(from Gr.; a without; and theos, god). Literally, negation of divinity. Hence, rejection of religion and negation of any kind of supernatural or unknown powers. Generally, a. rejects the landscapes proposed by religions (heaven, hell, etc.) as well as the existence of psychic entities independent of the body (angels, spirits, etc.). A. admits various beliefs concerning the origin and functioning of nature, but in all cases excludes the participation of an intelligence, reason, or logos in the development of the Universe. There is a theoretical a., based on convictions corresponding to the state of development of science at any given moment; there is also an empirical a., which needs no theoretical development or justification. There is sincere a. and apparent a. Over the course of human development, religion and a. have developed along parallel lines in different cultures. It is also true that devotees of each of these positions have been subjected to persecution and massacres by those of the other faction. As with any other faith, a. must be protected, as must the right to publicize and teach it without subjecting it to any comprehensively applicable requirement for uniformity. Those who are partisans of N.H. are well-disposed to maintaining an amicable dialogue with adherents of the many forms of a., as well as those of confessions and organizations of religious inspiration, whether social institutions, political parties, unions, etc., with the aim of acting in broad solidarity and cooperation on behalf of the human being and social progress, freedom, and peace.