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Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
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09-09-2016, 05:08 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(08-09-2016 09:57 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  [...] The belief that we are all born atheists, while a popular talking point with some of the New Atheists, seems to not be supported by the latest scientific research.

No it's not. A couple of global examples does not adequately "support" a hypothesis—any hypothesis. It takes multiple peer reviews, sometimes spanning decades. If you're seriously going to cite such shaky references in your thesis, then it ain't gonna be worth much.

Quote:Even if we are born believers, as the evidence suggests, that does not mean we must accept the proposition that "God exists."

The "evidence" does not suggest we are "born believers". 99.99% of the current scientific literature supports the tenet that we're born (effectively) as atheists. The former is just a case of selective bias on your part. You're a theist, so naturally you support theistic tenets. Doesn't make them right. At any rate, we're not literally born as either theists or atheists, but you seem to have a problem understanding that at the get-go.

And you can't pick and choose by what means you interpret theism. You must accept that your god exists. Theism itself is defined as a belief in the existence of deities. The term theism also describes the classical conception of gods that are found in all monotheistic and polytheistic religions, (and is derived from the Greek word theos meaning "god").

Quote:Why could this atheopathy, though rare, not be viewed as an evolutionary adaptation?

I note that Creation Ministries International (CMI) uses this made-up, nonsensical "atheopathy" term—which is where I'm presuming you dug it up from. Atheopathic is an inherently derogatory term used by theists, meaning "one who suffers from atheism". As in one who suffers from alcoholism or diabetes or kleptomania. In fact, I'm not even sure that you know what the word means, even as you inject it into all your comments. CMI even has the audacity to describe Stephen Hawking as an atheopath LOL.

Presumably—using your logic [sic] and made-up words, I could describe you as "theopathic"—the disease of believing in the existence of paranormal events or supernatural entities.

Dodgy

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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09-09-2016, 09:24 PM (This post was last modified: 10-09-2016 01:18 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(08-09-2016 11:20 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  For the record, I find it very interesting that most people are rejecting the idea of us being born with beliefs when I'm afraid this is rapidly becoming a well-established scientific fact. I expected more people to attack my hypothesis that atheopathy is caused by a genetic mutation. It's a radical idea for which there might be little evidence. Time will tell. But science has always progressed by someone challenging the reigning paradigm (eg. Einstein and Newtonian physics.) Thanks for being a part of this. Night all. Smile

It is not becoming any such thing, AND you have posted NOT ONE peer reviwed article that says humans are born with any such thing. You CLAIM it. You offer no evidence. You haven't even posted a METHOD to determine what you claim, scientifically. You have posted nothing about the mutation, where it is located, when it arose, why and how it (would have to exist) in genetically diverse and UNRELATED groups. It's simply a stupid idea posited by someone who basically knows nothing about science or genetics, and who has no real evidence for his pet crazy idea. (We get you "crazy idea" loonies here ... about once a week. You're as common as dirt.)

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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09-09-2016, 09:48 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(09-09-2016 09:24 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(08-09-2016 11:20 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  For the record, I find it very interesting that most people are rejecting the idea of us being born with beliefs when I'm afraid this is rapidly becoming a well-established scientific fact. I expected more people to attack my hypothesis that atheopathy is caused by a genetic mutation. It's a radical idea for which there might be little evidence. Time will tell. But science has always progressed by someone challenging the reigning paradigm (eg. Einstein and Newtonian physics.) Thanks for being a part of this. Night all. Smile

It is not becoming any such thing, AND you have posted NOT ONE peer reviwed article that says humans are born with any such thing. You CLAIM it. You offer no evidence. You haven't even posted a METHOD to determine what you claim, scientifically. You have posted nothing about the mutation, where it is located, when it arose, why and how it (would have to exist) in genetically diverse and UNRELATED groups. It's simply a stupid idea posited by someone who basically knows nothing about science or genetics, and who has no real evidence for his pet crazy idea. (We get you "crazy idea" loonies here ... about once a week. You're as common as dirt.

Yet another theist with some claim about scientific evidence, yet who is clueless about the scientific method, by his own admission. Facepalm

Atheopathy? FFS. Make up a word, but at least make up a decent word, "Randy". There is already a word that describes atheists. Guess what it is? Dodgy
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09-09-2016, 10:22 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
I'm back. But it's late, I'm sick and probably not going to be able to respond to many comments tonight as I have to work in the morning. However, my appreciation for your interest and my curiosity have me wanting to read and respond to a few more. So here goes.
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09-09-2016, 10:32 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(08-09-2016 01:47 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(08-09-2016 12:40 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  You explain to me how theism answers those questions for parents with a 5 year old, dying of cancer. Facepalm
These gods certainly do serve something, I'm not so sure "order and meaning" is that thing.
https://owlcation.com/humanities/10-Weir...-Goddesses
Weeping

I doubt there are many 5 year olds who view life as meaningless noise, nihilist, or imagine their existence is a product of some cosmic accident. They'd be inclined to believe the opposite. . A variety of studies indicate that children are inclined to teleology, even when raised in non-religious households. And hence the predominance of religious tendencies, the prevalence of spiritual beliefs, beliefs in a sacred order, found in some for or other in every civilization that has existed. I'm not sure how you can account for such a near universal beliefs, without a predisposition to it.

