I have always stressed that atheism is not and cannot be the “default” cognitive position. There is even a popular post I wrote on it (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2013/04/atheism-as-default-fails.html). To think that we are born rejecting God or not believing in God is an irrational and illogical belief.
Before we can disbelieve or reject something whether conceptual or not, we first have to be aware of that something or concept. I cannot reject the idea of aliens in space or lack belief in aliens in space without first knowing what an alien is. Similarly, I cannot reject the concept of God or lack belief in God without first knowing what God is.
This is why atheism cannot be the default. One must first have knowledge of God as a person or concept before making the decision not to believe or to reject this person or concept. Scientist Graham Lawton, an atheist himself stated that atheism is naturally impossible. It is a deviancy in the norm of human evolution. He writes that human beings are “born to believe.” They are cognitively hard wired to find the idea of God “plausible and appealing.” Atheism is a social construct just like being “American” or “African.” These labels are not part of natural evolutionary formation. They are constructions of the human social order used to identify individuals or groups. Atheism is not part of our natural hard-wiring. We become atheists after making a decision to reject God and not believe.
Moreover, psychologist and anthropologist Pascal Boyer -also atheist- in his journal essay “Being Human: Religion: Bound to believe?” writes: “Religious thought and behavior can be considered part of the natural human capacities, such as music, political systems, family relations or ethnic coalitions. …religious thoughts seem to be an emergent property of our standard cognitive capacities” He argues that religious belief is part of the natural capacity of the human being. He writes, “Atheism will always be a harder sell than religion, because a slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith.”
*Atheism has to prove there is no God in order to be as successful as religion
He is correct. Atheism is extremely hard to sell. As a matter of fact, most atheists do not remain atheist all of their lives. Atheism has the shortest retention level when compared to other religions or sociological collective units (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2012/06/with-age-comes-wisdom.html). Atheism does not last long in individuals nor is it as successful as religion because the human being is hardwired for belief in God. However, this idea is not new. Biologists, psychologists, sociologists and other scientists who deal with the human organism have always theorized that religion and God play an important role in the human species. We are even predisposed to belief in God and the afterlife via the VMAT2 gene.
Both scientists quoted here in this post allude to the fact that even atheists are not really atheists. Atheists do not exist if we really think about it. Since atheists are human beings and human beings are predisposed to believe in God, then there can be no atheist. They are already part of the belief club, so to speak. Moreover, the fact that atheists still inquire about God and religion despite already making a decision not to believe is very telling. I wrote a post on this as well where I looked deep into the question: “Why do atheists care about God?” You can read that here: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2012/12/why-do-atheists-care-about-god.html
In this post, I wrote:
Atheism is often described as a belief that there is no God/never was one.
Despite this bold claim, Atheists are still fixated on God. This is interesting because let’s say:
- Person A does not like carrots and Person B does.
- Being that Person A despises carrots he/she will not even contemplate it; whereas Person B loves carrots and will contemplate them.
- So why do Atheists care about a being that does not exist, is fictional – a myth?
- Why waste cognitive resources contemplating a supposed figment of the imagination?
Atheism is a quest for God. It seeks God. It desires God. An atheist who believes there is no God would not go through the trouble of researching and questioning this entity unless there is more to this research and questioning. St. Augustine had it right: “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” Atheism is a restlessness of the mind, heart and soul. It cannot rest until it finds God.