Labels in Atheism - dummies

By Dale McGowan

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.