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If you're not a theist or an atheist, what are you?

If you’re not a theist, a pantheist, or an atheist (or whatever else), what are you? In other words, if you don’t believe in god, and you don’t not believe in god, then what do you believe in? What if you just acknowledge that you’ll never know whether there is a god or not?

Posted: November 1st 2010

Dave Hitt www

If you’re that wishy-washy about it, then it’s not all that important to you and the specific label shouldn’t matter.

Posted: November 6th 2010

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Mike the Infidel www

Confused. It’s like saying that you bought a car that was both not blue and not not blue. If your car is not not blue, it’s blue.

Posted: November 5th 2010

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brian thomson www

If you don’t believe in god, then you are not believing in a god i.e. you’re an atheist. If you think you’ll never know (i.e. the question can not be answered), then you’re an agnostic, but that’s a different question. It’s a common misconception that agnostic is some kind of “neutral” middle ground between theism and atheism, but the two concepts are orthogonal: if you draw them on a chart, you get two axes at right angles to each other, as shown here.

Posted: November 5th 2010

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Stefan www

If you’re not a theist, by definition you are an atheist. Atheist just means “not a theist.”

Note that in common usage, people very often use the word “atheist” to mean “is certain that there is no god”. However that definition is simply false unless you are willing to use a different definition for the prefix “a-” just for the word “atheist”.

In other words, if you don’t believe in god, and you don’t not believe in god, then what do you believe in?

That’s impossible. You can either believe in something or not. If you’re unsure it means you don’t (currently) believe.

What if you just acknowledge that you’ll never know whether there is a god or not?

That would be a called a strong agnostic position. Strong agnostics can be theists (through faith) or atheists. As bitbutter points out in his answer, gnosticism refers to the state of knowledge rather than the state of belief.

Posted: November 5th 2010

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bitbutter www

If you’re not a theist then you’re an atheist. Those two options exhaust the possibilities. If you believe in gods, then you’re a theist. Otherwise you’re an atheist.

As well as being an atheist or theist, you might consider yourself an agnostic (a)theist, or a gnostic (a)theist. While atheism and theism talk about god belief, gnosticism and agnosticism describe stances towards knowledge about the (non)existence of gods.

Posted: November 4th 2010

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