How do theists define God
What are common misinterpretations of atheism?
From the series “There is no God and I am his prophet”.
From the origin of the word, A-theism literally reads: non-theism or negation of theism. Many also translate it as "without God" or "without the doctrine of God". So it is the logical opposite of theism, and almost all atheistic literature that I have read (more than 500 books) agrees with it and the definition derived from it.
The basic principle of theism in the sense of monotheism is religious belief in God. We don't talk about knowledge, we talk about belief, and there are good reasons for that. “Knowledge of and about God” is hardly ever spoken of, and most theists even admit that there is no such thing as “knowledge of God”.
Short inset: When it comes to monotheism, we are talking about a religion of faith. When the terms theism and atheism were coined, there was no religious faith in Greece. The mainstream religion was paganism, polytheism. In polytheism, however, one does not believe in gods - gods are part of nature and are part of experience. The god Poseidon is not an abstract spiritual entity, but a symbol of the capriciousness and power of the sea. The power of the sea and its capriciousness are not a question of belief, but a fact of experience. No one in their right mind would deny this if they have experience with the sea. Poseidon is a personification of a force of nature, or a human archetype, or a moral model described in myths. Those are the three definitions for gods. Since these are fundamentally different from monotheism, we cannot take the Greek term atheism and transfer it 1: 1. So it is misleading to take the pure etymology. In the early days of Christianity, the pagans accused Christians of atheism, of denying the gods of the (pagan) mainstream.
Minois explains in his "History of Atheism" that in Christianity an atheist was someone who did not orient his life according to God. Admittedly, hardly anyone professed atheism at the time because it would have had serious negative social consequences, but a constant theme in the sermons of the time was the condemnation of atheism. A distinction was made between “practical atheism”, i.e. that is, one was so preoccupied with worldly matters that there was simply no place for God in life, and "philosophical atheism" in which the existence of God was denied or contested or not unconditionally accepted.
In Christianity it was clear for the most part that an atheist is someone who lives “as if God did not exist”. In science this is called "methodical atheism"; That is, research is carried out “as if God did not exist”. Thereby the existence of God is not denied, but one does not base his explanations on God. Even the scientists of the Vatican observatory defend this stance - they too do science atheistically or “like atheists”, although they are devout priests (mostly Jesuits).
In almost all books on atheism by atheists, atheism is therefore defined as follows: Atheism is defined by the question "Do you believe in God?" The answer is "YES"If you are theist, the answer is"NO“You are an atheist. In case you don't know, confused, if you avoid the question, you are probably an agnostic.
I know of very few exceptions to this definition, insofar as philosophical atheists define it for themselves. That is why almost all atheists differentiate between “hard, positive, gnostic” atheism and “soft, negative, agnostic” atheism. The former also includes denying the existence of God, the latter is mainstream atheism. This also agrees with the majority of the definition of all atheists I know.
There is still “practical atheism”, which Christians also accuse other Christians from time to time: They live as if there were no God.
I know this because I belong to the small minority of positive, non-cognitive atheists. According to M. E. about 90% of atheists are agnostic atheists. Unfortunately, there are hardly any precise figures on this. Theists would like to turn all atheists into positive atheists, that would get rid of 90% of all atheists in one fell swoop and by definition. That is the motivation behind equating positive atheism with atheism itself.
The definition also depends heavily on the definition of God. To a pantheist, the definition of atheism is pretty pointless - like I don't believe the world really exists.
Almost all who call themselves agnostics are in fact "practical atheists". Plus, almost all of them are negative atheists. Atheism is not about knowledge, but about belief, almost all atheists agree on this.
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