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by Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Atheism is the disbelief in or denial of the existence of God. Such takes various forms, and there are many degrees of atheism. In the absolute sense, it is doubtful if there is such a person as an atheist, for even though one denies the traditionally taught concept of Deity, yet he probably worships at some other shrine as, for instance, the shrine of false intellectuality. At the other extreme, those who profess belief in the sectarian God are in a position at least akin to atheism for their God is defined in effect as an immaterial nothing.

Reasoning along this line Orson Pratt wrote: "There are two classes of atheists in the world. One class denies the existence of God in the most positive language; the other denies his existence in duration or space. One says `There is no God'; the other says `God is not here or there, any more than he exists now and then.' The infidel says `God does not exist anywhere.' The immaterialist says `He exists nowhere.' The infidel says, There is no such substance as God.' The immaterialist says `There is such a substance as God, but it is without parts.' The atheist says `There is no such substance as spirit.' The immaterialist says `A spirit, though he lives and acts, occupies no room, and fills no space in the same way and in the same manner as matter, not even so much as does the minutest grain of sand.' The atheist does not seek to hide his infidelity; but the immaterialist, whose declared belief amounts to the same thing as the atheist's, endeavors to hide his infidelity under the shallow covering of a few words. The immaterialist is a religious atheist; he only differs from the other class of atheists by clothing an indivisible unextended nothing with the powers of a God. One class believes in no God; the other believes that Nothing is god and worships it as such." (Cited, Articles of Faith, p. 465.)

(See Daily Living home page; Interfaith Relations home page; Teachings About the Godhead home page)

Mormon Doctrine, p.59
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