"Atheist" redirects here. For other uses, see Atheist (disambiguation).
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Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.
The term "atheism" originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without god(s)", used as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshiped by the larger society. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves using the word "atheist" lived in the 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment. The French Revolution, noted for its "unprecedented atheism," witnessed the first major political movement in history to advocate for the supremacy of human reason.
Arguments for atheism range from the philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in deities include arguments that there is a lack of empirical evidence; the problem of evil; the argument from inconsistent revelations; the rejection of concepts that cannot be falsified; and the argument from nonbelief.Although some atheists have adopted secular philosophies (eg. humanism and skepticism), there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere. Many atheists hold that atheism is a more parsimoniousworldview than theism and therefore that the burden of proof lies not on the atheist to disprove the existence of God but on the theist to provide a rationale for theism.
Since conceptions of atheism vary, accurate estimations of current numbers of atheists are difficult. Several comprehensive global polls on the subject have been conducted by Gallup International: their 2015 poll featured over 64,000 respondents and indicated that 11% were "convinced atheists" whereas an earlier 2012 poll found that 13% of respondents were "convinced atheists." An older survey by the BBC, in 2004, recorded atheists as comprising 8% of the world's population. Other older estimates have indicated that atheists comprise 2% of the world's population, while the irreligious add a further 12%. According to these polls, Europe and East Asia are the regions with the highest rates of atheism. In 2012, 47% of people in China reported that they were atheists. The figures for a 2010 Eurobarometer survey in the European Union (EU) reported that 20% of the EU population claimed not to believe in "any sort of spirit, God or life force".