Why do theists conflate atheism with rejection of God?

When I meet and converse with some theists, they start by asking “Why do you reject God?”. This is perplexing, because in order to reject God, you have to believe in him first.

I do not reject God, because I have no proof he exists or does not exist. Reason says there is no need for a God, but can’t utterly rule His existence out.

Is there a term for someone who believes in God, but rejects him?

Atheism means “Without Deity” or, in modern parlance, “Without Belief in God”.

Posted: October 3rd 2008

flagellant www

If Theists accuses you of rejecting God, it is because they are working from a premise that you do not accept and one that is, in any case, open to dispute.

It is perfectly reasonable to argue that it is very unlikely that there is a God because there’s no objective evidence for one. For Theists to postulate the existence of God and then accuse you of rejecting him may be dishonest.

However, to give Theists the benefit of the doubt, it may be that Theists do not completely understand the soft atheist position: that it is very, very unlikely that there is a God, but one cannot completely rule out the possibility. It is, after all, very difficult to produce evidence for God’s 'non-existence’. Atheists therefore challenge the opposition to produce their evidence. Of course, there is none if we all understand the meaning of the word 'evidence’ correctly.

I’m not aware of any term for someone who believes in God but rejects him. In many ways, that would be anomalous. There are examples, though, of people who believe in God but curse him. These are to be found in the Bible and in literature, from times when non-belief was unthinkable.

Posted: October 9th 2008

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Dave Hitt www

Some theists can’t imagine functioning without their god, and so can’t accept that someone can be an atheist. Since non-belief is beyond their comprehension, they have to resort to justifications like “atheists are rejecting god,” “no atheists in foxholes,” “atheists are their own gods” and similar nonsense. Debating with such folks is usually a waste of time, although it can be entertaining.

Posted: October 8th 2008

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Reed Braden www

Is there a term for someone who believes in God, but rejects him?

I would say anti-theist would be the proper term, since it means “against god”. However, Christopher Hitchens and a few others popularised the term with the meaning “against the concept of god”.

Some would say that this falls under Satanism, but most Satanists (LaVeyan Satanists, mostly) are just Atheists with black robes and candles and a wee touch of mascara, so that’s a difficult categorisation too.

If those individuals would like to form a very depressing group and vote on a unique name for themselves they are certainly welcome to do so, but I don’t think there is currently a name for them

Posted: October 8th 2008

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brian thomson www

The best way to answer your main question would be to ask the Theist(s) in question why they believe what they believe. It’s not my place to speak for them, any more than it is theirs to speak for me. (I hate it when they say “Atheists are…”, so I don’t say “Theists are… )

I have a couple of theories, though:

  • failure of imagination: if you truly believe in one god, to you there are no other gods anyway – so atheism can only be rejection of your god.
  • since Theists reject all gods but their own (they say), they only clash with atheists when it comes to belief in their god. We share disbelief in all the others, so it’s not a source of conflict.

As for your last question: Theists generally label themselves based on what they do believe, not on what they don’t. Christians recite a Creed at every Mass, and there is no space in there for personal interpretation. Partial acceptance of it is not an option – it’s all or nothing, by design. If you accept it all, you are a member of that branch of Christianity, and if you don’t, well, you’re not, and should find a different Church. You’re not short of choices – or, as many have done… start your own!

Posted: October 4th 2008

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SmartLX www

People like this don’t actually think there’s such a thing as an atheist, and that’s just the name people who don’t want God to exist give to themselves.

The name for someone who believes in God and rejects Him is simply a theist-in-denial, which is exactly how they want to think of you.

Posted: October 4th 2008

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