There seems to be a huge amount of confusion surrounding the definitions of the words atheist, agnostic, and anti-theist, among others, so in this post I’m going to attempt to sort out this confusion and offer my knowledge on what these terms mean, and how they should be used.
Now lots of people prefer to call themselves ‘agnostics’ instead of atheists, but in reality most atheists are agnostics anyway. Atheism deals with belief, whereas agnosticism deals with knowledge. The way I see it, you can’t just be an agnostic – it’s all well and good saying you don’t know, but that doesn’t deal with the question of whether you believe or not. You have to be either an agnostic atheist, or an agnostic theist.
Atheism is specifically defined as a disbelief in deities, so therefor does not say that you believe that there is no God. That would be Gnostic atheism, or as far as my knowledge goes, anti-theism. But anti-theism itself can mean a range of things, from holding the belief that there is no God, to just actively opposing theism.
Sometimes there is the misconception that atheists believe that life is meaningless, but atheism doesn’t even cover that either. The correct terminology for someone like that would be Nihlism, which is the rejection of all religious or moral principles and the belief that life is meaningless.
Now all of this seems like a lot of terminology and confusion, and, as one of my earlier posts showcased, it can get a bit complicated. Some may think that it is better to abandon all of these seemingly pointless little classifications altogether, but someone on YouTube brought up a very good point a few weeks ago, which is that these labels, while seemingly annoying, help to better define a group of people into subsections for easier identification. This may all seem obvious to some, but after being around a lot of people that hold the view that we should abandon all of these little labels, it came as a sort of revelation to me.
What are your thoughts on the matter?