I know so many people who are atheists but don’t know it, and are shocked to even hear it suggested. A theist, which is the opposite of an atheist, is a very specific breed of believer. A theist believes in a specific God, a kind of personal God that they can know, and who can and does know them. A God that’s involved in the ongoing reality of our Universe. Christians are theists, believing specifically that Jesus Christ is the son of the God that created the Universe, and that he is one with Him, and currently sitting with His Father in a kingdom in the sky called Heaven. Christians aren’t the only theists of course, but they serve to illustrate the point.
What do we make of the person who offers that they don’t subscribe to organized religion, but do believe in God? A few simple questions will uncover that this person is not, in fact, a theist. If the God they believe in is the God of the Bible for example, then they have to be either Jews or Christians. The Bible’s God is a very specific entity who has revealed His Divine nature to various men in ancient history. If a person doesn’t accept the Biblical account of that God, if for example they don’t accept that God telepathically communicated with a 99-year old man in a Middle Eastern mountain and told him to cut the skin off his penis, then they don’t really believe in that God, because that’s exactly what He did. If they have difficulty accepting that a young Jewish woman in Palestine was impregnated without having sex, and that the fertilized egg attached to her uterus was fertilized by the Creator of the Universe who used a Holy Ghost to do His insemination for Him, then they don’t really believe in that God, because that’s exactly what He did.
So this hypothetical person I am describing, and perhaps you know some like her, is not a theist. At least, not a theistic Jew or Christian. You can’t claim to not believe in the account of God’s activities but still claim to believe in that very same God. Perhaps this person indicates she believes in “a” god, but not the specific God of religions. Well, this person is a deist, which is a relatively infrequent label people pin on themselves. My argument is, that person is an atheist. If you’re not a theist, if you don’t believe in a personal God who you can know and who can know you, who cares about you and is actively involved in the world, then you are not a theist, i.e. you’re “a”theistic.
I’m really not playing semantics here either. I’m not toying with definitions of words. Either you believe in one of the Gods of religions, whether it be Allah, Yahweh or the three-headed God of Christianity, or you don’t. Either you believe in the Lord Brahma and the potentially millions of other Gods of the Hindu faith, or you don’t. If the god you believe in is one of your own design, perhaps one you just feel in your heart, or choose to believe is out there because human beings don’t know everything and there is so much mystery in the Universe that a god solves these mysteries in your mind, then you’re not a theist. And if you’re not a theist, you’re an “a”theist.
Even the agnostic is an atheist in my view. The agnostic claims not to know one way or the other if there are gods or not. Well, that certainly is not acceptable in synagogues, churches and mosques. If you don’t know that the Bible’s God is the real deal, out there in Heaven reading your mind right now as easily as you are reading this post, then you’re not a Jew or a Christian. If you don’t know for sure that God whispered in The Prophet Mohammad’s ear and provided His final communication to mankind through him, then you’re not a Muslim. So the agnostic is clearly not a theist, which means, and I’m sure you know what I’m about to say, he’s an “a”theist.
The majority of the world’s people believe in some kind of gods. All I’m trying to say is that if you aren’t All In with a God described by one of the many religions in the world, if you just can’t buy into it, but still believe in some kind of invisible beings of great power, you’re unwittingly a deist, which in my book, is also an atheist.