What Percent
Of The World
Practices Atheism?

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: September 05, 2001 3:55 PM

Nobody practices atheism because the term atheism distinguishes us from those who practice religion. Atheism, as the absence of religious faith, is the default state, and religious faith is added onto this default, being a positive belief. Atheism is called a "negative" belief, philosophically, because it is not a belief in and of itself, but is the absence of a particular class of belief.

When people insist that atheism is the denial of God or is hostility to religion or is the assertion that gods do not exist, they are not citing the classic atheistic writers and philosophers who have defined atheism as the absence of belief since the Age of Enlightenment, when it stopped being a capital crime to admit or discuss one's atheistic views.

About 20 percent of the world's population either lacks a god belief or flat out asserts that gods are make-believe. This does not count infants and children, but is a tally of the adult population. This also does not include religions, such as Jainism and some forms of Buddhism, which do not acknowledge the existence of any deities; those religions are counted separately and have their own categories. I derive this information from Encarta, and have excerpted the pertinent information and posted it online.

Be aware that when the author of the Encarta piece talks about "positive atheism" and "negative atheism," he means something completely different from what we mean when we call our publication Positive Atheism. When we discuss "positive" and "negative" atheism in that sense, we prefer the terms "strong" and "weak" atheism respectively.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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