche | 12-step program
In the late 18th century, Friedrich Nietzsche stated that "God is dead" and that prophesied that some great intellect in the future, home he referred to as an uberman, would arise to fill the god void. The following are 12 humorous steps designed to help one escape the constraints of Judeo-Christianity, i.e. to become an "uberman": [6]

1. Reject societal ideals and moral codes
2. Create a new set of values and moral ideals.
3. In establishing new ideals, to not rank them according to transcendental categories.
4. Transcend nihilism as presented in the forms of christianity and Platonism.
5. Overcome yourself.
Ubermensch
A semi-humorous semi-serious Friedrich Nietzsche—the 1882 popularizer of the “God is dead” motto—conceptualized twelve step will to power program, by PhilosophersGuild.com. [6]

6. Live in a constant state of rebirth and growth, not looking toward religion or society to determine the value of things, but looking inward for meaning and beliefs.
7. While aware of life's terrors, affirm life without resentment.
8. Learn to see beyond good and evil.
9. Lift up your heart, high, higher! And do not forget your legs! Lift up also your legs, and better still if you stand upon your head!
10. Learn, pray you to laugh!
11. Know that there are no eternal facts, nor are there any absolute truths.
12. Eat one Will to Power Bar; the abdomen is the reason why man does not easily take himself for a god.

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Atheism (Dawkins numbers)
The Dawkins number classification scheme range of typical atheism viewpoints (between agnosticism and beyond atheism).

Dawkins scale
In 2006, Richard Dawkins, in his The God Delusion, introduced the so-called Dawkins scale of belief in the existence of god, a 1-7 scale in its original form or 1-12+, in alternative forms, according to which the typical "atheist" tends to fall in the 5 to 8 Dawkins number range, as depicted adjacent.

Church of Atheism
See main: Atheist church
In 2006, the so-called First Church of Atheism was launched online allowing people, via local ordinance laws, supposedly, to be come ordained ministers of the atheist, for the purposes of weddings, baptisms, etc.

The site was found per key word search: “how to become an atheist”. [4] The site contains a four-board draft wiki, entitled Good Book Project, started by T. Patrick Snyder, a type of morality text aiming to replace the Bible, with the following rather humorous outline: [5]

“The Good Book, should give a general outline of major sciences starting with physics (and the big bang), and including chemistry, mathematics/logic, astronomy, earth science, biology, human evolution, early cultures, a brief history of the world, then a history of science including major figures. Then the second section would include morality/philosophical aspects. This would include the golden rule, encouragement against hatred, and for love and forgiveness.”

There doesn't, however, seem to be much progress beyond this humble start. In response to a query: “is it possible to become [an] ordained [atheist], but still have different spiritualities?”, Dorian Wallace, of the NYC chapter, gave the following response: (Ѻ)

“I don’t see a problem with that. First Church of Atheism – NYC is not a set belief system. You must think for yourself and decide your own spiritual path. The whole point of our group is to:

A. Have a place for important and special ceremonies without the worry of a superstitious deity being brought into it.
B. A place to meet like-minded people and build a support group.
C. A quiet forum for people in religious families or communities in need of a community to talk to about their own beliefs.

Here we see a number of issues: belief in one type of metaphysics (god) is supplanted by but another variety of metaphysics (spirituality). Secondly, a so-called "church" without a belief system, does not work as a system that binds, the Latin ligare "to bind" being the root etymology of the term religion.

New atheism / aggressive atheism
With the inception of the Internet (and the increase in open distribution of information) and in particular following the 9/11 events, what has been termed “new atheism” or in some respect "aggressive atheism" has come to grip the teen community as well as the adult community, a movement launched by the publication of American neuroscientist Sam Harris’ 2004 best-selling book The End of Faith, followed by a courtier of others, including: Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, 2006), Victor Stenger (God: the Failed Hypothesis, 2007), Peter Atkins (On Being, 2011), among others. [2]

Quotes
See main: Atheism quotes
The following are noted quotes:

“Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. We will one day understand what causes it, and then cease to call it divine. And so it is with everything in the universe.”
Hippocrates (c.400BC), Publication

“We have a right to look upon an atheist as a monster amongst rational beings, as one of those extraordinary productions which we hardly ever meet with in the whole human species, and who opposing himself to all other men, revolts not only against reason and human nature, but against the divinity himself.”
William Derham (c.1714), Publication (Ѻ)(Ѻ); cited by Baron d’Holbach (1770) in The System of Nature (pg. 303)

References
1. Bacon, Francis. (c.1610). “Of Atheism”, Publisher.
2. Buntling, Madeleine. (2011). “Aggressive Atheists”, Guardian Weekly.
3. Rosenau Josh. (2011). What is New Atheism? ScienceBlogs.com, Apr 25.
4. Home (WB | 2006) – FirstChurchOfAthiesm.org.
5. Wiki – FirstChurchOfAthiesm.org.
6. (a) Nietzsche, Friedrich. (1885). Will to Power: An Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values (translator: Walter Kaufmann and Reginald Hollingdale; editor: Walter Kaufmann). Random House, 2011.
(b) The Will to Power (manuscript) – Wikipedia.
(c) Will to Power Bar ($4.99) – PhilosophersGuild.com.
7. McGowan, Dale. (2013). Atheism for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons.
8. Malieth, Monydit (aka Tonnerre). (2013). The Future Affects the Past: What Destination is Time Rushing To? (pg. 46). Red Lead Books.
9. Cooke, Bill. (2006). Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism, and Humanism. Prometheus Books.
10. Goodstein, Laurie. (2016). “University of Miami Establishes Chair for Study of Atheism” (Ѻ), The New York Times, May 20.
11. Thims, Libb. (2016). Smart Atheism: For Kids. Publisher.
12. (a) Griffiths, Robert. (1987). “Article”, Christianity Today, Apr 3.
(b) Schaefer, Henry F. (2003). Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? (debate, pg. 26; Harris, pg. 77). The Apollos Trust.
13. (a) Schaefer, Henry F. (2003). Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? (debate, pg. 26; Harris, pg. 77). The Apollos Trust.
(b) Roberg A. Harris (faculty) – UC Berkeley.
(c) Richard Saykally (faculty) – UC Berkeley.
14. Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (pg. 368-69). HarperOne.
15. Anon. (2011). “100 Ideas that Changed the World”, Time, May 6.

Further reading
● Cardiff, Ira. (1945). What Great Men Think of Religion (atheist, 24+ pgs). Christopher Publishing House.
● Hunter, Michael and Wootton, David. (1992). Atheism: from the Reformation to the Enlightenment (abs). Oxford University Press.

External links
Atheism – Wikipedia.
New Atheism – Wikipedia.
Book store – ThinkAtheist.com.
Historical atheist quotes – TheMysteryWorld.com.
Free Thought Bibliography – WordPress.

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