People are frequently fundamentally classified by their beliefs about "God":
1) Those who believe in "God" are classified as Theists.
2) Those who don't believe in "God" are classified as Atheists.
3) Those who are undecided about "God" are classified as Agnostics.
We refer to this as the common God-based philosophical classification system.
Unfortunately, the term "God" has at least two extremely different meanings:
1) Generally, (traditional) Theists define "God" as: "An entity external to the universe that created and rules the universe"
2) Non-literal Theists reject this definition and, instead, generally accept this one: "The personal name given to the infinite and eternal universe"
(MORE INFO HERE)
As radical as the difference between these two definitions of "God" is, the common God-based philosophical classification system makes no distinction whatsoever!
This means that Non-literal Theists are almost always stuffed into the "Theism Box" by Atheists and the "Atheism Box" by Theists. Due to the inherent limitations of the common God-based philosophical classification system, this is understandable (and even a bit humorous); but it is not very rational or useful!
Just for laughs: You know you are a Non-literal Theist when all of your Atheist friends insist that you are a Theist, and all of your Theist friends insist that you are an Atheist!
Furthermore, when collecting statistics, Non-literal Theists are almost always classified as Theists (which seriously exaggerates* the number of people who supposedly believe in a literal "God") because the surveyors simply ask, "Do you believe in God?", which naturally elicits a "yes" response from many (not all) Non-literal Theists. In fact, it is very likely that there are more Non-literal Theists than there are Theists; however they are virtually unrecognized!
Non-literal Theists are very often people who have consciously chosen to dedicate the remainder of their lives to the cause of helping to create a better world, yet they have virtually no collective presence or voice in the world.
The Most Significant Impact
The most significant aspect of the problem explored on this page is that this extraordinary invisibility helps to sustain common belief in the false (literal) "God" of traditional Theism, a belief that intrinsically ensures that debilitating divisions continue to exist between literal religions. And these unnecessary and seemingly engineered divisions are the very reason that ultimately destructive agendas have been able to flourish virtually unrecognized and unchallenged by the easily distracted, divided, and demoralized masses.
*For example, on February 16, 2004, on ABC News' PrimeTime (a nationally broadcast television program in the USA), Diane Sawyer reported that 82% of all Americans claim to be Christians. Were all atheists and all other "flavors" of theists really carefully excluded from this number? (This particular episode featured an interview with Mel Gibson about his film, The Passion of the Christ.) YES, IT'S TIME FOR NON-LITERAL THEISTS (YOU) TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!
UPDATE: It's been 14 years and things are looking better! READ THIS: AMERICANS & GOD
Non-literal Theism is now part of the common philosophical classification system:
1) Those who believe in the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe are classified as Theists.
2) Those who do NOT believe in the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe are classified as Atheists.
3) Those who do NOT believe in the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe, but do recognize the inter-connectedness and one-ness of the infinite and eternal universe, are classified as Non-literal Theists.
4) Those who are undecided about the existence of an entity external to the universe that supposedly created and rules the universe are classified as Agnostics.
Non-literal Theism is NOT a religion or a philosophy!
Instead, it is a critical addition to the common God-based philosophical classification system. (see above for more details)
Ayn Rand's Objectivism
Anton LeVey's Satanism
AGNOSTICISM represents those who are undecided about "God".
(This generalized table is provided in order to stimulate intellectual and conversational inquiry. Please excuse any omissions and exceptions.)
We are all ONE.
THE CENTER FOR NON-LITERAL THEISM