Yesterday, while I wasn’t especially active on Twitter as I didn’t participate in a big discussion, I happened to come aross a rather radical group of Christians. I of course, won’t give any names but it will suffice for me to say, that they’re ones who continuously push the Hitler/ Stalin was an Atheist! “argument” . Yesterday I came across some different points though, where these people pointed out, that belief in God is built into our DNA. From that, they concluded that Atheism is child abuse, that Atheists are mentally sick and that Atheism should be banned (Yeah I know, I had the same reaction).
While I do agree, that we are hardwired to see agency and design in our world, where there simply isn’t any, nothing about this tells us anything of whether one should or shouldn’t be Atheist, who is demented for what reason and what religious belief or lack thereof should be banned, if we should ban religious belief at all. So here’s how I see it:
Yes, we are predisposed to see agency in our world and therefore to believe in a deity. This of course, is explained through our evolution as seeing agency, where there is none won’t get you killed but failing to detect agency means, that the agent aka the predator will kill you and can’t reproduce. Therefore the species who detects agency, even if sometimes falsely, will be able to reproduce offspring, while the other will go extinct. You know: Natural selection 101.
What does this tell us: Precisely nothing. Nothing about this tells us whether or not God exists, nothing about this tells us if we should or shouldn’t believe in God and we most definitely can’t draw conclusions whether Atheists in general or partially are demented or not.
What’s more due to the fact, that we know have other great means of defending us against predators, brought to us by science, we also don’t have the need to detect agency in our world and as we clearly see, detecting a false agent be it Allah or Yahweh or Vishnu or whatever can lead to great harm. Therefore wouldn’t it be all the more important to be aware of our cognitive biases, to keep them in check and remain skeptical, seeing that people are willing to kill themselves if they don’t?
Even if we go one step further and concede that belief in a higher power is built into us, that doesn’t mean, that a higher power exists, nor does it mean, that we should believe in a higher power and in our modern progressive society it may or may not be better to try to cure ourselves of these built in behaviors.
The bottom line is this: Just because we have something built into our genome, it simply does not follow , that we should behave a certain way and any of the objections above are just like the Hitler argument an attempt to poison the well to make atheists look bad and is discrimnating and personally insulting to all nonbelievers. Nothing about raising children to think critically is child abuse (it would be abuse if you preach to them, that there is no God and that materialism is an unquestionable dogma which would be on a par with religious indoctrination of Christianity, Islam etc. ), Atheists aren’t mentally sick and you cannot dictate what one is allowed to believe or to lack belief in or disbelieve. You’re free to believe whatever Bullshit you want, even if it is Mor(m)onism as are others. What beliefs are more reasonable though, is of course subject to debate and personally insulting me won’t make the dialogue more productive.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation