Ok, you say you believe in god…

A lot of people say they are religious, or that they believe in god. But what do they exactly believe? There are different "levels", and terminology is ALWAYS important. Simplifying a bit - philosophers will forgive me - you can be


  • Theist - A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who created the universe and influences the fate of the creation, especially the human kind (answers prayers, does miracles, punishes sins, etc.). This is the "classic" god of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

  • Deist - A deist believes in a supernatural intelligence who created the universe, setting up the initial laws, but is not involved in human affairs. This is the Locke, Voltaire, Diderot position.

  • Pantheist - A pantheist doesn't believe in a supernatural god, but uses god as a synonim of Nature, Cosmic intelligence, and so on. This is the Spinoza's god

  • Agnostic - The agnostic thinks that he can't possibly know, and so is skeptic. He doesn't take a clear position, nor he wants to

  • Atheist - The Atheist believe there is no supernatural god. He doesn't call nature god and usually thinks that theists are the root of all evil in the world



Richard Dawkins says pantheism is "sexed up" atheism, and deism is "watered down" theism. The difference between Pantheism, Agnosticism and Atheism is quite subtle if you think about it, and usually unreligious people can't say exactly what term best describes their beliefs.

It is not so common that Scientists or Engineers are Theists/Deists. This obviously doesn't prove anything in a sense or the other, because scientists are by no means any better than other people (I don't agree with Dawkins on this point), but it's interesting. My (small) numbers - I led different software teams - are that in Software engineering at least 80% of people err between pantheism and atheism. What are yours?
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