Sunday, October 9, 2022

Atheism is as ancient and natural as belief in gods

Atheism: A New Evolutionary Perspective on Non-Belief. Thomas J. Coleman, Kyle J. Messick, Valerie van Mulukom. Oct 2022. Chapter in The Routledge Handbook of Evolutionary Approaches to Religion.

Abstract: In this chapter, we argue that evolutionary perspectives on atheism have been constrained by a methodological commitment that places atheists at the low end of a religiosity continuum and/or assumes they are psychologically atypical because of their rejection of religious beliefs, if truly rejecting religious beliefs is even possible. In contrast to those positions, we explore the possibility that, like religious belief, atheistic belief could be defined in “positive” terms, linked to evolved psychological mechanisms, and used to produce individual evolutionarily adaptive outcomes. Thus, we review the methodological considerations pertinent to the development of this position and used these to frame the influx of scientific research on atheism conducted over the past several years.