The Necessity of Atheism

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Going One God Further
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If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature is made for their destruction.

'The Necessity of Atheism' is an essay in English by the poet Percy Bysshe ShelleyWikipedia when he was a student at Oxford University. The essay was printed in 1811 and was met with critical scorn and horror, prompting Oxford to suspend him temporarily once he admitted to be the essay's author. The essay explores themes such as life, consciousness and perception to make the argument that God is a superstition to be disbelieved. It also quotes influential authors of ancient Rome who professed disbelief.

Shelley was one of the most influential poets of the Romantic era known for poems such as Ozymandias.


Hence it is evident that, having no proofs from either of the three sources of conviction, the mind cannot believe the existence of a creative God: it is also evident that, as belief is a passion of the mind, no degree of criminality is attachable to disbelief; and that they only are reprehensible who neglect to remove the false medium through which their mind views any subject of discussion. Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity.

God is an hypothesis, and, as such, stands in need of proof: the onus probandi rests on the theist. Sir Isaac Newton says: Hypotheses non fingo, quicquid enim ex phaenomenis non deducitur hypothesis, vocanda est, et hypothesis vel metaphysicae, vel physicae, vel qualitatum occultarum, seu mechanicae, in philosophia locum non habent. To all proofs of the existence of a creative God apply this valuable rule.