Scientists discover that atheists might not exist

IN an article for Science 2.0, Nury Vittachi wrote that the way human brains are wired seems to make it impossible for someone to actually be a true atheist.

Science writer Nury writes, “Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged.” He goes on to say that “this line of thought has led to some scientists claiming that ‘atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think.’” Vittachi highlights the tendency for humans all over the world to believe in God, spirituality, the immortality of the soul, and the ultimate triumph of justice.

Of course, according to Vittachi, this must have some kind of evolutionary explanation: “If a tendency to believe in the reality of an intangible network is so deeply wired into humanity, the implication is that it must have an evolutionary purpose.”

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

These findings may go a long way to explaining a series of puzzles in recent social science studies. In the United States, 38% of people who identified themselves as atheist or agnostic went on to claim to believe in a God or a Higher Power (Pew Forum, “Religion and the Unaffiliated”, 2012).

While the UK is often defined as an irreligious place, a recent survey by Theos, a think tank, found that very few people—only 13 per cent of adults—agreed with the statement “humans are purely material beings with no spiritual element”. For the vast majority of us, unseen realities are very present.

http://www.science20.com/writer_on_the_edge/blog/scientists_discover_that_atheists_might_not_exist_and_thats_not_a_joke-139982

Advertisements

54 thoughts on “Scientists discover that atheists might not exist

    • While a subset of scientists, and certainly atheists, think any evidence of religion is grounds for dismissal from the ranks of science, most scientists disagree.

      In actuality, religious belief among scientists hasn’t changed much at all in the last 70 years. Ross Pomeroy writing at Real Clear Science, notes that the last time the Pew Research Center polled members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 51% percent reported a belief in a higher power and even more are likely tolerant enough to not hold religion against someone, any more than they would hold listening to Indigo Girls against a fellow scientist.

      Pomeroy invokes Carl Sagan and his quote

      An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.

      and neuroscientist David Eagleman’s idea of “possibilianism”, where we don’t know enough to go hardline atheism but we know too much to go crazy over a particular religion.

      “Scientists, if you’re not an atheist, you’re not doing science right,” he quotes Prof. P.Z. Myers, head religion- and Republican-hater at Scienceblogs.com. But PZ ia preaching to the faithful, he can’t really believe that. If you ask most biologists who has contributed more to biology, Richard Dawkins or Francis Collins, no one is going with Dawkins regardless of his atheism. And the religious beliefs of Francis Collins don’t hurt his science at all.

      http://www.science20.com/cool-links/atheism_unscientific-97284

      Like

      • William
        I can put forward a multitude of spins and tangent to those spins as to what could be outside this universe .
        With as much chances and probably more chance of being more probable than any that believers in all religions that have existed have claimed is the truth.
        You claim your belief is true .
        Everyone that is a believer no matter what time or location in the past twenty thousand years also claims the same.
        The difference between my spin is I know that every one of mine is utter crap and hence I put the same value on everyone elses .
        Your position is to you everyone elses is crap.
        As a Bone Crusher I include your belief along side all others.

        Like

      • The only reference I can find to a Bone Crusher is a synopsis from the movie Bone Crusher.
        Bonecrusher, known as the Claw of Megatron, is a Transformer that can be described with one word: Hate. While other Decepticons get by on greed, ambition, or just their fondness for dispensing chaos, Bonecrusher is fueled by sheer, unrelenting hate. He hates everyone and everything, be they Autobot, Decepticon, or anything in-between—he even hates himself, revolted by his misshapen, hunchbacked robot mode, which he considers a reflection of all the ugliness and malice inside himself. The full force of this vicious cycle of hatred finds release in explosive frenzied bursts of psychotic brutality, as Bonecrusher takes out the full force of his bitterness and self-loathing on anyone who looks at him sideways. He hates that.

        Is that how you see yourself?

        If you believe in nothing why do you need to give yourself a title?

