Charles W. Johnson
Last updated 9 December 2001
Atheism comes from the Greek roots A-, signifying "without," and THEOS, signifying a god. Therefore, an atheist is a person who is literally "godless:" she lacks the belief that any gods exist, which is to say, she lacks theism. Originally the term was used as a derogatory label for those who rejected traditional gods, such as Socrates and early Christians. Over time, however, it has come to describe a complete lack of theistic belief, a viewpoint which first came into its own during the Enlightenment.
Because atheism has always been far in the minority compared to theism, there is a common misconception that everyone important, or at least everyone important in the European cultural arena, has been part of an over-arching "Judaeo-Christian tradition." However, there have been many famous and infamous atheists in the history of the world and there are many atheist celebrities alive today. Atheists have included: author and scientist Isaac Asimov, comedian George Carlin, author and scientist Arthur C. Clarke, paranormal investigator James "the Amazing" Randi, philosophers Robert G. Ingersoll, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, and George H. Smith, Mexican dictator General Victoriano Huerta, revolutionary leaders Giuseppe Garibaldi and Bernardo O'Higgins, singers Billy Joel, Michael Stipe, and Marilyn Manson, activist Marilyn Murray O'Hair, Objectivist novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, pornographic publisher Larry Flynt, talk show host Ron Reagan, Jr., authors Gore Vidal and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., secular Jewish leader Rabbi Sherwin Wine, multibillionaire Bill Gates, and pediatrician Benjamin Spock.
This page is intended as a source of information for atheists and theists alike that deals with a variety of topics, especially relating to common arguments for the existence and nonexistence of god(s). It contains papers that I have written, papers I have cowritten with others, papers that I am hosting for other people, and papers that are maintained by off-site sources. It will probably be growing and changing constantly, so you may want to check back every so often.
Common Arguments and Important Issues
Atheism on the Web
Atheism on IRC
Atheism on Usenet (netnews)