State atheism is the incorporation of positive atheism or non-theism into political regimes associated with Soviet systems. In contrast, a secular state purports to be neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. State atheism may refer to a government's anti-clericalism, which opposes religious institutional power and influence in all aspects of public and political life, including the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen; the majority of Marxist–Leninist states followed similar policies from 1917. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Soviet Union more broadly, had a long history of state atheism, whereby those seeking social success had to profess atheism and to stay away from houses of worship; the Soviet Union attempted to suppress public religious expression over wide areas of its influence, including places such as central Asia. Only China, North Korea and Vietnam are atheist. A communist state, in popular usage, is a state with a form of government characterized by one-party rule or dominant-party rule of a communist party and a professed allegiance to a Leninist or Marxist–Leninist communist ideology as the guiding principle of the state.
The founder and primary theorist of Marxism, the nineteenth-century German thinker Karl Marx, had an ambivalent attitude toward religion, viewing it as "the opium of the people", used by the ruling classes to give the working classes false hope for millennia, whilst at the same time recognizing it as a form of protest by the working classes against their poor economic conditions. In the Marxist–Leninist interpretation of Marxist theory, developed by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, religion is seen as negative to human development, communist states that follow a Marxist–Leninist variant are atheistic and explicitly antireligious. Lenin states: Religion is the opiate of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class.
Although Marx and Lenin were both atheists, several religious communist groups exist, including Christian communists. Julian Baggini devotes a chapter of his book Atheism: A Very Short Introduction to discussion of 20th century political systems, including communism and political repression in the Soviet Union. Baggini argues that "Soviet communism, with its active oppression of religion, is a distortion of original Marxist communism, which did not advocate oppression of the religious." Baggini goes on to argue that "Fundamentalism is a danger in any belief system" and that "Atheism's most authentic political expression... takes the form of state secularism, not state atheism." State atheism, was a major goal of the official Soviet ideology. To that end, the regime expropriated church property, publication of information against religious beliefs and the official promotion of anti-religious materials in the education system. After the Russian Civil War, the state used its resources to stop the implanting of religious beliefs in nonbelievers and remove "prerevolutionary remnants" that still existed.
The Bolsheviks were hostile toward the Russian Orthodox Church and saw it as a supporter of Tsarist autocracy. During a process of collectivization of land, Orthodox priests distributed pamphlets declaring that the Soviet regime was the Antichrist coming to place "the Devil's mark" on the peasants, encouraged them to resist the government. Political repression was widespread in the Soviet Union, while religious persecution was applied to most religions, the regime's anti-religious campaigns were directed against specific religions based on state interests, that varied over time; the attitude in the Soviet Union toward religion varied from a total ban on some religions to official support of others. From the late 1920s to the late 1930s, such organizations as the League of Militant Atheists ridiculed all religions and harassed believers. Anti-religious and atheistic propaganda was implemented into every portion of soviet life: in schools, communist organizations such as the Young Pioneer Organization, the media.
Though Lenin introduced the Gregorian calendar to the Soviets, subsequent efforts to reorganise the week to improve worker productivity saw the introduction of the Soviet calendar, which had the side-effect that a "holiday will fall on Sunday". Within about a year of the revolution, the state expropriated all church property, including the churches themselves, in the period from 1922 to 1926, 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and more than 1,200 priests were killed. Most seminaries were closed, publication of religious writing was banned; the Russian Orthodox Church, which had 54,000 parishes before World War I, was reduced to 500 by 1940. A meeting of the Antireligious Commission of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party that occurred on 23 May 1929 estimated the portion of believers in the USSR at 80 percent, though this percentage may be understated to prove the successfulness of the struggle with religion. Despite the Soviet Union's attempts to eliminate religion, other former USSR and anti-religious nations, such as Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz
Criticism of atheism
Criticism of atheism is criticism of the concepts, validity, or impact of atheism, including associated political and social implications. Criticisms include positions based on the history of science, findings in the natural sciences, theistic apologetic arguments, arguments pertaining to ethics and morality, the effects of atheism on the individual, or the assumptions that underpin atheism. Various contemporary agnostics like Carl Sagan and theists such as Dinesh D'Souza have criticised atheism for being an unscientific position. Analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, argues that a failure of theistic arguments might conceivably be good grounds for agnosticism, but not for atheism. Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox holds that atheism is an inferior world view to that of theism and attributes to C. S. Lewis the best formulation of Merton's thesis that science sits more comfortably with theistic notions on the basis that Men became scientific in Western Europe in the 16th and 17th century "ecause they expected law in nature, they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.'
