Implicit and explicit atheism
Implicit atheism as defined by Smith is "the absence of theistic belief without a conscious rejection of it", while explicit atheism is "the absence of theistic belief due to a conscious rejection of it".
The concept of implicit atheism is related to the concept of weak atheism. Weak atheism is an individual merely lacking a belief in God/gods. Using this broad definition of definition of atheism, there are atheists who assert that babies are atheists.
George H. Smith wrote: "Atheism, therefore, is the absence of theistic belief. One who does not believe in the existence of a god or supernatural being is properly designated as an atheist." A number of Christians/theists argue that atheists/agnostics are attempting to redefine the word atheism and make its definition unnecessarily broader (See Definition of atheism). William Lane Craig has called the attempts to broaden the definition of atheism a "deceptive game" (See: William Lane Craig on attempts to define the word atheism).
- 1 Diminished usefulness of the terms implicit/explicit atheism
- 1.1 Apathy, purpose and religiosity/cognitive processing
- 1.2 20th century and 21st century global desecularization
- 1.3 Growth of Christian apologetics
- 1.3.1 Growth of global creationism and creation apologetics
- 1.3.2 The universe had a beginning
- 1.3.3 Creation scientists tend to win the creation-evolution debates
- 1.3.4 History of the growth of creationist apologetics and its effects
- 1.3.5 Summary of why implicit/explict atheism have diminished in importance
- 2 See also
- 3 Notes
Diminished usefulness of the terms implicit/explicit atheism
As can be seen below, due to various research findings in the social sciences, global desecularization, the increase of religious immigration to the Western World and other developments, the usefulness of the terms implicit and explicit atheism has diminished.
Apathy, purpose and religiosity/cognitive processing
See also: Atheism and purpose
While some individuals give more thoughtful deliberation on the issue of the existence of God and the purpose of life than others (see: Atheism and apathy and Apatheism), it is common for atheists/agnostics to dwell on the issue of purpose (see: Atheism and purpose).
Also, notable atheists have had the characteristic of variability and instability when it came to maintaining thoughts in accordance with atheism. For example, Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the leading proponents of atheism of the 20th Century. He was one of several popularizers of the philosophy of existentialism.
Yet, Jean-Paul Sartre made this candid confession:
|“||As for me, I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator; and this idea of a creating hand that created me refers me back to God. Naturally this is not a clear, exact idea that I set in motion every time I think of myself. It contradicts many of my other ideas; but it is there, floating vaguely. And when I think of myself I often think rather in this way, for wont of being able to think otherwise.||”|
One of the most popular arguments for God's existence is the teleological argument. Derived from the Greek word telos, which refers to purpose or end, this argument hinges on the idea that the world gives evidence of being designed, and concludes that a divine designer must be posited to account for the orderly world we encounter. See also: Evolution and Intelligent design and Creation science
The evolutionist Charles Darwin wrote in his private notebooks that he was a materialist, which is a type of atheist. In his autobiography Charles Darwin wrote about the diminishment of his religious faith and Darwin stated that he was an agnostic. Darwin's worldview is best described as agnosticism/weak atheism (see: religious views of Charles Darwin) 
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states:
|“|| In 1885, the Duke of Argyll recounted a conversation he had had with Charles Darwin the year before Darwin's death:
In the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the Fertilization of Orchids, and upon The Earthworms, and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature — I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of Mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, “Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,” and he shook his head vaguely, adding, “it seems to go away. ”(Argyll 1885, 244)
The Apostle Paul wrote:
|“||For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. - Romans 1: 18-20 ||”|
On October 17, 2014, the New York Times published an article entitled Does everything happen for a reason? which declared:
|“|| But research from the Yale Mind and Development Lab, where we work, suggests that this can’t be the whole story. In one series of studies, recently published in the journal Cognition, we asked people to reflect on significant events from their own lives, such as graduations, the births of children, falling in love, the deaths of loved ones and serious illnesses. Unsurprisingly, a majority of religious believers said they thought that these events happened for a reason and that they had been purposefully designed (presumably by God). But many atheists did so as well, and a majority of atheists in a related study also said that they believed in fate — defined as the view that life events happen for a reason and that there is an underlying order to life that determines how events turn out.
These atheists’ responses weren’t just the product of living in America’s highly religious society. Research done at Queen’s University in Belfast by the psychologists Bethany Heywood and Jesse Bering found that British atheists were just as likely as American atheists to believe that their life events had underlying purposes, even though Britain is far less religious than America.
In other studies, scheduled to be published online next week in the journal Child Development, we found that even young children show a bias to believe that life events happen for a reason — to “send a sign” or “to teach a lesson.” This belief exists regardless of how much exposure the children have had to religion at home, and even if they’ve had none at all.
