What is the difference between atheists and anti-theists?

by Matt Slick

There is a distinct difference between an atheist and an anti-theist. First of all, there are several variations of atheists. Some state they lack belief in God. By this they mean that they neither affirm nor deny God's existence; they don't have a position either way. There are atheists who don't know if God exists, and there are others who doubt he does. Then there are atheists who are stronger in their denial and believe that God does not exist. Atheists generally cite lack of evidence for God's existence and will sometimes relate, particularly here in America, the behavior of the God of the Old Testament with antiquated cultures that are not relevant for today. Nevertheless, we could categorize these kinds of atheists into four main areas:

  1. Those who lack belief
  2. Those who don't know if God exists
  3. Those who doubt that God exists
  4. Those who believe God does not exist


An anti-theist would be someone who not only believes that God does not exist but also is against the idea of God's existence. He would oppose religion. Just as there are varieties of atheists, there are varieties of anti-theists. Some anti-theists oppose the idea of God but don't do much about it. Then there are those who assert that any belief in God is harmful to society, and the proper thing to do is reduce harm by openly attacking and denouncing theistic beliefs with the aim of eradicating all religion. Of course, this makes no sense since they can't demonstrate that "reducing harm" is the "right" thing to do. They just assume it is proper and act accordingly. Anti-theists, like atheists, don't have any objective moral standard.

Anyway, atheists have no belief in any god or gods (weak atheism), where anti-theists work against the idea of God's existence (strong atheism). All anti-theists are atheists, but not all atheists are anti-theists.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.