Atheism For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

Ask a religious person or an atheist to identify his or her belief and you’re unlikely to hear many different answers. Several labels can easily apply to one person, each emphasizing a different aspect of belief or a different degree of detail.

A few of the most common and useful descriptive terms or labels in and around atheism are

  • Atheist: A person who’s of the opinion that no supernatural god or gods exist.

  • Agnostic: One who doesn’t claim to know whether a god or gods exist, and often also thinks that it’s unknowable.

  • Freethinker: A person who holds opinions based on independent reasoning without the undue influence of authority, doctrine, or tradition.

  • Skeptic: Someone who withholds judgment until sufficient evidence is available.

  • Humanist: A person who believes that concerns in this world and this life are of primary importance. Sometimes used as a synonym for secular humanist, though not always. Someone can believe in God and heaven, for example, but still feel this life should be the main focus.

  • Secular humanist: A humanist who also asserts disbelief in the existence of a supernatural god.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Dale McGowan, PhD, writes the popular secular blog The Meming of Life, teaches secular parenting workshops across North America, and is executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a humanist charitable organization. He has been interviewed in major publications, such as Newsweek and the New York Times, and was 2008 Harvard Humanist of the Year.

This article can be found in the category: