Atheist's Bible

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A mock image for a generic The Atheist's Bible: Unknown Version, finely-bound with gold letter font, a book of legend, the top 40 alluded to versions of which listed below.[1]

In atheism, Atheist's Bible (TR:66) (LH:4) (TL:70), shortcut key: (AB:#), is a book referred to as a "Bible", or holy book, for the godless, atheists, nonbelievers, agnostic-leaning atheist, or secular.


The following is a ranking of books referred to either explicitly and infamously or famously, depending on one's point of view, as "atheist’s Bibles", e.g. Holbach's System of Nature and Paine's The Age of Reason have been the most widely-cited, according to Google Books, publications with that epitaph in the last two-centuries, and or books suggested as atheist-like bibles, and others in between, all ranked by a combination of influence and powerfulness.

In sum, those toward the top are what might be called the leading serious contenders for Bible replacements. Those with the "system of morality", based in the natural sciences, tending to stronger. Those in the middle range rankings, tend to have a certain seriousness of effort to them, e.g. Jefferson taking the time to hand cut all the supernatural parts out of the Bible, to make a "natural" Bible. Those toward the bottom, mostly being post 9/11 publications, wherein watered down "new atheism" awoke[2], tend to be comical and or Bible deconstruction like books.

# Date Title Author Summary
1770 System of Nature: Laws of Moral and Physical World Baron Holbach
Bible of Atheism (1798).png
Building on a Leyden University education in the natural sciences, Lucretius (55BC), a 3,000-book personal library, and the central intellectual salon of Europe, presents an anti-chance based, matter and motion basis of all things; was being cited in English (1771, 1798), as shown adjacent[3], as the "Bible of Atheism", the phrase possibly attributed to Voltaire[4]; read by both Goethe and Shelley in youth; the Holbach salon itself, where this book grew, was known as the "synagogue of the atheists", and its attendees, e.g. Jacques Naigeon, were known as "monks of atheism"[5] or "atheism evangelists" (Hecht, 2003).
55BC On the Nature of Things Lucretius
Atom (electron view).jpg
Gives a summary of Epicurean atomic theory, and its philosophical implications; derived from Democritus and his teacher Leucippus, who posited that all things, gods included if they exist, are made of "atoms", as shown adjacent; the four of them, were called by Francis Bacon, in his "On Atheism" (1597) the school "most accused" of atheism.
445BC Fragments Empedocles Was history's first "teacher"[6] of atheism (Theophilus, c.170).[7] In this period, the term "Bible", presumably, was not yet invented.[8]
1794 The Age of Reason Thomas Paine
Age of Reason.png
Adjacent are several early copies of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason (1794), one of the most commonly cited "atheist's bible's" of all time.
1729 The Testament Jean Meslier Characterized as an "underground bible" (Blom, 2010), which circulated in the covert world of Voltaire, Diderot, and Holbach, which fueled, via the Holbach salon dialogues, the birth of System of Nature (1770), much of which was quoted verbatim, e.g. the term "chimeras", albeit without direct citation, as the former was too dangerous to cite in this century.
1809 Elective Affinities Johann Goethe
God plus nitric acid.png
Is the source of the statement that the future of atheism will be the product of the reaction wherein “god is dissolved in a vat of nitric acid” (Feuerbach, 1850)[9]; Heinrich Heine (1809) said that it “overturns everything holy”; was the intellectual anchor to Schopenhauer, who met Goethe at age 19 (1806), who later becoming Germany’s first “open atheist”, who in turn became the intellectual mentor to Nietzsche, the first to declare god dead (1882).
1859 Origin of Species Charles Darwin
Darwin model.png
Built on Goethe, and his discovery of the human intermaxillary bone (1784)[10]; is now a semi-frequently mentioned "atheism bible" suggestion category[11]; it replaces Genesis model of god single day creation human origins with an evolution model of human origins, originating from a heated electrified chemical pond (1871).
1855 Force and Matter: Principles of the Natural Order of the Universe, with a System of Morality Based Thereon Ludwig Buchner Basically, a 19th century reformulation of what Holbach had done, albeit with focus on the new "conservation of force" model; the result, while admirable and influential in its era, was but less a powerful version of the former.
1580 Essays Michel Montaigne Building on Lucretius, in which he marked passages in the poem that seemed to him ‘against religion’, he produced a three-volume Essays, which influenced a number of budding atheists, e.g. Voltaire; suggested as an atheist's bible like book.[12] Quora-recommended atheist Bible like book (2007).[11]
1811 Necessity of Atheism Percy Shelley Paine's collected works, including his Necessity of Atheism seem to have been a "bible" to some:
“I was saturated with Shelley’s genius. He was my Bible and my religion. Though him, I experienced a new birth.”
— Samuel Putman (1858), reflection on matriculation to Dartmouth College[13]

