The word ‘atheism’ comes from the negative ‘a’ which means ‘no,’ and ‘theos’ which means ‘god.’ Hence, atheism in the most basic terms means ‘no god.’ Basically, atheism is the lack of belief in a god and/or the belief that there is no god. By contrast, theism is the belief that there is a God and that He is knowable and that He is involved in the world. Most atheists do not consider themselves anti-theists but simply non-theists.
I've encountered many atheists who claim that atheism is not a belief system, while others say it is. Since there is no official atheist organization, nailing down which description of atheism to use can be difficult. Nevertheless, the following are some definitions offered by atheists. Whichever definition you accept, atheism denies God.
- "An atheist is someone who believes and/or knows there is no god."
- "An atheist lacks belief in a god."
- "An atheist disbelieves or denies that any God or gods exist."
- "An atheist exercises no faith in the concept of god at all."
- "An atheist is someone who is free from religious oppression and bigotry."
- "An atheist is someone who is a free-thinker--free from religion and its ideas."