Saturday, October 1, 2011

Historical Non-Belief

Considering this is the second anniversary of the Land of Disillusionment, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look back into history, the history of Atheism, that is.

Although many refuse to believe it, Atheism has been around for many centuries in many forms. It has always been there to define cultures, philosophies, and logical thinking. And yet, there are many who honestly believe that Atheism is a recent movement, something that began in only the 18th century. While there is some truth to this, it is still far from reality.

"Just how old is Atheism?"

Believe it or not, Atheism has always existed, though not in the same form. Even before Theism, Atheists walked the Earth.

"The earliest evidence of religious ideas dates back several hundred thousand years to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic periods. Archeologists refer to apparent intentional burials of early homo sapiens from as early as 300,000 years ago as evidence of religious ideas."

As described in many blog posts, Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. As such, all it takes for Atheism to be around is to not believe in gods. Without knowledge of gods, there is no belief in them.

However, Atheism, as an opposite to Theism, arrived significantly later. Before then, Atheism was simply a lack of belief, a philosophy without a name. It wasn't until the 6th century BCE that Atheism became an opposing philosophy, and we didn't even have a name until the 16th century CE. That was when the greeks came up with the name Atheos, godless.

As I said, though, there is some truth to those that think Atheism didn't show up until the 18th century. Modern Atheism is slightly different from the older philosophies. While older Atheism was completely pacifist and more geared toward belief than actual knowledge, Modern Atheism is not willing to roll over to anyone and is very focused on science, logic, and rational free thinking. This actually started with a romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who submitted an anonymous paper to the dean of Oxford University titled The Necessity of Atheism, and was subsequently kicked out. If not for this man and many others like him, Atheism would not be what it is today.

So there you go, a brief history of Atheism. I hope you've learned something, or at least didn't fall asleep while reading all of it.

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