Heidegger and Atheism

Hi I’m reading Being and Time right now and I was wondering if Heidegger is considered an atheist or theist. I know that he was raised catholic and had some theolgical background but I’m wondering if his choice to pursue philosophy was an atheistic choice- a turning away from religion and towards philosophy or if he integrated faith into his philosophy in some way. Is there a definitve answer to this question or is it something Heidegger kept shrouded in mystery?


In reading Heidegger I always understood him to be an atheist in the traditional sense, that is against a metaphysical God in the orthodox Christian model, but somehow a strange holiness, an immanence pervades his work, particularly in his treatment of aletheia (truth), which literally is the “un-covered”, or really the “not-forgotten”. The primacy of Being, the pure centrality of it, strikes me with the vital force of the divine and the revealed, but this certainly is not standard issue belief. Much closer to the mystical tradition perhaps, it has some resonance with “In the beginning was the Logos…and the Logos was made flesh.” Perhaps if you answer the question of whether a Buddhist is an atheist, you would be closer to answering whether Heidegger was one too.


Hi thanks for the response. There does seem to be a certain amount of mysticism to Heidegger but I guess I’m wondering where he fits in the historical development of European thought. It seems that in the 18th century European philosophy was predominately theist whereas in the 19th century there was the development of explicit atheism in some major figures-Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche etc. and then I was wondering I guess how to characterize 20th century thought. Frued was certainly a strong atheist and there are many others. It seems that the two succesive world wars which broke Europe’s back had the result of certainly crushing the ideals of the Enlightenment Era philosophies but I was wondering if that exteneded also to the belief that god in any form was no longer compatible with educated thought. I guess I’m trying to get a feel for the context in which Heidegger is working because his writing is so abstruse that it’s difficult to get a grounding on where he’s coming from. His tone is so elevated and I’m wondering who exactly he’s elevating himself above. It seems as though he might label himself a “metaphysician” and yet it seems also that he has disdain for the idealism of metaphysicians such as Plato or Kant.