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I am running a poll to establish the most common definition of atheism from twitter atheists. I consider that twitter represents the common layperson view in contrast to the more philosophical specialist view and want to have some sort of idea of how that relates to atheism. Initially my goal is to do this from a sample of 100 responses to asking atheists to define what atheism mean to them but I might well extend it beyond that number. Here are the results so far that I will continue to update. I have not identified the people who have responded but given only their response. Please feel free to contribute to this poll if you have not already.

Here are the results which I have categorised into:

 Definite Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods)

Suggestive of Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods)

Definite Strong Atheism (denial or assertion no gods exist)

Suggestive of Strong Atheism (denial of or assertion no gods exist)

*Disbelief in gods


*I have put this in a section of itself for two reasons. Firstly, some atheists are reflecting there is both an active and passive ‘disbelief’, one which would be supportive of weak atheism (passive disbelief) and the other of strong atheism (active disbelief). Given this it is unclear in what sense the word is being used. Secondly, I believe that atheists using this are equating it with weak atheism not realising it could well speak of strong atheism.

Definite Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods:

  1. “Atheism: lack of a belief in the existence of a God or gods”

  2. “Atheism means a lack of belief in god”

  3. “atheism is, all by itself, nothing more than the lack of belief in god(s)”.

  4. “lack of belief in gods”.

  5. “The lack of belief in God or gods”.

  6. “Lack of belief in God or gods.. nothing more, nothing less!”.

  7. “Odd, it was a single definition for me: a lack of belief in gods”.

  8. “..atheism isn’t a knowledge claim. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in god(s)”

  9. “Lack of belief gods. I consider that the definition because it applies to all variations of #atheists”.

  10. “A lack of belief in gods or other superstitions.”.

  11. “an absence of belief in the idea that there are gods, or any other form of being, responsible for our creation + existence”.

  12. “The lack of belief in a god, of course”

  13. ” A lack of belief in god”.

  14. “The lack of belief in the existence of a god or gods”.

  15. “A- means without and theism means belief in god/s > “without a belief in gods”

  16. ” Absence of belief in god”.

  17. “Simply a disbelief or an absence of belief in the existence of a god or gods”

  18. “Absence of belief in gods”.

  19. “Lacks belief in God(s)

  20. “lacks belief in any gods”.

Suggestive of Weak Atheism (lack of belief in gods)

  1. “Yes, atheism is the default position when you are born… Just like the lack of belief that America exists”.

  2. “I guess it’s the disbelief in gods due to the fact that the proof for gods hasn’t actually been demonstrated. I’m not denying gods existence. I just don’t think there’s adequate grounds for belief in them. I think that’s within the bounds of the dictionary term for atheism, maybe creeping into agnosticism definition”

  3. “Atheism=The opposite of theism or not a theist.”.

  4. “non-belief in an unprovable invisible non-entity. Also belief in the reality of our brief existence on Earth”.

  5. “Atheist – one who does not believe in a god.”

  6. “A word for ‘not believing in gods’ that theists try to limit to suit their agenda”

  7. “For me it’s not believing in any deity, whether that be the christian god, Allah, buddah, I simply don’t believe any exist”.

  8. “Not believing in God or Gods”.

Definite Strong Atheism (denial or assertion no gods exist)

  1. “no god no devil no church…..religion is an alternative lifestyle not the “truth”

  2. “the absolute denial of the existence of God or any other gods”.

  3. “as an atheist,I simply define it as believing there is no god,no higher power. Anything beyond that is unique to each atheist”.

Suggestive of Strong Atheism (denial or assertion no gods exist)

  1. “a state of mind that is not defined by a divine that does not exist”.

  2. “n rejection of belief in God or gods”.

  3. “fairly consistent theme here isn’t there? We have examined theistic claims and rejected them due to lack of evidence”.

  4. “rejection of a person/creator”.

  5. “rejection of theistic faith is #atheism”.

  6. ” the rejection of the claim of god or gods existence (usually through lack of evidence & evidence to the contrary)”

Disbelief in God or Gods

  1. “Disbelief in the existence of God or Gods. But I wouldn’t go as far as that. I want to know what “God” is first.”

  2. “Simply a disbelief or an absence of belief in the existence of a god or gods”

  3. atheism = nontheism … the idea that “god exists” is unevidenced and therefore unwarranted (disbelief)”.

  4. I define atheism as disbelief in gods”.


  1. “Assigning the same reality test to the idea of religion & the supernatural that I do to everything else in life”.

  2. A lack of acceptance of theistic claims as truth”.

  3. the complete absence of falsifiable evidence that supports any claim for the existence of God (or gods)”.

  4. “No proof or reason to believe a god or gods exist”.


On the evidence gleaned from this very limited poll I think it’s reasonable to conclude that a lack of belief in gods (or some variation of the same idea) is the most common definition of atheism for layperson atheists.


Comments on: "Poll of Twitter Atheists on Definition of Atheism" (6)

  1. These people do more or less say the same thing. In order to do anything with your research you are going to have to create categories to group these responses in.

    What are you going to do with this information once you have it?

  2. If you want to see a wide variety of answers, ask Christians to define Christianity.

  3. I missed this Twitter poll. I define atheism as disbelief in gods. This doesn’t imply certainty, atheism doesn’t mean that one is certain there is no god, they just don’t believe it. To not believe something one must only assign a less than 50% probability of it’s existence.

    • See my above comments in the article on the word ‘disbelief’. It’s too vague as it can be used to suggest support for strong atheism or weak atheism.

  4. One problem I see with this is that even if twitter atheists are common folk atheists, they don’t operate in a vacuum. If you notice many of them are virtually advertising their atheism in their little blurb about themselves.

    What I mean is even if they aren’t philosophically “heady”, they influence one another and are influenced by the notable atheists like Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens et al.

    From my experience in countless interactions with atheists on the internet is they have been significantly “trained” by their loose associations. So when you ask them for a definition you end up getting a definition which will inevitably alleviate themselves from having to defend their view.

    I suspect you will receive zero votes for “atheism is the belief that no gods exist”. You will get variations of lacking belief, some other lofty vague definition where they believe they can justly say they have nothing to prove.

    Ultimately the definition is what it is. Its modern popular usage is new and foreign to its traditional understanding. The definition has always been the belief that no gods exist. Good luck though.

  5. Rule #34!

    Other than that, it depends on what time of day it is, whom I’m speaking to etc. but I will probably use all of these where they fit the conversation.

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