Many of Thomas Hobbes's contemporary opponents accused him of atheism, but his writings do not support such a claim—at least by any modern definition of atheism. Hobbes did deny the concept of spirit, rejected ecclesiastical authority, vigorously challenged standard interpretations of scripture, and even suggested that to deny the existence of Jesus Christ was required of a subject if a sovereign demanded it. However, atheism—which was an extremely serious allegation in the 17th century—was a convenient label for Hobbes's brand of thinking, but is not a philosophy Hobbes's writing supports.
Careful reading of Leviathan reveals that Hobbes was far from an atheist and was certainly a Christian—although he did dismiss all of Christian dogma except for the statement of faith that Jesus was the Christ. Furthermore, despite Hobbes's heterodox ideas, his entire philosophy depends upon the belief in original divine creation. The argument of Leviathan is a progressive deduction from simple propositions regarding the movements of matter, but Hobbes relies on the idea of a Prime Mover for his propositions to work. For Hobbes, this Prime Mover was the Christian God. However, Christianity itself is not philosophically required by Hobbes's text, and this lack of necessity may have reinforced contemporaries' impressions of atheism, especially considering that, in 17th century England, failing to prove the truth of Christianity was often tantamount to atheism. Nevertheless, because the materialism of Hobbesian thought has at its foundation a deity that set the universe in motion, Hobbes cannot be called an atheist in any strict sense of the term.