Atheism and the brain
As noted above, implicit atheism as defined by Smith is "the absence of theistic belief without a conscious rejection of it", while explicit atheism is "the absence of theistic belief due to a conscious rejection of it".
Below are relevant quotes from a science magazine/journal:
“Atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think... They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.” - Graham Lawton in the New Scientist science magazine. See also: Atheism and life after death and Atheism and death
Diminishment of conscious thinking and atheism
Dr. Joel McDurmon at the organization American Vision wrote about a University of York study involving magnetism and brain function:
|“|| This has to be embarrassing . . . if you’re an atheist. A new study performed at the University of York used targeted magnetism to shut down part of the brain. The result: belief in God disappeared among more than 30 percent of participants.
That in itself may not seem so embarrassing, but consider that the specific part of the brain they frazzled was the posterior medial frontal cortex—the part associated with detecting and solving problems, i.e., reasoning and logic.
In other words, when you shut down the part of the brain most associated with logic and reasoning, greater levels of atheism result.
(To read about some of the functions of the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC), please read the article: Posterior medial frontal cortex)
Death anxiety and increased unconscious belief in God
See also: Atheism and death
Another limitations of the terms implicit/explicit atheism is that they merely address conscious thinking and not unconscious thinking.
20th century and 21st century global desecularization
Furthermore, Smith's terms implicit atheism and explicit atheism were a product 19th century and 20th century mindset among atheists. The latter part 20th century and 21st century have seen a time of global desecularization and a time of the growth of conservative, religious immigrants to the Western World. To a greater and greater degree, irreligious people are coming in contact with religious people and therefore having to make repeated conscious choices between theism and irreligion. Furthermore, the growth of global communications/travel causes irreligious societies and subcultures to be less insular.
The religious scholar Corey D.B. Walker wrote:
|“||The dawning of the 21st century has been met by religion on a global scale. Questions about the increasing secularization of modern societies and the diminished influence of religion in public life have been replaced by inquiries into the seemingly exponential growth, diffusion, and persistence of religious practices, ideas and rituals.||”|
See also: Atheists and the endurance of religion
On July 24, 2013, CNS News reported about global atheism:
|“||Atheism is in decline worldwide, with the number of atheists falling from 4.5% of the world’s population in 1970 to 2.0% in 2010 and projected to drop to 1.8% by 2020, according to a new report by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass."||”|
On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London wrote:
|“|| I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.
On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British. 
At a conference Kaufmann said of religious demographic projections concerning the 21st century:
|“|| Part of the reason I think demography is very important, at least if we are going to speak about the future, is that it is the most predictable of the social sciences.
...if you look at a population and its age structure now. You can tell a lot about the future. ...So by looking at the relative age structure of different populations you can already say a lot about the future...
Growth of evangelical Christianity in secular religions. Islam and Europe
The latter part of the 20th century saw the collapse of the atheistic Soviet Union and a resurgence of religion in Russia (see: Collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union and Growth of Protestantism in Russia).
In recent times, due the religious immigration and the higher fertility rate of religious conservatives, there has been a growth of evangelical Christianity and a growth of Islam in secular Europe (see: Secular Europe and Atheism vs. Islam).
Additionally, there is a very rapid growth of Christianity in China (see: Growth of Christianity in China).
Failure of the 20th century secularization thesis
See also: Secularization thesis
Douglas S. Winnail wrote:
|“|| Secular leaders and scholars have been surprised by the resurgence of religion, because they put their faith in the assumption that modernization would lead to secularization and to the decline of religion. This idea—the so-called "secularization theory"—is widely accepted in academic and political circles. It assumes that as societies modernize and become more secular, religion will wither away as an archaic and useless branch of knowledge. Their assumption was that if religion became irrelevant, and human beings became more reasonable, they would dwell together in peace and happiness in a modernized world.
However, human history did not follow this "reasonable" path to a secular utopia. The closing decades of the 20th century "provide a massive falsification of the idea" that modernization and secularization will lead to a decline in religion. Instead, we are witnessing a massive upsurge in religion around the world (The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, Berger, p. 6). This resurgence of religion has also played a part in an increasing number of violent conflicts around the world. Secular intellectuals and elites have been shocked by this development, because it is proving that their fundamental assumptions about human beings and human society are absolutely wrong! The modern secular notion that religion is archaic and irrelevant has caused many to overlook the importance of religion in human affairs. As a result, they have been taken by surprise by the return of religion. As Peter Berger, one of the world's leading sociologists of religion, wrote: "Those who neglect religion in their analysis of contemporary affairs do so at great peril" (Berger, p. 18). But what has spawned the modern revival of religion, and the spreading rejection of secular society?
