The Beginning of Atheism
What is atheism? The word atheism has different meanings from time to time and from place to place. For example, in ancient Athens the word “atheist” referred to a person who did not believe in the gods established by the community. Socrates was executed on the charges of atheism and for corrupting the youth of Athens by his teachings. For this web site “atheism” is the belief that there is no God.
How did atheism begin? Atheists say that man invented God. This is not logical. God came first. Without God there is no creation. There is no universe. There is no man. God created man for friendship and fellowship. God intended man to be the master and manager of God’s creation.
The Bible says in Genesis 1: 26-28:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (NAS)
Man did not “invent” God. God created man.
Why did atheism begin? God gave man one law to obey. Man disobeyed God. Man broke this one law. The first generation of man (Adam) disobeyed God. The second generation (Cain) rebelled against God. The seeds of atheism were sown when the first man and women disobeyed God. The heart of atheism is disobedience and rebellion against God.
Whether you believe the Bible’s account of Adam and Eve really happened or that it is a myth, each and every one of us disobeys God. Some of us disobey God occasionally but for others disobedience occurs every day. Some people are in open rebellion against God. Many of these are atheists. What better way to disrespect God than to deny that He exists?
When did atheism begin? Philosophers and historians begin their histories of atheism with the Ancient Greeks. Words like “Pre-socratics” and “Milesians” describe the earliest atheists. The list of early Greek atheists features Anaxagoras and the atomists Leucippus and Democritus.
The history of atheism stretches further back than this. The writings of King David reveal the existence of atheists at least 500 years before the Pre-socratics. What did David say about atheists? Can his writings tell us anything that will help us understand atheism today? David wrote the following in Psalm 14:
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
There is no one who does good.
The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there are any who understand,
Who seek after God. (NAS)
As King David composed this psalm did he intentionally set atheism’s disbelief next to evil deeds? Does atheism lead to evil? Why should anyone believe that one leads to the other?
The link between atheism and evil deeds has been noticed by others. Fyodor Dostoevsky especially commented on their relationship. His classic novel The Brothers Karamazov is sprinkled with such connections. For example, in Book XI, Chapter 8 he wrote, “For if there’s no everlasting God, there’s no such thing as virtue, and there’s no need of it.”
Atheism does not believe in virtue. If there is no God, why should a person want to be good? If there is no God, what is good? What is bad? God is the source of these values. Without God there is no virtue. There is only moral anarchy and confusion.
Atheism’s world view encourages evil deeds. Dostoevsky wrote in Book I, Chapter V,
“for every individual . . . who does not believe in God or immortality, the moral law of nature must immediately be changed into the exact contrary of the former religious law, and that egoism, even to crime, must become not only lawful but even recognized as the inevitable, the most rational, even honorable outcome of his position.”
Atheism justifies evil deeds. In fact, evil, self-centered deeds are the logical outcome of atheism’s world view. If there is no God, what prevents me from taking things from you? Why should I care about you? Atheism provides no explanation. Survival of the fittest is atheism’s “golden rule.” They believe “Do unto others before they do unto you.”
If there is no God, there is no hope for the weak and helpless. Might makes right. The weak man is at the mercy of the strong. But what is mercy? Why should a strong man show mercy to the weak? What’s in it for him? Atheists want us to abandon God. Why? They offer no improvement over Christianity or religion in general. They want us to embrace the cruelty that accompanies power. Voltaire was responding to an atheist when he wrote,
“If God did not exist,
it would be necessary to invent him.
Let the wise man announce him
and kings fear him.”
Without God there is nothing to prevent us from destroying ourselves and our society. Think of the Soviet Union under Stalin. Many estimates report at least 20 million people died as the result of Stalin’s tyranny. Think of the killing fields of Cambodia under Pol Pot. His Khmer Rouge caused the death of between 2-3 million Cambodians—at least 25% of the people of Cambodia. Think of the reign of terror during the Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” which took place in 1958-1962. An estimated 45 million Chinese lost their lives during this time of atrocity.
Countless murders were committed by these and other atheists during the 20th Century. Atheists may respond, “What about the witch trials?” “What about the inquisitions?” A few thousand souls tragically were killed during those times. But those disasters hardly compare to the millions killed by atheists.
King David was justified when he wrote, regarding atheists, “They are corrupt; they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.”
And so atheism made its first appearance in the world. Atheism was ugly. It was evolving into something truly horrible. About five hundred years later atheism appeared in Ancient Greece. Then it disappeared for almost two millennia. Atheism continued during that time but it was weak and almost nonexistent.
Modern atheism awakened during the seventeenth century. The libertines and freethinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries damaged the morality of Europe. Then atheists hijacked the French Revolution, destroying France as a world power.
During the nineteenth century they began to damage science. Atheists started with anthropology and psychology and spread to the hard sciences. Atheists tried to replace scientific method with cute theories that fit their world-view. During the twentieth century atheists destroyed societies and murdered millions.
Friend, do not think for a moment that atheism is harmless. It is not just an alternate world-view. Atheism is lies and destruction and death.