Talk:Implicit and explicit atheism

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The merge proposal[edit]

A merge was suggested in April and recently updated. However, there has been nothing on the talk pages. The topics are distinct & cannot be properly merged into either article. If a merge is to happen, it would have to be to an article titled Types of atheism or something similar. Such an article is likely to become quite a hot topic among editors. I think there is too much "labelling" going on already, and labels have replaced clear definitions and descriptions. Also the labels keep slipping around (especially the loathsome weak-strong labels)--JimWae (talk) 19:55, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

I agree that some consolidation would be appropriate, a new article at Types and typologies of atheism might be suitable. I think this would be to the benefit of our coverage of Atheism. Implicit and explicit atheism in particular seems to have suffered from lack of attention in comparison to the entry in Atheism covering that aspect. Unomi (talk) 12:37, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Implicit atheism[edit]

Implicit atheism is not really explained clearly anywhere in this article, is it? Perhaps something like this:

Implicit atheism is meant to include all forms of non-belief in deities without any explicit rejection of belief in deities. This would categorize as implicit atheists adults who have never heard of the concept of deities, adults who have not given the idea any real consideration, and agnostics who assert they do not believe in any deities (even if they claim not to be atheists). Depending on the author, it may or may not include young children, including newborns.--JimWae (talk) 02:45, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

An implicit atheist is a person who does not believe in a god, but who has not explicitly rejected or denied the truth of theism. Implicit atheism does not require familiarity with the idea of a god.

George Smith. Atheism, The Case Against God. p.13

Although the lede is correct. It leaves one confused as it doesn't say that it's an absence of belief without explicit rejection. In other words: One is an Implicit Atheist until one take an active rejection or active belief. -- Muthsera (talk) 21:26, 11 May 2010 (UTC)


Critical atheism[edit]

Propose we leave out Nagel as a source for this concept. He does not use the layering and distinction of Atheism as Smith. Nagel is in opposition to calling the position of unaware and ambivalent as Atheism and he use an entirely different reason for why Atheism is to be understood as an opposition.

"I shall understand by "atheism" a critique and a denial of the major claims of all varieties of theism."

Ernest Nagel

It is a position of claiming Atheism as a denial of Theism. -- Muthsera (talk) 21:41, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

  • Disagree strongly about removing Nagel. He must be in article to maintain NPOV. But the article does need reworking - with a section on explicit and one on implicit
    • Nagel should stay. --Dannyno (talk) 17:45, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Removal of WLC section[edit]

This edit removed a rather useful section about WLC's take on the retroactive modification of the definition of atheism. This isn't a random blogger. WLC is a well respected speaker on theological topics relating to Christianity, and a frequent adversary to atheist thinkers in formal debate. The comment on the removal therefore seems somewhat disingenuous... Miskaton (talk) 23:29, 8 November 2016 (UTC)

Recent additions[edit]

@Xenophrenic: Where in the source does it say "philosophical atheism"?Apollo The Logician (talk) 12:58, 7 July 2017 (UTC) Apollo The Logician (talk) 12:58, 7 July 2017 (UTC)