In other words, it was belief in God, the motor that drove modern science". American geneticist Francis Collins cites Lewis as persuasive in convincing him that theism is the more rational world view than atheism. Other criticisms focus on perceived effects on morality and social cohesion; the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, a deist, saw godlessness as weakening "the sacred bonds of society", writing: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him". The father of classical liberalism, John Locke, believed that the denial of God's existence would undermine the social order and lead to chaos. Edmund Burke, an 18th-century Irish philosopher and statesman praised by both his conservative and liberal peers for his "comprehensive intellect", saw religion as the basis of civil society and wrote that "man is by his constitution a religious animal. Pope Pius XI wrote that Communist atheism was aimed at "upsetting the social order and at undermining the foundations of Christian civilization".
In the 1990s, Pope John Paul II criticised a spreading "practical atheism" as clouding the "religious and moral sense of the human heart" and leading to societies which struggle to maintain harmony. The advocacy of atheism by some of the more violent exponents of the French Revolution, the subsequent militancy of Marxist–Leninist atheism and prominence of atheism in totalitarian states formed in the 20th century is cited in critical assessments of the implications of atheism. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke railed against "atheistical fanaticism"; the 1937 papal encyclical Divini Redemptoris denounced the atheism of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, influential in the establishment of state atheism across Eastern Europe and elsewhere, including Mao Zedong's China, Kim's North Korea and Pol Pot's Cambodia. Critics of atheism associate the actions of 20th-century state atheism with broader atheism in their critiques. Various poets and lay theologians, among them G. K. Chesterton and C.
S. Lewis, have criticized atheism. For example, Chesterton holds that "e who does not believe in God will believe in anything". Atheism is the absence of belief that any gods exist, the position that there are no gods, or the rejection of belief in the existence of gods. Deism is a form of theism in which God created the universe and established rationally comprehensible moral and natural laws but does not intervene in human affairs through special revelation. Deism is a natural religion where belief in God is based on application of reason and evidence observed in the designs and laws found in nature. Christian deism refers to a deist; the last 50 years has seen an increase in academic philosophical arguments critical of the positions of atheism arguing that they are philosophically unsound. Some of the more common of these arguments are the presumption of atheism, the logical argument from evil, the evidential argument from evil, the argument from nonbelief and absence of evidence arguments.
In 1976, atheist philosopher Antony Flew wrote The Presumption of Atheism in which he argued that the question of God's existence should begin by assuming atheism as the default position. According to Flew, the norm for academic philosophy and public dialogue was at that time for atheists and theists to both share their respective "burdens of proof" for their positions. Flew proposed instead that his academic peers redefine "atheism" to bring about these changes: What I want to examine is the contention that the debate about the existence of God should properly begin from the presumption of atheism, that the onus of proof must lie upon the theist; the word'atheism', has in this contention to be construed unusually. Whereas nowadays the usual meaning of'atheist' in English is'someone who asserts that there is no such being as God, I want the word to be understood not positively but negatively... in this interpretation an atheist becomes: not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God.
