Atheism is the philosophical position that either affirms no deities exist or rejects belief in the existence of a deity. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists. Atheism is also generally contrasted with agnosticism, which claims that it is impossible to be certain that deities either do or do not exist (regardless of belief). In its broadest definition, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist. Although atheists are commonly assumed to be irreligious, some religions, such as Buddhism, have been characterized as atheistic. Many self-described atheists share common skeptical concerns regarding supernatural claims, citing a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Arguments for atheism can be philosophical, social, and historical. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as Humanism, rationalism, and naturalism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere. The term atheism originated as a pejorativeepithet applied to any person or belief in conflict with established religion. With the spread of freethought, scientific skepticism, and criticism of religion, the term began to gather a more specific meaning and was sometimes used as a self-description by atheists.
Irreligion, irreligiousness, or nonreligion is an umbrella term which, depending on context, may be understood as referring to atheism, agnosticism, deism, skepticism, freethought, secular humanism, general secularism, or heresy. Irreligion has at least three related yet distinct meanings: absence of religion (either due to not having information about religion or to not believing in it), hostility to religion, and behaving in such a way that fails to live up to one's religious tenets. Although people classified as irreligious might not follow any religion, not all are necessarily without belief in the supernatural or in deities; such a person may be a non-religious or non-practicing theist. In particular, those who associate organized religion with negative qualities, but still hold spiritual beliefs, might describe themselves as irreligious.
During her life, Goldman was lionized as a free-thinking "rebel woman" by admirers, and derided by critics as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution. Her writing and lectures spanned a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women's suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. After decades of obscurity, Goldman's iconic status was revived in the 1970s, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest in her life.