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Flat-Earth Atheist

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"It was all very well going on about pure logic and how the universe was ruled by logic and the harmony of numbers, but the plain fact of the matter was that the Disc was manifestly traversing space on the back of a giant turtle and the gods had a habit of going round to atheists' houses and smashing their windows."

Atheism in a clockwork universe ostensibly overseen by a completely non-interventionist divinity is one thing, but what about a world that's practically the playground of the mythic forces that created it?

While some authors do this as an honest philosophical exercise, it's almost always Played for Laughs. A self-styled hardline atheist that just happens to live in a high fantasy setting brimming with both huge pantheons of gods rampaging around the landscape constantly causing all sorts of things to happen, and the worshipers that pray to (and immediately hear back from) said pantheons of rampaging deities. Maybe they don't believe in the gods at all and are totally nuts, maybe they're completely in denial about the existence of gods, or maybe they're feigning disbelief in hopes of ending their worship and bringing about some kind of Götterdämmerung or whatever. Sometimes the character himself is a god (typically a loony one). Sometimes this is a direct attempt to discredit science by comparing it to religion: instead of using the scientific method, as a scientist does, the strawman atheist relies himself on a devout faith — in this case a faith that "science" holds all the answers, despite obvious proof to the contrary.

The trope can be justified in some ways. It's relatively common to have a character who openly acknowledges the existence of beings of great power, but refuses to accept their divinity (either because he believes them to be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens using technological trickery, or because he differentiates between a "real" god and a supernatural being that is merely very powerful). For instance, in The DCU (see below) there's no practical difference between, say, angels and alien energy beings. The main difference often comes down to whether or not the subject in question has deep personal implications, like an afterlife. On the other hand, in a world where magic is commonly known to be real, it becomes a lot easier for con artists to pull the wool over the eyes of innocents, so a skeptic to differentiate between "real" magic and "fake" magic can come in handy.

After a certain point, however, it can devolve into semantics, and you can start to wonder what exactly a character defines a god or magic as, especially considering some of the entities they encounter are even more powerful than most gods of myth.

A subtrope of this is the atheist who's plucked out of the normal world and forced to acknowledge the existence of the supernatural, usually only accepting it after something wildly impossible is done to them (like being turned into a dragon and back in C. S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader or having the flesh burned off his bones and regrown in Niven and Pournelle's Inferno (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle) — even then, it took a long time for the protagonist to drop the idea that it was a theme park for sadistic sufficiently advanced aliens).

Compare with Agent Scully; Magic Versus Science; Sufficiently Analyzed Magic; No Such Thing as Space Jesus; and No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus. See also Crossover Cosmology and Negative Continuity for two possible justifications, along with God Test. Sometimes one too many strange things happening will lead these characters into Giving Up on Logic. If the character does believe in certain fantastical aspects of their world but rejects others for no adequate reason, then you are dealing with Arbitrary Skepticism.

Don't confuse this with the Nay-Theist, who knows supernatural forces exist, but refuses to obey or worship them, often thinking that they should mind their own business and leave mortals alone. Also compare Eskimos Aren't Real, which is when a character does not believe in something that everyone else believes, but may in fact have never seen it. The trope also applies to other examples which aren't specifically atheism, but irrational disbelief in some things (such as ghosts) where incontrovertible proof exists of them being real. This also does not relate to atheists literally believing that the Earth is flat.

