The Six Types Of Nonbelievers: Which Are You?

atheists(If you happen to be a nonbeliever, that is.) Via CNN, researchers Christopher Silver and Thomas Coleman interviewed atheists and formed a Cosmo-quiz-style typology of six distinct groups:

  • Intellectual atheist/agnostic – This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism. They like debating and arguing.
  • Activist – These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.
  • Seeker-agnostic – People who are unsure about the existence of a God but keep an open mind and recognize the limits of human knowledge and experience. That doesn’t mean this group is confused, the researchers say. They just embrace uncertainty.
  • Anti-theist – This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote.
  • Non-theist – The smallest group are people who do not involve themselves with either religion or anti-religion. In many cases, this comes across as apathy or disinterest. “A Non-Theist simply does not concern him or herself with religion,” Silver and Coleman wrote.
  • Ritual atheist – They don’t believe in God or associate with religion, but this type of nonbeliever still finds useful the teachings of some religious traditions. “They see these as more or less philosophical teachings of how to live life and achieve happiness than a path to transcendental liberation,” Silver and Coleman wrote. Their adherence to ritual may stem from family traditions or respect for the “profound symbolism” inherent within religious rituals, beliefs and ceremonies.

24 Comments on "The Six Types Of Nonbelievers: Which Are You?"

  1. All the above at varying degrees depending on the day, hour, etc. Also none of the above for the same reasons.

  2. jamal iraqi | Jul 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm |

    I wish you list the type of believers… We would get terms like killers, warmongers, psychopaths, radicals, militants and pedophiles within the descriptions.. And you wonder why militant atheists exist?

  3. Bill_Swensen | Jul 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

    I’m a full on Buddhist and believe everything is true in a multidimensional multi-paradoxical subjective multiverse. But that’s just me.

    • Oleksiy Romanov | Jul 19, 2013 at 6:36 pm |

      Multi-paradoxical???? Owwwwww my eyes are covered in thesaurus-semen. Please stop jerking it off.

  4. bobbiethejean | Jul 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

    I think I have gone through all of these at one point since realizing that there is not likely a magical man in the sky who cares intimately about the goings on in my personal life. At this point, I am an intermittent-apatheist. I don’t give a shit unless someone starts trying to rub their christardation all over me.

    • what about when you rub “liberal” biased tool-making ideology all over anyone else?

      • bobbiethejean | Jul 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm |

        As the great Stephen Colbert says, reality has a well known liberal bias. So I’m sure it is perfectly ok to rub it all over people. It’ll be just like getting a dose of reality! 🙂

        • a very cute sentiment, but liberal was in quotations because, from the very short amount of information you post about your ideology, it is not liberal at all, but the perspective of the control-freak paradigm that is running rampant in our civilization.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do | Jul 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

      Spastic Jesus loves you.

  5. jasonpaulhayes | Jul 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm |

    What about Militant Atheism? I’m all for personal and interpersonal meditative practices and disciplines. Its religions many clandestine global agendas and imposing religion upon a people I take issue with.

  6. Eric_D_Read | Jul 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm |

    I guess I’m mostly a combination of Ritual Atheist and Seeker Agnostic.

    • Pretty much the same, I hate that I can be classified…but it is a loose classification and I have to admit they’re both relatively true. I used to be more of a ritual atheist, but they really nailed me when they mentioned seeker-agnostics and ‘uncertainty’. It’s very near a quote I use regularly…celebrating uncertainty as a fine state of being.

      • Monkey See Monkey Do | Jul 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

        Ritual anti-atheist/theist and Founder-agnostic here. Man these labels get tiring.

        • I know…they’re like fashionable name tags that have to be changed out every so often. I usually settle for just saying “Sure…I believe in a divine being and purpose to the universe…I just don’t think that the Creator is a hormonaly imbalanced kneejerk reactionary with shitty aim and a murder-boner.”

  7. I was an atheist and then a non-theist until I heard some religious person say that everyone has a god – for some it is themselves or money and so on.
    Although that sentiment is annoying (always contrasting the speakers own theism with selfishness or materialism when its made) it got me thinking, is there really nothing that I worship?
    In fact there is – friendship, sunshine, love, compassion. None of these are perfect but then only certain religions claim their God/s are perfect. So I guess I am a theist whose gods are emergent phenomenom of a complex but fundamentally material world.
    Or not. Self-classification is kinda tiresome anyway.
    I do think though that theologians often pose very interesting philosophical questions – I just translate God to be something like “the ultimate ideal” or “organising principles of the universe”.

    • yaaa. Self-classification is rather tiresome 🙂
      and at the end, all I come up with is that im not a single-dimensional being. So i think and feel differently about things at diff times.

  8. mauriziojuvefc | Jul 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

    thats nice

  9. The article doesn’t cover everything. I’m certain there is some governing authority over the universe, but just can’t grasp what it is. God is an ambiguous term. What is God? We will never know that answer until we die. I’m certain God is more abstract than what we were taught. I believe in a oneness. That’s where I am in my thinking nowadays,

  10. rhetorics_killer | Jul 19, 2013 at 12:43 am |

    This classification surely makes an important difference between those who confuse in a single idea religion and god on one hand, and those who differentiate these two ideas on the other hand. The quality of the debate is always influenced by the fact of these very distinct ways. Many ‘atheists’ are so because they reject a religious education; this is by the way another way for catching the fact that religious education threatens free-thinking. and does damage the very essence of the intellect.

  11. I don’t believe in quizzes, as well.

  12. emperorreagan | Jul 19, 2013 at 10:25 am |

    I am going to make a giant wheel of beliefs, spin it every Monday, and believe whatever it says for the entire week.

    • Tuna Ghost | Jul 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

      “wheel of convictions, turn turn turn…show us the theology we should learn”

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