I first heard this term several years ago. Since that time I have observed many instances of the term exhibited in the lives of various individuals.
An atheist is one who says they know God does not exist. They believe that God is nothing more than an idea born from the imagination of humans.
A theist is a person who knows that God exists.
An agnostic is a person who says we cannot know if God exists or not.
The practical atheist is a person who, more often than not, would want to be thought of as a theist or believer in God.
The word “practical” means “being such in practice, conduct, effect, or essential character .”
In other words, the practical atheist may declare that he or she is a believer in God, but in their way of living they live as if there is no God. They give no attention to God’s words nor to his instructions. They rarely, if ever, give any thought to what God would want them to do or be doing in their lives. They live as if God has never spoken. They live as if he does not even exist. Thus they are “practical atheist.”
Jesus may have had individuals like this in mind when he said, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)
It seems that practical atheist outnumber the atheist.