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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Deishuu Kaiki in Bakemonogatari is a very odd example in that he might actually be right. Throughout the story, monsters, spirits and ghosts plague characters as metaphors for their emotional and psychological issues. They're very much there in that you see them damage things and affect the real world and such. However, Kaiki doesn't believe that any of them exist even as he speaks with them, considering them hallucinations and lies. Normally he'd come off as crazy, but there's actual support for this viewpoint in the story. For example, he sets a magic bee on the main character's little sister that gives her a burning fever, which an expert says is a magic disease that caused a plague long ago. However, Kaiki has actually researched said plague only to find absolutely no evidence of its existence nor the people it supposedly destroyed. The bee? He actually just hypnotized her and gave her a fever like that. The bee doesn't actually exist. The whole worldbuilding in the series is based on the dual nature of the supernatural: it is real, as in it's not just in people's heads, and it is fake, as in it requires people's heads to exist. Oddities find it hard to exist on the South Pole for example. Thus both believing in it and disbelieving in it are completely legitimate viewpoints, and your own interaction with the oddities will be determined by that.
  • In Black Butler Ciel makes a contract with a demon, promising his soul to said demon. He is not unaware of this fact. Yet, in the anime version, somewhere between dealings with soul collecting Shinigami and psycho fallen angels, he, while sitting next the demon he sold his soul to, claims that he doesn't believe in souls. And although he doesn't go so far in the manga, he does regularly express disbelief when confronted with the supernatural, dismissing ghosts and curses even after encountering the real thing.
  • Bleach: Played for Laughs in the first chapter when Karin states that despite seeing ghosts she does not believe in them. The ghosts give up haunting her because they feel so rejected by her cold dismissal.
  • The plot of Dandadan kicks off because Ayase believes in ghosts, Okarun believes in aliens, and neither of them believes the other. Both are real, of course.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba:
    • Doma, despite being groomed to be a cult leader since he was born, Doma believes that there is nothing after death, and when one dies, they simply 'return to the ground,' believing religion to be a waste of time. Given he's an immortal, centuries-old demon, this is quite noticeable.
    • Not as much as Doma, but Muzan in his tremendous egocentrism has rebuked Kagaya's notion that someday karma will catch up to his evil deeds by gloating about his very long life. He lived for more than a thousand years without ever seeing God or Buddah thus Muzan rationalizes there's either no such thing as divinity or that his actions are actually supported by higher powers, somehow.
  • Mr. Satan/Hercule of Dragon Ball Z was completely oblivious that the superpowered main characters were stronger than him, thinking it all to be a trick (he doesn't appear to have done the research on Roshi, Tien, and Goku, all of whom were champions of previous editions of the World Martial Arts Tournament that Mr. Satan rose to fame by winning) and later on a dream. Toward the end of the Cell saga, he seems to be trying to convince himself that it's not real. After the Cell saga, it becomes a Kayfabe put up by Goku and his fellows. Mr. Satan ends up bribing Android 18 to throw a fight against him so as to maintain the illusion that he's the strongest. By the end of the series, with, among other things, holding the leash of an ice cream-loving Eldritch Abomination and his beloved daughter marrying the strongest man on the planet, he's fully in the know but helps maintain the Masquerade so as to keep the general population blissfully unaware of the constant danger they're usually in.
    • Word of God states a lot of his initial dismissal comes from his master being murdered by Taopaipai/Mercenary Tao when he was still a young student. And given the skills of the Crane School like the Dodonpa and FLIGHT, can you blame him for thinking they’re cheap tricks?
  • In Ghost Sweeper Mikami, the protagonist is called in to help with a possessed patient of a Western-trained doctor. The doctor claims he cannot determine a cause of sickness, which is incredulous taking into account the levitation, horror face, and swirling ghost energy around the victim. Doc responds by rolling around on the floor loudly denying the existence of the supernatural in a "La la la I can't hear you" fashion. He gets better by the end after encountering the possessing spirit and personally aiding in the fight with what he learned in medical school... A flying dropkick from his amateur wrestling team days! After acknowledging that the supernatural exists, he vows to prepare for any future occurrences... By training in his wrestling again.
  • In Naruto, Tsunade states the ghouls and ghosts are "just a bunch of hooey". But she's saying it to the guy with a demon spirit sealed inside him. Also, Tsunade's grand-uncle and one of her ex-teammates know resurrection jutsu. And her two immediate predecessors as Hokage each knew how to summon a Shinigami. And her dead boyfriend had invented a jutsu to temporarily transform himself into something akin to a ghost.
  • Occult Academy has Maya, who is constantly assaulted by occult forces, yet for most of the series continues to loudly deny their existence — even while being attacked by a zombie in the first episode. She is often described as tsundere for the occult (even in the series itself once or twice), particularly since despite her (backstory-related) hatred of the occult, she is practically a walking encyclopedia on the subject, and is usually the one explaining occult concepts to the other characters. It's no surprise that people keep pairing her with Umineko's Battler (above), who is similarly tsundere towards witches and magic.
  • One Piece:
    • In the Skypeia arc, Zoro says he doesn't believe in God. Considering the main enemy in that arc is apparently God... Justified however in that BECAUSE of all the crazy things they've seen, Zoro simply believes the main enemy could easily be just another crazy situation that's explainable and not actually divine. And he's completely right. Eneru just had a ton of coincidental abilities that looked divine like electricity powers, sensing life and attacks, and that the title he stole was 'God' (which really only meant the equivalent of 'governor' in Skypiea).
    • Devil Fruits are regarded as mythical in certain parts of the East Blue. While devil fruits and their users are rare, especially outside of the Grand Line (where the main adventure takes place), most of the world's most prominent military figures and the most widely known and feared pirates do possess devil fruit powers, and there is known scientific literature seemingly available to the general public describing devil fruits and their effects.
    • Moderate example, Blueno from the Water 7 Arc. He has a policy never to believe anything that cannot be proven to him, as demonstrated when Jabra was scared of other devil fruits due to Urban Legends about devil fruits containing actual devils.
  • Pokémon: The Series has Cilan, who seems to come up with every "logical" explanation he can think of for supernatural events, such as an object floating through glass, EXCEPT that a Pokemon might be using Psychic.
  • In the anime movie Rebirth of Buddha, a news reporter in a courtroom tells a judge that he rejects Buddha and God, and rejects all notions of a spirit world after the judge is asking him why he committed suicide. The judge asks him, "Where do you think you are right now?"
  • The Saga of Tanya the Evil: The salaryman who would become Tanya doesn't believe in "God" even though he witnesses the stopping of time and multiple people (and a pidgeon) talking to him during said timestop. He refuses to believe this being is... well, God, as he doesn't believe the world could possibly be as screwed up as it is, if an all-powerful, benevolent being actually existed. And since it doesn't identify as the Devil, he therefore decides to refer to it as "Being X". Being X keeps intervening and creating miracles but still Tanya refuses to believe in or pray for it.
  • One of the hardest things for newcomers to Umineko: When They Cry to get their heads around is that the main character is having a very intense and logical debate denying the existence of a witch that haunts his family's mansion... with the witch in question. And his only tools in this debate? The magic text she grants to him. (In episode 6, however, he's part of the pro-witch side, since he's the new GM.) This starts making a lot more sense as the story goes on. By the fourth arc, he's not fighting to deny magic in itself but the fact that the murders were committed by that witch. By the fifth, there's another witch who brings in a piece to do the same thing (in her words, "dispel the Illusion of the witch"), though in a some different and more brutal way.
  • Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! says Screw Destiny to the long history of Duel Monsters and of his rivalry with Yugi, even when he is told outright and went through the entire Millennium World arc. He goes on to found Duel Academy, a school existing solely for the purpose of being a roach motel for Eldritch Abominations, but not until the main Yu-Gi-Oh series itself is over.
    • Kaiba reaches levels of this where he's a damn near parody. In the filler arc, he and Yugi are fighting monster spirits outside of duels, and despite the fact that this crazy stuff is happening right in front of him, he's still adamant that it's all a magic trick that Yugi is doing.
    • Kaiba's denial of magic is far more pronounced in the English dub by 4Kids. In the original, it didn't take him long to get to the point that he recognized that magic is real. He just didn't care. Whether there was a historic and magical importance to Duel Monsters didn't matter to him, winning at it did.
    • Naturally made fun of at least one in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.
      Ishizu: (after using magical powers to show him a vision of the past) Now do you believe me, Kaiba?
      Kaiba: Since I'm the most skeptical person on the planet, I'm going to say no.

