Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Antitheism Differs from Atheism

The two most common terms to describe non-believers are "Atheist" and "Agnostic", although in my mind the line between the two is blurred somewhat by the fact that both atheists and agnostics lack a belief in god:
Atheist: Someone who denies the existence of god.

Agnostic: A person who claims that they cannot have true knowledge about the existence of god (but does not deny that god might exist).
As for me, I prefer the term "Antitheist", which means:
Active opposition to the belief in the existence of a God
There's a great page up on Wikipedia that goes into depth on how antitheism differs from atheism.

The basic gist, however, is that an antitheist is actively opposed to the idea of god and the religions that spring from once people start believing in god. As Wikipedia puts it:
Antitheism may be adopted as a label by those who take the view that theism is destructive.
This is where I come out. I don't just lack a belief in god, I actively subscribe to the idea that a belief in god and religion is inherently destructive and causes untold suffering.

Here's Christopher Hitchens:
I'm not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Monitor:

You give a definition of atheism as "Someone who denies the existence of god." Which may be the case for some atheists, but given your later comment: "I don't just lack a belief in god...", which is how I describe myself, doesn't that make your definition of an atheist too restrictive?

I am also an antitheist, btw. :-)

Monitor said...

Hmm, an interesting nuance. Thanks for the comment.