Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Jan Ardena, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

    Metaphysical thought processes are more deeply wired than hitherto suspected

    Metaphysical thought processes are more deeply wired than hitherto suspected

    WHILE MILITANT ATHEISTS like Richard Dawkins may be convinced God doesn’t exist, God, if he is around, may be amused to find that atheists might not exist.

    Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.

    While this idea may seem outlandish—after all, it seems easy to decide not to believe in God—evidence from several disciplines indicates that what you actually believe is not a decision you make for yourself. Your fundamental beliefs are decided by much deeper levels of consciousness, and some may well be more or less set in stone.

    This line of thought has led to some scientists claiming that “atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think,” says Graham Lawton, an avowed atheist himself, writing in the New Scientist. “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.”

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since we are born believers, not atheists, scientists say. Humans are pattern-seekers from birth, with a belief in karma, or cosmic justice, as our default setting. “A slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith,” writes Pascal Boyer in Nature, the science journal, adding that people “are only aware of some of their religious ideas”.

    Interesting article. What are your thoughts?.

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  3. RainbowSingularity Registered Senior Member

    most all of the greatist scientists have dared to question god.
    in the face of corporatised militant religious dictatorship.
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I think that theistic religions co-opting spiritual and metaphysical reality,
    such as by claiming all spiritual insight and metaphysical comprehension is from a deity, even (among the shameless) one associated with themselves, as we see happen in that article,

    are often manipulators and abusers of people they claim to be caring for.

    We see the same pattern in music, in art, in all of the roads to freedom of thought and rewards for compassionate attention or empathy: theists enlist them, co-opt them, and then credit their deity for the wonders and beauties of them - even deny them to those who do not profess belief in their deity. (For a long time in Europe one could not learn to read, or obtain work as an artist or musician, without first professing belief in an Abrahamic mono-god.)

    Nothing in any of these studies necessarily bears on deity. Not even overt and specifically religious belief, let alone the larger field of metaphysical insight and understanding, necessarily implies deity. Theists do not have the monopoly on spiritual reality they claim to possess.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
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  7. RainbowSingularity Registered Senior Member

    militant religions...
  8. Capracus Registered Senior Member

    Our beliefs are manifestations of our philosophies. The quality of those beliefs are dependent on the quality of their associated philosophies. We’re not born with well developed intellects or philosophies, those come with age and experience. It all comes down to the garbage in, garbage out adage. All philosophies have potential flaws regarding cosmological truth, the ones that don’t acknowledge this fact are the ones furthest off the mark.
  9. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    I used to say I wasn't religious enough to call myself an atheist. Religion never had anything to do with my life. Other than the Internet it still doesn't. Even here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt I have miniscule interactions with religion.
  10. birch Valued Senior Member

    i think that this just means the subconscious is more aware than conscious logic. but that still applies to theists too and doesn't mean their conscious theistic views in whatever narrow form are true.

    the same with atheists and their practical m.o. of deciphering the world rationally/concretely/necessarily or step by step while the subconscious is still metaphysically attuned.
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Seems to be conflating narrow atheism with broader or different categories (naturalism, irreligion, scientism, etc). Minus the mutable nuances arising when combined with ideological movements, personal orientations, or marketed distros / packages of thought... Generic atheism simply means "without deities" or lack of belief in such. Rather than overrunning to include god-less occult and spiritual affairs. It can be compatible with non-theistic religion. (It doesn't entail absence of all supernatural elements or absence of all institutionalized practices revolving around the latter.)

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  12. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    "This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since we are born believers, not atheists, scientists say. "

    Bullshit. People tend to go with the religion that is around them when they're raised, because that's what they're supposed to do. Religion routinely demands that people adhere to a single line of thought. If you're not raised around a religion you're unlikely to pick one up later in life.
  13. geordief Registered Senior Member

    It is not surprising(to me) that cultural influences should be hardwired down the generations.It would be surprising if it were not the case.

    It would be interesting if one was to come upon a culture that had been largely isolated down the generations from "religious" (or other cultural /environmental ) influences and to investigate whether their individual makeups could be shown to strongly reflect this.