Growth of Christian apologetics
In addition to more and more irreligious people coming in contact with religious people, another reason why irreligious people are often increasing confronted with having to make a conscious choice between irreligion and Christianity/religion, is the proliferation of Christian apologetics. Christian apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith through logic/evidence based arguments.
In 1990, the atheist philosopher Michael Martin indicated there was a general absence of an atheistic response to contemporary work in the philosophy of religion and in jest he indicated that it was his "cross to bear" to respond to theistic arguments. Yet, in 1994, Michael Martin was criticized for his eleventh hour cancellation of his debate with Greg Bahnsen (see: Greg Bahnsen and debate and Bahnson-Martin debate press release).
In 2001, the atheist and philosopher Quentin Smith declared:
|“||Naturalists [atheists] passively watched as realist versions of theism … began to sweep through the philosophical community, until today perhaps one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors are theists, with most being orthodox Christians…. God is not 'dead' in academia; he returned to life in the 1960's and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments."||”|
In 2004, Professor Alister McGrath, professor of historical theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University declared, "The golden age of atheism is over." The atheist Jacques Berlinerblau concurs and he declared in 2011: "The Golden Age of Secularism has passed." 
The situation has become even worse for atheist community in recent years as the quality of their arguments has diminished and the percentage of atheists in the world is decreasing, while the proliferation of Christian apologetics/apologists is increasing in the world (see also: Atheism debates and Rebuttals to atheist arguments).
For example, there is the Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology initiative which offers quality Christian apologetics for free to third world country students and charges extremely low costs for others. In addition, Ratio Christi is launching Christian apologetics clubs at college/university campuses. In addition, in recent times, there have been notable cases of atheists dodging debates (see: Atheism and cowardice).
Growth of global creationism and creation apologetics
Creation apologetics is a subdiscipline of Christian apologetics and this field has seen a large amount of growth in the last fifty years.
Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics. The atheist philosopher of science Michael Ruse said "Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today."
For more information, see:
Johns Hopkins University Press reported in 2014: "Over the past forty years, creationism has spread swiftly among European Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, even as anti-creationists sought to smother its flames." See also: Evolutionary indoctrination
The universe had a beginning
See also: Atheism and the origin of the universe
Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold, and Hermann Bondi developed the steady state theory, which appealed to atheist cosmologists because it avoided a creation event and the religious implications associated with one.
Creation scientists tend to win the creation-evolution debates
See also: Creation vs. evolution debates
In 2010, the worldwide atheist community was challenged to a debate by Creation Ministries International as prominent atheists were speaking at a 2010 global atheist convention in Australia. Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and other prominent atheists refused to debate Creation Ministries International.
A majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the naturalistic evolutionary position since World War II have been atheists. Creation scientists tend to win the Creation-Evolution debates and many have been held since the 1970s particularly in the United States. Robert Sloan, Director of Paleontology at the University of Minnesota, reluctantly admitted to a Wall Street Journal reporter that the "creationists tend to win" the public debates which focused on the creation vs. evolution controversy. In August 1979, Dr. Henry Morris reported in an Institute for Creation Research letter the following: “By now, practically every leading evolutionary scientist in this country has declined one or more invitations to a scientific debate on creation/evolution.” Morris also said regarding the creation scientist Duane Gish (who had over 300 formal debates): “At least in our judgment and that of most in the audiences, he always wins.” Generally speaking, leading evolutionists generally no longer debate creation scientists because creation scientists tend to win the creation vs. evolution debates. In addition, the atheist and evolutionist, Richard Dawkins has shown inconsistent and deceptive behavior concerning his refusal creation scientists. In an article entitled "Are Kansas Evolutionists Afraid of a Fair Debate?" the Discovery Institute states the following:
|“||Defenders of Darwin's theory of evolution typically proclaim that evidence for their theory is simply overwhelming. If they really believe that, you would think they would jump at a chance to publicly explain some of that overwhelming evidence to the public. Apparently not.||”|
In 1994, the arch-evolutionist Dr. Eugenie Scott made this confession concerning creation vs. evolution debates:
|“|| During the last six or eight months, I have received more calls about debates between creationists and evolutionists than I have encountered for a couple of years, it seems. I do not know what has inspired this latest outbreak, but I am not sure it is doing much to improve science education.
Why do I say this? Sure, there are examples of "good" debates where a well-prepared evolution supporter got the best of a creationist, but I can tell you after many years in this business that they are few and far between. Most of the time a well-meaning evolutionist accepts a debate challenge (usually "to defend good science" or for some other worthy goal), reads a bunch of creationist literature, makes up a lecture explaining Darwinian gradualism, and can't figure out why at the end of the debate so many individuals are clustered around his opponent, congratulating him on having done such a good job of routing evolution—and why his friends are too busy to go out for a beer after the debate.
