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What religions dont believe in God?

When most people think of religion, the belief in a God or gods often comes to mind as a central tenet. However, there are a number of major world religions that do not have a focus on a supreme deity. In this article, we will explore some of the most prominent faiths that do not center around the worship of a divine being.


Buddhism is a widespread religion and philosophical tradition founded in the 5th century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, or “enlightened one.” There are over 500 million Buddhists worldwide, making it the fourth largest religion. Buddhism originated in India and spread throughout Asia and is now prevalent in countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Burma, Bhutan, Tibet, and Laos.

In Buddhism, the highest aim is to achieve nirvana, a state of enlightenment, peace, and liberation. The Buddhist path does not require belief in a creator God. Rather than worshipping deities, Buddhists focus on applying the Buddha’s teachings about the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path in order to attain enlightenment and cease suffering. The Four Noble Truths assert that suffering exists, suffering arises from attachment, suffering ceases when attachment ceases, and freedom from suffering is possible by following the Eightfold Path.

Some key beliefs in Buddhism include:

  • Life is suffering and full of dissatisfaction
  • Suffering is caused by craving, ignorance, and other moral failings
  • Suffering can be overcome by eliminating desire and attachment
  • Following the Noble Eightfold Path leads to the end of suffering through moral, mental, and wisdom development
  • Following the Five Precepts of ethical behavior helps cultivate wisdom and compassion
  • Rebirth occurs in cycles called samsara until enlightenment is reached

While Buddhism does not preclude the possible existence of gods, they are regarded as irrelevant to the process of enlightenment. Buddhists strive to end the cycle of rebirth not to please a divine being but to attain inner peace. Therefore, Buddhism is considered a nontheistic religion.


Jainism is an ancient religion from India that emphasizes complete nonviolence, asceticism, and respect for all living beings. With around 4-5 million followers, it is a small but influential religious tradition in India. It emerged in the 7th-5th centuries BCE, around the same time as Buddhism.

In Jainism, the path to liberation involves transcending worldly concerns and destroying karma through strict ethics, ascetic practices, and spiritual cultivation. The three guiding principles are ahimsa (nonviolence), anekantavada (many-sidedness), and aparigraha (non-possession). Jains take vows of nonviolence and work to minimize any harm to other living beings.

Some key beliefs in Jainism include:

  • The universe and life are eternal, without beginning or end
  • Karma drives transmigration of the soul through rebirth
  • Liberation of the soul is possible by destroying accumulated karma
  • Nonviolence towards all living beings is essential
  • Ascetic practices and monasticism help achieve moksha or liberation
  • There is no creator, divine judgment, or supernatural beings

Jains do not believe in a supreme being or creator god. The universe is believed to function by natural laws, not divine will. The path to liberation relies solely on the individual’s efforts to conquer their passions and transcend their karma through ethical living and meditation. Jains revere beings called tirthankaras who achieved enlightenment, but they are not considered gods.


Daoism is an ancient Chinese philosophical and religious tradition that has greatly influenced East Asia. It emerged in the 6th century BCE, during China’s Warring States period. The foundational texts are the Dao De Jing, attributed to Laozi, and the Zhuangzi, named after philosopher Zhuang Zhou.

Daoism emphasizes living in harmony with the natural order of the universe, or Dao. Adherents strive to balance opposing forces like yin and yang and follow effortless action or wu wei. Daoist ethics focus on virtues such as simplicity, patience, compassion, moderation, and humility.

Some key beliefs in Daoism include:

  • The Dao is the source, pattern, and substance of the universe
  • All things contain yin (feminine, dark) and yang (masculine, light) forces
  • Living in harmony with nature brings peace and fulfillment
  • Desire, ambition, and escapism disrupt one’s natural state
  • Immortality and vitality can be attained through various practices
  • Spontaneity, simplicity, patience, and non-action allow one to attune to the Dao

Daoism has no single creator god. The Dao is an impersonal force that flows through all life. Traditional Daoist schools engaged in complex alchemical meditations to prolong life and connect with cosmic energy. Daoists venerate figures like the Jade Emperor and the Three Pure Ones but not as all-powerful deities. The myriad minor deities also act as guardians and manifestations of the Dao rather than omnipotent creators.


Confucianism was founded in China by philosopher and teacher Confucius around 500 BCE. While often labeled a religion, Confucianism is more of an ethical, philosophical, and political belief system about how individuals and society should function. It deeply influenced East Asian civilization.

Confucianism focuses on creating social harmony and virtue through right action. It outlines five key hierarchical relationships: ruler and subject, husband and wife, older and younger sibling, older and younger generations, and friend and friend. Individuals must exhibit ren (humaneness), li (ritual), and yi (righteousness). Confucianism was the official state philosophy and way of life in China for two millennia.

Some key beliefs in Confucianism include:

  • Cultivating moral character is the highest purpose in life
  • Relationships are central to creating a just, civilized society
  • Traditions and rituals preserve social stability over time
  • All people have the potential to improve through self-cultivation and effort
  • Ren, li, yi, wisdom, and integrity are the critical virtues to develop
  • Education and introspection develop one’s humanity and wisdom

Confucianism is silent on the existence or non-existence of gods. Confucius himself avoided discussing metaphysics and focused on practical matters. Confucians do engage in sacrifices and veneration of ancestors, similar to religious rituals. However, they are done as traditions rather than as worship of deities with supernatural powers. Confucian thought focuses on human agency rather than divine intervention.

Secular Humanism

Secular humanism is a philosophy and ethical worldview that espouses reason, ethics, justice, and human dignity. It advocates human-centered progressive values and a commitment to science and free inquiry over faith. Although not a religion itself, secular humanism is aligned with atheism and agnosticism.

