33 thoughts on “types of atheism

  1. Arkenaten says:

    Just reading the title puts me off! Types of atheism?
    I glimpsed the article. I’ll stick with one definition thanks all the same.
    Why complicate something that is straightforward?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron says:

      Agreed! Atheism addresses a solitary proposition: “do you believe in gods?” with the simple answer “No, I don’t.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • makagutu says:

        There are people who tend to argue that the position adopted by atheists has real world implications & as such much more need to be said about it. For example, and it seems to me they start from a religious conception of the world, that if there are no god, how does one explain our being here.
        The problem with this question, first is that it makes an assumption that positing gods suffice as an explanation

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ron says:

          One of those real world implications is that of adopting personal accountability — i.e. we’re tasked with taking charge of our lives rather than passing the responsibility off to some unseen and unexplained cosmic entity.

          Comedian Emo Philips sums it up nicely:

          I pray a simple prayer every morning. It’s an ecumenical prayer. Whether you’re Catholic or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu, I think it speaks to the heart of every faith. It goes “Lord please break the laws of the universe for my convenience. Amen.”


    • makagutu says:

      It can earn you money, don’t you know


  2. I’m a “Chef Atheist”. I cook Christian infants to feed other atheists. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. renudepride says:

    The synopsis reads interesting as I suppose there are varying degrees of shared disbelief. The word “awkward” caused me to pause. Any book or dissertation that is awkward to read…well, life is awkward enough without having to read awakwardly! Happy 2019, my Kenyan brother! Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. keithnoback says:

    As a negation of theism, atheism does tend to reflect the inconsistencies of its antithesis, like vague and shifting definitions of God, metaphysical mash-ups, and conflation of religion (cultural practice) with theism (specific set of propositions).
    Not surprising.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jim- says:

    All of us came here via different routes and ideas and conclusions, all equally valid I might add. Seven? There’s already seven different types here in the comment section. Happy new year! All the best Mak.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jeroen Bouterse writes:

    Of the seven types Gray distinguishes, only two – its more withdrawn, Epicurean or mystical manifestations – get a positive review. One other version (‘God-haters’) is interesting but also confused, hardly atheistic, and of course evil. The remaining four types are primarily variations upon the theme of the naive progressivist: people who think they have left behind monotheistic religion, but who have in fact replaced it with a new God: humanity, or some proxy to humanity – science, or progress, or Enlightenment, or secular political utopia.

    George Scialabba critiqued John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism thusly – from: https://newrepublic.com/article/151144/bad-faith-book-review-john-gray-seven-types-atheism

    God’s inexplicable reticence has always made life difficult for theists. John Gray thinks that such problems with theism shouldn’t make most atheists any more confident about their own outlook. Gray is professor emeritus of European thought at the London School of Economics, a prolific author (Seven Types of Atheism is his 22nd book), and a columnist for the New Statesman. He was briefly a Thatcherite, then became a critic of free-market fundamentalism, then (briefly, again) a New Labourite, though he strongly opposed (and was acutely prescient about) the Iraq war. Since around 2003 he has turned from political theory and current affairs to a more philosophical, even prophetic, vein, producing numerous short books that take a very long—and glum—view of Western intellectual history.

    A similar argument runs through all these later books, including Seven Types of Atheism. The secular, progressive, rationalist ideologies of the West are so much “spilt theology.” The expectation that science, or more generally knowledge, will transform the human condition is a form of Gnosticism, the esoteric doctrine that the world is ruled by an evil demiurge, whom only those in possession of secret, saving knowledge can defeat. The belief that humankind will eventually achieve lasting peace and happiness merely recapitulates Christianity’s salvation history, in which the People of God will be redeemed at the end of days. Very few, mostly marginal figures, in either East or West, have achieved the detachment and disenchantment that would signal a genuine break with religious thinking. Most atheists have instead “searched for a surrogate Deity to fill the hole left by the God that has departed.”


