Explicit atheism is the belief that there is no God. Implicit is believing things that indirectly show you deny God. The core of implicit atheism is that there is no reason to care about God or think he is real. So both are denials in different ways.

Atheism that denies God is based on implicit atheism. There can be no such thing as a person who says the evidence says there is no God unless that person firstly sees that there is no reason to believe in God. No reason to believe is the first step. Then you must present the evidence why you must go further and reject God.

As soon as a child is able to believe anything she will not have heard of the idea of God or understand God as a God should be understood. She will think and act as if she assumes there is no God and that makes her an implicit atheist.

An explicit atheist is one who knows what God means and who asserts this being probably or certainly does not exist. Implicit atheism is her default.

God or Creator or both?

You might reject implicit atheism on the grounds that having no evidence for God does not mean there is no evidence. This is a childish position because possibilities do not count. Probabilities do. If you have 99% evidence that John murdered Jack and start saying its possible he didn't, the 1%, you are undermining evidence.

Some thinkers about the evidence for God have checked matters out and found there is none. Some say there is no evidence for God and admit there could be evidence that nobody has learned of yet. But that entitles them to presume that if there is unknown evidence then it refutes God. Why? Because if you have to make a big presumption and a smaller one then make the smaller one. God is too big of an assumption. You could assume a creator but it need not be a God. You don't need God to explain where things came from or how they seem to have been designed. And you want to avoid having to think that God is right to allow such terrible suffering to happen to innocent babies.

The atheist as evidence

God is by definition that which alone counts or matters so God is an action word. To act as if there is no God is to be an atheist without actually verbally claiming that atheism is true. A claim doesn't need to be verbal or explicitly a claim to be a claim. This kind of atheist is not claiming there is no God but is being evidence that there is no God. He gives evidence by his action and is indicating that his experience of the "spiritual" and of evidence shows there is no God. He bears witness.

If your atheism is merely an assumption then you are not claiming that atheism is true. If you don't claim that atheism is true, then you have no duty to show that atheism is true. You have no burden of proof. The burden of proof falls on somebody so the somebody is the person who says atheism is wrong.

The atheist who has the weak belief that there is no God does not have the burden of proof as heavy as one with a stronger belief.

The atheist is primarily atheist in how he lives. And in how he thinks - thinking as if there is no God and taking no account of God counts as atheism - atheism need not be clear disbelief in God. And he is also basically atheist in how he lives. The evidence he may look for and present for there being no God (or no reason to believe) is an offshoot of that.

Surely beliefs influence actions? Yes - atheist beliefs influence actions but the actions are still more important. The belief is more important in the sense that the action cannot take place without it. But the action is more about you - it expresses you. It turns you into atheist action.

Flew said unbelief is the default

Former Atheist Antony Flew wrote There is a God -, How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

Page 54, 56 has Flew standing by the view he popularised in his book, The Presumption of Atheism, that when you have believers in God and unbelievers in God debating, the burden of proof is on the believers to prove there is a God to the unbelievers and even to themselves!

Unbelief as in implicit atheism is the default position. The implicit atheist is not directly claiming anything and the believer is which is why the latter has the burden of proof.

Unbelievers are not entitled to disprove God if they don't wish to any more than a disbeliever in the tooth fairy is entitled to disprove it if he or she doesn't want to. It is those who say such entities exist who have the duty to try and prove their existence. The answer to that is "it would be true if God were as important to people as the truth fairy. But they say God is what matters unlike her for he made all things and is the being we owe everything to." But you could answer that God may be made important as in theory but nobody really makes him the be all and end all. Even the most ardent believer may be only doing things the God way because it suits her or him and not because it suits God.

Flew states on the same page that atheism's being the default position is the same as innocent until found guilty. [Maybe we should say "assumed untrue until found true or probably true."] There should be no belief in God until you prove there is or probably is one. Now your innocence can only be disbelieved in if your guilt is established beyond all reasonable doubt. That must be the case with God too. You must establish his existence beyond all reasonable doubt. You need proof before you have the right to promote faith in God. Otherwise you are like somebody that expects their neighbours to believe the parish priest molested children without providing proof to the neighbours. You may say, "But that is harmful to the priest if the allegation is not true. What harm does it do to promote God without proof? It's not the same thing." It is harmful. It is a different form of the rule that a person must be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. To oppose one is to oppose the other for it is one rule stated differently for different things.

Look at it this way, If God alone matters then if there is no God then the person who does not worry much about God is being declared guilty until found innocent. It works two ways. There is the God side and what that side says about us as well.

God is not just an entity. God is an entity that demands entire self-giving from us. If what you call God is really a God whole and entire self-sacrifice will be your duty to him. That is no trivial matter.

Promoting God without sufficient evidence or proof is harmful is because it is saying that God is the being that deserves all our love and whose authority must be obeyed and respected so that anybody who does not do this is extremely evil. Logically, it is better to sexually abuse a child than to refuse to acknowledge God. The promotion is malicious at worst and irresponsibly dangerous at best. It cannot be approved of.

And believers hold that somehow God is morality. They say that there is no goodness without belief in God. That is no trivial matter either.

No wonder we cannot assume lightly that God exists. We need overwhelming evidence. God has to exist or devotion to him is a bad thing.

Belief in a creator and in a God are not necessarily the same

Belief in a creator is not exactly the same as belief in a God. If there is a creator, he might not be the being that deserves to matter to us above all else.

Deserving might not apply. God by definition is the only real good and God alone should be valued if he exists.

You can believe in a creator and still be atheist.

Thus we see that if belief in a creator or a God is the default then the default is belief in a creator.

God needs to be default to be God. He cannot be that which alone counts unless he is. But he is not.

Thus God is an incoherent concept. To prove God incoherent is to disprove God.

Believers have no business demeaning a person by asking them to accept God without giving adequate evidence for his existence first. You need absolute proof to show that something as ridiculous or important (choose your word!) as God exists.

Atheism as in implicit atheism is the default position. This certainly implies that people should start off with unbelief and should not be conditioned to believe from childhood. The baptising of babies with a view to conditioning or at best unduly influencing them as in Roman Catholicism is totally against the rights of the babies. It is an implied insult against unbelief and atheism's right and position to be the default. It is an implied insult against atheists. It follows that religion should accept converts reluctantly instead of taking them in when they can't or don't know all the facts.

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Edited by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2007


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