Are there any passages in the Holy Bible or any Catholic doctrine saying that it is a sin to be an atheist?

Please, don't refer to me any Biblical assertion where it is stated that you should follow God, but one that addresses people who don't follow any religion.

  • I just want to know if that behaviour was even considered in that moment of history. I'm just asking if there exists any passage following that conditions in the Bible, not asking about any kind of perspective or moral lesson. A statement regarding any translation of the Bible would be awesome. I think that this is fact, so I don't need any doctrinal context for this. – Studiosi Oct 20 '11 at 17:35
  • I just need any sentence in any Bible. Just take the one you prefer. If I have to say one, take Catholic. It is the most followed religion in my home country. Any translation is allowed. – Studiosi Oct 20 '11 at 17:38
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    Romans 14:23b say "For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." The context of that verse is addressing the eating of food in good conscience and good consideration, but from a more generalized application, Paul seems to be saying here that the things that fall outside of accordance with your faith are sinful...at least for the person who engages in them with such a troubled conscience. Maybe it's reading too much into it, but I would think that this would apply to everything an atheist (who one seems to proclaim no spiritual faith) does, as it presumes a Christian faith. – Steven Oct 20 '11 at 18:25
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    I'm not sure why this had to be made about a belief-tradition. As you (@Richard) mentioned in your answer, Christianity is unified on this point. – Ray Oct 20 '11 at 21:54
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    Are you asking about atheists, or about people who don't follow any religion? There is an overlap, sure, but they're not the same thing. There are many people who don't follow any religion who are not atheists. – Flimzy Oct 27 '11 at 5:32


Catholicism states quite clearly that atheism is a sin. Disbelieving God means that you are rebelling against God's commands and therefore sinning.


Atheism, throughout the Bible, is considered "disbelief". The idea is either that you believe in God, or you don't. If you don't believe in the one true God (such as atheism), it's categorized as "disbelief".

Here, we can see the results of not believing in God:

Revelations 21:8 (NIV)Emphasis added
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Disbelief being a sin can also be seen in the Old Testament:

Numbers 14:11
The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?"

More: Mark 16:16, John 3:18, John 3:36, Romans 14:23b


Catholicism also shows that atheism is a sin:

2125 Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the virtue of religion. The imputability of this offense can be significantly diminished in virtue of the intentions and the circumstances. "Believers can have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion."
CCC 2125

It uses this bible passage for support of this doctrine:

Romans 1:18 (NIV)
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,


Atheism is one of the gravest sins. It is all throughout the Bible and Catholic church dedicated a section entirely to dealing with the subject (CCC 2123-2126). It is undeniably a sin.

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  • Numbers 14:11 says nothing about disbelief being a sin. – Studiosi Oct 20 '11 at 17:44

2 Thessalonians 2:12 (NIV) says, "and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."

I believe an atheist would be one who has not believed the truth. All people have delighted in wickedness.

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    Feel free to believe that, but it doesn't answer the question, which is about what Catholics believe. – DJClayworth Oct 21 '11 at 17:49

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