    Is "epigenetics" the term that applies to this sort of thing?
  14. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    They're not "hardwired". If you put a person who was born into a religious setting and put them in a non-religious setting shortly after birth they're unlikely to develop religious tendencies. (And no, I didn't bookmark everything I've read since 1966.) This is no different than putting a Muslim baby into a Buddhist family, his environment will predispose him to Buddhism.
  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Agree. This article, while it contains a number of interesting findings and hypotheses, seems to mix up a number of threads that I would regard as separate. For example there is mention of metaphysics, but there is no argument for associating metaphysics with belief in a god. In fact, some of modern cosmology is closer to metaphysics than to observational science, in my opinion, but that does not make such speculations and studies religious in nature.

    Then there is mention of mankind's desire for some kind of morality, with one example given being the behaviour of religious groups, while another is the plot lines of most (not all) fiction! So this is hardly an argument for people believing in a god either.

    I am sure the linking theme is the pattern-seeking nature of human thought. One could perhaps regard all these things as byproducts of intelligence, since pattern-seeking is one of the the fundamental activities of intelligence.

    Finally, as I see it is the ghastly Jan Ardena

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    who has posted this, if science had found evidence that human beings were programmed towards religious belief, that would tend to suggest such belief is an artifact of human thought, or due to intrinsic bias, rather than something true, would it not?
  16. geordief Registered Senior Member

    A fair alternative interpretation.
  17. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Thread title does rather remind me of Douglas Adams...
    I'm expecting the next line to be along the lines of "'Oh, that means I don't exist,' said the scientist, and promptly disappears in a puff of logic."

    P1: I am an atheist (I lack belief that God exists)
    P2: I exist.
    C: Therefore at least one atheist exists.

    Now, you could argue, quite rightly, that P2 is implicit within P1, and also that C is simply tautological.
    But since the argument is valid, and is sound (although I'm sure Jan would like to not only claim I am an atheist but also now claim that I am not), C must be true.

    The "scientists" of the tread title are wrong.
  18. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    No, I think the implication is that while you may think you are atheist, in reality, secretly, underneath it all, in spite of yourself, you are not! This would fit the smug and patronising stance that Jan Ardena likes to adopt. He knows better than you yourself what you think, you see.
  19. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

    I've gone 66.6 years without worshipping any celestial figments. Now certain Scots distillers, on the other hand...
  20. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    The knowledge of mortality is far from a pleasant thought.

    It is not surprising that many (probably almost all) folks develop some alternative belief.

    When I was very young I encountered the following in some book
    I have tried to live by the above thoughts.

    I empathize but have little respect for those who allow themselves to be extremely unhappy because of the latter type of circumstances. Such folks die a little bit each day due to their fear of death instead of living the best life possible for them.

    Belief in life in a so called here-after is one approach to coping with the unpleasant thought of mortality. As an atheist I consider it a mistaken belief, but only argue with such folks if they insist on convincing me of their belief.
  21. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    A theist once claimed he could prove to me that God exists. It turned out very quickly that his "proof" depended on me existing but I declined to admit that I exist.
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Well, that's a twist.
    Richard Dawkins is an a-theist.
    But that only means Dawkins does not believe in a sentient creator,
    a supernatural and motivated sentience. I am sure he believes in universal constants, i.e. a set of inherent natural mathematical functions, which determine cause and effect.
    But that is not the same as believing in a God as defined in any scripture.

    Max Tegmark believes the universe is purely mathematical in essence. Thus he and Dawkins believe in a implacable mathematically functioning Wholeness, but that doesn't make them theists. It makes them atheist in the commonly accepted definition of theism.
  23. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

    Which theists, claim what spiritual insight, and comprehension?
    Let's look at theism for what it means, a belief in God. Let's look at what God, means, the unmoved transcendental cause of all causes. Atheists are without such a belief. So on paper, theists have a better insight to those things, than atheists. However, I am not claiming that this is so, nor is the article. It merely implies that there is, at the core, no atheist position.

    Theism isn't about deity, religion, or religious institute.
    Theists, ordinarily, may not have a monopoly on spirituality, because that's not what theism is about.
    The article also implies that, by claiming inadvertently, that there are only differing degrees of theists.


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