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Are new atheists naturally selected to survive?

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It’s not clear.

We usually save this stuff for Sundays, but with the uproar against Dawkins apparently growing apace: Further to Vince Torley’s The New Atheists: A House Divided, here’s a Guardian op-ed:

The atheist movement – a loosely-knit community of conference-goers, advocacy organizations, writers and activists – has been wracked by infighting the last few years over its persistent gender imbalance and the causes of it. Many female atheists have explained that they don’t get more involved because of the casual sexism endemic to the movement: parts of it see nothing problematic about hosting conferences with all-male speakers or having all-male leadership – and that’s before you get to the vitriolic and dangerous sexual harassment, online and off, that’s designed to intimidate women into silence.

Richard Dawkins has involved himself in some of these controversies, and rarely for the better – as with his infamous “Dear Muslima” letter in 2011, in which he essentially argued that, because women in Muslim countries suffer more from sexist mistreatment, women in the west shouldn’t speak up about sexual harassment or physical intimidation. There was also his sneer at women who advocate anti-sexual harassment policies.

But over the last few months, Dawkins showed signs of détente with his feminist critics – even progress. He signed a joint letter with the writer Ophelia Benson, denouncing and rejecting harassment; he even apologized for the “Dear Muslima” letter. On stage at a conference in Oxford in August, Dawkins claimed to be a feminist and said that everyone else should be, too.

Then another prominent male atheist, Sam Harris, crammed his foot in his mouth and said that atheist activism lacks an “estrogen vibe” and was “to some degree intrinsically male”. And, just like that, the brief Dawkins Spring was over. More.

Hey, wait a minute.

Most of what is said against Harris in this context seems false, provided of course, you think that truth or reality matters. No new atheist can think that, because the mind is merely what the brain does, right? But the rest of us can.

The four horsemen of the atheist apocalypse are falling victim to their own hordes, whose separate, individual truths compete for power in an arena where no true truth rules.

The whole point about the new atheist movement is that humans are merely evolved primates. So statements about “reality” are merely statements about our neurons.

How many times do we have to say this to get it across? If you sign on, that is what you are signing on to. It is not science or anti-science or non-science. It is simply a-science.

The pack has decided to savage Dawkins and Harris. The grant machine and the PR machine and the oppo research machine roll on, but evidence is irrelevant and in principle there is no one to care.

Note: Dawkins’ Twitter feed is here.

One thing new atheism won’t be good for is a civilization. Maybe that’s why women found other things to do?

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26 Replies to “Are new atheists naturally selected to survive?

  1. 1
    ppolish says:

    I think Atheists, New & Old, will need to do an end run around Natural Selection in light of their reproduction rates being lower than Theists.

    Atheists need to start building robots. Woop Woop.

  2. 2
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Ppolish: “I think Atheists, New & Old, will need to do an end run around Natural Selection in light of their reproduction rates being lower than Theists.”

    This may be true, but the only thing lower than an atheist’s reproductive rate is the rate of theist children remaining theists. Unlike blue eyes and brown hair, theism is not heritable. Which is a good thing.

  3. 3
    ppolish says:

    A_b, recent data from Pew doesn’t back up your claim:

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org.....2014-0-10/

    11% of Millennials are Atheist. Down from previous year actually. And data indicates Atheism declines as you get older/wiser:)

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    2014 reverses a trend in Millennials Religiosity. Pope Effect? Dawkins Effect? Or Millennials just getting smarter?

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org.....2014-0-01/

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Stephen Meyer interview:

    Darwin on the rocks – Sept. 19, 2014
    Q&A | DNA and Cambrian fossils, says Stephen Meyer, make macroevolutionary theory increasingly untenable
    http://www.worldmag.com/2014/0....._the_rocks

  6. 6
    HeKS says:

    @Acartia_bogart #2

    You said:

    Unlike blue eyes and brown hair, theism is not heritable.

    I can’t decide whether to say that it seems you’re wrong or that it seems you’re right, but not in the way you think.

    I’m too tired to hunt down the recent article that discussed it, but recent findings seem to show that a tendency toward some form of theism is inherent in children, even in those who have been raised by atheists and have never really been introduced to the concept of God. There was also another article I read recently about wanting to get to children early and stamp out their inherent teleological thinking about nature before it has a chance to take hold.