The introduction of this new interpretation of the word'atheism' may appear to be a piece of perverse Humpty-Dumptyism, going arbitrarily against established common usage.'Whyever', it could be asked, don't you make it not the presumption of atheism but the presumption of agnosticism? Flew's proposition saw little acceptance in the 20th century
Argument from inconsistent revelations
The argument from inconsistent revelations known as the avoiding the wrong hell problem, is an argument against the existence of God. It asserts that it is unlikely that God exists because many theologians and faithful adherents have produced conflicting and mutually exclusive revelations; the argument states that since a person not privy to revelation must either accept it or reject it based upon the authority of its proponent, there is no way for a mere mortal to resolve these conflicting claims by investigation, it is prudent to reserve one's judgment. It is argued that it is difficult to accept the existence of any one God without personal revelation. Most arguments for the existence of God are not specific to any one religion and could be applied to many religions with near equal validity; when faced with these competing claims in the absence of a personal revelation, it is argued that it is difficult to decide amongst them, to the extent that acceptance of any one religion requires a rejection of the others.
Further, were a personal revelation to be granted to a nonbeliever, the same problem of confusion would develop in each new person the believer shares the revelation with. Christians believe that Jesus is the Christian Messiah, Savior of the World and the divine Son of God. Muslims believe that the Qur'an was divinely authored, while Jews and Christians do not. There are many examples of such contrasting views, opposing fundamental beliefs exist within each major religion. Christianity, for example, has many subsets, which differ on issues of doctrine. Hinduism, with its conception of multiple avatars being expressions of one Supreme God, is more open to the possibility that other religions might be correct for their followers, but this same principle requires the rejection of the exclusivity demanded by each of the Abrahamic religions. Additionally, faith-confirming events such as visions and miracles are reported within all faiths with regularity. A single deity associated with a single exclusive existing faith or sect would either have to have caused adherents to other faiths to have visionary or miraculous experiences which lead them to continue to reject the true faith, or at least allowed some other agency to cause these same effects.
The problem does not arise in some theological models. In Deism, it is believed that there is a God, but presumed that there are no divinely caused revelations or miracles at all, leaving reports of such to have natural explanations. In some forms of Pantheism and in Pandeism, the appearance of many inconsistent divine revelations or miracles might result unintentionally from the divine nature of the Universe itself; the concept of mutual exclusivity of different religions itself is associated with Abrahamic faiths. The roots of the mutual exclusivity may be seen in the Torah, where Jews are ordered to worship the God of Israel to the exclusion of all others; the argument appears, in Voltaire's Candide and Philosophical Dictionary. It is manifested in Denis Diderot's statement that, whatever proofs are offered for the existence of God in Christianity or any other religion, "an Imam can reason the same way". Argumentum ad populum Argument from nonbelief Denis Diderot Voltaire
Secular humanism, or humanism, is a philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason and philosophical naturalism while rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making. Secular humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god, it does not, assume that humans are either inherently good or evil, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the held viewpoint that ideology—be it religious or political—must be examined by each individual and not accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth through science and philosophy. Many secular humanists derive their moral codes from a philosophy of utilitarianism, ethical naturalism, or evolutionary ethics, some advocate a science of morality.
Humanists International is the world union of more than one hundred humanist, irreligious, Bright, Ethical Culture, freethought organizations in more than 40 countries. The "Happy Human" is recognised as the official symbol of humanism internationally, used by secular humanist organizations in every part of the world; those who call themselves humanists are estimated to number between four and five million people worldwide. The meaning of the phrase secular humanism has evolved over time; the phrase has been used since at least the 1930s by Anglican priests, in 1943, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, was reported as warning that the "Christian tradition... was in danger of being undermined by a'Secular Humanism' which hoped to retain Christian values without Christian faith." During the 1960s and 1970s the term was embraced by some humanists who considered themselves anti-religious, as well as those who, although not critical of religion in its various guises, preferred a non-religious approach.
