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Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
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08-09-2016, 08:24 PM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2016 08:30 PM by Fatbaldhobbit.)
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(08-09-2016 08:15 PM)cactus Wrote:  The connection between autism and atheism seems pretty intuitive to me. People on the autism spectrum tend to be less persuaded by appeals to emotion, right?

It's extremely difficult to say. Autism includes a very wide variety of symptoms and severity of those symptoms. Usually there are more differences than similarities between different autistic people.

When you add in the array of conditions that often accompany autism, such as intellectual impairment, and any common ground for comparison is quickly lost.

ETA:
Some people with autism do have trouble with emotional bonds and understanding social cues. I'm not sure of any statistics, buy it would be a reasonable assumption.

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08-09-2016, 09:00 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(07-09-2016 10:58 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  Thank you for your reply, DLJ.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the reason we believe in gods is because "we are born with the capacity to accept authority and believe what we are told by our guardians (and often our peers)."

I accept that but would it not still mean that the belief, in God, itself is not innate but learned? That is the very point I am contesting. Atheist Lewis Wolpert among others has argued that "atheism is unnatural while belief in gods is not." (See interview at link below.)

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/lewis_wolp...of_belief/

I admit that I do feel the first hurdle I must get over is to convince atheists with evidence from the peer-reviewed literature that belief in God is innate. And many Christians will reject my hypothesis as well because the Bible states that everyone knows God exists and there really are no atheists. So I fear that it will be an uphill battle to persuade either side of the value of my hypothesis if they don't accept the starting assumptions.

One survival value of belief in a god that I have often heard is that it was useful for identifying group membership. It is so irrational that people not belonging to the group in question were unlikely to independently come up with the same idea. A bit like a secret code. Interestingly, this view argues for learned rather than innate beliefs.

The other one I am aware of is social order and control. How so? If you look at ancient societies, there was no separation of state and religion. They are more often than not synonymous. Superstitious beliefs were primitive attempts at explaining the unknown. When displaced by enlightened society, religions become cultural vestiges. Is that an argument for congenital innate beliefs? Hardly.

If belief in God is something we are born with, it should be easy to demonstrate. E.g. by showing that every primitive society for example believes in more or less the same woo. But if you look at history, the Jew had totally different ideas of woo than the Pygmy.

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning ~ Werner Heisenberg
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08-09-2016, 09:07 PM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2016 10:03 PM by DLJ.)
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
I Wrote:Kinda. I'm saying that I accept that 'a capacity to believe' (the ability to 'represent' a concept) is innate i.e. built into the operating system (by evolution) but 'what gets believed' (the actual concept) is the software that's loaded in our informative years.

Or to continue the IT analogy, belief in a god or gods or goddesses is the customisation rather than the configuration.

And the bible? Well. that's just a poorly written Operating Manual / Policy Framework.

Wink
Ha, ha. Good one. Smile

So it seems like you are saying all our beliefs are learned. But that goes against much of the latest research in neuroscience which has largely discredited the "blank slate" theory. It appears we are born and come pre-programmed with certain beliefs. Theists will say God put them there. Atheists will say evolution did it. But I'm not sure we can deny their reality any longer.

http://sites.bu.edu/ombs/2012/02/22/are-...knowledge/
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08-09-2016, 09:15 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
Pattern recognition on a "tactical" level in day to day survival is one thing, but why relate it to "strategic" (philosophical level) thinking about the origin of everything around me. Is this really justified?

What i am talking about is that comparing the two is possibly a fallacy of false analogy unless you have scientific data to support the link of the two?

Those are valid questions. But this is not my theory. I use the rabbit example because I think I heard Michael Shermer use it once but here is a similar example cited from the link below at Live Science:

Picture this: You're a human being living many thousands of years ago. You're out on the plains of the Serengeti, sitting around, waiting for an antelope to walk by so you can kill it for dinner. All of a sudden, you see the grasses in front of you rustling. What do you do? Do you stop and think about what might be causing the rustling (the wind or a lion, for example), or do you immediately take some kind of action?

"On the plains of the Serengeti, it would be better to not sit around and reflect. People who took their time got selected out," Clark told Live Science. Humans who survived to procreate were those who had developed what evolutionary scientists call a hypersensitive agency-detecting device, or HADD, he said.

In short, HADD is the mechanism that lets humans perceive that many things have "agency," or the ability to act of their own accord. This understanding of how the world worked facilitated the rapid decision-making process that humans had to go through when they heard a rustling in the grass. (Lions act of their own accord. Better run.)

But in addition to helping humans make rational decisions, HADD may have planted the seeds for religious thought. In addition to attributing agency to lions, for example, humans started attributing agency to things that really didn't have agency at all.

http://www.livescience.com/52364-origins...liefs.html
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08-09-2016, 09:19 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(08-09-2016 12:22 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Addendum: being a christian theist, i hope you dont think that, even given the fact that theism is probably an innate favourable evolutionary trait, this does not even in the slightest has anything to say about the truth value of the proposition "gods exist".
Thinking one thing may or may not exist is irrelevant for the fact if said thing really exists.

Of course. Natural selection doesn't select for truth but for survival advantage. It's even caused some people to be atheists. Wink
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08-09-2016, 09:30 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(07-09-2016 10:12 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  2. Theism is the default position. We are all born believers. Evolution has caused us to be this way due to its survival advantage.

