Comment: Definitions, definitions

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Definitions, definitions

They always make the difference, because the answer to your question is both yes and no, though even that needs elaboration.

'Atheist' has two prime uses.
1 A person who does not believe in a god.
2 A person who believes that there are no gods.

I'm sure you can see how those are quite different.
Essentially, it's a matter of the individual's certainty in answering the question. Some people will automatically understand/know that nothing is certain, at least as far as the so-called ultimate questions (or perhaps applied even further.) While you might jump to call them agnostic, a person who does not believe in any god is technically an atheist regardless of how much they feel they do or don't know.

On the other hand, the second use -can be- interpreted as a religious position, being that it posits to answer one of said ultimate questions, and because it's a position of faith. You don't ultimately know with certainty that there are no gods, therefor making such a claim is impossible without faith or at least unrealistically exhaustive research because it's extremely difficult to prove a negative, especially one where the goalposts can always be shifted.

However, as a religion, atheism (or anti-theism) is very weak and hardly counts as a religion. Not because atheists aren't activist and don't interact with each other, or because there aren't many of them, but because atheists themselves don't even consider themselves a religion, they generally don't devote that much time to being an atheist, and there are no guidelines, rules, restrictions, laws, decrees, rulers, codes, rituals, or anything else that you might find in a traditional religion. The only comparison is that they're concerned with the same question "to God or not to God," and they both hold a position which requires faith, or belief without the possibility of even functional certainty.

Others have proposed a scale instead of worrying about which words to use, and perhaps that works even better. For example, there are 9 stances, #1 being, "I know for certain that a god exists," #9 being, "I know for certain that no god exists," and #5 being, "I have drawn no conclusion in either direction."

Personally, I'm an 8. I am not absolutely certain there is no god, I am however certain that a god's existence is very improbable. Probably about as improbable as the Matrix existing or everything I experience being a dream state during a long coma I'm in. There's zero evidence for any of those scenarios.

Finally, everyone who is religious is also an atheist (by definition #2 above) for every other religion except the one they believe. They (believe they) know that all those other religions are wrong. The only difference between that person and a definition #2 atheist is that the atheist takes their atheism one god further. Neither of us believe in Zeus or Krishna.