Are atheists and non-theists the same thing? To me, it seems they are. But on several separate occasions I have heard people use them as words of 2 different meanings. I thought they meant the same thing. Here is the text that actually got me to post this question "...only 26% of nontheists and 18% of atheists are women".

The Oxford English Dictionary defines nontheism as "... not having or involving a belief in a god or gods, especially as a being who reveals himself to humanity." 

And the 2 main definitions for atheism I found is:

1. The lack of a belief that deity, in the form of one or more supernatural gods or goddesses, exists.

2.The denial of the existence of God or gods.

So, is there really a difference? If so, I would really like someone to explain it to me.

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The Buddha and those who adopted his tenets as their religion (Buddhism in its pure, original form) are religious people without a personal (theistic) god. They don't claim there is no deity. Their religion simply doesn't address the matter. So, no, theists and non-theists may or may not be the same thing, depending on the particular case.

Most atheists are best characterized as simply not believing that there is a deity. Only the few make the affirmative statement that there is no deity, because such a statement would require entering into the quagmire of proof. Their argument is mostly based on the absence of evidence or the seeming impossibility of a being having the ascribed attributes.

By contrast, many non-theists simply don't spend much time thinking about it.

Interesting question. 

I think there is still room for mysticism in "non-theism". Like, there are no gods, but maybe some ghosts. 

I think Atheism, and realism are synonymous. non-theist is another cop-out like agnostic. 

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