        Like

      • The only reference I can find to a Bone Crusher is a synopsis from the movie Bone Crusher.
        MMMMM
        I have never played video games and this home has never contained any games console and I don,t watch fictional horror .
        And there zero games on my computer
        The real world has enough to keep my attention.

        Like

      • Aaah !
        But it could be practical test by a student amongst other students all in a classroom.
        The Practical test could only last but a second to them in that reality.
        And that reality could itself be contained in a void containing of millions of other realities.
        There is no reason that could not be the situation..

        Like

  1. Albert Einstein said, in a universe as incomprehensibly vast as our own:

    “The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly.”

    Like

  2. Another Question no one is willing to answer :-
    The universe was started instantly .
    Everything was compacted in a incredibly tiny point .
    All the universe was made in that instant.
    Thirteen thousand seven hundred million years ago.
    It has been expanding since and apparently gaining speed in expansion.
    If a entity designed this universe and knows all and sees all and foresees all .
    Is this universe a amusement to pass eternity ????

    Like

    • The universe was started instantly .

      Yes it was created.

      Is this universe a amusement to pass eternity ????

      In general, Scripture teaches us that God created the world and all that is in it for His own glory and because He desired to share His life with others. The creation of all these things demonstrates His glory, His love, grace, mercy, wisdom, power, goodness, etc. Psalm 19:1f; 8:1; 50:6; 89:5.

      Like

      • especially at this time of the year
        What ?
        One of the thousands created by a small percentage of men that embellish a man created time at a location in space the planet will never pass again.
        When you step back and realize the big picture all of man embellished spin comes across as childish .

        Like

      • It seems the most anti-God people are also the most negative, glass half-empty type of people. And if you’re a believer in God then you’re noted as some kind of fruitcake because you choose to put your faith in something that makes life better for you.

        So I guess what it comes down to is that when atheists have to have something personal to complain about they choose to channel their frustration in life toward believers.

        I know you have your challenges AT. But try to find some happiness in this life. The alternative is bitterness. It doesn’t harm anyone except yourself.

        Like

      • But try to find some happiness in this life. The alternative is bitterness. It doesn’t harm anyone except yourself.
        So why all the complaining about Atheists and those like myself .
        I see the universe a totally different way to believers that are trying to suck up to their particular entity.
        As for religions that is a totally different ball game .
        You view your religious leaders and everyone whose writings are within your ref book as having the hot line to the entity .
        Keep in mind everyone within all religions also has the same conviction.
        I see no difference between those within religions and any organization.
        A person once said :-“There is no such thing as society we are all only individuals making our way”
        Yes it was Margaret Thatcher.
        The point is while making that comment she was sending British citizens off to die defending a society she did not believe existed.
        With a considerable amount of certainty my bet is a sizeable percentage within religions are only in for a good life especially those
        higher up .
        To you the sun shines from their cheeks.

        Like

    • The universe was started instantly

      “Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, then We separated them, and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?” (Quran 21:30)

      “And the heaven We created with might, and indeed We are (its) expander.” (Quran 51:47)

      Like

    • AT/CB, do you know anything about the power of thought?

      Everything in the physical world is made out of atoms.
      Atoms are made out of energy.
      Energy is emitted from the brain in brain waves.

      The thoughts coming from our brains can actually produce reality for us.
      Others can perceive their own reality, which we cannot say is not real although beyond our perception.

      Perhaps it’s time to stop knocking others, and produce some positive thought-forms of your own. Some things really are honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. If not true in your eyes, they are in others.

      “If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

      Like

      • Two people :-
        [1]
        A person such as myself unimpressed by those claiming to know any of these :- The truth,The whole truth ,The ultimate truth, The supreme truth,The absolute truth and the on going superlatives claims .
        Also unimpressed by those claiming moral superiority when they would have with probability indulged in activities I have never stooped down too .
        Also unimpressed by those not having the mental strength not to became a sheep.

