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Atheist vs. Theist — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 15, 2024
An atheist does not believe in the existence of deities, while a theist believes in one or more gods or deities.
Atheist vs. Theist — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Atheist and Theist


Key Differences

An atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of any gods or deities. This lack of belief can be based on various reasons, such as the absence of empirical evidence or philosophical arguments against the existence of deities. A theist, on the other hand, holds a belief in the existence of one or more gods or deities. This belief can stem from religious teachings, personal experiences, or cultural traditions.
Atheism often involves a critical approach to religious doctrines and a preference for secular and humanistic values. Atheists may advocate for the separation of religion from public affairs and emphasize ethics and morality without reference to divine authority. Theists, however, typically integrate their belief in deities with their moral framework and worldview, often participating in religious practices and rituals.
Theist beliefs can provide a sense of purpose, community, and moral guidance, which are often derived from their religious traditions and scriptures. Atheists, conversely, may find purpose and meaning through personal, philosophical, or scientific avenues, emphasizing individual responsibility and collective human progress.

Comparison Chart

Belief in Deities

Does not believe in deities
Believes in one or more deities

Basis of Belief

Empirical evidence, rationality
Religious teachings, personal experiences


Secular, humanistic
Religious, faith-based


Ethics without divine authority
Morality often derived from divine guidance

Purpose and Meaning

Individual and scientific understanding
Religious traditions and scriptures

Compare with Definitions


A non-believer in any form of deity.
She identifies as an atheist and follows a secular ethical code.


A believer in a divine being or beings.
The theist community gathers for worship and fellowship regularly.


Someone who rejects the concept of deities.
The atheist argued that there is no empirical evidence for any gods.


A person who integrates belief in gods with their moral framework.
As a theist, he derives his sense of right and wrong from his religious beliefs.


A person who holds a disbelief in gods due to lack of evidence.
The atheist community often engages in discussions about secularism and rationality.


A person who believes in the existence of one or more gods.
As a theist, she prays daily and attends religious services.


An individual who adopts a naturalistic view of the world.
As an atheist, he finds meaning in human relationships and scientific discovery.


Someone who holds a belief in deities based on religious teachings.
The theist finds comfort and guidance in the sacred texts of his faith.


A person who does not believe in the existence of gods.
As an atheist, he relies on science to explain the origins of the universe.


Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.


Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.


One who believes in the existence of a god or gods.


(religion) A person who does not believe in deities.


One who believes in the existence of a God; especially, one who believes in a personal God; - opposed to atheist.


(narrowly) A person who believes that no deities exist one who has no other religious belief.


One who believes in the existence of a god or gods


(broadly) A person who rejects belief that any deities exist (whether or not that person believes that deities do not exist).


Of or relating to theism


(loosely) A person who has no belief in any deities, such as a person who has no concept of deities.


An individual who participates in religious practices.
The theist celebrates religious festivals and observes spiritual rituals.


(uncommon) A person who does not believe in a particular deity (or any deity in a particular pantheon), notwithstanding that they may believe in another deity.


(proscribed) A person who does not believe in any religion (not even a religion without gods)


Of or relating to atheists or atheism; atheistic.


To make someone an atheist.


One who disbelieves or denies the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being.


A godless person.


Someone who denies the existence of god


Related to or characterized by or given to atheism;
Atheist leanings

Common Curiosities

What is the main difference between an atheist and a theist?

An atheist does not believe in any gods, while a theist believes in one or more gods.

What are some forms of theism?

Forms of theism include monotheism (belief in one god), polytheism (belief in multiple gods), and pantheism (belief that the divine pervades the universe).

Can atheists have a moral code?

Yes, atheists often follow a secular moral code based on rationality and humanistic principles.

How do theists find purpose and meaning?

Theists often find purpose and meaning through their religious beliefs, teachings, and practices.

Can someone be spiritual but not theist?

Yes, some people identify as spiritual but do not believe in traditional deities, focusing instead on personal spiritual experiences.

Do atheists participate in any rituals?

Atheists generally do not participate in religious rituals but may engage in secular traditions and ceremonies.

What motivates theists in their daily lives?

Theists are often motivated by their religious beliefs, teachings, and the desire to align their actions with divine will.

Are all atheists also agnostics?

Not necessarily; atheism refers to a lack of belief in gods, while agnosticism addresses knowledge about the existence of gods. Some people may identify as both.

Do theists rely solely on faith?

While faith is central, theists may also draw on personal experiences, religious texts, and community traditions.

How do atheists view the concept of an afterlife?

Atheists typically do not believe in an afterlife, focusing instead on the present life and human legacy.

How do atheists explain the existence of the universe?

Atheists often rely on scientific theories, such as the Big Bang, to explain the origins of the universe.

Can atheists be part of religious communities?

Atheists generally do not belong to religious communities, but some may participate in secular or humanist groups.

Is atheism a religion?

No, atheism is a lack of belief in gods and does not have doctrines or rituals like a religion.

Do theists believe in miracles?

Many theists believe in miracles as acts of divine intervention.

Can atheists celebrate religious holidays?

Some atheists may celebrate cultural aspects of religious holidays without the religious connotations.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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