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What makes a Buddhist atheist?

For a quick background info for this question, I’m Chinese in heritage but my family lived in Thailand for a long long time so I’m Thai too.
Now in Thailand and China around Buddhist culture there are clear distinction made between a Buddhist and an Atheist. Many Buddhists believe in things like reincarnation, a sort of afterlife, ghosts, spirits, nice/bad souls, minds influenced by magical karma, praying to Buddha almost like a deity, and other things I’ve witnessed firsthand as in being in the temple or ceremony when and where it happened.
Now while yes I agree there is something to be said about Communism at least the atheists in Thailand and China might possibly be more “atheist” than many of the ones in America and know that like all religion the concept of (karmic minds, souls, and spirits) in Buddhism is once again something that science, especially brain researchers have disproven once again.
So why are Buddhists considered atheist? In those countries that actually are significantly if not most “Buddhist” (if religion exists) everyone knows the difference between an Atheist Thai or Chinese and a buddhist Thai or Chinese. Though many of the atheists are literally communists.
I agree that Buddhist meditation and yoga has scientifically proven health benefits, but they can be done without the context of Buddhism.
^ oops i meant to say above just “meditation and yoga” instead of “Buddhist meditation or yoga.” But anyway yes they can be done without the context of any fairy tale beliefs.


  1. If they don’t believe in deities, then they are atheists. Period.
    There are plenty of non-theistic religions; Buddhism, LaVayen Satanism, and various Pagans are prime examples.
    Atheism = no deities
    Atheism =/= no religion

  2. Atheism is the disbelief of a deity/deities (god/s)
    Many Buddhists do not believe in a god. Therefore they are Atheists and Buddhists

  3. Atheist simply means you don’t believe in a God.
    Since Buddhism does not specifically teach of Gods, a Buddhist can be an atheist.

  4. I think the terms atheist and non religious are getting blurred here.
    The definition is a very simple one but I think in these places the term is being extended to mean ‘one who does not practice any religious beliefs at all’

  5. They are atheist because they don’t worship a god.
    To be technically accurate, the people you typically think of as atheists and the people you think of as buddhists are really two subsets of atheism.
    Think of it more like, buddhists and unbelievers are both atheists, just as hindus and christians are both theists. it’s an umbrella term.

  6. If there are any Communists in the States, their presence is very, very weak. Actually, their presence is unfelt, so Communism doesn’t play a role in the formation of the American psyche. It hasn’t influenced the general population. It did in the 1950’s, but no one is concerned about Communists anymore, at least most people aren’t. Therefore, American atheists are atheists because of other reasons, not because of Communism.
    Soooo, being that Communism doesn’t play much of a role in North America, if at all (except for Cuba), people don’t associate atheists with Communism. There is no either/or here: either atheist or Buddhist. Therefore, when soemone says they’re a Buddhist, no one really knows whether they’re atheist unless they say so. There are some people who are Buddhist and theist.
    When asked what religion he is, Robert Downey Jr said he is Jewish/Buddhist. This can happen here, but I imagine it would be very very odd in China/Thailand.

  7. I think it’s a technicality. If Buddhists believe in the supernatural, they are not atheists. Even thought they don’t believe in a specific God, they do believe in a God like figure – Buddha.

  8. Most people haven’t read buddhist texts or sat through chanting to see the many deities that are mentioned (brahma, indra etc.). Buddhist texts and culture is very theist; the main god just didn’t create anything or play a part in everyday life, so it’s kind of like deism without a creator.
    However, the central teaching of buddhism is “I came to teach only one thing: the nature of dukkha and how to overcome dukkha”. This is done by accepting the 4 noble truths and following the eightfold path. Belief or non-belief in gods isn’t central to any of these. Therefore, you can be an atheist buddhist.
    Also, Buddhist texts say not to believe something just because past generations have taught it and don’t be a slave to texts if by your own judgment they don’t suit you. However if you reject what’s taught you do so with wisdom. There’s enough room in buddhism to accompany people who don’t believe in all of it.

  9. Ninja Turtle AM (å¿è€…ä¹Œé¾Ÿã€æ— ç¥žè®ºè€…çš„ä½›æ•™å¾’ï¼‰

    A. There is no supreme creature in buddhism.
    B. Buddha is viewed as a deity because some idiots started it.
    C. Most buddhists pay their respect to buddha like you would pay your respect to your ancestors, not that your ancestors are gods or anything close.
    D. Reincarnation, ghosts, spirits, Karma has nothing to do with a supreme magic man.
    Note : Atheist means a person who disbelieved in the existence of a supreme being or supreme beings.
    Chloe, buddha is not a god like figure, he is just an average Joe who gain enlightenment. He ate and shitted like we do now.

  10. God concept is considered as one of the false concepts in Buddhism.
    In that sense, Buddhists are atheists if they are real Buddhists
    Ordinary meditation is not Buddhist meditation. It is the exercise to stabilise the mind.
    Buddhist mediation is different.
    It is called insight meditation and it is analytical in nature.
    During meditation practice, mind and matter are analysed.
    There is no analytical meditation outside Buddhism.


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