    Fan Works 
  • In Celestia Isn't Real, Diamond Tiara is discovered to not believe that Celestia exists, and even puts forth some convincing arguments in a discussion with the actual Celestia (who is there in disguise). Hilarity Ensues.
  • Downplayed in Don't Look. Ritsuko doesn't believe Misato about the Slender Man despite working with Evas and Angels, but admits that she can't explain the facts she has with science. Misato was cut open with what could only be specialty surgery machinery but there's no evidence of it at the site of the attack and she fired three full clips of armor-piercing rounds yet they can only find the shell casings and none of the bullets. Lastly, the Slender Man's victims had their organs wrapped in a material that looked like saran wrap but couldn't be analyzed even by the MAGI. So while Ritsuko thinks Misato might be insane for her recollection of what happened, she doesn't know what actually did.
  • In the Eleutherophobia series, a lot of people don't believe that Yeerks exist, even though the war has been all over the news. This includes Jake and Tom's great-grandmother, even though most of the Berenson family were personally involved.
  • Escape from the Moon: Spliced Genome denies that magic is real - she refers to it as "thaumatics", an energy that can be manipulated by ponies in certain forms, and firmly believes it has a scientific explanation. It's noted in the sequel The Mare From the Moon that she's also convinced that one of their most powerful enemies in the past was just a creature with a far greater ability to manipulate thaumatics than any normal pony rather than any sort of magical entity. By the end of the story, nearly six hundred years later, she’s not only changed to thinking of it as magic, her powers have developed considerably and she can now teleport.
  • In Eugenesis Nightbeat angrily decries the existence of Primus, despite having seen him and been teleported across the universe by him, before taking part in a battle against Unicron, his religion's devil. Of course, he did watch Primus get killed a short time later as well. And as later events in the story prove, he might have a reason to doubt Primus after all...
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Some believe Celestia and Luna are still responsible for the sun and moon rotating around the world, even a thousand years after their deaths, while others, including Rex, believe gravity is responsible. He also firmly believes that magic, or thaumatology as he calls it, can be broken down into and understood in terms of scientific principles.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Vinyl Scratch refuses to believe in Corona, the sister of her country's ruler, even though Corona's first port of call when she escaped the sun was Ponyville, which she promptly set on fire, and abducted dozens of ponies, shouting at the top of her lungs all the while. And Vinyl was there at the time... admittedly, incredibly hung-over.
  • In Robb Returns, in spite of all increasing proof that magic is back, Tywin refuses to consider the idea. He also tries to ignore the pull towards a room his father seemed to be obsessed with, claiming it nonsense. Gives up when he goes to said room and finds proof that cannot be denied.
  • Shard: In the prologue, Rize tells Aero point-blank that he doesn't believe in souls, despite it being established in-universe that a person's Aura is the manifestation of their soul.
  • In Wilhuff Tarkin, Hero of the Rebellion, Rivoche Tarkin is revealed to have believed the Force was "some made-up trick", even after a run-in with a Jedi that had survived Order 66 and being a Force sensitive herself (though she didn't know that until later). Witnessing Darth Vader's telekinesis from up close was however enough to correct her.
  • Dr. Maggie Walsh in Xendra adamantly refuses to believe in magic, even when witnessing it in effect, such as the titular character changing back into Xander. This is particularly jarring when she brushes off the events of Graduation Day as a mass hallucination and in the same breath talks about the massive pieces of organic matter recovered (the Mayor's corpse) that contain no DNA or RNA but also possess compounds either not found in organic matter, anywhere on Earth or both.
    • Forrest Gates refuses to believe Buffy's superhuman even after she lets him try to bend a piece of rebar then twists it into a pretzel and lets him try again. This despite having spent months hunting vampires and demons (though his company calls them Hostile Subterrestials) and being currently bound to a chair with magic.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul and its sequels, main character Zé do Caixão ("Coffin Joe") refuses to believe in God, Satan, and general supernatural activity, despite frequently being a target of ghostly/demoniac apparitions. It's never confirmed if the apparitions are real or a product of his mind.
  • In Tim Burton's Batman (1989) it takes a great many characters quite a while to acknowledge that Batman might exist, and even then they're not willing to say so publicly. Alexander Knox (the only halfway-credible person who believes in Batman from the beginning) points out early on that, for the past month, there has been at least one sighting of Batman every week. But Harvey Dent dismisses the stories of Batman sightings as tales of "ghosts and goblins", and Eckhardt the police lieutenant insists that the slum dwellers who claim to have seen a bat-creature are "drinkin' Drano." Vicki Vale does pretend to believe, but this is only to convince Knox to join her in an official investigation of the sightings, which Vale hopes will advance her career and maybe even win her a Pulitzer Prize. Commissioner Gordon is the second major character to catch a glimpse of Batman... but he'd rather just sweep the truth under the rug, partly because it would embarrass Gotham City's police and partly because, since Batman was directly responsible for Jack Napier's near-death when the police needed Napier alive as a mob informant, Gordon frankly would rather believe that Batman does not exist.
  • Bostock's Cup has the manager of the titular team openly mock the idea of hypnosis, even after he gets hypnotised into performing a striptease in front of the players.
  • Referenced in Dogma when Loki, the former Angel of Death, talks to a Nun early and claims to have become an atheist due to a bizarre interpretation of Lewis Carroll's poem The Walrus and the Carpenter, which convinces her somehow to give up organized religion. His friend Bartleby points out that he knows for a fact there is a God, that Loki has stood in His presence, and He has spoken to Loki personally, yet Loki just claimed to be an atheist. Loki replies he just likes fucking with the clergy.
  • Dracula Has Risen from the Grave: Paul is an atheist and doesn't believe in religion even though he's fighting the undead king of vampires himself. Because he's not a practicing believer, religious iconology that would normally kill Dracula, like a stake, have no effect. It isn't until the very end when he sees Dracula be impaled on a cross and killed by priest's prayer that he finally rediscovers his faith.
  • Not quite atheism, but in Erik the Viking Harald the Missionary, who accompanies the Vikings on their quest, staunchly refuses to believe in the Norse gods and their mythology... even when they're standing outside the gates of Valhalla. He can't see it, because he doesn't believe in it (he is a Christian, after all), but it certainly causes a great deal of frustration with his crewmates. Turns out to be a plot device when the Missionary is the only one who can leave Valhalla to save them all since he doesn't believe in it.
  • Ghostbusters:
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): After some of the Kaiju have reversed years of climate change and regenerated endangered environments, people who still insist that Godzilla and the monsters answering to him are nothing but a threat that should be wiped out, and who refuse to believe the monsters' presence is really healing the environment — which there is now mountains of significant evidence to support — are called "Titan-deniers" in the end credits' blocks of newspaper text.
  • Indiana Jones regularly encounters ancient artifacts (from multiple religions) that overtly display powers of the supernatural, yet he remains an atheist or agnostic.
  • In Jason and the Argonauts:
    Jason: They won't answer the believers. Would they answer a non-believer?
    • Later, after lots of divine intervention, he pulls a Gods Need Prayer Badly.
      Jason: In time, all men shall learn to do without them!
  • In Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter, the title character gets attacked by a mob of atheists. "You don't know us, because we've never talked to you before!" Yeah, it's a weird movie.
  • Not exactly atheists, but in the movie Masala when Krishna appears in person to demand the surrender of the Sikh terrorists, they tell him to take his “pantheistic Hindu crap” and “SCRAM!”
  • A Matter of Faith: Discussed. Portland claims that even if the stars fell from the sky to form the phrase "God is real", it would still be deemed a trick by atheist evolutionists.
  • In Rats: Night of Terror, Kurt refuses to believe the rats are actually intelligent, in spite of being the victim of a number of traps and advanced tactics.
  • In Second Glance, a movie that's essentially It's a Wonderful Life but with a young Christian wishing he wasn't a believer, rather than never having existed. So an angel makes it happen and walks him through a day in his life as a non-believer. The problem of living as an unbeliever while also witnessing a supernatural event and chatting with an agent of God isn't addressed.
  • Being an atheist in a biblical epic is unwise, as Lot's wife Ildith discovers to her cost in Sodom and Gomorrah. As revealed by her inner monologue, she remains insistent that the miraculous events occurring ahead of and after the Hebrews' flight from Sodom are Lot's handiwork, that there is no god Jehovah whose hand has guided them away from the cities He now plans to destroy for their wickedness. And when she disobeys Lot's instructions not to look back at the burning ruins of her former hometown, Jehovah smites her by turning her into a pillar of salt.
  • In the original Star Wars trilogy, there are characters who don't believe that the Force is real, despite it being common knowledge in the prequels (which take place only about 20 years prior, meaning some of said characters would have been alive at the time and seen them first hand). It's partly justifiable as the galaxy is a vast place (about 400 billion stars, 3.2 million inhabitable solar systems, 100,000 light-years across and with countless sentient species) and Force users were always rare (Jedi at their height numbering only in the thousands out of a galactic population in the quadrillions) so many likely never saw the Force personally, or thought it was exaggerations from the stories they heard (as Han seems to think at first).
  • In the B-Movie Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, the eponymous women come to accept that their various nature gods are false after they fail to kill the human astronauts. At the end, they declare the humans' dead robot to be their new god. This ignores the fact that their prayers to the gods, although failing to kill the humans, did cause volcanic eruptions and floods, and killed the robot that they accept as the "strongest god".

