Even in recent history, committed atheists are a relatively small number of the world’s population and some statistics show that as atheism rises in a particular culture so does superstition. Despite their small numbers, some committed atheists are a very vocal minority which in other posts I have referred to as “evangelical atheists” or EAs. That is, some atheists feel it is their duty to spread the good news of atheism.
The assumption is that if theists are awakened from this perceived delusion the world will be a better place, somehow. Public figures like the comedian Bill Maher seem to think that theism is the root of all evil and holds humanity back from our true potential.
Yet, I question the wisdom of awakening humanity from its religious dreams.
For the sake of argument, let us say that the atheists are correct. Let us say, there is no god, there are no gods, etc. Let us say that there is nothing but the material world and that what we call mind is simply an emergent quality that ultimately has a physical explanation.
Of course, if the atheists are correct, then belief in the supernatural, in gods, angels, demons, astrology, ghosts, bodhisattvas, etc. (let’s lump them altogether for the sake of argument) are a byproduct of our biological evolution. Indeed, our imaginations, our ability to imagine the past and future, to think in abstractions, to use metaphor, seems to be something that gives us a distinct advantage as a species.
So, what if theistic beliefs likewise gives us a survival advantage? Are Evangelistic Atheists engaging in a dangerous experiment that could threaten the survival of the human species?
If the world is really nothing more than atoms colliding, it really doesn’t matter if theism is true or false. What is true or false about a bat’s wing or webbed feet? What is true or false about two, four, six, or eight legs? What is true or false about instinct or reason?
What is significant is whether these things are an evolutionary advantage or disadvantage.
The Theistic Advantage
If the world is merely material, in our evolutionary history either theistic beliefs or at least the tendency to have theistic beliefs have either always been or won out over the absence of theistic beliefs. (We can’t properly call pre-theistic beliefs atheism because atheism is a rejection of theism.) In other words, if there were a non-theistic reasoning prior to theistic reasoning, then history suggests that theism was an advantage over non-theistic reasoning
I understand that many EAs assert that religion is the cause of war and fighting and slows down technological process. Yet, this perspective is pure speculation. For all the technological and scientific discoveries have occurred while homo religulous has been dominant. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals live without fighting. E.O. Wilson seems to think that war between nations is not that much different than territorial disputes between ants. David Attenborough likens human violence to the violent traits of the Chimpanzee. The very notion of peace may be one of those religulous delusions from which human beings need to be freed.
A Controlled Experiment
Now, EAs tend to value scientific discovery and skeptical thinking. Given that history attests to the success of homo religulous, why are EAs so sure that human beings will benefit from being disillusioned?
As fans of the scientific method, I recommend that EAs undergo a controlled experiment. EAs should gather as many atheists together as they can (preferably, beginning with Bill Maher) and move to an island. In this way, they can test their hypothesis that atheism will be an advantage for us as a species.
If Ken Ham can raise enough money to build an Ark, then surely we can find a wealthy Christian who would be willing to ship a bunch of atheists to an island.
When sufficient time has elapsed and atheists have demonstrated their moral and technological superiority, then we can safely undergo the process of disillusionment.
In the meantime, we ought to keep this whole “no god” thing quiet just in case this delusion is what is keeping the species alive. So, shh . . . don’t tell the theists.
#theism #atheism #religulous #evolution #