I liked Nagel’s distinction (raised in the comments) between implicit and explicit atheism, rather than atheism & anti-theism (a weaselly word way to try and push the less palatable expressions of atheism outside the camp).
And the almighty Wikipedia also recognises this as a broad and narrow “sense” of atheism – I’m not sure which is implicit or explicit, but both are certainly atheism.
I was reminded of another article from the Guardian. At the risk of dipping into the same pool twice in so short a time it’ll be the link of the day.
I was intrigued by this idea,
In this light, it’s remarkable not that there are atheists today, but that there were so few in the long centuries of Christendom’s glory. I don’t think persecution or the fear of persecution can account for this. It did not manage to suppress all manners of subtle heresy; why should it successfully suppress the most obvious and radical objection to the whole business?
One answer, Spencer suggests, is that important atheism is always secondary to theism. For any particular atheism to matter, there must be an important conception of God to be rejected; in that sense, atheism is closely related to blasphemy. And the concept of God is itself extremely flexible: some are so strange as to be unrecognisable as gods to other worshippers, which is one reason why the early Christians themselves appeared as atheists to the pagans around them.
that atheism has historically been reactionary to theism. It makes me wonder if the present attacks on atheism from theism stem from a shift in the dialectic of atheism from passivity to activity in recent years with the New Atheists. That’s not to say that there hasn’t always been vigorous debate between theists and atheists, but we do live an age where the message of minority groups such as atheists can sidestep the more conservative media channels which have had an interest in silencing other viewpoints, to reach a large audience relatively easily.