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Causes of atheism

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In regards to the causes of atheism, there are a number of reasonable explanations for atheism:

  • Atheism is rational: Most atheists would say the cheif cause of atheism is lack of evidence for the existence of God or for the truth of any religion. [1]
  • Rebellion: Atheism stems from a deliberate choice to ignore the reality of God's existence [2] (If there was a God, there wouldn't be so much suffering.)[3]
  • Superficiality: Noted ex-atheist and psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz has stated that he had superficial reasons for becoming an atheist such as the desire to be accepted by his Stanford professors who were united in disbelief regarding God.[4]
  • State churches: In regards to the causes of atheism, rates of atheism are much higher in countries with a state sanctioned religion (such as many European countries), and lower in states without a sanctioned religion (such as the United States). Some argue this is because state churches become bloated, corrupt, and/or out of touch with the religious intuitions of the population, while churches independent of the state are leaner and more adaptable. It is important to distinguish "state-sanctioned churches," where participation is voluntary, from "state-mandated churches" (such as Saudi Arabia) with much lower atheism rates because publicly admitted atheism is punishable by death. [5]
  • Poor relationship with father: Some argue that a troubled/non-existent relationship with a father may influence one of the causes of atheism.[6] Dr. Paul Vitz wrote a book entitled Faith of the Fatherless in which he points out that after studying the lives of more than a dozen leading atheists he found that a large majority of them had a father who was present but weak, present but abusive, or absent.[7][8] Dr. Vitz also examined the lives of prominent theists who were contemporaneous to their atheist counterparts and from the same culture and in every instance these prominent theists had a good relationship with his father.[9] Dr. Vitz has also stated other common factors he observed in the leading atheists he profiled: they were all intelligent and arrogant.[10]
  • Division in religion: According to Francis Bacon, atheism is caused by "divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division addeth zeal to both sides, but many divisions introduce atheism." [11]
  • Learned times, peace, and prosperity: Francis Bacon argued that atheism was partly caused by "Learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men’s minds to religion."[12] Jewish columnist Dennis Prager has stated that one of the causes of atheism is the "secular indoctrination of a generation." [13] Prager stated that "From elementary school through graduate school, only one way of looking at the world – the secular – is presented. The typical individual in the Western world receives as secular an indoctrination as the typical European received a religious one in the Middle Ages."[14] Atheists and secularists rarely point out that universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, and many others were founded by Christians.[15][16]


  1. Different reasons for being an atheist
  2. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the belief in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse..." —Romans 1:19-20 (NKJV)
  3. What was the cause of atheism
  7. Vitz, Paul, The Psychology of Atheism, September 24, 1997 (lecture notes taken by an audience member).
  8. Anders, Kerby, Atheists and Their Fathers (Probe Ministries)
  17. Why Atheism?

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