        [2]
        A person higher up in a religion who has stopped believing
        Not telling others for the reason of continuing the very good life .

        Bryan
        Out of the two what one do you go after

        Like

      • No matter what organization there are always those of your mentality.
        A minor played defending the actions no matter what the leaders do.
        Just look at the pathetic reply !
        Look at the subject matter !
        I have yet to see you going after the swollen lawyers running religions.
        Your childish inability to differentiate between religion and belief,faith,wishlist of your own dreams and if any entity exists it,s favour to be represented by religious leaders.
        You could not possibly gained such childish thinking after 30 years of age but them again .

        Like

      • No one is forcing you to believe in God. Why invest so much time and energy opposing something you don’t even believe is real? You build your philosophy on the rejection of God, but you’re unable to shoulder any burden of proof for your position. Sadly, when truth fails to support your claims, insults are the only weapon you have left. You really should grow up

        I have yet to see you going after the swollen lawyers running religions.

        Which lawyers run religions. Back up your claim if you can. Otherwise go away.

        Like

      • Good on you Bryan. But I bet he won’t have an answer to your question. There is no room in self righteous atheistic thought for a contrary viewpoint. Atheists like to think of themselves as being open-minded, but they are in fact among the most close-minded people on the planet. . Their faith necessitates a closed mind. They would not be able to hang on to their faith if they allowed their mind to become open.

        Like

      • Religions not a entity require to keep the paperwork hidden .
        Those at the top of religions are the same mentality as any multinational corporation.
        As I pointed out before they are really scared of opening their books for all to view .

        Like

      • No No AT. You can’t get out of it that easy. You made this claim

        I have yet to see you going after the swollen lawyers running religions.

        Which lawyers run which religions. You made the claim so back it up with evidence or admit you are wrong.

        Like

      • It looks like some bones have been crushed alright. Poor little chap can’t come up with an answer.

        Like

      • Distorting the comments again bryan !
        Where is the remainder ??
        As for the lawyers you could not be that foolish .
        Religions can tackle any law firm without breaking a sweat .
        Where did you think the profession came from.
        I call lawyers freelance clergy . Rather than working for the firm they branched out and got payed by the wealthy directly.
        Religions have as much to do with any entity as law is to justice .

        You’re not defending a entity you’re defending a corporation one of many

        Like

      • No that doesn’t cut it AT. You said “swollen lawyers” run religions.
        That’s plainly rubbish. Looks like you caught yourself out with a big lie. Again.

        Which lawyers run which religions? Name them. Be specific.

        Like

      • Ah Bryan,
        Our mate Crushing Bones MAY have proven a little over-enthusiastic in his comment about lawyers, but on thinking it over, it looked to me rather like this.

        The long-standing debates between believers and non-believers do very much resemble court cases. You have the Dissenters/atheists prosecuting cases against the Defense councils of Christian Apologists. Each calls in their favourite experts to back them up, and each challenges the other to demonstrate and prove their case. As a prosecutor, I just the other day brought up a test case against the common perception that loads and loads of Christians were martyred by Rome. From the start I fully acknowledged the instances that are recorded in Christian history, but I quoted a large number of specialists of today who dispute the actual figures.

        The defense councils, constituting several of our Christian enthusiasts disputed my claims, attempting to defend the traditional statistics, but citing no modern authorities or encyclopaedic references. Of course I agree in principle with you that the actual figures dont really matter greatly, but rather that the big thing is that the ones who were killed under Rome showed great courage and faith.

        Quite true, but IF the traditional claims of figures are actually wrong, then at some stages of the game, Christians have been lying, and building up their case on a series of traditional falsehoods. You only have to look at many of the thousands of ‘histories’ of the Saints, (and the legends of the life of the Virgin Mary) to recognize that they are frequently ridiculous. If anyone disputes this, I will cheerfully cite a few common examples that will change your tune. This is an area in which I have specialized.

