The word ‘Atheism’ originates from the Greek word ‘atheos’ meaning “no God exists.” From time immemorial, human beings have believed in some supernatural power. The concept of religion or deity came in much later. However, in the 18th century, with the spread of free thought and scientific thinking, the existence of God began to be questioned. The tendency toward being “man centric” from “God centric” increased. Thus, the seeds of atheism were sown.
The Industrial revolution and the Renaissance made Man skeptical about supernatural claims, due to lack of substantial evidence. Arguments were philosophical, social as well as historical. Atheism does not necessarily mean irreligious or unspiritual. Buddhism is one such example. It is a religion but is atheistic in nature. Atheism has no set ideology but may tend toward secular philosophies like Humanism, Rationalism etc. In fact, Hinduism has had varied schools of thought from the very outset. The “Samkhya” and “Mimamsa” schools of thought talk of “Prakriti” and “Purusha” (Nature and spirit) or of “Karma” but do not talk of “Ishvara” or God. The concept of a creator God is done away with.
“You cannot believe in God till you believe in yourself’ is an adage often quoted. It does focus on the self as the solution finder which perhaps is an atheistic concept. At the end of the day, it is necessary to have faith, be it in yourself or in God; it should bring you peace and solace.