What Are the Two Main Kinds of Existentialism?


Martha Robinson

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. It is a way of thinking that focuses on the unique experiences and perspectives of the individual. Existentialism is often associated with the works of philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger.

There are two main kinds of existentialism: atheistic existentialism and Christian existentialism.

Atheistic Existentialism
Atheistic existentialism is a form of existentialism that rejects the existence of God or any other supernatural force. It believes that humans are alone in the universe and must create their meaning and purpose in life. Atheistic existentialists believe that individuals have absolute freedom to make their choices without external constraints.

One of the most influential proponents of atheistic existentialism was Jean-Paul Sartre. In his work “Being and Nothingness,” Sartre argues that humans have no inherent nature or essence, but instead must create themselves through their actions. He asserts that individuals are responsible for their choices, even if those choices lead to negative consequences.


  • Sartre’s “No Exit”
  • Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”
  • Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

Christian Existentialism
Christian existentialism is a form of existentialism that incorporates Christian beliefs into its philosophy. It believes that individuals can only find true meaning and purpose in life through their relationship with God. Christian existentialists emphasize the importance of faith, hope, and love in human existence.

One of the most influential proponents of Christian existentialism was Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard believed that individuals could only find true happiness by embracing Christianity fully and living according to its principles. He saw Christianity as a way of life, rather than simply a set of beliefs.


  • Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling”
  • J.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov”

Differences between Atheistic and Christian Existentialism

While both atheistic and Christian existentialism share a focus on individual freedom and choice, they differ in their views on the meaning of life. Atheistic existentialism believes that humans must create their meaning, while Christian existentialism believes that the meaning of life is found in one’s relationship with God. Additionally, Christian existentialists emphasize the importance of faith and hope, while atheistic existentialists reject the existence of any supernatural force.


Existentialism is a philosophical movement that has had a significant impact on modern thought. Its emphasis on individual freedom and choice has inspired many individuals to pursue their unique paths in life. While there are different forms of existentialism, atheistic and Christian existentialism are two main kinds that offer distinct perspectives on human existence.