A person who believes that there is no God.
In contrast, an Agnostic, which is someone who isn't convinced either way.

This scientific-seeming belief may have come about out of disgust at the superstitiousness of many theistic religions.

Or, it may be because of logical problems with the existence of God.

"strong atheist" is an unnecessary term- we already have
atheist: There is no god
agnostic: I don't know / It's unknowable
Theist: There is a god
The exact meaning of atheist is often up for debate.

There is one group who defines it as:

One who is without religion. One who does not believe in any god or gods.

Others, however, see it as meaning actively denying all religion, as saying "there are no gods". They see agnostic as being more appropriate for the first definition.

So before jumping to any conclusions about what is meant when someone uses the word "atheist", try and look at context, or even question the person on what exactly they mean. Otherwise you'll argue about something that may not even be in disagreement.

I personally believe in the first, that it means lack of belief, and that an agnostic usually someone who's more uncertain of what they believe.

Historically, an atheist is someone who disbelieves the existence of God. This is why almost all dictionaries will tell you that that is the main or only definition; some (like Webster's) will also list 'a godless person,' but that is usually all.

However, there is now a large body of opinion which holds 'atheist' to refer to anyone who lacks belief in God, and this now seems to be the definition favoured by most atheists in the US (although in the UK almost everyone still accepts the definition provided by dictionaries and everyone who lived more than about fifty years ago).

People often back up the no-belief interpretation with the fallacious argument that the word 'atheist' comes from 'a-theist', literally meaning 'not a theist', someone who lacks theism. According to all the etymologies I've seen from actual etymologists, however, the word really comes from a-theos-ist, which is to say a follower of the 'ism' that there is no God.

Whichever way you take it, there are many different kinds of atheist; some people actively disbelieve the infinitely wise and good and powerful Christian God, for instance, without feeling that they have any really good reason to rule out the existence of gods in general, or fairies for that matter; others find the whole idea of invisible supernatural forces routinely meddling our lives utterly preposterous.

It is also worth saying something about the fuzziness of the line between absence of belief and disbelief. It is not uncommon to see it argued that atheism is no more logical than believing in god, on the grounds that atheism implies the same level of faith as theism. However, disbelief in something is really a weaker sentiment than belief in it. People routinely disbelieve - with varying degrees of conviction - things for which they have seen no convincing evidence, and which do not seem to fit well with what they know about the world. They disbelieve fairies and vampires and advanced life on Europa, not because they have any direct evidence that these things don't exist but because given what we do know, they just don't seem likely. Some will say that they don't really disbelieve some or all of these things, but just don't believe them; it's often unclear whether this is really a difference in level of belief, or merely in definition.

Among those who have become athiests (or for those who follow atheism), there two types of atheists, namely:

Strong atheist - One who denies the existence of God (or any gods).

Weak atheist - One who does not accept the existence of God (or any gods).

The difference lies in saying "There is no God" and "I don't believe in God", which are two separate concepts.

Note that when using this nomenclature, one must be an atheist or a theist, there is no middle ground.* Some people label themselves as an agnostic to avoid the label of atheist. But they are separate and exclusive. An agnostic is one who believes the nature of God is unknowable.

*Polytheists and Pantheists are possible exceptions.

A"the*ist, n. [Gr. without god; priv. + god: cf. F. ath'eiste.]

1.

One who disbelieves or denies the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being.

2.

A godless person.

[Obs.]

Syn. -- Infidel; unbeliever.

See Infidel.

 

© Webster 1913.

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