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Various books have several characters who refuse to believe in Jesus despite personally witnessing his miracles, prescribing them rather to him being in league with Satan. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man begs Abraham to let him warn his relatives of hell after he's sent there, but Abraham cites this trope, saying if they did not believe Moses and the prophets, they would not even if a man came Back from the Dead. Additionally, some modern apologists argue that all atheists are this, claiming they truly do know God exists but simply refuse him worship (i.e. making them actually Nay-Theists). Others dispute this, naturally. It has to be noted that the terms "unbelievers" and "atheists" had broader meanings back in the day and referred mostly to Nay-Theists and people who might believe God (or gods) existed, but did not have faith in Him / them, though atheists in the sense we know it were also known (from other places largely, such as ancient Greece). There were also of course some who didn't believe the Judeo-Christian god existed but had their own. In fact, though, the opposite was more common-pagans often accepted that God existed but was just one part of the pantheon, or simply disagreed with specific Christian theology (for instance, a lot of pagan philosophers believed that a supreme deity existed, they just thought him becoming a man is absurd).
    • Very frequently in both the Old and New Testaments, people who have seen indisputable miracles firsthand still find it hard over the long haul to maintain faith in God — faith that the things they saw were what they clearly were, and meant what they clearly meant. The most striking example is the Hebrews making the Golden Calf idol even after the Lord had performed all the miracles of the Exodus in freeing them from Egypt. One interpretation is that when our preconceived notions of the world are rocked, especially in a way that is inconvenient or makes moral demands of us, the human capacity for denial is enormous, whereas in the text itself it seems possibly a case of looking for another god that is viewed as better (since at the time it seems Hebrews believed other gods existed, but forbid worshiping them).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In The Perishers, the crabs in the rock pool have a Parody Religion worshiping "The Eyeballs In The Sky" (which appear on an annual basis) complete with its own skeptic movement trying to disprove their existence scientifically. The Eyeballs do, in fact, exist: they belong to Boot the dog who goes along with Wellington and the other kids to the seaside on their annual holiday.