Shelley, moreover, married Mary Shelley in the atheistic "Church of Elective Affinities". He, basically, did what Goethe did, specifically by building on Holbach and Spinoza, as Goethe did, albeit at an accelerated rate, as knowledge had grown by 1810s, but, lacking a solid financial structure, having been expelled from Oxford for refusal to recant his atheism, committed suicide at age 30.

1790 Moral State of Nations John Stewart His Moral State of Nations, wherein he introduces a new "religion of nature" based on increasing the utility of the well-being and happiness of "animated matter", has been called a "Bible of Nature":
“This ‘Bible of Nature’, by Stewart, a ‘modern Pythagoras’, exhibits a stupendous scheme of pantheism; not a contradiction, but a confirmation, of all that is good in existing morals, on every branch of which it abounds with original and lucid views.”
— Anon (1937), “Advertisement” (pg. viii) [14]
1239 Treatise on the Three Impostors Anonymous A legendary book, originally said to have been penned by Friedrich II, among others to follow[15], which argued that Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were impostors; dubbed the atheist's bible (Minois, 2010).[16]
c.1907 Energetics Wilhelm Ostwald Ernesto Sabato, in his On Heroes and Tombs (1961), tells a story of passion, philosophy, and paranoia, wherein one of the characters uses Wilhelm Ostwald’s Energetics as a “sort of thermodynamic bible in which god is replaced by a lay entity called energy.”
1651 Leviathan Thomas Hobbes Sometimes charged with being an "atheist's Bible".[17]
1697 Historical and Critical Dictionary Pierre Bayle A three-volume work, which classifies Benedict Spinoza at the “greatest atheist”, says that comets do not presage disaster, and has been characterized as a “bible for doubters”.[18]
1883 Thus Spake Zarathustra Friedrich Nietzsche Has been called the atheist’s bible, as some have conjectured Nietzsche intended it to be[19]; others have said that The Gay Science (1882), wherein the icon phrase "god is dead" is said, is in the "atheist bible" category.[11]
1780 Elements of Physiology Denis Diderot Building on Epicurus and Lucretius, he presents a world in flux, turning on the relationship between man, matter and mind; dubbed the “atheist’s bible” (Warman, 2020).[20]
1959 Johann Goethe
Grigori Rasputin
Gunter Grass, in his The Tin Drum, has the main character Oskar tear out some pages from Goethe’s Elective Affinities and a book by Rasputin on women, and shuffles them together, to use as a guide book.
2006 The God Delusion Richard Dawkins
The God Delusion.png
Dubbed the "perfect example of an atheist's bible" (Elder, 2014).[21] Commonly cited, presently, as “the atheist’s bible” (Bridge, 2021).[22] In 2018, it had sold 3.3M copies worldwide, not including 3M downloads (as of 2016) of an unauthorized Arabic translation in Saudi Arabia, alone, possibly making it the highest-selling atheist book of all time..
c.1820 Jefferson's Bible Thomas Jefferson He took scissors and cut out all the supernatural parts of the New Testament, then made what was left into a book; has been referred to as an atheist's bible.[12]
1532 The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel Francois Rabelais Philippe II, an “avowed atheist”, and regent (ruler) of France, from 1715 to 1723, had the works of Rabelais, presumably his Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel, bound into his Bible so that he could read them privately during mass.[23]
1836 Emerson Bible Ralph Emerson
Emerson Bible.png
In his Journal, Emerson, and ordained priest (1829) turned "naturalist" (1833), with Goethe-like atheist inclinations, proclaimed: “Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” His idea, presumably, was to encourage readers to follow the Renaissance practice of compiling favorite quotes, poems, letters, passages, and aphorisms into a Commonplace Book to be used for reflection and inspiration.[24] Adjacent is an Emerson Bible made by Don Lemon (2018).[25]
1880 Niels Lyhne Jens Jacobsen Presents a dialogue, with comments such as: "after all, atheism is unspeakably tame. Its end and aim is nothing but a disillusioned humanity. The belief in a god who rules everything and judges everything is humanity's last great illusion"[26]; in Danish literature, it was “was always called the ‘atheist’s bible’, in the days when atheism was something you really believed in” (Borum, 1979).[27]
1927 Why I’m Not a Christian Bertrand Russell Has been referred to as an “atheist’s bible”.[28]
1872 The Martyrdom of Man: From Nebula to Nation Winwood Reade Referred to as an atheist's bible of the 19th century[29] ; also a “substitute bible for secularists” (Smith, 1967)[30]; using Darwin-based comparative-religions stylized approach, argues for a “religion of reason and love”.[31]
340BC Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle Suggested as an atheist's bible type of book.[12]
1872 Ludwig Buchner
Karl Vogt
Jacob Moleschott