In August 2003 the Creation Research Society published some interesting material regarding their correspondence with Richard Dawkins regarding a creation-evolution debate in which Richard Dawkins participated in as a debater. The Creation Research Society stated regarding the debate the following:
|“||Despite Dr. Dawkins’ plea, there were apparently 115 votes for the creation position (more than 37%). This was done near Darwin’s turf. Imagine flat-earthers going to NASA and convincing over 37% of the scientists there that the earth is flat. Maybe creation science is not as closely akin to flat-earthism as Dr. Dawkins supposes (see his Free Inquiry article).||”|
History of the growth of creationist apologetics and its effects
|“|| American evangelical Christians have began to notice in the fifties that compromise is a slow poison that ultimately destroys respect for truth. Some of them came together and started writing aggressively on themes defending the historical and scientific reliability of the Bible. This gave birth to the modern interest in Apologetics and Creationism. At the dawn of the twenty-first century the influence of this revival has spread all over the world, and today more than one hundred and fifty organizations function around the world, devoted solely to apologetics. Their influence has be so strong that a large number of Seminaries all around the world have begun assert the historical and scientific reliability of the Bible...
...with the birth of the modern creationism and apologetics, a revival set in motion among the evangelical Christians. This group became quite vocal and aggressive in the sixties, and by seventies they started exerting significant influence among theologians, thinkers, and the Bible teachers all over the world.
Thousands of apologetic books, hundreds of magazines, and tens of thousands of articles have been produced defending the Bible since. In turn, this has started to diminish the influence of rationalists and radicals on Christians.
From the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century the rationalists had their heyday, snatching away millions of young people from their Christian faith and commitment. The wounds of this loss can been seen in Christendom even today, but at the same time this loss has been greatly minimized now because of the work of Christian apologists.
Today anyone desiring to know about the Bible, and its connection with science, evolution, history, archaeology, has read any number of books on this topic. Literally thousands of titles are available, and he can choose anywhere from the most simple books to the most technically advanced ones. Thus the modern apologetics movement has been able to arrest the way in which rationalists have been bleeding the Christian church.
Summary of why implicit/explict atheism have diminished in importance
First, the attempt of some atheists/agnostics to make the definition of atheism broader unnecessarily broadens the historic definition of atheism (see: Definition of atheism).
Next, given the: abundance of evidence for the existence of God and for Christianity; God's creation testifying to His existence; the complete lack of evidence for atheism; many atheists/agnostics often having difficulty suppressing theistic thoughts; and the growth of global desecularization, atheism and its nomenclature has become increasingly irrelevant.
- Rebuttal of George S. Smith's book Atheism: The Case Against God
- Smith, George H. (1979). Atheism: The Case Against God. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus. pp. 13–18. ISBN 0-87975-124-X.
- Are babies born atheists? by Matt Slick
- George H. Smith, The Case Against God, page 7
- Definition of atheism by William Lane Craig
- Does everything happen for a reason?
- Children see the world as designed.
- Unruh, Bob (July 19, 2014). "Scientists: atheists might not exist". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved on February 21, 2015.
- *Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
- Escape from God: The Use of Religion and Philosophy to Evade Responsibility By Dean Turner, page 109
- Darwin’s real message: have you missed it?
- American Scientist May 1977:323
- Notes to Teleological Arguments for God's Existence
- Romans 1: 18-20 English Standard Version translation
- Atheists embarrassed: study proves atheism uses less brain function
- Death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God, Science Daily, Date: April 2, 2012
- Atheists, Death and Belief in God The Effects of Death Reminders on Atheists' Supernatural Beliefs, Psychology Today, Published on May 25, 2012 by Nathan A. Heflick, Ph.D. in The Big Questions
- Black Greek-Letter Organizations 2.0: New Directions in the Study of African American Fraternities and Sororities by Matthew W. Hughey, Gregory S. Parks, commentary by Corey D.B. Walker, Univ. Press of Mississippi, Feb 18, 2011, page 91
- Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020
- 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
- Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
- A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
- Professor Peter Berger on Resurgence of Religion and Decline of Secularization Theory
- The Return of Religion
- Pushing the Antithesis on Greg Bahnsen
- Bahsen at the Stein debate by John Frame
- Open Questions: Diverse Thinkers Discuss God, Religion, and Faith by Luís F. Rodrigues, page 201
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- Introduction To Integrated Christian Apologetics, Dr. Johnson C. Philip & Dr. Saneesh Cherian
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- Creationism spreading in Europe
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- Multiple references:
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