It was first self-applied during the Age of Enlightenment in 18th century France.
The French Revolution was driven by the prioritization of human reason over the abstract authority of religion.
It gained more popular modern visibility when coined by English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who in 1869 recognized that incapacity of humans to truly answer questions regarding the divine.
To Huxley, and the agnostic and athiest thinkers who followed, theistic or gnostic religions lack scientific basis, and therefore, should be rejected.
Though its scriptures and traditions inform countless subsequent sects and ideologies, Buddhism is largely divided into two branches: Theravada — the goal of which is to achieve freedom from ignorance, material attachment, and anger by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path, all in pursuit of a sublime state called Nirvana; and Mahayana — the goal of which is aspire to Buddhahood by practicing the Zen principles of self-control, meditation, and expression of the insight of Buddha in your daily life, especially for the benefit of others, all to the end of achieving bodhisattva, or an ongoing cycle of rebirth by which you can continue to enlighten others.
Today, roughly 7% of the world practices some form of Buddhism, making it the fourth largest of the world’s religions, with an estimated 500 million adherents across both the Eastern and Western World.
This belief system rejects theology as well as the constructs of organized religion.
Use of the term originated in the ancient world and was meant to degrade those who rejected commonly accepted religious precepts.
This prompted a period of skeptical inquiry, one in which atheism became an important cultural, philosophical, and political entity.
Many who characterize themselves as atheists argue that a lack of proof or scientific process prevents the belief in a deity.