Atheismus oder Aberglaube?Zur Inaktualität eines heutigen Problems

Abstract

The question as to which is better, atheism or superstition, was raised for the first time by Plutarch and remained a living issue for centuries. With Francis Bacon, and more decisively with Pierre Bayle, its focus shifted from the individual to the collective level: is a society of atheists better than a society of superstitious people? For the most part, the question was answered in favor of atheism and defenders of superstition remained a minority. For the Ancients, what tipped the scales in favor of atheism was its being less detrimental to the idea of the deity; the Moderns laid the stress on its having brought about less bloodshed than fanaticism. Moderate Enlightenment thinkers tried to salvage a moderate form of religion as beneficial to moral, hence social life. Rousseau pointed out that although atheism does not lead to wars, it is unable to foster life and, in the long run, more lethal than superstition. Our present-day predicament might lend some probability to his view.

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