    The evidence would seem to indicate that when it comes to theism in children, the question is not whether parents are going to impart an entirely foreign new concept of God to a child where they otherwise had a blank slate on the issue. Rather, the question seems to be whether parents are going to nurture the child’s natural theistic inclination or try their best to stamp it out.

    This would also seem to put the lie to the oft-heard atheist rhetoric that everyone is born an atheist and the only reason people believe in God is because he is foisted on them. Not every atheist actively claims this, but I’ve heard my fair share. These same ones also sometimes use this claim to support the propriety of the presumption of atheism (the idea that atheism should be the default position, and so if a theist fails to provide sufficient evidence to convince a listener that God does exist, the listener should conclude that God does not exist rather than simply conclude that he may or may not).

    Perhaps the most interesting part of your comment, though, is the part I left out:

    Unlike blue eyes and brown hair, theism is not heritable. Which is a good thing.

    Why, I wonder, is that a good thing?

  7. 7
    News says:

    HeKs at 6, I’ve always been leery of arguments that people are naturally theistic, because it seems more economical to say that they are naturally inclined to use reason to resolve somewhat abstract issues. There are arguments for God based on reason that have been apprehended by most people in all civilizations.

    A story that struck me in this context: A Chinese communist doctor was charged with removing organs for transplant from freshly executed Falun Gong who had refused to renounce their faith.

    His boss doc looked at him afterward and whispered, “Do you realize, we are going to HELL?”

    Remember, this was not a Christian context. Who told those men that what they had just done might have sealed an eternal fate? Not the Chinese communist party, you may be sure.

    But I would argue, it is not an “instinct” or “rogue neuron” or “selfish gene” -it is a human being who is aware that he has crossed a line.

    Remember Genesis?: Who told you you were naked?

    Well, who told those guys they were the confederates of murderers? What told them is the vast gulf fixed between men and animals.

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Yes, but the whole of creation (sic) speaks of a Creator and an intelligent one. Something that would be apparent virtually as soon as one was capable of reasoning.

    And why not, given that the Word is the light that ‘enlightens every man who comes into the world’: the Holy Spirit, who infuses knowledge and by coordinating the strands of our intelligence, engenders understanding.

    Maybe this was the article you had in mind, HeKS:

    http://www.theguardian.com/com.....f-comments

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    There was also another article I read recently about wanting to get to children early and stamp out their inherent teleological thinking about nature before it has a chance to take hold.

    They had better stamp out nature programs on television first. I had the TV on for a bit this am tuned to a nature show for kids. It was so chock full of teleology and essentialism. Aristotle lives! And is still being taught to our children.

    Perhaps there is yet hope.

  10. 10
    HeKS says:

    News at 7 [that sounds like an ad for the local news broadcast :)],

    To say that they are naturally thesitic might be going a tad far, but perhaps not by very much. I was unaware of any of this until recently, but studies seem to suggest that young children have some natural concept of some Being like God that is not a mere extrapolation from their knowledge of other humans. Whatever we want to say about it from the perspective of trying to use precise language, it seems like there’s naturally something there, and whatever it is, it’s oriented more towards theism than atheism.

    Here are two articles over at ENV that cover what I was referring to in my earlier comment:

    More Studies Show Children Are Wired for Religious Belief: A Brief Literature Review

    Story Time: Psychologists Show How to “Suppress” Children’s Intuition of Design in Nature

  11. 11
    HeKS says:

    @Mung #9

    They had better stamp out nature programs on television first. I had the TV on for a bit this am tuned to a nature show for kids. It was so chock full of teleology and essentialism. Aristotle lives! And is still being taught to our children.

    Perhaps there is yet hope.

    It’s interesting, isn’t it? It seems that they certainly don’t want to give the impression that there’s any purpose or intent in nature, but it seems virtually impossible to even talk about nature in a sensible way without employing teleological language left, right and center

  12. 12
    william spearshake says:

    HeKs@6: “I’m too tired to hunt down the recent article that discussed it, but recent findings seem to show that a tendency toward some form of theism is inherent in children..”