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his Demons (aka The Possessed), tells a story where an a atheist officer puts these three books on a shrine, like a "trio of Bibles", and burns a candle in front of each one.
2010 The Good Book: a Secular Bible Anthony Grayling Attempts to give a secular version of ten commandments, as he sees things.[32] Mentioned in atheist bible candidate type books.[12]
1900 The Bible Comically Illustrated Watson Heston After making comic illustrations in the free thinker journal Truth Seeker, Heston went on to published The Old Testament Comically Illustrated (1890), The New Testament Comically Illustrated (1898), and The Bible Comically Illustrated (1900), the latter of which being 800 pages in length containing 400 pictures.
1895 The Women’s Bible Elizabeth Stanton Seems to have been intended as woman's atheist bible, of sorts?
2004 What's It All About? Julian Baggini Suggested in 2010[33] and 2015[12] as atheism bible like substitute book.
1993 How Are We To Live? Peter Singer Recommended as an atheist substitute bible (2010)[33]; his other books: and Writings on an Ethical Life, Ecco (2000) and The Most Good You Can Do (2015) are also suggested atheist bible themed books (2015).[12]
1871 Asimov's Guide to the Bible Isaac Asimov Explores the historical, geographical, and biographical aspects of the events described in the Old and New Testaments; attempts to illuminate the Bible's many obscure, mysterious passages, in respect to religion and history.[34]
1978 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams Semi-frequently mentioned in the "atheist bible" category, as quote filled guide.[11]
580BC Aesop’s Fables Aesop Quora upvoted (2017) as atheist Bible like book, for teaching teaches “morality” and “consequences”.[11]
1957 Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand Quora suggested (2017) as Bible for atheists[11]; some have compared at as a cross between the Bible and Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled.
1933 Humanist Manifesto Raymond Bragg Loosely-mentioned as an atheist-like Bible of sorts.[11]
2006 The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Bobby Henderson Elaborates on Pastafarian beliefs and practices, via satire[35]; cited as a Quora top-voted book for closest thing to a bible for atheists.[11]
2020 A Bible for Atheists Thomas Sulcer A book that positively states what many atheists believe, with focus on "how to be a good human". It puts forth a system of belief based on reason and science and common sense into a coherent structure, starting from basic principles, to answer the big questions about fate and free will, ethics, the emotions, freedom, friendship, love and mating, thinking, rights, prevention of violence, and more.[36]
2012 Skeptic’s Annotated Bible Steve Wells A book that presents the King James version on one side of the page, with skeptical and critical analysis of each sentence, e.g. two creation versions in Genesis.[37] Originated from the popular 1999-launched[38], by Steve Wells, who became an atheist age 12, but then went to seminary school, but then deconverted back to atheism after arguing with all the priests about the various contradictions in the Bible.[39]
2005 The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously Jacques Berlinerblau A book on who wrote the Bible, and how passages are ambiguous.[40]
2013 Awkward Moments Children’s Bible Horus Gilgamesh
He Shall be Called.png
A cartoon parody of the Bible for children; originated as a 2011 Started the Awkward Moments Children's Bible Facebook pages as a joke, which attracted enough followers, to eventually become a book series; with illustrations such as "He Shall be Called ..." adjacent.[41]
2016 The Anti-Bible: for Atheist’s, Freethinkers, and Christians Who Know Better Ivan Green This is a "well-researched, well-humored, sometimes foully-worded, logical destruction of the Judeo-Christian bible, word for word", written by a scientist and and atheist.[42]
2007 The Atheist's Bible: An Illustrious Collection of Irreverent Thoughts Joan Konner A book of popular atheism quotes.[43]
2005 Holy Bible – Best God Damned Version: the Books of Moses, for Atheists, Agnostics, and Fans of Religious Stupidity Steve Ebling A documentary hypothesis model of the Bible, written for atheists; basically, a simplification of Richard Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible.
2015 The Atheist’s Bible: Knowledge is Power! Daniel Fletcher A quickly-made self-published book by a "humble, cocky, vaguely eloquent kid, with a polemic against the tyrannical conditions imposed on man by man, 'divinely' mandated by the ancient superstitions of the illiterate desert".[44]
2008 The Atheist’s Bible: How Science Eliminates Theism Geoff Linsley A book that claims to compile the "case for an atheistic universe in a thorough discussion, provides facts that science has gathered about existence, and creates a new view of the nature of the universe"; given the key term box, seems to be inclining towards new age?[45]


