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Rise and Fall of Atheism

Updated on September 28, 2016

Atheism first started as just a philosophical thought. Atheism’s humble beginning as just a philosophical thought would not remain so for long. Over time Atheism became a force to be reckoned with. There was a time when Atheism was the dominant thought in the world. But, as science advances day by day, Atheism loses its ground due to faulty theories proven wrong.


Epicurus | Source

Origins of Atheism

Philosophical thought started the concept of Atheism (A=apart from; Theism= Deity). Before the famous Socrates stepped on the scene in Greece, there were great thinkers called Pre-Socratic Philosophers. Some the Pre-Socratic began to think and formulate the concept that there was no God or gods and that mankind could live their lives apart from God or gods. Here are the patriarchs of Atheism:

Diagoras of Melos - He was a Greek Philosopher who lived in the 5th Century BC. Diagoras was the first philosopher who proposed the thought of unbelief in God or gods. “Athenagoras said about him, that he ‘made the downright assertion that god does not exist at all.’” (Stefan Stenudd)

Epicurus – He was a Greek Philosopher who lived during 341–270 B.C. Epicurus helped formulate the modern concepts of science and secular individualism. “Epicurus's philosophy combines a physics based on an atomistic materialism with a rational hedonistic ethics that emphasizes moderation of desires and cultivation of friendships.” (

Democritus – He was a Greek Philosopher who lived during 460-370 B.C. Democritus is known as the father of modern science because he recognized that the universe is made up of tiny atoms and empty space. “According to Democritus’ atomic theory, the universe and all matter obey the following principles:

  • Everything is composed of “atoms”, which are physically, but not geometrically, indivisible
  • Between atoms, there lies empty space
  • Atoms are indestructible
  • Atoms have always been, and always will be, in motion
  • There are an infinite number of atoms, and kinds of atoms, which differ in shape, and size.” (Matt Williams)

Lucretius – He was a Roman philosopher who lived in the first half of the first century B.C. Lucretius took Epicurus’ and Democritus’ philosophy to a whole other level by instituting understandable Physics into the mix. “Lucretius' mission is to explain that physics in beautiful poetry, to make it more understandable and more palatable to his readership than its occasional philosophical obscurity might otherwise be.” (Emma Woolerton)

Vladimir Linen and Joseph Stalin

Vladimir Linen and Joseph Stalin
Vladimir Linen and Joseph Stalin | Source

Pinnacle of Atheism

What started as just a philosophical thought from Diagoras of Melos, had evolved into a standard for living. Eventually, the thought of just living apart from God was not enough anymore though. Atheists began to form societies to where they had complete control as if they were gods themselves. Here are some key figures who went to the extremes to promote Atheism in the world:

Karl Marx – He was an Atheist who lived during 1818-1883. Karl Marks was accredited for starting the Socialist Revolution. Karl’s belief about religion was purely on a social platform. “According to Karl Marx, religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent history; instead it is the creature of productive forces. As Marx wrote, “The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.” (Austin Cline)

Vladimir Linen – He was an Atheist who lived during 1870-1924. Vladimir Lenin took Karl Marx’s Marxist Socialism to the next level to form Leninism. While Marxest Socialism was a voluntary system of Government, Leninism was a forceful system of Government.

Linen’s view of religion was “that religion was an historical phenomenon, tied to the oppressive structures of human history such as feudalism and capitalism. Just as he believed that the state, as we know it today, would no longer be needed and would "wither away" after the world had turned completely to socialism, so too he believed that religion would wither away when there was no longer a need for it. In Lenin's words, "the yoke of religion that weighs upon mankind is merely a product and reflection of the economic yoke within society." (

Joseph Stalin - He was an Atheist who lived during 1922-1952. Joseph Stalin took over as dictator of the Soviet Union after Vladimir Linen’s death in 1924. During his reign a dictator, Stalin was responsible for centralizing the country and industrializing it as well. But the cost in doing so resulted in millions of workers imprisoned for being non-compliant. Later, Stalin rounded up military, government, and workers who resisted his plans and either imprisoned, exiled or executed them.

Stalin’s view of religion was that “he officially adopted the Russian Communist Party’s stance on religion, claiming atheism and continuing the tradition of teaching atheism in schools and propagating the idea that religion was only damaging to a perfect communist society. Stalin even took it further than his predecessor, Lenin, and initiated a nationwide campaign to destroy churches and religious property and even persecute and kill church officials. It is said that under Stalin, the Russian Orthodox Church went from 50,000 to 500 open and operating churches.” (Tom Kershaw)

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins | Source

Decline of Atheism

As time went by and science advanced, physicists and biologists could no longer be 100% sure that God does not exist. What was first thought up by Pre-Socratic philosophers, then ended up materializing into Communism, now can’t be considered a concrete 100% fact. Here are two of the leading Atheist of our day and how they view intelligent design (God):

Stephen Hawking – He is an Atheist born in 1942. Stephen Hawkins is a world renowned theoretical physicist who is best known for his research findings on black holes. “In 1974, Hawking's research turned him into a celebrity within the scientific world when he showed that black holes aren't the information vacuums that scientists had thought they were. In simple terms, Hawking demonstrated that matter, in the form of radiation, can escape the gravitational force of a collapsed star. Hawking radiation was born.” (

Even though Stephen Hawking calls himself an Atheist, he recognizes the fact that there could be intelligent design. “Modern science relies on the perception that consciousness lies within the human brain, but what my brother experienced during his clinical death, I cannot explain. Does consciousness lie outside of the human body? Is the human brain just a receptor, capable of receiving the “consciousness wave” as AM/FM radios receive radio waves? These are questions modern science has not yet answered and could redefine our view of the Universe and modern physics completely' he acknowledged.” (

Richard Dawkins – He is an Atheist who was born in 1941. Richard Dawkins is best known for his Atheist views on intelligent design and Creationism. Richard’s best work was his book, “The Selfish Gene, in which he tried to rectify what he maintained was a widespread misunderstanding of Darwinism.” (

In a debate at Oxford University in 2012, the most prominent Atheist admitted he was an agnostic because he could not prove 100% that God does not exist. During the debate “There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator. The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof. Dawkins answered that he did. An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.” Prof Dawkins said that he was “6.9 out of seven” sure of his beliefs.” (Geoffrey Grider)

Key Figures of Atheism

Origins of Atheism
Pinnacle of Atheism
Decline of Atheism
Diagoras of Melos
Karl Marx
Stephen Hawking
Vladimir Linen
Richard Dawkins
Joseph Stalin
The key figures in this table are largely responsible for the rise and fall of Atheism.

Atheism Lost its Credibility

In order to be an Atheist, a person has to believe 100% that God does not exist. Many people call themselves Atheists, but are really Agnostic because they don’t believe 100% that God does not exist. Even Richard Dawkins admitted that he was an agnostic because he couldn’t prove without a doubt that God does not exist. There are still Atheists who fully disbelieve in God – but they are not well informed on the matter. Atheism is in a downward spiral and failing miserably.

God Bless!

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    • profile image

      Sharon Fetterman 

      2 years ago

      This is a good article regarding atheism, James. Thanks for sharing!


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