Escaping Atheism definitions of atheism, agnosticism, theism, & God

Escaping Atheism stated mission, in addition to using swear words on a regular basis, is to an attempt to help people ‘escape atheism’. But what do we even mean by atheism?

To avoid pointless dictionary thumping, these are the definitions of important words at the Escaping Atheism project. If you can use these words as defined, welcome! We know what it’s like to honestly wonder if there’s no God. If you can’t use these words as defined here, well, expect to be cussed at some point.

Escaping Atheism definitions:

  • atheism=denial or disbelief of God (traditional definition of atheism – etymology of atheism)
  • agnosticism=does not know, does not have a declared position either way; although they may have bias or leaning
  • theism=belief in God (or gods), although not necessarily religious or spiritual or part of any organized religion
  • God=uncreated Creator of reality, not part of the natural world in any sense, no claims about the nature of the uncreated Creator of reality unless associated with a particular religious belief

For a more detailed discussion of these nouns using definitions from Dictionary.com, please read on.

atheism

  1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
  2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Atheism defintion at Dictionary.com

 

I will need to make a quick side discussion. There is a well known dictionary that defines atheism as:

a: lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
b: a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods

Online atheists will offer endless mind numbing discussions about the “lack of belief” clause of this sloppy and historically incorrect primary definition (b is much more accurate). Meanwhile, online militant atheists will never discuss disbelief, which is an active state. Historically and philosophically, until late this last century, atheism meant the active denial of God.

Arguing that taking up a clear position on the question of God is a “lack of belief” is disingenuous at best. At worst, “There is no God is merely a lack of belief” suggests we need the number to your therapist ASAP, because the meds haven’t taken yet.

agnosticism

  1. the doctrine or belief of an agnostic.
  2. an intellectual doctrine or attitude affirming the uncertainty of all claims to ultimate knowledge.

We love agnostics here. Please pull up chair and stay a while. And don’t get suckered into the atheist trope that agnostics are atheists either by definition or default. Being genuinely uncertain on a question as monumental as “Is there a God?” is a sign of both humility and intelligence. You are very different from an atheist.

theism

  1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism ).
  2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism ).

This positive definition is more straightforward than atheism. Theism generally does not make claims about the nature of God, in a way that deism does. You can be a theist in any of the world’s major religions including Buddhism, or have no religion at all and still be theist.

God

  1. the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.
  2. the Supreme Being considered with reference to a particular attribute: the God of Islam.
  3. (lowercase) one of several deities, especially a male deity, presiding over some portion of worldly affairs.

Escaping Atheism is primarily uses God in the sense of the first definition, without necessarily the ruler part of it. When we mean God, we mean God the Creator of the universe and reality without delving deeply into the possible other natures of that Creator. That we will leave to the various religions.

That means that God is not is a “sky fairy” (that would be a creation of the Creator), “santa claus” (ditto) or an old man in the clouds or any analogy that is clearly meant to redefine and reduce God into a concept that easy to dismiss or reject.

Andrew Stratelates discusses the difference between gods and God, Which god is God?, which is why we don’t mean the 3rd definition. Bishop Robert Barron also has an excellent video that also discusses the concept of both God and “the gods”. (Bishop Barron is a Catholic Priest, but the video only discusses the definition of God as used by all of Christianity and most major religions.)

 

  • Pierre

    You may want to brush up on your definitions – especially that of agnostic.

    The terms atheism/theism and agnostic/gnostic aren’t mutually exclusive. It is possible to combine them into four different descriptions:

    1. Agnostic atheist: does not believe any god exists, but doesn’t claim to know that no god exists
    2. Gnostic atheist: believes that no god exists and claims to know that this belief is true
    3. Agnostic theist: believes a god exists, but doesn’t claim to know that this belief is true
    4. Gnostic theist: believes a god exists and claims to know that this belief is true

    Note that case 1 describes weak atheism, but case 2, as stated, is actually stronger than strong atheism, since it includes a claim of knowledge.

    • Escaping Atheism ن​

      Pulling this post. I’ve made it clear that these definitions are not up for discussion on this site. They are the commonly used, the historically accurate, and have authority of many real sources other than atheist cultists in the comments sections of the ‘Net.

      Either use them as is on this site or find some place else to be.

      • Pierre

        Then what is the term you use for one who does hold the belief that a god exists, but isn’t sure about it?

  • Shiro

    What would you say is proper term for lack of belief? How would you describe your position on existence of fairies, wizards and dragons?

    • Escaping Atheism ن​

      1. Schizophrenia
      2. You’ll need to tell us. I’m sure you’ve got many ideas to share, given your special needs mental state.

    • James M

      Since dragons and deities are equally inaccessible to human inspection – Thor can no more be e-mailed than a unicorn can – that question needs to be asked.

      One of the most frequent objections, certainly to Christian theism (other kinds seem mostly to be ignored), is that there is no way to distinguish between Cthulhu, and the God of the Bible, and the FSM. So how are Christians to reply to that ? Christians don’t believe in Chthulhu, or in Crom, or in the Hittite or Hindu deities – so why believe in Christ ? What makes Christ worthy of belief, and not the gods of Greece and Rome ? Why should thoughtful, educated, intelligent atheists be impressed by Christian claims for him in particular ? Those of us who are Christians, need to take these questions seriously, and sympathetically.

      A related question: how do Christians know that Zeus did not raise up Mohammed as punishment for desertion of Zeus by converts to Christianity ? Maybe Zeus was giving Christians time to repent of Jesus-worship. That too needs to be answered.

    • Pierre

      “What would you say is proper term for lack of belief?”

      I assume you mean lack of belief that a god exist. The proper term would be atheist. Even newborn babies are atheists.

      “How would you describe your position on existence of fairies, wizards and dragons?”

      Those are good examples to use to help Christians understand why atheists don’t believe a god exists. Just ask them why they don’t believe things like the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny exist.