    Seven Types of Atheism does not offer a rigorous or exhaustive taxonomy of nonbelief. The seven sections mainly provide a convenient way of organizing Gray’s likes and (more often) dislikes. He starts with a chapter on the New Atheists, who have poured scorn on the more obvious logical difficulties and historical implausibilities of dogmatic religion. Even the New Atheists’ admirers must admit that they sometimes display more zeal than finesse, and that they give a general impression of punching down. Gray’s contempt for these contemporary would-be philosophes is such that he can barely bring himself to refer to them by name. The likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are, he judges, “mostly a media phenomenon and best appreciated as a type of entertainment.”

    And, he concludes:

    As long as so much of what we see is unnecessary suffering, we cannot be content with the world as we find it. Of course we should keep Gray’s cautions well in mind. The catastrophic revolutionary ideologies of the past were ersatz religions. Scientific utopias and promises to transform the human condition deserve the deepest suspicion. Moral and political progress are always subject to reversal. Humans are animals; human nature is riven with conflicts; reason is a frail reed. But even if we can’t set the cosmos right, we can’t leave our corner of it the way it is. Whatever else may be an illusion, other people’s suffering is not.


  7. gray just seem like the typical twit who wants to pretend he is better than anyone, and is desperate for any external validation to support his delusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Eric Alagan says:

    He says “Most Atheists Just Don’t Get It” – and he is right.

    Most environmentalists don’t get it too. Perhaps I’ll write a book on that theme.

    P/s Most peaceniks don’t get it too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. shelldigger says:

    Well I can tell you just from the title I have little interest in reading it… Obviously there are way more than 7 types of atheist, I know several and none are exactly the same. So I see it failing on its premise. If someone found a way to catergorize us into 7 groups, good for them I suppose, but I doubt we all will agree we fit the molds we are claimed to be in.

    We all have little interest in the invisible friends people have made for themselves, that we have in common. But we all arrived at our conclusions by a different road. What matters is, we got there.

    If there is a book that needs written it is the Divine One’s cookbook.


  10. violetwisp says:

    I went to see the author give a talk on the book and found it really interesting, although perhaps not enough to follow it up with a purchase. He had a nice approach to not believing in gods and the summary of his classifications was amusing and informative in many ways. Classifications are always up for revision, and it’s useful to start somewhere.


  11. Ron says:

    Out of curiosity I checked out the preview to see which seven types of atheism he had discovered and here they are (listed in point form for readability) :

    The first of them – the so-called ‘new atheism’ – contains little that is novel or interesting. After the first chapter, I will not refer to it again.

    The second type is secular humanism, a hollowed-out version of the Christian belief in salvation in history.

    Third, there is the kind of atheism that makes a religion from science, a category that includes evolutionary humanism, Mesmerism, dialectical materialism and contemporary transhumanism.

    Fourth, there are modern political religions, from Jacobinism through communism and Nazism to contemporary evangelical liberalism.

    Fifth, there is the atheism of God-haters such as the Marquis de Sade, Dostoevsky’s fictional character Ivan Karamazov and William Empson himself.

    Sixth, I will consider the atheisms of George Santayana and Joseph Conrad, which reject the idea of a creator-god without having any piety towards ‘humanity’.

    Seventh and last, there are the mystical atheism of Arthur Schopenhauer and the negative theologies of Benedict Spinoza and the early twentieth-century Russian-Jewish fideist Leo Shestov, all of which in different ways point to a God that transcends any human conception.

    I have no interest in converting anyone to or from any of these types of atheism. But my own preferences will be clear. Repelled by the first five varieties, I am drawn to the last two, atheisms that are happy to live with a godless world or an unnameable God.

    To me this represents little more than mental masturbation: take someone without god beliefs, add a philosophical or ideological worldview, et voilà — you have a new type of atheism. I’ll pass.


  12. Nan says:

    What a waste of time. Why does atheism need to be sorted into “types”? You are or you aren’t. But hey … if it adds to the author’s bank account, I suppose it’s a “worthy effort.”


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