Posted by: sponyak | May 29, 2008

Atheist or Non-Theist: Is There a Difference?

ATHEISM: a disbelief in the existence of deity

Many people who do not believe in the existence any sort of supreme being(s) are very reluctant to label themselves as Atheists. This is somewhat understandable- considering the stigma which has always been, and still is, attached to that particular term.

While I personally have no problem calling myself an Atheist, I actually prefer the broader term of Freethinker– which, as per the definition atop this blog, encompasses not only Atheists & Agnostics & the like but also certain types of Theists. It is my personal belief that Atheists alone will have a hard time making Earth a better place- but a true conglomeration of Freethinkers might have a pretty good shot at it…

Some terms for the philosophies of nonbelief have definitions that are markedly different than the term atheismhumanism & secular humanism, for example:

HUMANISM: a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially : a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason

SECULAR HUMANISM: humanistic philosophy viewed as a nontheistic religion antagonistic to traditional religion

For the most part, the definition of atheism still applies to the above terms?

Lately I have come across the term non-theist somewhat frequently- I have to admit that this one confuses me a bit. “I do not consider myself an Atheist, I prefer to think of myself as a Non-Theist”, or so they say…

NON-THEIST: one not having or involving a belief in God, especially as a being who reveals himself to humanity

Aw, c’mon… well, in truth, the term non-theist could be applied to adherents of Buddhism & other religions that do not involve a deity. But the beautifully simple definition of atheism still applies here, does it not?

Mark T.

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