Talk:Atheism

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Atheism within religions.[edit]

We have to be careful to clarify that some religions are atheist with regards to a creator but very well may have demi-gods, celestial buddhas, demons, devas, brahma, spiritual leader that has attained godhood, or maybe consider the universe itself self-aware. This is not an all-encompassing atheistic view. I reworded a paragraph to indicate this. Alatari (talk) 12:22, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

I went and addressed Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism by reading the sources that were used and painting a contextual picture from those sources. Added a couple sources about Jainism from other articles that clearly show beliefs in demi-god/god-like beings. I wanted to add text about the Hinduism school of Cārvāka but all Wikipedia articles say it's a dead religion. If it makes a comeback and has some millions of adherents maybe it can be mentioned as it was truly an atheistic religion which even denied the afterlife matching it to the original meaning of nāstika. Alatari (talk) 05:57, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Other editors should also please see User talk:Tryptofish#Atheism in religions, where there is a discussion about this in parallel. I think that this material ought to be covered in sufficient detail to reflect its complexity, and that it is clearly a noteworthy aspect of the topic of this page. Right now, in my opinion, we have a paragraph in the lead that is becoming too detailed for the lead, and covers material that isn't adequately covered in the main text of the page (where it needs to be if it's also in the lead). I'm going to boldly create a new section of the page, moving the material out of the lead section. I suggest that we keep the lead brief, but I think it would be fine to expand the section lower on the page, and I hope that editors will expand it. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:36, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Shouldn't a single sentence in the lead summarize that section? Alatari (talk) 21:04, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
I think that would be fine, so long as it is a single, simple sentence, without lots of detail. (I tried to think of such a sentence myself, and could not think of how to do it, but that's probably just me.) --Tryptofish (talk) 22:13, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Proposed sentence:

A very few ancient and modern religions have developed with no concepts of deities while others deny a creator deity yet still revere other god-like entities.

Problem with the new section. It overlaps in scope with this other section Atheism and irreligion . The part about atheist Jews and Christians. Alatari (talk) 23:27, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Numbers[edit]

I've tried to remove the polls from ~2007 and older since they are showing their age. There exist numerous polls on this issue, so I see no reason to use these older polls. Second Quantization (talk) 21:30, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

If anyone wanted to update the Eurobarometer graph, that would be cool, Second Quantization (talk) 21:30, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Eurobarometer[edit]

I removed the percentages of atheism in the EU based on the Eurobarometer due that according the Eurobarometer itself, they are wrong. Mi revision was undid by user War and he/she said "I double checked. These percentage are correct. They are concerning question QB32 choice #1."

But as you can see in the page 381 of the PDF, they are not correct. First of all, they are original research, because the article combines different answers of the poll to show the percentages of the population did not agree with the stand "I believe there is a God". For example, the article shows 49% of people who don't agree with the stand "I believe there is a God", but the Eurobarometer doesn't say that. Instead, the Eurobarometer says:

  • 51% - "You believe there is a God"
  • 26% - "You believe there is some sort of spirit or life force"
  • 20% - "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force"
  • 3% - "Don't know"

So… Where that 49% comes from? From adding the people who answered "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", the people who answered "I don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force" and even the people who said "I don't know". This is misleading at all and an original research, it can't be said that people who "don't know" are atheists or people who doesn't agree with the stand "I believe there is a God". It happens the same with all the percentages of the EU Member States.

This doesn't corresponds the source, which explicitly says (see page 206): "On average, one respondent in two believes in God (51%) while around a quarter believe there is some sort of spirit or life force (26%) and one in five is an atheist". --Robert Laymont (talk) 15:01, 21 July 2014 (UTC)

