What is the opinion of atheists on Jainism?

Given it’s a religion in every sense of the word, and yet has no creator or destroyer god, it is an atheistic religion in many senses (if such a thing could really exist). What is the “modern atheist” opinion on this ancient religion? Especially given Anekantavada, the primary tenet of multiplicity of viewpoints? I live in the USA and it is bad enough that most people here do not know anything about the Jain religion (though many of us learned about it in middle school/high school just to forget it after an exam), but I see little atheist discussion about this. I am especially disappointed when discussing religions with atheists as I feel someone who questions belief systems to be a bit more wordly in their research.

Posted: November 28th 2011


There is no “modern atheist” opinion, as there is no modern atheist organization.

I can give you my opinion, however.

First off, if you want to try to get adherents to a religion, you’ll need to present some evidence that it is true. It’s not my job to search out religions and learn about them.

As for what I think of Jainism, I don’t see any evidence that there is a soul (nor evidence for other supernatural beliefs).

Posted: December 5th 2011

See all questions answered by Eric_PK


Both Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins (think I read that opinion in The God Delusion) have mentioned Jainism as not being problematic because it is a non-violent religion.

However, Hermant Mehta, an atheist, was raised an Jainist, and thinks that Dawkins is too easy on Jainism. An interesting discussion follows in the comment section.

Posted: December 4th 2011

See all questions answered by logicel

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Jainists believe in souls, for which there is no more evidence than there is for gods. This leaves Jainism in the same unsupported position as theistic religions from the perspective of an atheist.

Anekantavada is in keeping with the secularist desire for tolerance and pluralism, and it’s a good quality for a religion or any other group to have. Unfortunately, not many religions have anything like this; they’re more focused on scripture, doctrine, moral absolutism and righteousness. Jainists are no more correct about souls because of their positive attitude towards other views, but atheists don’t generally say that religions do nothing good at all.

The reason most atheists don’t know much about Jainism is that it hasn’t had much of an effect on their lives the way Christianity or Islam probably has. No country has a significant Jainist lobby on a mission to legislate Jainist dominion, and Jainist morality for everyone.

Posted: December 4th 2011

See all questions answered by SmartLX


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