Visuals of what modern people think an "Atheist's Bible" might look like, ranging from a blank sheet of paper (right), for those who champion the atheist's "believe in nothing" ideology, and Richard Dawkins' 2006 God Delusion (right), to some future book center.


Children's Atheism Bible

See main: Children's Atheism Bible[46]

In 2016, Libb Thims, building on his "Zerotheism for Kids" (2015) lecture, a Sunday School class for atheist kids, began drafting Smart Atheism: for Kids, themed as an atheist bible for kids.[47]

End matter

See also

  • Scientific Bibles[48]


  1. Atheist – Shutter Stock.
  2. Note: a significant distinction between "new atheism" and so-called classical or "old atheism", is that in the latter, one might worry about one of their country's towers (e.g. Twin Towers) getting blown up, whereas in "old atheism", one would have to worry about getting imprisoned (Diderot, 1749), expelled from college (Shelley, 1811), or their tongue torn out and burned at the stake, e.g. in France, in 1766, just four years before The System of Nature (Holbach, 1770) was published, Jean Barre was tortured, beheaded, and his body burned for alleged vandalism of a crucifix, in opposition of protests by Voltaire to have him pardoned.
  3. Griffiths, George. (1798). “Metaphysical Philosophy”, The Monthly Review (pg. 449), Apr.
  4. Palmer, Edwin. (1964). The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume One (pg. 462). Publisher.
  5. Flynn, Tom. (2007). The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (pg. 277). Prometheus.
  6. Atheism professor – Hmolpedia 2020.
  7. (a) Theophilus. (c.170). “Letter to Autolycus” (txt) (Adversus Autol III.2), Book 3, Ch. 2: “Profane Authors had No Means of Knowing the Truth”. Publisher.
    (b) Kors, Alan C. (2014). Atheism in France, 1650-1729, Volume I: the Orthodox Sources of Disbelief (pg. 191). Princeton University Press.
  8. Note: the Egyptian Book of the Dead, would have been the standard book that Greeks might have thought of as a "bible" or "book of 314" as they might have called it?
  9. Morality Squared – Hmolpedia 2020.
  10. Human intermaxillary bone – Hmolpedia 2020.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 What’s the closest thing to the Bible for atheists? (2017) – Quora.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Looking for an Atheist’s Bible (2015) – r/AskPhilosophy.
  13. Schmidt, Leigh. (2016). Village Atheists: How America's Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation (pg. 30). Princeton.
  14. Stewart, John. (1790). The Moral State of Nations: Travels Over the Most Interesting Parts of the Globe, to Discover the Source of Moral Motion; Communicated to Lead Mankind Through the Conviction of the Senses to Intellectual Existence, and an Enlightened State of Nature. In the Year of Man's Retrospective Knowledge, by Astronomical Calculation 5000. Year of the Common Era, 1790 (god, 13+ times). Evans, 1837.
  15. Treatise on the Three Impostors – Hmolpedia 2020.
