A while back I saw a post by The Closet Atheist that was a response to a post she had seen. It seemed like fun, so now, I’m going to answer the same questions as well!
- Difference in Knowledge
A gnostic atheist not only believes there are no gods, he also claims to know there are no gods.
An agnostic atheist doesn’t believe in gods, but doesn’t claim to know there are no gods.
I am definitely an agnostic atheist. I try to always be open to the possibility that I am wrong (even if I think it is unlikely on this topic), and gnostic atheists essentially refuse to accept that possibility. It just seems silly to me for people to oppose dogmatic unwavering belief in a deity while holding unwavering disbelief.
- Difference in Affirmation
A negative atheist merely lacks a belief in gods. He is also called a weak atheist or an implicit atheist.
A positive atheist not only lacks a belief in gods, but also affirms that no gods exist. He is also called a strong atheist or an explicit atheist.
As The Closet Atheist states, “Difference in Affirmation is very similar to Difference in Knowledge, except rather than dealing with what we claim to know or not know, it addresses what we believe.” As a whole, I generally lean towards being a negative atheist, but there are instances where I am a positive atheist. I lean towards positive atheism in regards to the Abrahamic gods because of the logical contradictions found in the supposed attributes of these deities (see the problem of evil), among other issues.
- Difference in Scope
A broad atheist denies the existence of all gods: Zeus, Thor, Yahweh, Shiva, and so on.
A narrow atheist denies the existence of the traditional Western omni-God who is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful.
As I’ve already mentioned in the previous answer, I am a broad atheist generally. The tri-omni god is contradictory and any other god, if they exist, seem to not interfere with our day to day lives at all and are therefore irrelevant. As others have stated, a non-existent god seems awfully similar to a god who is not active in the everyday lives of their believers.
- Difference in the Assessed Rationality of Theism
An unfriendly atheist believes no one is justified in believing that gods exist.
An indifferent atheist doesn’t have a belief on whether or not others are justified in believing that gods exist.
A friendly atheist believes that some theists are justified in believing that gods exist.
On this aspect, I think I am somewhere between an indifferent atheist and a friendly atheist. I don’t know that I believe people are “justified” in believing in a deity, but I do understand the usual reasons as to why people believe in a deity. Belief in a deity assuages the fear of death and encourages a belief that those who do evil will be punished for their wrongdoing. While it would be great if everyone who did evil was punished accordingly and if we could continue to live in some way after our bodies die, but according to current scientific insights, it’s simply not true. While I understand the typical reasons behind the belief in a deity, I don’t believe that whatever belief you have changes the facts. Despite this, if someone wants to believe in a deity, that is their prerogative.
- Difference in Openness
A closet atheist has not yet revealed his disbelief to most people.
An open atheist has revealed his disbelief to most people.
On this aspect, I am an open atheist. While I was a closet atheist for around two years, eventually I had to come out and express my disbelief. There is nothing wrong with being a closet atheist (everyone’s personal situation is different), but I could no longer hide who I truly was and I felt safe doing so. It was one of the most terrifying and freeing experiences I have ever had. Early on in my adventures as an open atheist, I had the opportunity of telling my new co-workers that I am an atheist and seeing their reactions. I live in a very conservative state of the U.S. (Texas), but I work in the social work field, which I think was generally more accepting of my disbelief than the general population.
- Difference in Action
A passive atheist doesn’t believe in god but doesn’t try to influence the world in favor of atheism.
An evangelical atheist tries to persuade others to give up theistic belief.
An active atheist labors on behalf of causes that specifically benefit atheists (but not necessarily just atheists). For example, he strives against discrimination toward atheists, or he strives in favor of separation of church and state.
A militant atheist uses violence to promote atheism or destroy religion. (Often, the term “militant atheist” is misapplied to non-violent evangelical atheists like Richard Dawkins. But to preserve the parallel with the “militant Christian” who bombs abortion clinics or the “militant Muslim” suicide bomber, I prefer the definition of “militant atheist” that assumes acts of violence.)
On this one, I am mostly an active atheist who is sometimes on the edge of being an evangelical atheist. I attribute this largely to my evangelical Christian background. I was taught to share “the good news” to others and now that I am an atheist, that instinct rears its ugly head at times. However, as I said, I am usually an active atheist. I support the separation of church and state in any way I can and I am an actively “out” atheist in hopes that the stigma of being an atheist will one day no longer exist.
- Difference in Religiosity
A religious atheist practices religion but does not believe in gods.
A non-religious atheist does not practice religion.
This one is an interesting one for me. While I don’t really practice any religion, I could be considered a Satanist of The Satanic Temple (not LaVeyan Satanism). If you don’t know what that is or if you’re interested in Satanism, you can see a blog post I wrote about Satanism here.
I guess that wraps this post up for me! Feel free to answer the questions yourself or comment on my post and let me know what you think. Take it easy, everyone.