        In the Vatican itself, the experts these days will smile and admit that so many of these tales are fabricated and only to be described as ‘edifying romances’. Though as has been pointed out many times, it’s hard to see just what is particularly edifying in graphic descriptions offered in unnecessarily gloating terms of torments, mutilations and etc being applied to the martyrs, – especially female saints, who are frequently in those old tales, devastatingly beautiful virgins being forced to marry high born pagans against their will.

        The miraculous occurrences that accompanied many of the killings are at times hilarious. Anyone here know about the wonders that accompanied the death of St Dennis of Paris? What about the fantasies about the martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria, for example? But they are nothing compared to what was believed by most Catholics up until just recently, about the life of the Virgin Mary. Look at the lies told about the multitude of Relics held up till a hundred years back within Catholic monasteries and churches. The dishonesty is simply staggering. Look at forgeries held up for so long as true records within the Catholic Church like the False Decretals and the Donation of Constantine.

        Cheers, Rian. (Research Assistant to the Prosecution.)

        Like

      • The point is that Crushing Bones/Atheist Thinking said that “swollen” lawyers runs religions. I asked him to prove that and he couldn’t. Instead he just posted a heap of personal insults which I refuse to publish. If he sensibly answers the question I posed I’m happy to let him have his say.

        Like

  3. The tendency of our ancient forebears to look for an agent of some kind behind the rustle of grass or other unexplained phenomena had a use in helping them to escape from the possibility of death by enemy or wild animal, even when it turned out just o be the wind.
    Unfortunately, with our wild, untamed imaginations this tendency can become overdeveloped. Better to be overly aware of the possibilities than to remain nonchalant until a lion eats you. So we tend to come up with all sorts of scenarios that are strictly imaginative and that includes religions.
    As science in all its forms developed, many of us have learned to think critically, applying a forensic analysis to any new claims and studying all the possibilities before accepting things blindly, and that particularly includes other people’s opinions and claims.
    We understand that people are inclined to believe things because they want to believe them, rather than because they are actually true. In fact, they often have no way of differentiating between what FEELS true to them and what actually IS true. Logic and critical thinking are essential to determine that.
    There are no such things as MY truth and YOUR truth when it comes to reality. There may be your or my perception of reality but the application of some common sense and critical thinking will sort out what the actual truth is. Truth, of course, being FACTS that can be VERIFIED, and nothing else.
    I would like to ask Christians why anyone should pay a blind bit of notice to a motley collection of opinions written thousands of years ago in the embryonic stages of our philosophy, science and law by desert tribespeople whose views were informed by their abysmal ignorance of any of the natural functions of matter and nature in a universe they were totally unaware of, and by the ubiquitous magical thinking that afforded them the only explanations they could come up with.
    Feed magical thinking to your impressionable children, keep reinforcing it and give them no way of falsifying these beliefs by portraying such searching for knowledge as blasphemous, and you will stultify their ability to really find the truth for the rest of their lives. Such a way of thinking allows people to believe absolutely anything. A famous historical Christian said, “The Christ story must be believed precisely because it is so absurd,”
    You may think you are doing your children a favour, but so do the parents who inculcate their children with Islam. Such beliefs are incompatible and the clash could be catastrophic, since faith, the common denominator, is a conversation stopper and will not hear of self-criticism or real analysis.
    Once caught in the mire of faith, people can only use their intelligence and reason to support their beliefs, never to look at other explanations which are both logically consistent and open to evidence and testing.
    Reason is the only tool to reconcile opposing viewpoints. Conversation and reason. If you are both unable to use your reason to reach a compromise and neither will back down, then a fight or a war is unavoidable. This is particularly the case when beliefs mandate war against those who do not hold the same beliefs.
    People of all religions know instinctively why they do not believe the tenets of other religions. It’s because they find them unbelievable and unconvincing.
    But you should understand that this is exactly the reason why others do not accept your religion.
    And it’s also the reason why they are all most certainly wrong.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s