Atheism is the disbelief in the existence of God or any other deity or the doctrine that there is neither God nor any other deity. This disbelief generally comes about either through deliberate choice or from an inherent inability to believe religious teachings which seem quite incredible.
Many atheists believe that religion makes society worse, in that belief in different religions divides people. They view religion as an outdated institution that contains hypocritical and inconsistent doctrines. Other atheists believe that religion serves a positive role in society, but do not believe that it professes the truth.
Atheism largely developed in Western culture. Early Christian thinkers debated the characteristics of God and tried to prove through reason the existence of God and the Christian idea of God.
During the Age of Enlightenment, people began to use scientific processes and theories to attempt to prove the existence of God. These people were the first modern atheists.
Although atheism has significantly affected religions and society at large since its great popularity in the nineteenth century, atheists consist of only a fraction of each society in the world. Even today, society does not seem willing to accept atheists. Atheists are often the targets of discrimination by members of other religious groups.
Atheists continuously test the Bill of Rights, as they argue that an individual’s right to freedom of religion must include an individual’s right to no religion.
Today, there are approximately 240 million atheists in the world, with the greatest numbers in Asia, the former USSR, and Europe. 1.3 million people in North America are atheists.