Except no. That's neither a fact, nor is it something supported in the bible. In fact, the exact opposite is what's supported in the bible.

You and I are from different religions, but your religion is founded on my religion, Judaism. Whether you believe that the world was created in six literal days or billions of years, Judaism teaches that the Torah was given to the Jews well into the development of human history. This leaves a period of time before the Jews were instructed on how to worship G-d. During this period of time, humanity lives by a set of rules we now call call the seven Noahide laws. A requirement to worship G-d is not listed among these laws; only that if a person does choose to worship, it can't be to an idol.

Clearly, atheism was a valid position to take at least at one point in time, so I don't think you can convincingly make the argument that all people are theists by default... especially when your beliefs are built upon a Jewish foundation.
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08-09-2016, 09:32 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(07-09-2016 10:12 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  Hello. This is my first time posting and even visiting here.
Welcome.
(07-09-2016 10:12 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  I must say at the outset that I am not an atheist but a Christian theist.
OK
(07-09-2016 10:12 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  I have a tremendous interest in science and am considering writing a book about a new hypothesis I have been working on for the origin of atheism.
Not sure that science is the right topic with regards to "the origin of atheism".

(07-09-2016 10:12 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  A common claim from atheists I encounter is that we are all born atheists, that atheism is the default position and that people typically come to their theistic beliefs through childhood indoctrination.

But new research in neuroscience, however, is showing that this appears not to be the case and that we are actually all born believers.
Believers in what? In who?
How do test a new born baby and conclude that it believes in a god, which god does it believe in? Does it know what a god is? Can the person assessing the beliefs of babies even define what a god is?
(07-09-2016 10:12 PM)Randy Ruggles Wrote:  For evidence, I point to the work of Dr. Justin Barrett (see link below) and also Dr Paul Bloom.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion...laims.html

OK so the definition of believes in god comes down to
Quote:a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose
My question for you. Does a new born baby understand the concept of "purpose" or "designed", or "intelligent being"?
Personally, I think our intuition could easily look at the complexity of life and living things and assume these complex creatures were designed. We can see their complexity, we can see that they have legs which help them to move from a to b, a mouth which helps them to eat, eyes which helps them to see. It seems as if the mouth has a purpose, it seems as if the eyes have a purpose. It seems as if these things come together to make a complete living thing which can be successful at surviving and procreating. When seeing these things it would make sense to come to the superficial conclusion that they were designed.

So, yes, I kind of agree with you, but not for a new born, but instead when a developing child (without knowledge of science) starts to think about things it can easily be understood that they might come to a conclusion that living things have been designed and the things such as eyes and mouths have a designed purpose. If they start to think, well who designed it, then they might come up with the idea of a magical invisible, timeless, powerful intelligent creator.
This isn't really science though.

BUT I certainly agree, Life gives the appearance of design and purpose and (without scientific knowledge) may make one think about who the designer was. It would be a natural question, and this is philosophy rather than science.
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08-09-2016, 09:37 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
(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.

Protip here, Randy...

Sociopaths suffer from a recognized psychological disorder. You're comparing emotionally sufficient, productive, educated adults to sociopaths. Like they have some kind of theism disorder. Even if you add the words, "no offense," you kind of come off as lacking a little empathy there.

.... little bit of sociopathic behavior if you ask me.

If you're trying to curry enough favor with people to get them to hear your point and have a serious conversation with them, don't tell them that their brains are defective.
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08-09-2016, 09:43 PM
RE: Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
Thanks for your response. I'll answer each point in turn.

1. "You missed the bit where you define what a God is?"

I don't have to. Methodological naturalism doesn't consider God when testing scientific hypotheses. (Incidentally, I am a methodological naturalist but not a philosophical naturalist. But my personal beliefs are irrelevant to my thesis.)

2. "It may be a default position in terms of what babies believe but it doesn't say anything about it being the default *logical* position."

Agreed. Natural selection does not select for truth but for survival advantage.

3. "Please cite these studies."

This is part of my hypothesis to be tested. In my book, I will elaborate, show confirming evidence and suggest ways for the hypothesis to be tested/falsified.

5. Please state *how* you would test your so-called testable, falsifiable prediction.

See above.

For example, the idea of a "God gene" has largely been discredited but if there were such a thing, it would be subject to mutation and natural selection. If the God gene does not exist (I don't think it does) there might still be other areas of the brain which "house" spiritual experiences. See the work of Dr Andrew Newberg.

http://bigthink.com/think-tank/is-the-br...r-religion
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08-09-2016, 09:51 PM
Feedback requested on a new hypothesis on the origin of atheism
Born believers in what? Dualistic thinking? Supernatural in/out understanding of concepts? Purpose in the world... those don't say anything about it against atheism and plenty of atheists think those ways as developed adults.

Where does a "diety/god" of specific understanding come out from that? That's all atheism/theism is about.

It's really bizarre that some theists portray the total notion of metaphysical ideas as the contrast of atheism. Atheism isn't hard line scientific naturalism to a constraint thought on how minds work. These are separate points of philosophical ideas people may have. They may share a large crossover but aren't the same points.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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