You've raised a good point. I don't have an answer for it. Is subtraction "original research"? I, personally don't think so. I'm very interested in what others have to say about this. The question though has nothing to do with "...some sort of life force". The question on the survey for GB32 was "You believe there is a God". and 51% picked this number answer. Therefore simple subtraction give you 49% "did not agree with the stand "I believe there is a God". Now, perhaps the wording is worth discussing, "...large percentages of the population did not agree...". I could see some people arguing that 49% is not a "large percentage". However, I still don't think subtraction constitutes original research. War (talk) 16:12, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
Original research or not, I think it's misleading information since those who answered "Don't know" were added to the percentage too. Anyway, this article is about Atheism, and the survey clearly explains that "one in five is an atheist". If a source is being used, the text must follow what this source says. The source must not be used to reach other conclusions. --Robert Laymont (talk) 16:25, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
I haven't (yet) gone back to the source, so I'm commenting just on the preceding comments here. It seems that the numbers quoted come from adding together "You believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force", and "Don't know". The page currently characterizes that sum as the "percentages of the population [that] did not agree with the stand 'I believe there is a God'". Furthermore, in context, the sentence as currently written equates that sum (implicitly) with the percentage of the population that is atheist. If I understand that correctly, then I think that it clearly does violate WP:NOR. It is both WP:SYNTH and just plain inaccurate to equate people who say they "believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and people who "don't know" with actually being atheists, or even with being people who disagree with "You believe there is a God". Not knowing could potentially equate to agnosticism, and believing in some sort of spirit could reflect any number of belief systems other than atheism. Choosing one response may mean preferring that response, without necessarily disagreeing outright with the other responses. I wouldn't delete the passage altogether, but I'd change the information to report only the respondents who selected "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force", and describe them that way, not as disagreeing with the first option. Thus, 49% would become 20%. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:00, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
I have done a check of the numbers myself, and it is indeed not correct how its portrait here on Wikipedia. While I am an atheist myself I do not want to mus-construct a survey to look like there are much more then there actually are. I would suggest that the numbers are changed to the actually percentage of atheist in the case of the mention in the lead and also in the actually demographic section. As the demographic section is also implying that the other two options are auto-atheist. NathanWubs (talk) 17:35, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
If as Tryptofish said, we change the information to report only the respondents who selected "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force", the text would be as follows:

According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, some percentages of the population agreed with the stand "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force": Italy (6%), Spain (19%), United Kingdom (25%), Denmark (24%), Germany (27%), Netherlands (30%), Sweden (34%), Estonia (29%), Czech Republic (37%), France (40%), and the European Union as a whole (20%).

But note that the original text tried to show the highest percentages of atheism. Selecting the 10 most atheistic EU member states, the text would be:

According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, some percentages of the population agreed with the stand "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force": Denmark (24%), United Kingdom (25%), Slovenia (26%), Germany (27%), Belgium (27%), Estonia (29%), Netherlands (30%), Sweden (34%), Czech Republic (37%), France (40%), and the European Union as a whole (20%).

But I think that showing only the most atheistic countries might be partial information. I think the most appropriate —at least at this part of the article— is to reflect the european percentage, rather than show only certain countries. --Robert Laymont (talk) 16:00, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
You raise a good point. I have a couple of suggestions about it. First, I would instead word it as: "According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, the percentages of the population that agreed with the stand "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force" were:..." (I think it reads more smoothly that way.) Second, it is reasonable to list, first, the five countries with the highest percentages, and then, the five with the lowest, all in descending order of percentages, followed by 20% for the entire EU. That way, we describe the range of findings, without skewing our description in either direction. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:02, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
That would be a good option. Then, the percentages would be: France (40%), Czech Republic (37%), Sweden (34%), Netherlands (30%), Estonia (29%), Poland (5%), Greece (4%), Cyprus (3%), Malta (2%), Romania (1%) and the European Union as a whole (20%). --Robert Laymont (talk) 19:42, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Good! On second thought, I'll slightly revise my previous suggestion about the opening wording, and suggest that we go with this:

According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, the percentages of the population that agreed with the stand "You don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force" ranged from: France (40%), Czech Republic (37%), Sweden (34%), Netherlands (30%), and Estonia (29%), down to Poland (5%), Greece (4%), Cyprus (3%), Malta (2%), and Romania (1%), with the European Union as a whole at 20%.

--Tryptofish (talk) 22:25, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
I like it.War (talk) 01:21, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Well written. Jim1138 (talk) 01:42, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
I like it. The cite should link to the original source [1] instead the current intermediate document. --Robert Laymont (talk) 06:22, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done. Thank you everyone for the kind comments and productive discussion. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:04, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

I changed the demographics section to reflect the lead section. I also removed a statement that the source did not say. If anyone wants to check in the source where it was suppose to say this claim. Then you can check it on page 204. NathanWubs (talk) 15:47, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

An explicit question for atheism is actually missing: "You do belief that no God exists." 3 and four would cover agnosticism and atheists would most likely pick statement 3 --197.228.33.53 (talk) 21:27, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

