People in our society today who have the atheist point of view on religion, which is the belief that there is no god, are going against the so-called norms of society, and therefor are seen as deviant. Deviance is just an idea. Society determines what is deviant by the ideas they hold of what should be the norm. Atheism is seen as a negative deviance, or below the norm. They have a status that is placed on them in society. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they believe in evil, although that is how it is sometimes viewed from people in society who have a specific religion or faith. Atheism, which is not a new idea, has been evolving in our society, and is the reason for problems leading to debate and court cases, and for discrimination and labeling.
Atheism literally means "without god-ism". The word does not say that a person "knows" there are no gods, it merely expresses a lack of belief. Most atheists would agree that the universe and everything in it probably exists naturally without the planning or effort of any force or entity beyond nature. Atheists do not necessarily oppose religion, nor do all always assert that gods don't exist. Atheism is simply an absence of belief for whatever reason.
There are many kinds of atheists, including some who are opposed to religion or some that say that gods don't exist. There are even some non-believers who go to church and pretend to be religious. Atheists have lived in all countries and in all ages of history. Some people who call themselves rationalists, freethinkers, humanists, or agnostics might be accurately described as atheists.
There have always been some people who believe in things that don't exist, while others don't believe. These non-believers have usually been content to disagree with people who make outrageous claims, without openly challenging the claims. But as god beliefs have grown more absurd because of increasing knowledge, some have felt compelled to point out difficulties with these beliefs. And, as religion has grown more tyrannical, atheists have seen the need to organize in defense of freedom.
Atheism has a long and colorful history, but that history has been largely hidden from the public's view due to religious suppression. It is therefore, with great effort, that modern atheists are re-discovering their heritage. Some early Greek philosophers were among the first to write down atheistic ideas. Great thinkers such as Heraclitus, Democritus, Protagorus, and Lucretius expressed views that questioned the existence of gods.
Atheism gained a permanent foothold in western culture during the Renaissance and through the Enlightenment. But atheism truly began to thrive around the beginning of the 20th century in what is called the Freethought movement. Current trends indicate that the popularity of atheism should continue to increase into the next century.
Sir Thomas Huxley coined the term “agnostic” in 1869. Popularly the word agnostic is felt to mean...