born an atheist
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16-10-2013, 03:06 PM
born an atheist
A thought came to me while I was thinking of the genetic role of intelligence. We like to subscribe to a tabula rasa philosophy, that we are born with no inherent programming and that most of our intellectual tendencies are conditioned. But this simply isn't true, there is some statistical correlation between genetics and baseline intelligence. But perhaps there's more applications of that.

My immediate genetic family has four engineers, one physicist, and a "math enthusiast" who doesn't practice mathematics or science in his profession, but is competent in it. Among my siblings there is a strong tendency for strength in math and science with a weakness in humanities. This indicates that there is some sort of genetic link between strengths in certain areas and genes. So I began to wonder about genetics and belief in God.

I'm not going to say I NEVER believed in God, but I'm not sure I believed in the same way that many church goers believed. I was always good at compartmentalizing, and I put God in the same category as the tooth fairy or Santa or werewolves. As a child I DID believe in these things, but in an unseen way. They were out there, they existed, but I had never seen them. God and Jesus never crossed that barrier between the storybook things I believed in, and the things I learned in school that I believed. Perhaps this was because of the way that the bible was taught to me, as a story book. Perhaps it was an inherent skepticism of anything that I could not verify (I was also known to take apart electronics, toys, and furniture to see how they fit together and how they worked). But this skeptical view was never taught to me, and seems to be something I've always had.

So it got me thinking, is there a genetic predisposition to be a skeptic or an atheist?
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16-10-2013, 03:59 PM
RE: born an atheist
This is completely my opinion and not based on any scientific data or anything. But, for anyone that believes there is no god, then it naturally follows that there must be no innate knowledge or belief in god. From that standpoint then, we are all born with a predisposition to be atheists. Any change from that would be attributed to social, psychological, and maybe environmental factors. (Theists, of course, would never buy this line of reasoning.)

Regarding being a skeptic, that's less clear in my mind and I'm not as comfortable taking a position based on mostly logic. Some people seem naturally curious and questioning while others seem to go with the flow. But either could easily be a biological predisposition, socially developed, or a combination of the two.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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16-10-2013, 05:36 PM
RE: born an atheist
not sure if there is a genetic issue at play but i'm confident a skeptical nature is required for an Atheist to emerge from indoctrination (or dismiss it).
my guess is there is a cause and effect self conditioning at play when an skeptic is growing up.
that is to learn the truth of some thing was rewarding in some way. or my personal exp was, to have faith in the unprovable was illogical. and illogical was a very bad thing. (not sure where i got that from, a peer , god or self taught)

or maybe we are simply missing a brain link that allows magic, if science had no evidence and was just a "theory" then maybe atheists are just missing the faith gene , but science does have evidence and lots of it, so the faith gene is likely something post usefulness

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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16-10-2013, 06:07 PM
RE: born an atheist
Upon reflection it occurs to me that the genetic predisposition might not be to believe or not believe, but a genetic disposition towards skepticism, or a predisposition towards a curious nature, or something of the sort.
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16-10-2013, 06:40 PM
born an atheist
Belief in God is mostly determined by social factors. I do not see any proof that there is related
to some kind of genetic disposition.
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16-10-2013, 07:18 PM
RE: born an atheist
(16-10-2013 06:07 PM)natachan Wrote:  Upon reflection it occurs to me that the genetic predisposition might not be to believe or not believe, but a genetic disposition towards skepticism, or a predisposition towards a curious nature, or something of the sort.

I think it's more the predisposition to a curious nature. Humans have always been pushed along by a sense of something 'just around the corner.' Whether that is exporing the depths of the world's oceans, exploring space, finding cures for diseases, or even in the desire to form relationships with others. Along the way, the 'pit stops' where we consider and judge the knowledge we gained is where we make sense of ourselves and the world around us.
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16-10-2013, 07:32 PM
RE: born an atheist
I tend to think we are all born agnostics rather than atheists...

I think to be an atheist you must at least know what a god is supposed to be. A newborn child doesn't even know its human, let alone be able to ponder the origins of the universe... How can you say whether or not you believe in a god unless you know what one is?

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16-10-2013, 07:43 PM
RE: born an atheist
(16-10-2013 07:32 PM)Paranoidsam Wrote:  I tend to think we are all born agnostics rather than atheists...


your probably correct : though no one seem to agree on a definition of either (its evolving) .

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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16-10-2013, 07:44 PM
born an atheist
Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman did a show on the inclination to religious belief, the show made a strong argument for this inclination. It seems that some are more inclined to religion, but it still must be pushed on a child in order for it to take. No one has these ideas in their head when they are born, and no rational person would ever come to religious ideas on their own.

"Laissez nous faire!"

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor will I ever ask another man to live for mine."
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16-10-2013, 08:32 PM
RE: born an atheist
(16-10-2013 07:32 PM)Paranoidsam Wrote:  I tend to think we are all born agnostics rather than atheists...

I think to be an atheist you must at least know what a god is supposed to be. A newborn child doesn't even know its human, let alone be able to ponder the origins of the universe... How can you say whether or not you believe in a god unless you know what one is?
I think that's precisely why you wouldn't believe in a god. If you don't even yet have the concept of a god, how could you possibly believe in one? For the same reason, you couldn't be agnostic about one either. The whole matter just wouldn't be in your thoughts - so you would lack a belief (and everything else too) about gods.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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