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Theist vs. Atheist: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 9, 2023
A theist believes in the existence of at least one deity, while an atheist lacks belief in the existence of any deities.

Key Differences

A theist holds a belief in one or more deities, considering them central to the understanding of existence. An atheist, conversely, does not believe in any deities, viewing the universe without divine influence.
Theists often engage in religious practices and rituals related to their belief in a deity. Atheists do not participate in such practices as they do not subscribe to the belief in any deity.
Theism is often connected with philosophical viewpoints that include a deity or deities in understanding life's meaning. Atheism is linked with a secular or naturalistic view of the world, independent of divine beings.
Theism can be a part of cultural identity, influencing customs and traditions. Atheism, while diverse, often involves a cultural identity that is separate from religious traditions.
Theists may derive moral values from their religious beliefs. Atheists typically view morality as a human construct, not reliant on religious doctrines.

Comparison Chart

Belief in Deity

Believes in one or more deities.
Does not believe in any deities.

Engagement in Religion

Often engages in religious practices.
Does not engage in religious practices.


May view the world through a spiritual or religious lens.
Views the world through a secular or naturalistic lens.

Moral Framework

May base morality on religious teachings.
Bases morality on secular or humanistic principles.

Cultural Influence

Often influenced by religious culture and traditions.
Influenced by secular or non-religious culture.

Theist and Atheist Definitions


A person who believes in the existence of a deity or deities.
As a theist, she often attended temple services.


A person who rejects theistic claims about the existence of a deity.
The atheist argued for a separation of church and state.


Someone who adheres to the beliefs of a specific religion.
The theist followed the rituals of his faith diligently.


An individual who bases understanding of the universe on science and reason.
The atheist relied on empirical evidence to understand the world.


An individual whose worldview includes divine beings or forces.
The theist in the discussion argued for a spiritual aspect to life.


An individual who lacks belief in gods or divine beings.
The atheist participated in a debate about the existence of gods.


A believer in a god or gods, as opposed to an atheist.
The theist debated religious topics with his atheist friend.


A person who does not believe in the existence of any deities.
As an atheist, she valued scientific explanations over religious ones.


A person who holds a belief in a higher power or spiritual realm.
The theist found comfort in the idea of a caring deity.


Someone who subscribes to a secular or non-religious worldview.
The atheist found moral guidance in philosophical humanism.


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.


(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


Can a theist belong to any religion?

Yes, theists can belong to various religions, each with different concepts of deity.

Are atheists against religion?

Not necessarily; atheists simply do not believe in deities, but their views on religion can vary.

Do atheists believe in an afterlife?

Atheists generally do not believe in an afterlife, focusing on the material world.

Can atheists have moral values?

Yes, atheists can and do have moral values, often based on secular or humanistic principles.

Can a person be a theist without belonging to an organized religion?

Yes, one can believe in a deity without adhering to a specific religion.

What defines a theist?

A theist is someone who believes in one or more deities.

What is an atheist?

An atheist is a person who lacks belief in any deities.

Do theists always participate in religious rituals?

While many do, it's not a requirement; belief in a deity is the key aspect.

Is theism based on faith or evidence?

Theism often involves faith, though some theists also cite personal or philosophical evidence.

How do theists and atheists approach existential questions?

Theists may use religious teachings, while atheists rely on secular or scientific explanations.

What leads a person to atheism?

Various factors, including personal experiences, logical reasoning, and scientific understanding.

Can atheists be spiritual?

Some atheists identify as spiritual, finding meaning in nature or human experience.

Is atheism a belief system?

Atheism is not a belief system but a lack of belief in deities.

Are all theists monotheistic?

No, theism includes monotheism (belief in one god) and polytheism (belief in multiple gods).

Can atheists celebrate religious festivals?

Atheists may participate in cultural aspects of religious festivals without religious belief.

Are there different types of atheism?

Yes, atheism ranges from passive lack of belief to active denial of deities.

Can a person's belief change from theism to atheism or vice versa?

Yes, individuals' beliefs can change over time due to new experiences or reflections.

Do atheists form communities?

Yes, atheists often form communities based on shared secular values and interests.

Do theists believe in science?

Many theists embrace science, integrating it with their religious beliefs.

How do theists view the universe?

Theists may view the universe as created or governed by a deity or deities.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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