Is atheism a belief system?

I’d forgotten about this one…he even implied that I had made it up…

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I discuss that in my very first article on my blog site: UK Atheist: What Is Atheism?.

Here’s a snip from it:

UK Atheist

Ewwwwwwwwwww! Nice List … I’m Stealing It. I’m putting it on the refrigerator, right next to the eggnog recipe I stole from Tin Man.

Bet it’s not as good as my pumpkin martini recipe!

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Thanks, though most of the list itself originated with a guy called Adrian Barnett back almost thirty years ago when I used to be active in an atheism forum called “Wasteland of Wonders”.

UK Atheist

Try looking at it this way.

To say that atheism is a “belief system” (whatever that means!) is like saying that theism is a “belief system”.

Atheists as a group are way too diverse to be described in that way.

Just as nobody would call theism a “belief system” because of wide diversity of theists, the same thing applies to us atheists.

Some cultures place hell in the sky.

The overriding theme in atheism is simply a lack of belief in God.

However, I do believe that there are different types of atheists that fall into slightly different camps, if this addresses your question.

With the understanding that I only speak for myself, I see atheists who seem to wish to do the equivalent of evangilizing for atheism. They (like me) see the damage done by religion, and work to use atheism as a tool to attack a source of harm. Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, and Neil deGrasse Tyson seem to fit in here.

There are other atheists who seem to be very private and introspective, and who take a “live and let live” attitude of minding one’s own business.

Then there are atheists who are social philosophers who ponder the effects (good and bad) that atheism may have on society.

And then there are “practical atheists” (which is where I seem to be) that explore and promote atheism as a response to practical, everyday matters such as the influence of religion in the workplace, or how religion screws up healthcare (as an example).

It also seems that there are mixed types of atheists that fall into more than one of the above categories.

Even the Pope may be considered an atheist, if we transport him to ancient Greece in a time machine, and he doesn’t believe in (or worship) Zeus.

So, an atheist takes non belief one God further.


belief system

  1. a set of principles or tenets which together form the basis of a religion, philosophy, or moral code.


  1. disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

It is the definition of the word, and it encompasses all atheists, even those who make claims to believe no deity exists. That didn’t fit Sherlock’s agenda of course.


Is not believing in the Big Foot, Spider-Man, Ghosts, Flat Earth, Santa, or other unfalsifiable claims a belief system? I think not. I don’t believe in a god in exactly the same way you do not believe in Big Food, Spider-Man, Santa, or the Flat Earth. (Note… I did have to leave out ghosts… obviously you believe in those.)


Atheists can differ greatly in their other beliefs and attitudes. For example, some may be spiritual in a non-theistic way, some may be strictly materialistic, and others may hold various philosophical or ethical beliefs.

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And that would all be something (IN ADDITION TO ATHEISM) and not (ATHEISM). Buddhism can be atheistic. Buddhism has nothing to do with Atheism. They are different things. Skepticism is typically a part of most atheist beliefs. Skepticism is not atheism and certainly not a part of Buddhism. An atheist need not be skeptical to be an atheist. When discussing whether atheism is a belief system, the additional beliefs or non-beliefs of any atheist are inconsequential.The typical answer is usually ‘No.’ However, some atheists do believe that God or gods do not exist. Even so, there is no ‘system’ supporting their assertion. Furthermore, when nonbelieving atheists make such claims (Specifically ‘No God or gods exist’) the claims are unfalsifiable due to their vagueness. Atheism, simply put, is a lack of belief in god. I do not believe in God or gods in the same way you do not believe in Santa Claus, the Good Fairy of the North, Pixies, or Leprechauns. It’s just that simple.