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Six Types of Atheists?

When I think of atheists, I think of …well…atheists!  People who believe that it is provable that God does not exist (in contrast to agnostics who say we cannot know whether or not God exists).  When I think of atheists I generally think of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris…those who work to become famous by promoting how strongly they can state their atheism.

But my wife pointed me today to an article on CNN noting (or at last advocating) that there are six types of atheists. 

I kind of knew instinctively that lumping all types of atheists into one category was not accurate or helpful, but had never thought it out quite like this.  I am not a fan of listing agnostics under the category of atheists.  They are definitionally different—one is a statement of empirical certainty and the other is a statement of empirical uncertainty.

Anyway, according to the CNN article they are:

  1. Intellectual atheist/agnostic
  2. Activist
  3. Seeker-agnostic
  4. Anti-theist
  5. Non-theist
  6. Ritual theist

The article arises from a study by Christopher F. Silver of the University of Tennessee as a part of his doctoral project.  He calls it a “first stab”, noting that eventually there may be 32 different types of atheists. 

An interesting read.

For the CNN article click here.

For a more in-depth look at the study itself, click here.


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