Definition of Practical Atheism


Practical atheism is defined as disbelief in or rejection of gods as a matter of practice if not necessarily theory. This definition of practical atheism focuses on the idea that one disregards belief in gods and the existence of gods in day-to-day living but doesn't necessarily reject the existence of gods when it comes to professed beliefs.

Thus a person might profess theism, but in practice be closer to atheism. Because of this there is some overlap with pragmatic atheism and apatheism. The main difference between pragmatic atheism and practical atheism is that pragmatic atheism is adopted for philosophical reasons while practical atheism seems to be adopted simply because it's easiest.

The concept of practical atheism has been used by some religious theists to describe all those theists who technically believe in a god but who behave immorally. The assumption is that moral behavior follows automatically from genuine theism, thus immoral behavior is a consequence of not genuinely believing. Theists who behave immorally must really be atheists, regardless of what they believe. The term 'practical atheism' is thus intended a smear against atheism generally.

Also Known As: apatheism, pragmatic atheism

Alternate Spellings: practical athiesm


"Practical atheists [according to Jacques Maritain] “believe that they believe in God (and... perhaps believe in Him in their brains but... in reality deny His existence by each one of their deeds.”
- George Smith,

"Practical atheist, or Christian atheist, is defined as someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn't exist."
- Lillian Kwon, The Christian Post, 2010

"Practical atheism is not the denial of the existence of God, but complete godlessness of action; it is a moral evil, implying not the denial of the absolute validity of the moral law but simply rebellion against that law."
- Étienne Borne, Atheism