  • A truly bizarre variant in Bleak Expectations, where Harry Biscuit claims to be an Agnostic despite having just fought an army of demons from Hell itself. It gets even more bizarre later on when we find out God exists. And He is Harry Biscuit.
  • The atheist philosopher Oolon Coluphid in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978) is a variation. One of his antitheistic books, "Well, That Just About Wraps It Up For God", is said by the Guide to hinge entirely on the argument that God refuses to prove that he exists, for proof denies faith, and without it, he is nothing - but he did prove that he existed as the Babel Fish is a creature far too useful not to be intelligently designed, and therefore God cannot exist as he has proven his own existence. The Guide acknowledges that this argument is 'a bunch of dingo's kidneys'. The book version of the story expands on the theism of the setting, where God does definitely exist and even left a final message to humanity. Unfortunately, God Is Inept as well.
  • At least for the first few episodes, The Professor in Old Harry's Game vehemently denies the existence of God, despite being in Hell. Then again, he spends those episodes convinced that his experience in Hell is All Just a Dream as well.

  • In Doctor Faustus, right after he summons Mephistopheles and proceeds to sell his immortal soul to the Devil, Faustus makes comments to the effect that he doesn't believe in Hell or damnation and thinks that they are just metaphorical. This rather annoys Mephistopheles, who is a Fallen Angel, and who dryly notes that his own person rather proves the reality of those things.
  • In Hamlet, the title character gives a speech in which he calls death "The undiscovered country from whose bourn / No traveler returns" in spite of the fact that he's spoken with the ghost of his father.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • While not God, in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, Edgeworth's disbelief in Spirit Channeling is odd, seeing as how he has sat across from a dead woman (whose murder he prosecuted!) in court.
    • Earlier, in Justice For All, the Judge expresses disbelief in Spirit Channeling. This is despite Maya's ability to channel dead spirits being a critical point in the trial.
    • It's implied that most people have somewhat of a Weirdness Censor when it comes to spirit channelling, perhaps in no small part to a highly publicized murder case where a spirit medium was used to communicate with the victim, who named the wrong person as his killer, which gave spirit channelling a reputation for being fraudulent. And if spirit channelling is fraudulent, then there must therefore be some other, not-weird reason why that eight-year-old girl is suddenly a foot and a half taller than she was a minute ago and now has an amazing rack, so it's not worth fussing over.
  • Spirit Hunter series:
    • Even with all the supernatural events she's personally exposed to, Madoka Hiroo from Spirit Hunter: Death Mark completely refuses to believe in anything "unscientific".
    • Subverted with Seiji from Spirit Hunter: NG. He's clearly terrified of the supernatural and initially refuses to believe Akira's story about ghosts and spirits, but when he's forced to confront them himself he concedes to the evidence and doesn't try to deny their existence. That said, he still will only consider the supernatural as a very last option, preferring mundane explanations for the various murders throughout the game.
  • Tsukihime: Shiki is hospitalized after a near-death accident and wakes up with the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. When he tells the doctors and nurses that he sees Lines of Death everywhere, they naturally think he's crazy. However, when he demonstrates by running his finger along the Lines of Death on his bed to chop it clean in half, they still think he's crazy and shun him.