Page 166. And the title of his paper is "Philosophical Concepts of Atheism". And on the following page he makes a joke about how "philosophical atheism" may also be a religion. On page 169 he lays out how his paper will be an examination of philosophic concepts of atheism (emphasis is his). Welcome back, by the way. I'm having trouble taking your question seriously. Are you asking a serious question here, or are you just poking at me because I commented at the SPI page? Regards, Xenophrenic (talk) 13:18, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Fair enough. I still take issue with you trying to promote a Flewian POV when this has been a matter of debate.Apollo The Logician (talk) 13:44, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
That is a misunderstanding on your part. I don't promote POVs. I read reliable sources, then I transcribe what they say into our Wikipedia articles. If there is a "debate" that I am unaware of, perhaps you could bring it to my attention. The reliable sources covering it, I mean. Xenophrenic (talk) 14:27, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Many reliable sources say different things. If I wanted to could gather dozens of reliable sources which say god exists and claim all I am doing is repeating what the sources say. Atheism, as you well know has been defined differently by different people. Philosophers like J. J. C. Smart, Peter Boghossian, William Lane Craig, Ernest Nagel etc contradict Flew's definition.Apollo The Logician (talk) 14:32, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
There are certainly different aspects to the definition of "atheism" (which isn't owned by any individual, by the way), but I've never indicated otherwise. And by "Flew's definition", I assume you mean the part of the definition Flew prefers to use during "philosophical" examinations on the subject? The philosophers you mention don't "contradict Flew's definition", that is a rather confused statement. As philosophers, they typically focus their examination on the explicit denial that gods exist. It is an extreme minority, and indefensible, position - as one cannot prove a negative (or nonexistence) - but as philosophers, they try to defend it anyway. Flew, on the other hand, has suggested that philosophical examination on the subject of existence of gods should be approached from the logical assumption that deities do not exist, and the burden lies upon the philosopher to prove that they do. Through all of this, the definition of "atheism" never changes, according to reliable sources.
Are you familiar with how we, as Wikipedia editors, handle situations where apparently reliable sources convey apparently conflicting information? Xenophrenic (talk) 15:31, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
You are confused. Obviously as philosophers they can only investigate "explicit atheism" but that is not what I am talking about. Many philosophers outright say that implocit atheism is not atheism and that the definition of atheism does not cover it. Here's an example of J. J. C. Smart (quite famous philosopher) saying that. "‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God."1. Obviously this definition is opposed to Flew's definition which is "the lack of belief in a god".Apollo The Logician (talk) 15:39, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
If you claim I am confused, I expect you to show me just how I am confused. You've not done so. J.J.C. Smart did not outright say that implocit atheism is not atheism in the source you cited, which by the way is not an encyclopedia of knowledge, but specifically an encyclopedia just of philosophy. For the purposes of philosophy, Smart does indeed use just the the explicit part of the definition of atheism. But if you'll continue to read that same source, you'll see he also acknowledges the atheists that hold the more agnostic view that one cannot disprove the existence of deities. (Or in the reverse form, per Popper, "that scientific theories can only be refuted, never established".) He refers to Ayer's "A. J. Ayer (Ayer 1936) would have at least been less misleading if he called himself an atheist rather than an agnostic. He neither believes nor disbelieves in God ..." , so he acknowledges the fuller definition of "atheism", but prefers just the specialized "explicit denial" form for the purposes of philosophical examination. He also speaks of other atheists who are merely "unbelievers", who are okay with being described as agnostic, but prefer not to be called atheist for social and pragmatic reasons - "a matter for sociologists than for philosophers." The definition of "atheist", an absence of belief in gods, is broader than the subset position philosophers focus on, which is not just the absence of belief in existence of gods, but also the affirmative denial of the existence of gods. When citing sources, we can't just cherry-pick little parts that may support our argument, and exclude the rest. Xenophrenic (talk) 16:38, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy which was written by Simon Blackburn gives the definition of atheism as follows. "Either the lack of belief that there exists a god, or the belief that there exists none." Here we have a philosopher (an RS) acknowledging that there are different, contrasting definitions.1Apollo The Logician (talk) 17:02, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
That isn't "contrasting definitions". It's the definition. Xenophrenic (talk) 17:11, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
The reliable source says that they are contrasting hence the "or". We should repeat what the reliable sources say.Apollo The Logician (talk) 17:28, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Incorrect. The source does not say they are contrasting, the source gave both of the alternative parts of the definition. Please refresh your understanding of conjunctions; specifically the word "or". As for saying what reliable sources say, we already do. Xenophrenic (talk) 18:10, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
I have no idea what you mean by "alternate parts of the definition". If I said x is a Tiger and you said no x is a subspecies of a tiger called y. Would you say that these are "alternate parts of the definition"? As opposed to different definitions?Apollo The Logician (talk) 18:27, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
You have no idea what I mean by "alternate parts of the definition"? Per the definition of the word "or" when used as a conjunction: Or – presents an alternative item or idea ("Every day they gamble, or they smoke."). It's a language thing (English, in this case). I can't help your understanding of language use any more than that, sorry. If you told me that x is either a Tiger, or a subspecies of Tiger, I would have no trouble understanding you. Xenophrenic (talk) 02:59, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
This was fun; thank you. But I think we're straying from the purpose of this Talk page (article improvement). If you'd like to continue the conversation on your User Talk page (or mine), we can certainly do that. Regards, Xenophrenic (talk) 02:59, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
Ironically enough you don't seem to know what the word alternate means.Apollo The Logician (talk) 07:52, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I do. But since the meaning of that word doesn't appear in our article, we're straying from our discussion of article improvement. Per your "Fair enough" acknowledgement above, I'll be returning the "philosophical atheism" content to our article, with the sources we've discussed. Regards, Xenophrenic (talk) 20:15, 12 July 2017 (UTC)

I am confused why you are appealing to the talk page consdiering no consensus has been reached.Apollo The Logician (talk) 09:19, 11 August 2017 (UTC)

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Nagel[edit]

Xenophrenic can you quote Nagel were he uses that terminology? Paddy Plunkett (talk) 19:33, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Actually nevermind. Paddy Plunkett (talk) 19:38, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Please review the book (Basic Beliefs - page 167) in which his essay appeared, starting with his sarcastic quip, "Perhaps philosophical atheism also is a religion." You might also find the forward to that book (by Fairchild) illuminating, where the focus of the book's essays are explained: beliefs. As such, an essay about atheism would be out of place in such a book, unless it was written about that rare, niche subset known as "explicit atheism" -- the belief-like positive denial of gods. Regards, Xenophrenic (talk)