Atheism According To Spong

Question from Geoffrey:
Bishop John Shelby Spong defines an atheist as someone who disagrees with the theistic explanation of God. Do you agree? That seems to make all non-theists myself included an atheist.

Answer by SmartLX:
Based on former Bishop Spong’s definition, that’s the implication. Spong’s own position, however, is almost entirely unique and therefore not a very secure basis for generalisations.

Spong’s stated opinions on Christian doctrine reject theism by name, and place him well outside most people’s definitions of a Christian. It’s difficult to determine from his online writings what if anything he thinks God is, but it’s nothing like the supernatural being we all imagine in some form.

I might agree that an atheist is simply someone who is not a theist from the words alone, if not for the existence of deists. A deist believes in a god, but not the interventionist gods of theists. The fact that “theist” and “deist” come from the Greek and Latin words for “god” (theos and deus respectively) makes the modern definitions somewhat confusing, but there you have it.

I think everyone’s a theist, a deist or an atheist. Some agnostics may disagree with me there, or even be quite annoyed at this statement, but even an agnostic – who by definition does not know or even thinks it’s impossible to know whether there are gods – either believes in at least one god or does not believe in any (which is not the same as believing there are none). I’m an agnostic atheist myself.

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