    I agree with you, to a point. The human inquisitiveness is certainly heritable. And to a young child, the obvious questions are: who am I? What am I? Why do I exist, etc. and without any context and knowledge to examine these effectively, the first thing that they would likely grasp on to would be the supernatural.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Babies are born THEISTS – Dr. Olivera Petrovich – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rQKmye5_BQ

    Children are born believers in God, academic claims – Telegraph – November 2008
    Excerpt: “The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children’s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose,”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....laims.html

    More Studies Show Children Are Wired for Religious Belief: A Brief Literature Review – Casey Luskin August 7, 2014
    Excerpt: We see, then, multiple studies converging on a single conclusion: the innate predisposition of the human mind to believe that there is some kind of an intelligent creator God. Perhaps as we get older we may override this programming, but our fundamental constitution appears oriented to religious belief.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....88551.html

    ‘Believers’ gene’ will spread religion , says academic – January 2011
    Excerpt: The World Values Survey, which covered 82 nations from 1981 to 2004, found that adults who attended religious services more than once a week had 2.5 children on average; while those who went once a month had two; and those who never attended had 1.67.
    Prof Rowthorn wrote: “The more devout people are, the more children they are likely to have.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sci.....demic.html

    Why do atheists have such a low retention rate? – July 2012
    Excerpt: Only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults. This “retention rate” was the lowest among the 20 separate categories in the study.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....tion-rate/

    No wonder militant atheists have to be so persistent, and dogmatic, in ‘evangelizing’ their false nihilistic religion. Even their own children have a inherent tendency to not believe what they are saying.

    Plus naturalism is epistemically self-defeating:

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

  14. 14
    william spearshake says:

    BA77, but how is this different than the inquisitiveness of children being willing to believe in the supernatural because they are inexperienced (gullible?).

  15. 15
    HeKS says:

    WS,

    Well, for one thing, saying that children are “willing to believe” implies that they are accepting a concept presented by an external source. But what these studies show is that the concept is naturally coming from within the child without needing to have the concept presented to do them, and that this is the case even when they’ve been raised in an atheist household. If these studies are correct, that would lend support to the idea that a belief in God is properly basic in the same way that belief in objective morality is properly basic, and that a belief in God is justified in the absence of some defeater.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Well AB, oops I mean william spearshake, I did, at the end of my previous post, happen to mention the fact that Naturalism is, as far as epistemology itself is concerned, self-defeating. Which is certainly not a minor critique against a worldview claiming to be ‘true’!
    Evolutionists Are Now Saying Their Thinking is Flawed (But Evolution is Still a Fact) – Cornelius Hunter – May 2012
    Excerpt: But the point here is that these “researchers” are making an assertion (human reasoning evolved and is flawed) which undermines their very argument. If human reasoning evolved and is flawed, then how can we know that evolution is a fact, much less any particular details of said evolutionary process that they think they understand via their “research”?
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....their.html

    “Refuting Naturalism by Citing our own Consciousness” Dr. Alvin Plantinga – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r34AIo-xBh8

    Quote: “In evolutionary games we put truth (true perception) on the stage and it dies. And in genetic algorithms it (true perception) never gets on the stage”
    Donald Hoffman PhD. – Consciousness and The Interface Theory of Perception – 7:19 to 9:20 minute mark – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dqDP34a-epI#t=439

    Verse and Music

    Matthew 18:4
    Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    Third Day – “Children Of God” – Official Music Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6jO7xhU_Pw

  17. 17
    william spearshake says:

    HeKs, I agree that the concepts are coming from within the child. My only point is that children are more willing to accept magic, the supernatural, whatever. Is this inherent? Or is it because they lack the knowledge and experience to make an informed decision. Frankly, I admit that I don’t know.

    BA77, yup, I am B_A. I am not hiding it but, apparently, if you are critical of Barry at all, you get banned. But I have a question for you. Even though we seldom agree, I do respect your opinion. Did I do anything that warranted being banned?

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    I did not follow the thread so I can’t say since the comments are now deleted.,,,

    If it is any comfort, I was banned for a time a few years ago when I let my anger at the unreasonableness of atheists get the better of me and said some things that were not kind, to put it mildly.

  19. 19
    william spearshake says:

    BA77, I just can’t picture you getting mad to the point of saying things that are unkind. Blunt and pointed? Yes. But that is not the same as unkind.

    I may have said things that Barry took personally, but if that is the case, I don’t know why he doesn’t leave it up for everyone to judge.

  20. 20
    ppolish says:

    By the age of 10 or so most kids can distinguish the difference between Magic (Santa) and Divine (Jesus). Although there are adults who still can’t make the distinction.

  21. 21
    william spearshake says:

    Ppolish, but kids catch on to Santa early because they perceive their parents’ belief. But believing in Jesus is orders of magnitude different. Although no more real.