The release in 1980 of A Secular Humanist Declaration by the newly formed Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism gave secular humanism an organisational identity within the United States. However, many adherents of the approach reject the use of the word secular as obfuscating and confusing, consider that the term secular humanism has been "demonized by the religious right... All too secular humanism is reduced to a sterile outlook consisting of little more than secularism broadened by academic ethics; this kind of'hyphenated humanism' becomes more about the adjective than its referent". Adherents of this view, including the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the American Humanist Association, consider that the unmodified but capitalised word Humanism should be used; the endorsement by the IHEU of the capitalization of the word Humanism, the dropping of any adjective such as secular, is quite recent. The American Humanist Association began to adopt this view in 1973, the IHEU formally endorsed the position in 1989.
In 2002 the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the Amsterdam Declaration, which represents the official defining statement of World Humanism for Humanists. This declaration makes exclusive use of capitalized Humanist and Humanism, consistent with IHEU's general practice and recommendations for promoting a unified Humanist identity. To further promote Humanist identity, these words are free of any adjectives, as recommended by prominent members of IHEU; such usage is not universal among IHEU member organizations, though most of them do observe these conventions. Historical use of the term humanism, is related to the writings of pre-Socratic philosophers; these writings were lost to European societies until Renaissance scholars rediscovered them through Muslim sources and translated them from Arabic into European languages. Thus the term humanist can mean a humanities scholar, as well as refer to The Enlightenment/ Renaissance intellectuals, those who have agreement with the pre-Socratics, as distinct from secular humanists.
In 1851 George Holyoake coined the term "secularism" to describe "a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life". The modern secular movement coalesced around Holyoake, Charles Bradlaugh and their intellectual circle; the first secular society, the Leicester Secular Society, dates from 1851. Similar regional societies came together to form the National Secular Society in 1866. Holyoake's secularism was influenced by Auguste Comte, the founder of positivism and of modern sociology. Comte believed human history would progress in a "law of three stages" from a theological phase, to the "metaphysical", toward a rational "positivist" society. In life, Comte had attempted to introduce a "religion of humanity" in light of growing anti-religious sentiment and social malaise in revolutionary France; this religion would fulfil the functional, cohesive role that supernatural religion once served. Although Comte's religious movement was unsuccessful in France, the positivist philosophy of science itself played a major role in the proliferation of secular organizations in the 19th century in England.
Richard Congreve visited Paris shortly after the French Revolution of 1848 where he met Auguste Comte and was influenced by his positivist system. He founded the London Positivist Society in 1867, which attracted Frederic Harrison, Edward Spencer Beesly, Vernon Lushington, James Cotte
Letter to a Christian Nation
Letter to a Christian Nation is a book by Sam Harris, written in response to feedback he received following the publication of his first book The End of Faith. The book is written in the form of an open letter to a Christian in the United States. Harris states that his aim is "to demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms." The book was released in September 2006. In October it entered the New York Times Best Seller list at number seven; the underlying premise Harris takes is one of utilitarianism. He states: "Questions about Morality are questions about happiness and suffering." Harris addresses his arguments to members of the conservative Christian Right in America. In answer to their appeal to the Bible on questions of morality, he points to selected items from the Old Testament Mosaic law, contrasts this with, for example, the complete non-violence of Jainism. Harris argues that the reliance on religious dogma can create a false morality, divorced from the reality of human suffering and the efforts to alleviate it.
Harris addresses the problem of evil—the difficulty in believing in a good God who allows disasters like Hurricane Katrina—and the conflict between religion and science. A 2005 Gallup poll suggested that 53% of Americans are sympathetic to creationism, so Harris spends some time arguing for evolution and against the notion of Intelligent Design: Harris considers the variety of religions in the world, citing a religious basis for many ethnic and inter-communal conflicts. Contrary to those who advocate religious tolerance, mutual respect, interfaith dialogue, Harris contends that such values only make it more difficult to criticize faith-based extremism. While holding that spiritual experiences can be valuable and life-affirming—he expends considerable space in The End of Faith in arguing that they are necessary—Harris rejects their link to religious beliefs, he argues that religion may have served some useful purpose for humanity in the past, but that it is now the greatest impediment to building a "global civilization."