  • 1/0 featured the character Marcus, who became so angry at the comic's creator Tailsteak that he willingly acquired a fourth wall — an inability to hear Tailsteak, see the comic's layout, have real-world knowledge, to realise in any way he was a character in a comic. Marcus remained stolidly convinced he was the Only Sane Man despite Tailsteak's continuous creation of life, inventing laws of physics, and generally interfering with the comic's world in an obvious fashion. Ironically, to rationalise all the ghosts and golems and such, Marcus eventually had to create his own increasingly convoluted religion. Eventually, he reaches such levels of Strawman Political (very clearly representing atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, and polytheism at various points) that Petitus chews out the Christian author for his anvilicious Author Tract.
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • There's a Running Gag with Thief believing dragons are extinct despite encountering (and getting mauled by) them several times. Eventually Red Mage asks why he keeps saying this. His response?
      Thief: "Wishful thinking."
    • Also Cleric, who doesn't believe in the gods he gets spells from. This actually makes Cleric's job easier: the gods know he's not trying to suck up to him by worship, so they actually pay attention to him. Black Mage gets his nasty Eye Twitch again.
  • Awkward Zombie has one issue with many of the characters of Super Smash Bros. starting a theological debate, with Fox thinking is primitive to believe in deities. This lasts until Palutena casually walks into the room.
  • Bruno the Bandit: Dibunquer, somewhat modelled after James Randi. He debunks everything in a world that is obviously full of magic, though he also represents a sensible sceptical viewpoint sometimes. Eventually he realises the truth, which is that magic does work in the world except when he destroys it by making people disbelieve it, but that doesn't ultimately deter his skeptical ways any. He eventually disbelieves a manifestation of Ailix to His face, but still comes across as more reasonable than the pope, who first gets the inspiration to start revering rubber duckies (Ailix got summoned in the middle of a bath, and the pope fixates on what He happens to have on Him at the time instead of what He's saying) and then gets all "sceptical" himself when Ailix asks him to change his ostentatious ways. Can you tell it's a satire yet?
  • City of Reality: The Dreaming Witch, despite living in a world of magic, is convinced the magic she does is impossiblenote , and hence she must be dreaming. Needless to say, she's a wee bit mad.
  • In El Goonish Shive, a mall cop that catches up with Kitty witnesses her sweater's sleeves reverting to normal from being oversized yet he dismisses it as a neat trick.
    Dan: Oh my god. We found him! We found the one character in EGS who makes excuses when he sees obvious magic and doesn't just accept it as a thing!
  • Exterminatus Now: After getting chewed out by Virus for trying to arrest a Dagohma's Witness, Eastwood reveals that he does not believe in gods, demons, or the supernatural, despite personally witnessing the existence of such as part of his job. "It's easy. All it takes is a little faith."
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Coyote berates humans for being so preoccupied with trying to find a cause or meaning behind everything that they place their own imaginary answers behind anything they can't explain; Coyote is essentially criticizing a form of the "god of the gaps" argument. Coyote even has an (unconfirmed) theory that he and other supernatural beings are merely physical manifestations of human belief, and as such, do not truly "exist". Whether this is true or not has been left up in the air (Coyote believes it to be true, but he is a very far cry from being omniscient or infallible).
    • Antimony's father is stated to have a dislike of anything that can't be explained logically. His friends include a half-fire-elemental, a magic-user, and the Valkyrie Brunhilde, though his closest friend was an "ordinary" Gadgeteer Genius. It's revealed that he completely ignored any "magical" explanation for why his wife, the aforementioned half-elemental, was slowly dying after giving birth nor could he accept that (as far as has been shown) it couldn't be stopped — her elemental half had to transfer to her daughter. He starts looking for supernatural answers after her death, starting with psychopomps — the same beings his wife and daughter could have introduced to him at any time if he had wanted to listen.
  • Homestuck:
    • Eridan lives in a world which canonically contains ghosts, telekinesis, clairvoyance, psychic mind control, dragons, telepathy, time-travelling demons, trolls who spontaneously sprout butterfly wings enabling them to fly, cosmic horrors, vampires, and Sgrub/Sburb itself. But he doesn't believe in magic. That stuff's fake.
    • Cronus also follows the same path, though it's justified, as he USED to believe in magic, but someone decided to take a sledgehammer to his faith.
  • Dreadmoon of the Insecticomics is an atheist and skeptic. Somehow he manages to reconcile this with the fact that his commander has an immortal spark, people can and have been brought back from the dead, and they have done battle against the powerful minions of a chaos god who is the closest thing Transformers have to the Devil. And then they did battle against the chaos god himself. This does not seem to have caused any crises of faith.
  • The Order of the Stick: When the Order finds a message left by Girard Draketooth for Azurite Paladin Soon Kim, he disdainfully comments on how logic is "the part of your brain that weeps every time you kneel down and pray to a glorified petting zoo". This, in a typical fantasy setting where the gods are real and bestow genuine power on those who take Divine classes... like Paladins.
  • In Ozy and Millie, an ambassador sent to Greater Llewellynland to discuss foreign policy with Llewellyn, a dragon. Said ambassador refused to believe in dragons. Hence, he mostly hung around the castle and annoyed Ozy.
  • Tycho of Penny Arcade maintains his atheism despite regularly hanging out with Jesus.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:
    • In one comic, we see God accommodating this kind of person in Heaven.
    • There are also shades of this at work in atheist hell.
  • Shortpacked!:
    • A transformer claims to be an atheist. This wouldn't be a problem, except they live on their planet-sized creator. This is actually based on Jetfire's personality in the comics. It's a long-running implicit joke that he believes in some odd kind of evolution which is obviously ridiculous (although the levers-and-pulleys thing was actually canon at one point). The fact that he was made by a very intelligent designer (Shockwave) in the Marvel comics makes this even funnier.
    • Leslie insists that there was no historical Jesus even after Galasso, who had been proven to have the ability, brings him back from the dead, despite the fact that his teachings, appearance, and demeanor all line up with euhemerist study of the Bible rather than modern Christian caricatures, getting so frustrated with her cognitive dissonance that she physically attacks him.
  • In Slightly Damned, Rhea (and many other Medians) apparently are skeptical about the existence of divine beings, despite the fact that angels, demons, and gods are just walking around in the open. Somewhat justified, however, as it's implied that these things are unique to Riverside, and the 'verse's equivalents of God and Satan really have never been seen.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Kent refuses to believe in vampires even after seeing several for himself. It's later theorized, however, that Kent does realize vampires are real, but admitting that would also mean admitting he was wrong. Ain't no way that's gonna happen.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Danes and Swedes. Icelanders, Norwegians, and Finns have all attributed the The Magic Comes Back episode their world underwent to The Old Gods, in which Swedes and Danes do not believe. A downplayed version of this trope kicks in due to the Swedish and Danish atheism extending to magic (mages are only found in the theistic nations) and spirits/ghosts (visible only to mages), which have been proven to exist in the setting's After the End world. As for the members of the main cast that hail from these nations, their days of lack of belief may numbered as threats that can be dealt with only by the mages become more frequent.

