Claim: Rig Veda calling for the destruction of atheists https://twitter.com/ImtiazMadmood/status/1281908670121611265
Fact: A faulty 200-year-old translation implied this. The translation was the work of a British Christian named Wilson, who declared his aim was the conversion of Hindus. The word Nāstika does not even occur in the Rigveda. The words used in original, अराव्णः and अदेवयुम् do not mean an “atheist”. Rather an evildoer. अराव्णः is the accusative plural of अरावन् = nongiver/non-liberal/hostile. Even Sāyaṇācārya reads it as अदानानयजमानान्. Translating this word as “those who worship not” or “atheist” shows how horrible these Christian translations are.
There is no exact parallel to the word “atheist” in Hinduism. Although Nāstika could come close, Nāstika was defined as the one who rejected the authority of Veda rather than belief in “God”. Nirīśvara was the one who rejected the existence of īśvara. Both words are absent in Rigveda
The word 'Atheist' comes from the Greek word “Atheos”=“without Gods”. The word was originally used for Abrahamic people like Jews and Christians who denied the existence of “Ancient Gods”. To the Non-Abrahamics, worshipers of “just one abstract God” seemed like extreme atheists. With the rise of Christianity, the word was appropriated & its originally meaning subverted. “Atheist” in English become one who was NOT a Christian. He was the Christian “other”, a heretic. Heresy invited capital punishment in Christian middle ages & during the inquisition.
For example, take the case of Lucilio Vanini in the 17th century. He was a scientist. An astronomer. A doctor. And a philosopher. His book showed signs of pantheism. Although he vehemently denied the charge, he was accused of being an “Atheist”. His tongue was cut out, and he was burnt alive. In the 17th century!