Is Absurdism Inherently Atheist?

All human beings seem to desire meaning and purpose in their lives. Religion may be the most popular source of meaning for people; believing in God, an afterlife, or just an overall higher power makes life meaningful for many people. 

According to absurdism, religion is constructed by society in order to give meaning to a purposeless existence. Acceptance of religion would mean that humans effectively escape death in a sense because of the hopefulness/reliance on the idea of afterlife.  Absurdists think this is a self-destructive belief, because only the realization and acceptance of impending death allow humans to live life fully. 

In Camus’ The Stranger, Meursault often states his denial of God and the possibility of an afterlife. He directly accuses the chaplain of “living like a dead man” (120). Meursault refuses religion even before his own death, stating that he had little time left and refused to “waste it on God” (120). 

The chaplain expresses confusion at Meursault’s seeming lack of care for his own situation, but Meursault is unwavering in his beliefs. He does not attempt to explain his position to the chaplain to the fullest extent possible, merely answering the questions that are asked of him, and later getting annoyed at the amount of questions being asked. He believes that there is no life after death, and the fact that there is no life after death does not concern him.

Additionally, Camus is often described as an absurdist philosopher, believing that individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence while also continuing to explore and search for meaning, for many, this meaning is religion. 

Camus suggests that while absurdity does not lead to belief in God, neither does it lead to the denial of God. Camus notes, “I did not say ‘excludes God’, which would still amount to asserting” (Myth of Sisyphus). 

With the absurdist belief that religion is created by society in an attempt to bring meaning to a purposeless existence, is absurdism inherently atheist? Based upon Meursault’s atheism and Camus’ absurdist perspective, do atheism and absurdism go hand-in-hand? 

2 thoughts on “Is Absurdism Inherently Atheist?

  1. Marissa K.

    I think that Existentialism and Atheism go hand in hand. Most religions are based on praying to a higher power or to multiple deities. In doing so, people are putting faith into an unknown entity. Religion gives people hope that a higher power is influencing their lives. It is a construct that people have created to not accept that life is random and there is no ultimate plan.

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  2. Rachel M

    I think that if you were to adopt an existentialist ideology, you would have to sacrifice some of your faith. The essence of having faith is believing in something that you can’t necessarily see. When you have religious faith, you may believe in events that appear to be seemingly impossible. These core aspects of faith go directly against the ideas of absurdity. Somebody who recognizes absurdity would most likely nit-pick at the details of modern faiths. That being said, if you are able to recognize that our lives are somewhat ridiculous, why doesn’t religion fit in the equation? Religion and existential beliefs both recognize that life’s complexity extends beyond the surface level.

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