Why Atheist Characters Matter: Diversifying Narratives and Reflecting Reality


Atheism, defined as the absence of belief in the existence of gods, is a philosophical position that has gained significant attention in recent years. While religious beliefs have long dominated narratives in literature, film, and other forms of media, the inclusion of atheist characters is becoming increasingly important. This article will explore why atheist characters matter, highlighting the need for diversifying narratives and reflecting the reality of the world we live in.

Diversifying Narratives

Representation matters. When it comes to storytelling, diversity is crucial in providing a realistic reflection of the world we live in. By including atheist characters, narratives become more inclusive and representative of the diverse beliefs and perspectives found in society. By portraying characters who do not adhere to religious beliefs, creators can challenge the dominant narrative and offer alternative perspectives.

Furthermore, diversifying narratives through the inclusion of atheist characters helps break stereotypes and challenge societal expectations. Atheists are often portrayed negatively or as villains in popular media, perpetuating stereotypes that are not grounded in reality. By presenting atheist characters in a more nuanced and empathetic light, storytellers can contribute to breaking down these stereotypes and fostering a more inclusive society.

Reflecting Reality

Atheism is a reality for a significant portion of the global population. According to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, approximately 16% of the global population identifies as religiously unaffiliated, including atheists and agnostics. By excluding atheist characters from narratives, creators are failing to accurately depict the reality of the world we live in. It is essential to reflect the diversity of beliefs, or lack thereof, present in our society.

Furthermore, reflecting reality through atheist characters allows individuals who identify as atheists to see themselves represented in media. This representation can be empowering and validating for those who may feel marginalized or misunderstood due to their lack of religious beliefs. By seeing characters who share their worldview, they are reminded that they are not alone and that their perspectives are valid.

Challenging Assumptions and Facilitating Dialogue

Atheist characters can challenge assumptions and facilitate meaningful dialogue about religion and belief systems. By presenting characters who question or reject religious dogma, creators can encourage critical thinking and exploration of different perspectives. This can lead to a more informed and open-minded society, fostering discussions about the role of religion in our lives.

Moreover, including atheist characters can provide an opportunity for individuals with different beliefs to engage in respectful conversations and bridge understanding. By showcasing diverse characters and their respective worldviews, narratives can encourage empathy and tolerance, promoting a society that respects and values differing beliefs.


Q: Are atheist characters always portrayed negatively?

A: No, while there have been instances of atheist characters being portrayed negatively or as villains, there is a growing trend towards more nuanced and empathetic depictions. Creators are increasingly recognizing the importance of representing diverse perspectives and challenging stereotypes.

Q: Should narratives include religious characters as well?

A: Absolutely. Inclusion should not be limited to one belief system. By including both atheist and religious characters, narratives can provide a more comprehensive representation of the diverse beliefs and perspectives found in society.

Q: Does the inclusion of atheist characters mean the exclusion of religious beliefs?

A: No, the inclusion of atheist characters does not imply the exclusion of religious beliefs. It simply means providing a platform for different perspectives to be heard and understood.

Q: Why is representation important?

A: Representation is important because it validates and empowers individuals who may feel marginalized or misunderstood. It also fosters empathy, understanding, and dialogue among people with different beliefs.

Q: How can creators ensure accurate and respectful representation of atheist characters?

A: Creators should engage with diverse voices and perspectives, consulting atheist individuals or organizations to ensure accurate and respectful representation. It is important to avoid perpetuating stereotypes and to present atheist characters as fully developed and complex individuals.


Atheist characters matter because they contribute to diversifying narratives and reflecting the reality of the world we live in. By including atheist characters, creators challenge stereotypes, foster empathy, and encourage dialogue about different belief systems. It is important for media to accurately represent the diversity of beliefs present in society, ensuring that all individuals feel seen, heard, and understood.