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Some of the ambiguity and controversy involved in defining atheism arises from difficulty in reaching a consensus for the definitions of words like deity and god.

The plurality of wildly different conceptions of God and deities leads to differing ideas regarding atheism's applicability.

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Ernest Nagel contradicts Smith's definition of atheism as merely "absence of theism", acknowledging only explicit atheism as true "atheism".

have contrasted positive (strong/hard) atheism with negative (weak/soft) atheism.

Atheism has sometimes been defined to include the simple absence of belief that any deities exist.

This broad definition would include newborns and other people who have not been exposed to theistic ideas.

Positive atheism is the explicit affirmation that gods do not exist.

Negative atheism includes all other forms of non-theism.

(Sizes in the diagram are not meant to indicate relative sizes within a population.) contesting what supernatural entities are considered gods, whether it is a philosophic position in its own right or merely the absence of one, and whether it requires a conscious, explicit rejection.

Atheism has been regarded as compatible with agnosticism, A variety of categories have been used to distinguish the different forms of atheism.

This category would also include the child with the conceptual capacity to grasp the issues involved, but who is still unaware of those issues.

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