Some questions are really very simple in spite of the fact that people want to make them complicated. When I ask you, "Do you believe in God?" it really doesn't require a lot of thought for most people. True, there might be a few people who want more clarification about the meaning of God but those people are the exceptions. Usually you can get a response by asking, "Are you a theist?"
There are only two possible answers to the second question. If the answer is "yes" then you are a theist. If the answer is "no" then you are not a theist. Most of the world can be conveniently divided into two groups: theists and non-theists. The others, those who answer "I don't know," aren't worth the bother.
We have a word for those who are non-theists. They are called atheists by my definition of the word. I use the word "atheist" in the same sense as any other word that begins with "a" and means "not." As Antony Flew puts it, the word atheist has the same connotation as "amoral," "atypical," and "asymmetrical." It means that you are not a theist. I'm also an athoothfairyist and an asantaclausian.
John Wilkins disagrees. He thinks the word atheist should be reserved for the strong belief that gods do not exist. When used in that sense, he would argue that he is not a theist and he does not actively deny the existence of gods. He is an agnostic. John divides the world into two camps—those who have a position on the existence or non-existence of god and those who don't. The latter group is the agnostics and he is one.
That's fine by me as long as John makes his definitions clear and he doesn't try to impose his definition of atheist on the rest of us. It would be wrong of John to call me an atheist using his definition so he better be careful. He would have to include me among the agnostics if he is being consistent. He'd also have to include Richard Dawkins. As a matter of fact, John might find it difficult to find anyone who is a true atheist by his definition.
I will try and respect John's wishes and refer to him as an agnostic who doesn't believe in god but doesn't advocate the nonexistence of gods as a philosophical position. However, I don't think I can go along with him in all cases ...
So, to summarise, when an atheist says to me I am an atheist because I lack a view, I am minded to reply, “I am also an asportist” for failing to have a team in any sport that I support. It makes about as much sense.I'm sorry, John. I'll respect your (strange) opinion and not call you an atheist, but you really are an asportist!