The book was released with laudatory endorsements from Richard Dawkins, Leonard Susskind, Roger Penrose, Matt Ridley, Desmond Morris, Janna Levin, Michael Gazzaniga. There was an unsigned blurb attributed by the publisher to a "New York Times best selling author", who wrote: "I can't sign my name to this blurb; as a New York Times best selling author of books about business, my career will evaporate if I endorse a book that challenges the held superstitions and bigotry of the masses. That's why you should read this angry and honest book right away; as long as science and rational thought are under attack by the misguided yet pious majority, our nation is in jeopardy. I'm scared. You should be too. Please buy two, one for you and one for a friend you care about." Commenting in The New York Times Book Review during the 2008 U. S. Presidential campaign, Steven Pinker chose Letter to a Christian Nation as the one book that he would want Barack Obama to read, saying: "Some have criticized the uncompromising tone of this atheist best seller, but it's mild stuff compared with the acid you guys have been flinging around.
The book will put you in touch with the fastest-growing religious minority in this country, help you understand why our European allies consider us so backward and encourage you to keep your distance from kooks who call themselves spiritual leaders."Reviewing the book in The New York Observer, Emily Bobrow said: "His new book may be smug in spots, but Mr. Harris makes a good case for a new and intellectually honest conversation about morality and human suffering."Reviewing the book in the San Francisco Chronicle, Jean E. Barker wrote: "This combination of ruthless argument with polemic designed to provoke... will further delight Harris' supporters and infuriate his critics. His glee in his own intelligence aside, Harris is stricken by the amount of preventable suffering in the world and has identified ending religion as the cure... This small book adds little new to Harris' argument in "The End of Faith"—indeed, he repeats a number of his examples, its strengths are the clarity of Harris' writing, his critique of religion's current entanglement in public policy and his continuing willingness to speak up about some controversial ideas if they're difficult for others to hear."The Washington Post reported in 2006 that Letter stimulated both strong positive and strong negative reactions, attracting both a large audience and strong counter-reactions from religious scholars.
The Post said the book "doesn't drill many new theological wells," but that Harris "might be the first man to be anointed'Hot Atheist' in Rolling Stone magazine."Jamie Doward of The Observer said Harris "wastes no time taking on his enemy - Christian fundamentalism of the sort that influences President George W. Bush."Writing in an editorial in The Seattle Times, Intelligent Design proponent David Klinghoffer said that Letter to a Christian Nation and Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion were the top two bestselling religious books. However, he went on to say that "... Dawkins and Harris seem unfamiliar with religious tradition as biblical monotheists know it from personal experience and deep study. Frankly, the success of the new atheist faith would be hard to imagine without today's soaring levels of societal religious illiteracy."Writing in The Observer, Stephanie Merritt described Harris as providing "concise anti-religious apologetics," but said that "e does not seem to comprehend the
Criticism of religion
Criticism of religion is criticism of the ideas, validity, or the practice of religion, including its political and social implications. Historical records of criticism of religion goes back to at least 5th century BCE in ancient Greece, with Diagoras "the Atheist" of Melos. In ancient Rome, an early known example is Lucretius' De Rerum Natura from the 1st century BCE; every exclusive religion on Earth that promotes exclusive truth claims denigrates the truth claims of other religions. Critics of religion in general regard religion as outdated, harmful to the individual, harmful to society, an impediment to the progress of science, a source of immoral acts or customs and a political tool for social control. In his work De Rerum Natura, the 1st century BCE Roman poet Titus Lucretius Carus wrote: "But'tis that same religion oftener far / Hath bred the foul impieties of men". A philosopher of the Epicurean school, believed the world was composed of matter and void and that all phenomena could be understood as resulting from purely natural causes.