  16. Minois, Georges. (2009). The Atheist’s Bible: the Most Dangerous Book that Never Existed (translator: Lys Weiss). University of Chicago Press, 2012.
  17. Author. (1967). “Article” (pg. 220), The Month.
  18. Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and and Emily Dickinson (bible for doubters, pg. 331). HarperOne.
  19. Richard, Wiley. (1990). The Bible and Christian Traditions: Keys to Understanding the Allegorical Subplot of Nietzsche's Zarathustra (pg. 35). Publisher.
  20. Warman, Caroline. (2020). The Atheist’s Bible: Diderot’s Elements of Physiology. Open.
  21. Elder, Grant. (2014). Wiki vs NOW (pg. 409). Friesen Press.
  22. Bridge, Robert. (2021). “God Gets the Last Laugh” (Ѻ),, Apr 21.
  23. Blom, Philipp. (2010). A Wicked Company: Holbach’s Salon and the Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment (Amz) (pg. 9). McClelland, 2011.
  24. Green, Alex. (2013). “The ‘Atheist’ Who Governed the Country” (Ѻ), Early To Rise, Nov 22.
  25. Levin, Don. (2018). Blast of Trumpets: Quotes for a Lifetime (Amz). Publisher.
  26. Jacobsen, Jens. (1880). Niels Lyhne (translator: Hanna Larsen) (txt). Publisher.
  27. Borum, Poul. (1979). Danish Literature: a Short Critical Survey (pg. 50). Publisher.
  28. Henry, Marie. (1984). The Secret Life of Hannah Whitall Smith (pg. 146). Chosen.
  29. Author. (1991). “Article” (pg. 24), Crisis, Volume 9.
  30. Smith, Warren S. (1967). The London Heretics, 1870-1914 (pg. 5). Constable.
  31. Reade, Winwood. (1872). The Martyrdom of Man: from Nebula to Nation. omerby, 1876.
  32. The Good Book – Wikipedia.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Atheist Substitute for the Bible (2010) –
  34. Asimov, Isaac. (1971). Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Illustrator: Rafael Palacois) (Amz). Publisher, 1981.
  35. Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – Wikipedia.
  36. Sulcer, Thomas. (2020). A Bible for Atheists (Amz). KDP.
  37. Wells, Steve. (2012). Skeptic’s Annotated Bible (Amz). Publisher.
  38. Home –
  39. O.J. (2008). “Interview: Steve Wells, from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible”, Nexus, Sep 10.
  40. Berlinerblau, Jacques. (2005). The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously (Amz). Publisher.
  41. He Shall Be Called –
  42. Green, Ivan. (2016). The Anti-Bible: for Atheist’s, Freethinkers, and Christians Who Know Better (Illustrator: Scott Mosher) (Amz). CreateSpace.
  43. Konner, Joan. (2007). The Atheist’s Bible: an Illustrious Collection of Irreverent Thoughts (Amz). Harper Collins.
  44. Fletcher, Daniel. (2015). The Atheist’s Bible: Knowledge is Power! (Amz). CreateSpace.
  45. Linsley, Geoff. (2008). The Atheist’s Bible: How Science Eliminates Theism. Publisher.
  46. Children’s Atheism Bible (subdomain) – Hmolpedia 2020.
  47. Thims, Libb. (2016). Smart Atheism: For Kids (309-pgs) (pdf). Publisher.
  48. Scientific Bibles – Hmolpedia 2020.

External links

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