The comment above was made originally in response to the opening post, but, because it interrupted that post, I moved it here. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:33, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
I am sorry I dis-agree that the question your purpose is a question that needs to be asked to an atheist. If you read our article you will surely understand why. Statement 4 is I do not know, it does not automatically cover agnosticism. As you could also just have no opinion and not care to know. Or you honestly do not know and have not made up your mind yet. But either way that is not up to wikipedia to decide, we only report sources and not original research. NathanWubs (talk) 21:40, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I realize that, of course, this is something that depends very much upon how one defines atheism versus agnosticism, itself a perennial topic of disagreement in this talk. But I would argue that 3, as the source gives it to us, really is atheism and not agnosticism, because agnosticism would involve more uncertainty than "You don't believe there is any sort of..." permits. That's a pretty clear articulation of "don't believe". In any case, we can only work with what the source material gives us, and the page presents the source material verbatim, which allows readers to evaluate it for themselves, and I think that's the best we can do. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:48, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
    • A few points
  1. the article now has more details in the lead than the actual article itself. A lead is expected to summarise the article.
  2. WP:CALC allows basic subtraction.
  3. The original sentence did not misconstrue the source, and clearly stated the numbers that viewed themselves as "convinced atheists" (whatever that means, what's an unconvinced atheist?), but also included the other figure because a convinced atheist isn't the same thing as an atheist (for example, it's not clear to me that someone who believes in a "life force" can not be an atheist unless one equates atheism with naturalism specifically). Second Quantization (talk) 21:51, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
    • Be bold if you find that the lead has to many details, then shorten it where it can be shortenend.
    • CALC does not apply when the source is not basic substraction.
    • There source was being put in a false light as it was implying that all people that did not tick the box. "You believe there is a God" are atheist. Which is in-correct. For several reasons which are explained above. Which I can add one more too. If I was a pantheist and, I would see God as in the christian God I would certainly not tick that box. It did not clearly state the numbers that viewed themselves as atheist, else there would be no percentage that ticked the Do not know box. It was Life Force and Spirit. Yes, these people can as well be atheist, but the thing is that is not what the source is saying. They could be pantheist, or Hindi offended by the word God. The source does not tell so we do not imply. NathanWubs (talk) 22:19, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Second Quantization, the problem with your subtraction is that it wasn't a simple subtraction. You were lumping groups together that were different kinds of groups. I suppose we do devote a rather large amount of the lead to demographics, but I'm not sure what we would delete. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:35, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
"There source was being put in a false light as it was implying that all people that did not tick the box. "You believe there is a God" are atheist." No it didn't, my calc highlighted the percentage that did not believe in a personal god and carefully highlighted what they did claim to believe broken into the two groups. Considering it highlighted the specific numbers for atheists afterwards and the wishy washy spiritual group, there is no way someone who read it would make that mistake. "CALC does not apply when the source is not basic substraction." it was basic addition. Second Quantization (talk) 18:44, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
I think this whole argument stems from a mistake Second. The original wording that you added was a little bit more specific. but the wording was changed, changing the meaning. Which made it seemed like it implied something which it did not give the figures for. If there was no problem with the new meaning then this section on this talk page would have not existed. A new consensus was reached and the change was made. NathanWubs (talk) 22:10, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
And I think that the consensus here is correct. It's not that difficult: there were several survey options for the respondents in the source, and not all of them corresponded to the subject of this page. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:42, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Vietnam[edit]

Under "Demographics" Vietnam--according to a 2012 Gallup Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism--is the first one of the "bottom ten countries" "all with 0% atheists". In the Phil Zuckerman map below it has the darkest shade, in other words: Vietnam is the number one atheist (or agnostic) country in the world. That's quite interesting indeed: Visit Vietnam, the number one atheist country on the planet [above 70%] with absolutely no atheists [0%]! Rolf-Peter Wille (talk) 09:55, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

You are right: we have a serious contradiction there. I looked at the Gallup source, and I see a list of the "top ten countries" that is accurately represented on the page, but I cannot find a corresponding "bottom ten" list. I think whoever wrote the material got the list from where the source lists countries by reluctance to admit to being an atheist. Vietnam is named elsewhere in the source as having the highest rate of declining religiosity. I've rewritten the sentence, based on a list that is in the source, of the "top ten countries" for religiosity. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:39, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
pg.10 of the reference used, last 10 entries. Second Quantization (talk) 21:34, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
That's what I thought. That isn't a table of what you are saying it is, but rather, of willingness or reluctance to admit to being atheists. Other pages in the same source indicate clearly that Vietnam has a high level of actual atheism, but p. 10 seems to be about cultural willingness to talk about it. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:31, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
"Vietnam has a high level of actual atheism, but p. 10 seems to be about cultural willingness to talk about it" How do you work this out from the source? They use the same data for pg.12 "TRENDS IN ATHEISM INDEX", Second Quantization (talk) 18:32, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
That's my reading of the source. I'd welcome having more editors look at the source, and say here how they read it. As Rolf-Peter pointed out at the beginning of this discussion, it is obviously a mistake to conclude that Vietnam has, simultaneously, both the highest and the lowest proportions of atheists. What do other editors think? --Tryptofish (talk) 22:45, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Blainey paragraph in Atheism#Since 1900[edit]