    Web Original 
  • In the Fantasy High campaign of Dimension 20, we have the character of Kristen, who starts out as a churchgoer who worships Sol, the Sun-God, but later becomes an atheist, despite the fact that Sol unquestionably exists. It's Played for Laughs. Mostly.
  • In Farce of the Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao insists that he doesn't believe in the supernatural, despite encountering it several times, most notably in Chapter 68. He refuses to acknowledge Chapter 68.
  • In Metamor Keep Metamor's High Priestess, Raven hin'Elric believes the "gods" she regularly converses with and draws power from are really just entities with a lot of magic that they are willing to lend to others.
    • By the time of Metamor City, written by Raven's creator, she seems to have been proven right as her former student Mirai has pulled the gods of light and dark down to earth and taken most of their power. And then started a new religion that worships the same monotheistic god as the setting's version of Christianity.
  • Played for Laughs when Dave of Satina explains to his daughter that he's Jewish in a Christmas Episode. His daughter, an Anti-Anti-Christ, reminds him that he's literally been to Hell on several occasions which proves his religion wrong. He then doubles down and forces her to watch Eight Crazy Nights with him.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • The Foundation has a Physical God known as SCP-343. Apparently, Dr. Bright has tried to disprove its omnipotence... to SCP-343 itself. The result was a paperweight so heavy not even SCP-343 could lift it. Justified by the possibility that he could just be a delusional Reality Warper.
    • There is an entire Group of Interest (originating from the French branch of the SCP Foundation website) known as SAPPHIRE (Society of Atheists for the Protection from the Perilous and Hindering Institutionalized Religions Everywhere), fully comprised of flat-earth atheists (in the case of SCP-281-FR, literally so). Despite living in a world where there are dozens of competing cosmologies at any point in time, members of SAPPHIRE (usually people involved in academia and in science) do not believe that anomalies (or "Singularities", as they call them) actually exist, but that they are merely errors of human perception (like religion or other "irrational beliefs") whose presence can modify probability. They are a dangerous joke to every other group involved with the anomalous, and are very hypocritical, as they will use anomalies to spread their ideas, despite not believing in their existence. Their ideal of human rationality does, however, mean that they will absolutely refuse to utilize any mind-altering anomalies (like amnestics or memetic agents) to achieve their goals.
  • The Spider Cliff Mysteries: Eliza, and to a lesser extent Barlow.
  • Roger, the main character of Go Fish, is a great example of this trope. Despite being recruited to be a god's contact on Earth, meeting various gods and angels, and actually visiting the realm where the gods live, he still identifies himself as an atheist in one comic.
  • Tales of MU:
    • There is also a god, Arkhanos, who encourages their followers to not be 100% sure of said deity's (or any other deity's) godhood. Or gender, for that matter. Arkhanites like to point out that while divine magic works and gods have made well-documented appearances, it's possible that they're simply much better at magic than "mortals".
    • The best example of this is Steff, who is a follower of both Mechanism and Arkhanism despite being in a relationship with both a half-demon and a semi-divine harvest spirit who regularly converses with her creator deity.
    • The MUniverse contains multiple religions, each with its own distinct (and in some cases conflicting) mythology/theology, all of which are apparently real. So it's fairly easy to see how people might get confused. To quote the author:
      In most fantasy worlds, because "the gods are real", there's one set of myths which are only myths in that they're mythic in scope... they're essentially true and everybody knows them and agrees on them, and if there's any dissent it's a big story point because either the dissenters are eeeeeevillll or they're secretly the good guys. Even if the elves have one set of myths and the dwarves have another, it's only because they have different gods and their myths only deal with their corner of the world. With everything else they fight about, you rarely see the dwarves and elves falling out because one believes the world was made from the bones of Fireaxe Grimbeer and the other thinks it was fashioned in seven days by Emostar Vaguelygay because those gods are real in the story and therefore not subject to this kind of disagreement. I don't really buy the logic there. Our world is made of real and we can't often agree on any two things inside it. Ignoring the possibility of any actual divine/supernatural stuff existing in our world, all of our conflicting myths and legends came about because of real, (at one time) verifiable events: wars, people, seasons, animals, whatever. Adding another class or two of things to those lists wouldn't change the essential nature of the beast, which is that 1) we like to make stuff up when we don't know something and 2) we frequently don't know shit.
  • Played for Laughs in TFS at the Table, Team Four Star's Dungeons & Dragons campaign. During one session, Lanipator rolled a Natural 1 when making a Knowledge check about the undead. Rather than simply saying he didn't know anything, Lani decided to play it as his character Wake not believing in the existence of the undead, believing that they're nothing more than puppets controlled by magic. The mental gymnastics Wake performs in order to justify his beliefs become quite hilarious, especially considering the group is allied with a (non-evil) Lich and one session involves them exploring a "ghost" ship full of zombies.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale, angels are not to be considered real due to local laws, which characters uphold even when holding a conversation with them.