Some key principles of secular humanism include:

  • Knowledge comes from reason, evidence, and science, not doctrine
  • Humans have the moral responsibility to lead ethical, meaningful lives
  • Human capacities and talents should be cultivated to their fullest potential
  • Individuals should engage in critical thinking and make rational decisions
  • Church and state should remain separate, with no religious influence in politics
  • A secular society should be maintained with tolerance for diverse lifestyles

Secular humanism explicitly excludes any role for supernatural or divine entities. God and the supernatural are considered hypothetical concepts with no basis in demonstrable reality. Secular humanists ground their ethics in shared human values and critical reason rather than religious commands. They believe humans alone are responsible for bettering society through rational efforts.

Atheistic and Naturalistic Religions

There are a few belief systems that have been classified as religions that explicitly reject the existence of deities. These atheistic or naturalistic religions center around understanding nature and humanity’s place within it using reason and science rather than the supernatural.

Some examples include:

  • Naturalistic Pantheism: Reverence for the material universe and nature itself, but not a supernatural God.
  • Spiritual Naturalism: Appreciation of awe, beauty, and meaning in life without any supernatural components.
  • Religious Naturalism: Combining religious practices and values with a naturalistic worldview.
  • Religious Humanism: Applying humanist principles to religious organization and rituals.
  • Naturalistic Unitarian Universalism: A naturalistic form of Unitarian Universalism without supernatural elements.

These worldviews all share an emphasis on reason, empiricism, science, and natural laws to understand life. Contemplation of nature, ethics, meaningful ritual, and human creativity provide inspiration rather than gods. Many regard themselves as philosophies rather than faiths.


There are a few different streams of Satanism, ranging from anti-religious types that use Satan as a symbol to supernatural believers who may even practice magic. However, atheistic or LaVeyan Satanism, founded by Anton LaVey in the 1960s, rejects the existence of God and the supernatural altogether.

LaVeyan Satanism considers Satan a positive archetype representing pride, liberty, and free will rather than an evil figure. Satan is used as a symbol of their beliefs, not as an actual deity. They encourage individualism and hedonism controlled through reason and willpower. The social order, ethics, and state of nature are seen as real forces to reckon with, not gods.


Raëlism is an UFO religion founded by Claude Vorilhon Raël in 1974. Raëlians believe that humanity was scientifically created by an advanced alien race called the Elohim. Atheistic or “Scientific Raëlism” rationalizes religious stories and rejects the existence of a spiritual realm or supernatural powers.

Raëlians do not worship gods or a creator deity. While extraterrestrials created life, they are advanced beings relying on science and technology, not omnipotent gods. The Elohim are revered as creators who share their knowledge but not as omniscient deities. Raëlians believe the Elohim will one day share their technological and spiritual knowledge openly with humanity.


Jediism is a loose new religious movement inspired by the spiritual and moral themes in Star Wars. Many regard it as more of a philosophy practicing moral excellence, physical training, and meditation. The Jedi worldview incorporates elements of Buddhism, Daoism, Stoicism, and other philosophies.

The Jedi follow the Light side of the Force, an impersonal cosmic energy field that connects all living things. The Force is not portrayed as a sentient, omnipotent god in Star Wars lore. Jediism similarly sees the Force as a natural force that can be tapped through moral awareness and training rather than an anthropomorphic deity.

Cults of Personality

Cults of personality center around an authoritative, charismatic leader. While usually considered secular, some take on religious qualities and functions. The totalitarian regimes of Stalin, Mao, Kim Il-Sung, and others demonstrate elements of religions like ritual, faith, and veneration of the leader.

These political cults focus devotion on fallible human leaders rather than omnipotent gods. The leader exerts complete political and social control. Followers must demonstrate complete obedience to the regime’s ideals. Violators are punished and expelled. Their ideology and goals take on a messianic fervor.

Comparison of Godless Religions

Although they do not incorporate gods or the supernatural, many of these traditions still qualify as religions because they determine a code of ethics, provide a sense of meaning, and define an explanative cosmology. Here is a comparison of some core elements:

Religion Key Focus Goals Core Values
Buddhism Ending suffering through moral living and meditation Achieve nirvana and enlightenment Compassion, moderation, mindfulness
Jainism Asceticism and nonviolence towards all living beings Break cycle of karma and attain moksha Nonviolence, non-possession, non-absolutism
Daoism Living in harmony with nature and the cosmic Dao Attain balance, spontaneity, longevity Simplicity, naturalness, non-action
Confucianism Cultivating virtue and structured social relationships Achieve social harmony and become a junzi Humaneness, propriety, righteousness
Secular Humanism Reason, science, and human-based ethics Promote justice, meaning, and well-being without religion Rationalism, empathy, tolerance, ethics
Satanism Self-determination and libertarian ideals Pursue individual desires and excellence Liberty, pride, free thought

Despite their differences, these traditions share an emphasis on cultivating morality, finding meaning, and determining one’s place in the world without invoking a higher supernatural power. For adherents, their practices and philosophies provide purpose in life and a guide for values.


While the belief in deities is central to many faiths, there are a number of major religions and ethical philosophies that do not profess a belief in gods. Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism, Confucianism, Satanism, and secular humanism all hold legitimacy as godless belief systems. Other naturalistic, atheistic, or humanistic worldviews also exist without supernatural components. Despite their varied worldviews, these traditions all provide structure, meaning, ethics, and community without being anchored in the divine. For millions around the world, religious practice does not require faith in a higher power.