Despite believing in Gods, like Epicurus, felt that religion was born of fear and ignorance, that understanding the natural world would free people of its shackles. He was not against religion in and of itself, but against traditional religion which he saw as superstition for teaching that gods interfered with the world. At the beginning of the 16th century, Niccolò Machiavelli said: "We Italians are irreligious and corrupt above others... because the church and her representatives have set us the worst example". To Machiavelli, religion was a tool, useful for a ruler wishing to manipulate public opinion. In the 18th century, Voltaire was a deist and was critical of religious intolerance. Voltaire complained about Jews killed by other Jews for worshiping a golden calf and similar actions, he condemned how Christians killed other Christians over religious differences and how Christians killed Native Americans for not being baptised. Voltaire claimed the real reason for these killings was that Christians wanted to plunder the wealth of those killed.
Voltaire was critical of Muslim intolerance. In the 18th century, David Hume criticised teleological arguments for religion. Hume claimed that natural explanations for the order in the universe were reasonable, see design argument. An important aim of Hume's writings was demonstrating the unsoundness of the philosophical basis for religion. In the early 21st century, the New Atheists became focal polemicists in modern criticism of religion; the four authors come from different backgrounds and have published books which have been the focus of criticism of religion narratives, with over 100 books and hundreds of scholarly articles commenting on and critiquing the four Horsemen's works. Their books and articles have spawned debate in multiple fields of inquiry and are quoted in popular media. In The End of Faith, philosopher Sam Harris focuses on violence among other toxic qualities of religion. In Breaking the Spell, philosopher Daniel Dennett focuses on the question of "why we believe strange things".
In The God Delusion, biologist Richard Dawkins covers every facet of religion injecting both snarky irony and humor. In God Is Not Great and polemicist Christopher Hitchens focused on how religious forces attacks human dignity and the corruption of religious organizations. In the Oxford Handbook of Atheism, according to Thomas Zenc the four books were published during a time of intense debate on political and sociological questions; the works share many common themes yet notably differ in scope and content. While according to Zenc the beginnings of a broader narrative seems to have emerged it does not, stand up to the full definition of a movement. Today, religion is broadly conceived as an abstraction which entails beliefs and sacred places—even though the ancient and medieval cultures that produced religious texts, like the Bible or the Quran, did not have such conceptions or ideas in their languages, cultures, or histories. However, there is still no scholarly consensus over. Before the 17th century religion was conflated with every day life.
Religion as a modern Western concept developed from the 17th century onwards. For example, in Asia, no one before the 19th century self-identified as a "Hindu" or other similar identities. With the existence of diverse modern categories of religion such as monotheism, pantheism and diverse specific religions such as Christianity, Islam, Taoism and many others, it is not always clear to whom the criticisms are aimed at or to what extent they are applicable to other religions; some criticisms of monotheistic religions have been: Religion is wrong as it is in conflict with science Revelations conflict internally Conflicting claims about the one true faith. Dennett and Harris have asserted that theist religions and their scriptures are not divinely inspired, but man made to fulfill social and political needs. Dawkins balances the benefits of religious beliefs against the drawbacks; such criticisms treat religion as a social construct and thus just another human ideology. David Hume argued that religion developed as a source of comfort in the face of the adversity, not as an honest grappling with verifiable truth.
Religion is therefore an unsophisticated form of reasoning. Daniel Dennett has argued that, with the exception of more modern religions such as Raëlism, Morm
History of atheism
Atheism is the absence or rejection of the belief that deities exist. The English term was used at least as early as the sixteenth century and atheistic ideas and their influence have a longer history. Over the centuries, atheists have supported their lack of belief in gods through a variety of avenues, including scientific and ideological notions. In the East, a contemplative life not centered on the idea of deities began in the sixth century BCE with the rise of Indian religions such as Jainism and various sects of Hinduism in ancient India, of Taoism in ancient China. Within the astika schools of Hindu philosophy, the Samkhya and the early Mimamsa school did not accept a creator deity in their respective systems; the Vedas in the Indian subcontinent admitted only the possibility that deities might exist but went no further. Neither prayers nor sacrifices were suggested in any way by the tribes. Philosophical atheist thought began to appear in Europe and Asia in the sixth or fifth century BCE.
