The word atheist can be dated back to the 5th century BC, which was used by the Greeks (History of Atheism). The Greeks used it as a word meaning without Gods, since they were polytheists. Diagoras of Melos is considered to be the first atheist, along with Theodorus of Cyrene. They did believe in the God’s, but they did not believe they intervened in human affairs (History of Atheism). This is what we call classical deism which was developed during the enlightenment. Protagoras proposed the proposition of agnosticism, but is different from atheism (History of Atheism). It was a crime against the capital of Greece to be an atheist or deny the God’s. Socrates himself was executed for his lack of belief in God, but he himself denied the charge of blasphemy. Many of Greece’s citizens may have been “closeted atheists,” but did not share their lack of belief for the sake of their own lives (History of Atheism). The word atheist did not get it’s more modern meaning until the sixteenth century.
“The System of Nature” is the first book to publicly deny the existence of God. This was during the time of the of the enlightenment when religious thought started to be challenged. David Hume was a famous agnostic philosopher who coined that religious thought is irrational. Many still denied being atheists because of the capital punishments of being an admitted atheist (History of Atheism). The French Revolution was the event that was inspired by the American Revolution after America became an independent nation. The French Revolution happened from 1789-1794 and helped the spread of the atheism in Europe to this day. “(Between 1700 and 1750 thousands of atheistic clandestine manuscripts circulated across Europe (although still only read by a very small minority)” (History of Atheism). These documents ultimately help spread the antireligious thought from the French Revolution to the New Atheists in the modern day of western civilization. The enlightenment mainly targeted the Roman Catholic church of England for their attack on scientists, like Galileo. However, many scientists of this time were Christians and even apologists as well like John Locke, Descartes, and Pascal. Many became antireligious and even against atheists who were okay with religion. The French revolution was against the tyranny of the religious king of France. If the French Revolution didn’t happen, then atheism would not be as well spread in Europe today (History of Atheism).
The Enlightenment was powered by skepticism, doubt, and uncertainty. 'If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him', wrote Voltaire" (History of Atheism). This meant that people were starting to doubt the existence of God and would ultimately lead to nihilism. Nihilism is simply the view that there is no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose to life. “Thoughts and Feelings of Jean Meslier: “Clear and Evident Demonstrations of the Vanity and Falsity of All the Religions of the World” was the first modern book to promote atheism with its critiques of the soul, miracles, and the existence of God. This marked the real promotion of die-hard atheism (History of Atheism). Hume was another contributor to the skeptic movement with his assertion of miracles and the historicity of Christianity. He was more of a hardcore agnostic in all reality. Hume and all the enlightenment atheists and agnostics were naturally naturalists. They believed that the universe has always existed and did not need a cause since it did not come into being (History of Atheism). The Cult of Reason terrorized religious sites and public practices. They ransacked churches and discriminated against religious belief. All though most of the advances made by the enlightenment were made by Deists and Christians, skepticism had its part in the enlightenment and would not be here without the enlightenment (History of Atheism).
Communism is inherently directed by atheistic ideology driven by Karl Marx. Karl Marx was a secular Jew, but only considered to be Jewish by descent. Karl Marx was the founder of Communism and Marxism. Marxism is an ideology influenced by all of Karl Marx ideas. Karl Marx believed that religion was a main factor of stopping society from becoming the ultimate Utopia. Karl Marx along with Friedrich Nietzsche influenced the rise of the Soviet Union with their antic-religious beliefs (History of Atheism). Friedrich Nietzsche in his book “Gay Science” announced the death of God. “God is dead and we have killed” - Friedrich Nietzsche. He predicted the genocide that would occur from taken God out of society. The twentieth century was the bloodiest century of all time due to the rise in secularism and communism. Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mussolini, and questionably Hitler were atheist leaders who oppressed religion. They killed millions with their crusades against religious people and religious thought. They were inspired by the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche (History of Atheism). The twentieth century didn’t give atheism a good name just as the crusades didn’t give Roman Catholicism a good name.
The New Atheists are the most modern atheists. They are the most hostile atheist group to intellectually challenge modern religious thought. The four horsemen of the atheist apocalypse are Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. They’ve all written books expression their anti-religious views and are very provocative to religious people. Richard Dawkins has written “The God Delusion” which has sold over 2 million copies, which has influenced this movement of new atheism. Christopher Hitchens has written “God is not Great” claiming that all religion and their God’s are immoral. These men were influenced by the events of 911 and the history of religious violence. They believe that religion is poisonous to society and must adapt to societies standards. If not, then religion must be wiped for society to evolve to the next stage. The claims of these men are influencing many people and we could have another French Revolution. These are the modern day atheists who have their agenda for religion (Mohler 2008:15-37; Taylor).
Mohler, Albert Jr. Atheism Remix. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008. Book.
Taylor, James E. “The New Atheists.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Westmont College, www.iep.utm.edu/n-atheis/
“New Atheism.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Oct. 2017,