Well said, Tomasia. You have obviously kept up on the current scientific literature more so than some others have. I agree with you - and I'm not suggesting anything else other than a natural explanation.

We used to be born atheists. Our brains grew and, through natural selection, we evolved a predisposition to seeing teleology in nature for its survival advantage. Today, most people are born with this predisposition. But with the rise of science, we no longer need to posit a god and, due to a genetic mutation, a rare few are being born without this predisposition. This is a purely natural and scientific explanation. There is nothing to feel threatened by.
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09-09-2016, 10:36 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(08-09-2016 02:08 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(08-09-2016 08:53 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Damn, how could i miss that one. Weeping
Couldnt see the forest for the trees Facepalm

I think you guys may be misreading his statement. He's not going to look for scientific evidence of God's existence. He has already admitted that that question is outside the realm of science. Therefore, he is not considering that question at all. What he is considering is whether or not humans are born with a default tendency toward "belief" -- and that question may be amenable to scientific investigation. I think that's all he's saying, and I don't think it's contradictory. Granted, he could have said it more clearly.

Short version: This thread is not about God's existence. It's about belief in God's existence. Subtle but important difference.

Thank you, Grasshopper. You are correct in your assessment. I thought I said it clearly enough but perhaps not. I tried to make it clearer in subsequent posts responding to the criticism.
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09-09-2016, 10:44 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
Here, again, is Number 1 of my origin post:

1. Our starting assumption is not that a god exists or doesn't exist but that its existence is outside of the purview of science. We will not consider supernatural or non-natural explanations.

I knew that if I wrote, "Our starting assumption is that God does not exist," someone would correct me and explain that science takes no position on the existence of God. I agree. So I thought I made it clear with my follow-up, clarifying statement that, "We will not consider supernatural or non-natural explanations."

Honestly, I am failing to see how that could be misinterpreted as I'm going to try to prove the existence of God. I hope I have made it clear now that I am seeking a purely natural explanation. Because of the tremendous explanatory power that evolution by natural selection has, a genetic mutation seems like a good candidate. But, like any other hypothesis, it must be tested.
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09-09-2016, 10:55 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
   
(08-09-2016 06:27 PM)Paleophyte Wrote:  Welcome to the forum.

Quote:Here is my hypothesis:

1. Our starting assumption is not that a god exists or doesn't exist but that its existence is outside of the purview of science. We will not consider supernatural or non-natural explanations.

Good start. I'd add that you are examining a belief in God, not God itself. The former is such a common cultural experience that it's pretty much axiomatic, though many will want to examine the specific nature of that belief.

Quote:2. Theism is the default position. We are all born believers. Evolution has caused us to be this way due to its survival advantage.

Sorry, but mal-adapted flight reflexes only gets you as far as superstition. The bunny jumping at a noise in the bushes for no good reason is a very long way from religion.

Quote:3. Atheopaths lack a belief in God. They are "born that way." Their "agency detector" is broken. Studies have, in fact, demonstrated that theists see patterns that don't exist and atheists miss patterns that do exist. Their "pattern recognition software," so to speak, has been corrupted.

4. One mechanism that we know of which tends to break things and corrupt information is genetic mutation.

5. So, my testable, falsifiable prediction is that one or more genetic mutations are responsible for atheopathy.

[Image: e7e9ef0befa15bfbfc14e6c55aa11e08.jpg]

OK, a hypothesis must make some testable predictions and yours does:

Does your hypothesis explain the geographical and temporal distribution of atheism/theism? It is extremely difficult to accept them as random, the result of hereditable traits or some mutagenic agent. Societal forces seem a much more plausible explanation (Paul, 2005).

Does your hypothesis explain adult coversions, both atheist to theist and theist to atheist? I see this as a problem for it since mutation has little to no affect on adult organisms.

Quote:Any feedback from members is sincerely appreciated. This is a serious hypothesis that I believe deserves careful consideration and study with the intent to understand why some people are born without a belief in God.

Pick up a few good intro psych courses. There are some decent ones available online and for free. Belief is going to be a great deal more complex than a single factor such a flight reflexes and mutations thereof. If it were that simple we'd have a pill for it.

It's been refreshing to talk with a theist that knows what a hypothesis actually means though.

