Saturday, November 8, 2014
Atheists are not born but made. . .
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”.
Read it here in Science 2.0...
Fearfully and wonderfully made is not simply an expression of the intricacies of life and the human mind and body, it is also a reference to the fact that we were created to live in communion with the God who made us. He marked us with His own image and likeness and, though sin can distort and mar this imago Dei, it cannot take it completely away. The most basic vestige of that image is the inherent desire to know who made us, where we came from, and the conviction that such knowledge is key to living a fully human life. The atheist may deny this primal pursuit of the Creator but he cannot remove from people what God has planted within them. Certainly the conscience and our inborn sense of right and wrong are tied to this.
Children are born trusting -- a trust parents feel obligated to destroy for their own protection. They are born with an unrestrained sense of wonder. We teach them to fear, to doubt, and to deny. For this very reason, Jesus insists that we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God. Funny. There are those who believe that children are naive and must be educated when Jesus puts it just the other way around. Adults are the naive ones -- presuming that nothing is true until they think it is true and confusing education (perception of the world around us) for the real knowledge that fills the longing within.
But if a belief in cosmic justice is natural and deeply rooted, the question arises: where does atheism fit in? Albert Einstein, who had a life-long fascination with metaphysics, believed atheism came from a mistaken belief that harmful superstition and a general belief in religious or mystical experience were the same thing, missing the fact that evolution would discard unhelpful beliefs and foster the growth of helpful ones. He declared himself “not a ‘Freethinker’ in the usual sense of the word because I find that this is in the main an attitude nourished exclusively by an opposition against naive superstition” (“Einstein on Peace”, page 510).