Please see User talk:Tryptofish#Content ~and~ 'Rules', please., where another editor argues for deleting that paragraph, and I disagree. I'm not looking to continue the discussion there, but I would like to hear from editors here about the content issue. I'm receptive to shortening that paragraph, but probably not to deleting it entirely. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:38, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Here is the specific edit in dispute: [2]. And earlier discussion of this section of the page is now at Talk:Atheism/Archive 52#Hitler was not an atheist.. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:42, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Frankly, I think Blainey is a very poor source for the topic. It would be nice if we could supply the reader with something other than the same old "communists are mass murders.... and atheists" bit of "we report, you decide" tomfoolery. And that's about all you can get from the few throwaway paragraphs where Blainey mentions atheism. Surely there are sources that actually cover atheism in a historical context. — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 23:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
That's a good point, thanks. I'd be happy to see the paragraph revised to rely on another source. Does anyone have a suggestion about such a source? --Tryptofish (talk) 00:23, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
You do understand that it's more than the sources that has to change, but the context, too; I also disdain the presence of little-popular "communists are mass murders.... and atheists" POV (presented as fact) in this article. THEPROMENADER 04:37, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
The context is that this is the section where the subject of militant atheism in the 20th century is addressed. It should not be misunderstood as making general comments about atheism. Blainey's essential points are a) atheists in general became more active and some militant in the 20th century b) atheists often blamed religion for violence c) militant atheists themselves perpetrated violence d) some scientists argued that religion would be superseded. These points are historically accurate. Blainey is ok as a source examining atheism in an historical context, and is used several times in earlier sections. The comments shouldn't be controversial, but in any case are not presented as other than one historian's version of events: they are in quotation marks and clearly attributed. I could also be potentially persuaded of a shortening (but not a deleting) provided this is not done simply because some editors "do not like" it being acknowledged that there has ever been such a thing as militant atheism. I suggest perhaps that the addition of another source with a different emphasis to Blainey to create of spread of views could be a way forward - but I am not sure that an historian is really going to dispute the crux of what he says. Ozhistory (talk) 09:52, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Blainey might be ok as a source on atheism in a historical context if it actually contained such information. It does not contain any text "examining atheism in an historical context." It contains a few paragraphs with some decontextualised "facts" and the author's unsupported opinion on those "facts." Both of which are worthless in this context. It would be best to use mainstream sources that actually examine the relationship between communism and atheism in a historical context (preferably by authors without a political axe to grind). Also, I fail to see how the text could be understood as anything other than "general comments about atheism." What else would it be? And like it or not; "militant atheism" is not a thing. — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 11:51, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Another problem with making this book look like an authourative source is that, not only is it not widely known (outside of certain theistic spheres, at least), its views (communism/despotism == atheism) is one little shared by any outside (very!) militant theists and revisionists. Since this article is supposed to present a consensual view on atheism (it is not titled 'bad things some theists would attribute to atheism'), if a point of view is a fringe one, it should be indicated as one, if it is to be mentioned at all; one wouldn't put an entire paragraph on 'chemtrail' conspiracies in the Contrail article and make it look as though it is a widespread POV from a commonly-known authorative source. THEPROMENADER 17:21, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────It looks to me like there are a variety of views, ranging from wanting to eliminate this content entirely to defending Blainey as a valid source, so long as Blainey's opinions are presented with attribution. It seems to me that the way we should go is to: (1) still cover this material in some form, but (2) try to present the material based upon other sources instead of Blainey. I'd like to replace the existing paragraph with a rewritten paragraph that could be summarized from State atheism#Communist states, focusing on the states that Blainey talks about while leaving out the states that we already cover in other paragraphs of that section here. I think in particular the sections at the state atheism page about China and North Korea have sources that we can appropriately make use of. I'd like editors here to evaluate that suggestion, and if there is interest, I'll try to create a draft paragraph here on the talk page for further discussion and revision. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:47, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, on a positive note, I can say that a search for other sources will be informative for anyone not understanding that "any despot/dictator eliminating religion competition == 'atheism'" is an unpopular radical fringe POV. THEPROMENADER 05:27, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Some sources that may be of value....
ArtifexMayhem (talk) 13:55, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the sources! --Tryptofish (talk) 20:59, 12 August 2014 (UTC)