Thank you, Paleophyte. Some helpful advice there. And yes I know what a hypothesis is. I also know that a scientific theory is not merely a hunch or conjecture but is a well-established explanation of the data. I have been working on a cover for the book - if I ever actually write it - and I plan to put "theory" in the subtitle for its accessibility to the lay reader and explain in the Introduction that it's really at the hypothesis stage and not a theory. It will also serve to catch those critics on Amazon who have not really read the book but only the cover. (See the cover below.) Wink
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09-09-2016, 10:56 PM (This post was last modified: 09-09-2016 11:00 PM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(09-09-2016 10:32 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  
(08-09-2016 01:47 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  I doubt there are many 5 year olds who view life as meaningless noise, nihilist, or imagine their existence is a product of some cosmic accident. They'd be inclined to believe the opposite. . A variety of studies indicate that children are inclined to teleology, even when raised in non-religious households. And hence the predominance of religious tendencies, the prevalence of spiritual beliefs, beliefs in a sacred order, found in some for or other in every civilization that has existed. I'm not sure how you can account for such a near universal beliefs, without a predisposition to it.

Well said, Tomasia. You have obviously kept up on the current scientific literature more so than some others have. I agree with you - and I'm not suggesting anything else other than a natural explanation.

We used to be born atheists. Our brains grew and, through natural selection, we evolved a predisposition to seeing teleology in nature for its survival advantage. Today, most people are born with this predisposition. But with the rise of science, we no longer need to posit a god and, due to a genetic mutation, a rare few are being born without this predisposition. This is a purely natural and scientific explanation. There is nothing to feel threatened by.

This is correct, except for the "due to a genetic mutation" part. Allele frequency changes in populations without mutation via selection (rate at which a particular set of genes is reproduced), not by novel mutation. Mutation is what allows a new gene to enter the gene pool, but is not what alters the levels of each one.

In the case of psychology-causing genetics, it's rarely one gene at work, and is almost never an either-or proposition, with people having varying degrees of expression of that gene.

What appears to have happened, by my reading, is that people developed a genetic "religiousity" tendency, which was favored by NS over the course of thousands of generations in our cave-man history, until the frequency hit the ~80% mark. The causes for that frequency increase have now mostly disappeared.

However, I'd venture to say that most of the changes in the rise of the "nones" has to do with people who followed the religious programming (childhood indoctrination) no longer feeling the need to bow to that pressure. If they have the religiousity gene set, they're likely to say they're now "spiritual, not religious", and if they don't then they will say they stopped pretending to be religious to go along with family/societal expectations.

That's your scientific explanation. There's no such thing as a child born with a religion, and there's no such thing as "atheopathy". The assertions being piled on top of what is otherwise pretty astute reading of the human evolutionary history are unnecessary. Calling atheism a "genetic mutation" also suggests that it is something new, rather than one of the standard allele options that have existed all along.

Edit to Add: It's a bit like saying that brown eyes, which are the default, become a "genetic mutation" if for some reason blue-eyed people--the novel gene, emerging about 8000 years ago--somehow hit 80%... if the Nazis had purged the planet, for instance (not Godwin's Law, just trying to come up with a reason why blue eyes would hit 80% of the human population). For a blue-eyed person to come along and claim that brown eyed people had some sort of genetic anomaly is ridiculous, but that's almost exactly what you're asserting, here, from a genetics standpoint.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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09-09-2016, 11:04 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(08-09-2016 06:32 PM)Paleophyte Wrote:  PS:

(07-09-2016 10:12 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  But if we are truly born believers, I would like to propose a hypothesis for what I call "atheopathy" - being born without a belief in God. Please note, I use the term "atheopath," not in a derogatory manner, but simply for someone born without a belief in God - much the same way a sociopath is born without empathy.

If you want to keep the discussion cordial, try not to refer to a world view that you don't possess and likely can't properly understand as a pathology and then make an analogy to a stigmatized disorder that tends to end with a trunkload of dead hookers. Some people might take that the wrong way.

LOL! Okay, I'll try. But I thought atheism wasn't a "worldview." Wink

If a theist said that, he'd get crucified (pun intended). But I suspect you'll get a pass because you're an atheist.

Also, why do you say I "likely can't properly understand" atheism? If it's true we are all born atheists, then I was once one too. And most of my friends are atheists, virtually all of my free time is spent, reading, watching and interacting with atheists. I think I have a pretty good idea of what it is - and is not. But just to be sure, here is a paragraph from my essay, "Why I am Not an Atheist":

"Before I am accused of attacking a straw man, allow me to establish my understanding of the atheist's position. I don't equate atheism with Satanism, communism, Naziism, anarchism, Darwinism, liberalism, humanism or any other -ism you care to name. I am well aware that atheists like to define atheism, not as a belief, but as a lack of belief in any gods, deities or supernatural forces. I have no illusions that atheism is a religion or a belief system. As atheists are fond of asserting, if atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby. (I will, however, challenge this definition of atheism later.)"
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