  • Pick any Christmas movie or Christmas Special in which Santa Claus is real and actively delivers presents to a large fraction of the world's children, yet the vast majority of adults do not believe in him. Review the following situation: mysterious packages show up under Christmas trees that Mom and Dad certainly don't remember buying. Little Sally in the hovel next door ends up with an expensive doll in her stocking despite her parents barely being able to afford necessities and keeping the doors locked for fear of burglars. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable occurrences, people dismiss Santa as a fairy tale or "stuff for babies."
    • Worse, in the Christmas movies/specials where Santa Claus not only exists, but doesn't even try to hide his existence — to the point where you'd easily be able to see the man just by waiting outside on Christmas Eve, or even by telephoning the North Pole.
    • Taken to hilarious extremes, for the sake of a joke, in the Rankin-Bass film 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, in which a young atheist mouse says he doesn't believe in Santa... despite Santa having a phone number and a staff of people to answer any calls. When he says this, the athe-mouse's dad gives him a look that is the '70s animated special equivalent of "Wow, you're spectacularly dumb". This is a world where Santa is so clearly and explicitly real that when he tells the town's mayor he won't come here this year due to the athe-mouse insulting him in a newspaper (yes...) the mayor attempts to build a huge beacon to tell Santa how much they're really, really sorry. In other words, Santa is at least as real as any other businessman the town is trying to curry favor with. And the athe-mouse kid still didn't believe it till his father showed him everyone else in town did. The irony? Athe-mouse is the SMART one in his family (by his reckoning). Yikes.
      • But when trying to convince the mouse, his dad tries to make his son have faith using an argument that doesn't factor in empirical proof (the song "Give Your Heart a Try"), despite the fact that there is empirical proof of Santa in this universe.
    • It's even worse in The Year Without a Santa Claus when a bunch of children announce that the newspapers have reported that Santa Claus is taking a day off and ten seconds later say that they don't believe in Santa. Santa himself sings a song to convince one of the children of his existence: "I believe in Santa Claus / Like I believe in love..." not "I believe in Santa Claus / Because I saw his picture in The New York Times..."
    • Invoked in The Nostalgia Critic review of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" in which the villains try to sue Santa Claus for kidnapping, which makes the headline in the paper.
      Nostalgia Critic: No... the headline should be "HOLY SHIT SANTA CLAUS IS REAL!!!"
    • The same logic would apply to the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as well.
    • In one short of Dexter's Laboratory, not only Dexter doesn't believe in Santa Claus (he insists that it's his parents delivering the presents), his thoughts run on sheer Insane Troll Logic even when he's supposed to be super-smart (he not only thinks that Dad dresses like Santa and his mom dresses like a reindeer, he says that the two of them somehow get the family's station wagon onto the roof to simulate the sleigh). When confronted by Santa and one of his reindeer, he insists on calling them "Dad" and "Mom" and tells "Mom" to take off the costume even when it's very obviously an actual reindeer and tries to shave off "Dad's" "fake beard" even when Santa fights back and runs like hell, and culminates with Dexter chasing the flying "station wagon" and shooting it down with a fighter jet, ruining Christmas for everybody.
  • An old Soviet joke runs something like this: a communist (and thus staunch atheist) died. However, he had been a good man in life, and God was willing to forget his unbelief, provided that he spent an equal period of time in Hell and Heaven. He served his first year in Hell, and Satan said to God: "Take this man quickly - he has turned all my demons into Young Pioneers! I must restore order!" After spending a year in Heaven, God took him back to Hell, where he had this conversation with Satan:
    Satan: Lord God, it is my turn now.
    God: First of all let's keep this quick, I have a party meeting. Second, call me "Comrade God". Third, there is no God.
    • In the Spanish version of the joke, it's Karl Marx himself who dies and is sent straight to Hell, where he promptly starts getting rank-and-file demons to make common cause with the damned. Satan tries to get rid of him by shipping him into Heaven, half-expecting the guys Above to reject him. When he goes up to Heaven to check after a few days, it's Peter who greets him and informs him that "there is no God."
  • In one Spanish comic strip, an atheist climbs into a tree to escape a bear. An angel flies down to meet him, and the man insists he's not going to convert just because an angel saved him (although this example overlaps with the Nay-Theist trope). The angel then reveals he came to help the bear, who is a Christian and is thanking God for this meal.


Cricket the Flat-Earther

Cricket believes the earth is flat.

How well does it match the trope?

3.45 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / FlatEarthAtheist

Media sources: