I am trying to describe one who is neither agnostic nor atheist but does not accept any religious order as his own.

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    Given that you've accepted "theist", this is perhaps not what you're looking for, but something like "neither atheist nor agnostic nor theist nor..." would fit ignosticism, "the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts"; see also theological noncognitivism. – ShreevatsaR Oct 17 '11 at 8:00

A theist is someone who believes in god (or multiple gods), in contrast to an atheist.

If you refer to someone as a theist, it will generally be understood that s/he doesn't belong to a specific religious group.

If you really want to emphasize that fact, though, you might say unaffiliated theist. Personally, I don't think the latter is necessary.

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    Hmm, I've always understood "theist" to be an antonym of "atheist" and to include anyone who believes in God or some sort of god, i.e. to be a broad general category including Christians, Moslems, Jews, etc. In statistics on members of various religions, people who are not atheists but not a member of any specific religious group are generally listed as "unaffiliated". This works well if you're talking about various groups, like, "If you are Catholic, please check box A; Protestant check box B; Moslem check box C; and other or unaffiliated check box C." (continued ...) – Jay Nov 9 '11 at 17:58
  • (continued) But if you just say it by itself, it would naturally bring up the question "unaffiliated with who or what"? Like, if you began an essay with, "Some say that unaffiliated people are demonstrating independent thinking, others that they just can't make up their minds ...", it would not be at all clear that you were referring to religious beliefs, you'd need to add some words to clarify. – Jay Nov 9 '11 at 18:00

An ignostic refuses to take any stance in the argument over God’s or any deity's existence.

The reasoning behind this is that the lack of a sufficiently coherent definition for the term God leaves the question regarding God's existence without meaning. Thus, the ignostic would argue that there is no basis for sensible discussion on this topic, let alone basis for belief or non-belief.

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    I wasn't aware of this term at all. I believe that I've heard the other terms in passing. +1 – somehume Oct 24 '11 at 15:09

Someone who believes in God is a theist; all Christians, Muslims, Hindus (but not Buddhists, since Buddhism does not have a god), etc. are theists, as are people who don't subscribe to any major religion but still believe in God.

A subset of theism is deism: Someone who believes in a creator-God that does not get involved in our personal lives believes in deism and is a deist, and is in the company of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Voltaire.

There is no single term that I know of to describe someone that doesn't follow the tenets of a major religion but does believe in a God that impacts our lives, which is odd because (I believe) this is a reasonably common belief in the US. An old phrase used to describe this belief, though, is "I'm spiritual but not religious.", which implies that you have faith but not in an organized religion.

  • The usual meaning of deism that I've met is the one in your third paragraph ('belief in the existence of God, with denial of revelation': OED). It may be a British/American thing, or the common vagueness in personal philosophies. – Tim Lymington Oct 17 '11 at 13:23
  • The Mac dictionary shows the following: deism |ˈdēizəm| noun belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind. Compare with theism. DERIVATIVES deist noun, deistic |dēˈistik|adjective, deistical |dēˈistikəl|adjective ORIGIN late 17th cent.: from Latin deus ‘god’ + -ism. – somehume Oct 17 '11 at 16:39
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    I'm not aware of any evidence that Einstein believed in any kind of god, let alone a creator. When he said God does not play dice with the universe he simply meant that he didn't accept that "nature, the universe" was inherently indeterminate as implied by the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Like Darwin, Einstein was ultra-evasive about admitting what he really thought in this area - but I suspect they were both atheists. – FumbleFingers Oct 24 '11 at 15:38

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