Will Durant, in his The Story of Civilization, explained that certain pygmy tribes found in Africa were observed to have no identifiable cults or rites. There were no totems, no deities, no spirits, their dead were buried without special ceremonies or accompanying items and received no further attention. They appeared to lack simple superstitions, according to travelers' reports. In the East, a contemplative life not centered on the idea of deities began in the sixth century BCE with the rise of Jainism and various sects of Hinduism in India, of Taoism in China; these religions offered a salvific path not involving deity worship. Deities are not seen as necessary to the salvific goal of the early Buddhist tradition, their reality is explicitly questioned and rejected. There is a fundamental incompatibility between the notion of gods and basic Buddhist principles, at least in some interpretations. Within the astika schools of Hindu philosophy, the Samkhya and the early Mimamsa school did not accept a creator-deity in their respective systems.
The principal text of the Samkhya school, the Samkhya Karika, was written by Ishvara Krishna in the fourth century CE, by which time it was a dominant Hindu school. The origins of the school are lost in legend; the school was both atheistic. They believed in a dual existence of Prakriti and Purusha and had no place for an Ishvara in its system, arguing that the existence of Ishvara cannot be proved and hence cannot be admitted to exist; the school dominated Hindu philosophy in its day, but declined after the tenth century, although commentaries were still being written as late as the sixteenth century. The foundational text for the Mimamsa school is the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini; the school reached its height c. 700 CE, for some time in the Early Middle Ages exerted near-dominant influence on learned Hindu thought. The Mimamsa school saw their primary enquiry was into the nature of dharma based on close interpretation of the Vedas, its core tenets were ritualism and antimysticism. The early Mimamsakas believed in an adrishta, the result of performing karmas and saw no need for an Ishvara in their system.
Mimamsa persists in some subschools of Hinduism today. The materialistic and antireligious philosophical Cārvāka school that originated in India with the Bārhaspatya-sūtras is the most explicitly atheist school of philosophy in the region; the school grew out of the generic skepticism in the Mauryan period. In the sixth century BCE, Ajita Kesakambalin, was quoted in Pali scriptures by the Buddhists with whom he was debating, teaching that "with the break-up of the body, the wise and the foolish alike are annihilated, destroyed, they do not exist after death." Cārvākan philosophy is now known principally from its Buddhist opponents. The proper aim of a Cārvākan, according to these sources, was to live a prosperous, productive life in this world; the Tattvopaplavasimha of Jayarashi Bhatta is sometimes cited as a surviving Carvaka text. The school appears to have died out sometime around the fifteenth century; the nonadherence to the notion of a supreme deity or a prime mover is seen by many as a key distinction between Buddhism and other religions.
While Buddhist traditions do not deny the existence of supernatural beings, it does not ascribe powers, in the typical Western sense, for creation, salvation or judgement, to the "gods", praying to enlightened deities is sometimes seen as leading to some degree of spiritual merit. Buddhists accept the existence of beings in higher realms, known as devas, but they, like humans, are said to be suffering in samsara, not wiser than we are. In fact the Buddha is portrayed as a teacher of the deities, superior to them. Despite this they do have some enlightened Devas in the path of buddhahood. Jains see their tradition as eternal. Organized Jainism can be dated back to Parshva who lived in the ninth century BCE, more reliably, to Mahavira, a teacher of the sixth century BCE, a contemporary of the Buddha. Jainism is a dualistic religion with the universe made up of matter and souls; the universe, the matter and souls within it, is eternal and uncreated, there is no omnipotent creator deity in Jainism.
There are, however, "gods" and other spirits who exist within the universe and Jains believe that the soul can atta