  22. 22
    ppolish says:

    Willaim, most kids learn about Santa from peers, not parents. Heck, sometimes the play along and let their parents think they still believe:)

    And as pre-teens become teens, they realize they are so much smarter than their parents. But still make the distinction between magic & Divine.

  23. 23
    ppolish says:

    Although William, I do agree with the “orders of magnitude” difference. When my kid admitted to me her disbelief in Santa I dealt with it ok.

    But if she admitted to me a disbelief in God I would be crushed. I can see how an Atheist kid in a Theist family could be stressed.

  24. 24
    ppolish says:

    Meant to say “learn the truth” about Santa from peers.

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    AB, you hold that believing in Jesus is similar to believing in Santa. Whereas I hold that believing in evolution is far worse of a delusion than believing in Santa. ,,,
    To make my point crystal clear, if I told you that the entire internet was just an accident of time, chance, and necessity, you would consider me stark raving mad. But Darwinists insist that our brains, each of which is far more complex than the entire internet, arose in such a fashion, even though they have not one shred of observational evidence that it can happen by time, chance, and necessity.

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    Component placement optimization in the brain – 1994
    As he comments [106], “To current limits of accuracy … the actual placement appears to be the best of all possible layouts; this constitutes strong evidence of perfect optimization.,, among about 40,000,000 alternative layout orderings, the actual ganglion placement in fact requires the least total connection length.
    http://www.jneurosci.org/conte.....8.abstract

    AB, I simply can’t see how anyone, after understanding the sheer depth and breadth of the complexity being dealt with, can continue to believe such unfathomed complexity accidentally arose by time, chance, and neccessity.,,, Especially without any observational evidence that it is remotely plausible. (M. Behe, First Rule, 2010)

    Thus I certainly think believing in evolution is far worse than believing in Santa.
    But to separate Jesus from Santa.,, Jesus made some VERY extraordinary claims about himself. ,,, Whereas other religious leaders always encouraged following a certain teaching of theirs, Jesus declared that his person was more important that his teaching.,, In other words, instead of Jesus declaring A truth for people follow, as other religious leaders did, Jesus declared that he personally is THE truth.
    C.S. Lewis put the situation with Jesus, compared to the leaders of other religions, this way:

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
    – C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity, pages 40-41

    Well, can we make a ‘scientific’ case that Jesus is ‘The Truth’? I believe we can.

    Special Relativity, General Relativity, Heaven and Hell
    excerpt: ,,, it is interesting to point out a subtle nuance on the Shroud of Turin. Namely that Gravity was overcome in the resurrection event of Christ:

    Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/19tGkwrdg6cu5mH-RmlKxHv5KPMOL49qEU8MLGL6ojHU/edit

    A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection? by Chuck Missler
    Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically.
    http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847

    THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist
    Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox.
    http://shroud3d.com/findings/i.....-formation

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Moreover, as would be expected if General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics/Special Relativity (QED) were truly unified in the resurrection of Christ from death, the image on the shroud is found to be formed by a quantum process. The image was not formed by a ‘classical’ process::

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    Kevin Moran – optical engineer

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    Personally, considering the extreme difficulty that many brilliant minds have had in trying to reconcile Quantum Mechanics and special relativity(QED), with Gravity,

    A Capella Science – Bohemian Gravity! – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rjbtsX7twc

    Bohemian Gravity – Rob Sheldon – September 19, 2013
    Excerpt: there’s a large contingent of physicists who believe that string theory is the heroin of theoretical physics. It has absorbed not just millions of dollars, but hundreds if not thousands of grad student lifetimes without delivering what it promised–a unified theory of the universe and life. It is hard, in fact, to find a single contribution from string theory despite 25 years of intense effort by thousands of the very brightest and best minds our society can find.
    http://rbsp.info/PROCRUSTES/bohemian-gravity/

    ,,I consider the preceding ‘quantum’ nuance on the Shroud of Turin to be a subtle, but powerful, evidence substantiating Christ’s primary claim as to being our Savior from sin, death, and hell:

    John 8:23-24
    But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.

    G.O.S.P.E.L. – (the grace of propitiation) – poetry slam – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

    Matthew 10:28
    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    That eternity would be confirmed by both physics and direct ‘observational’ evidence, and that there are two different ‘qualities of eternity’ to be concerned about, (a very destructive eternity in general relativity and a very orderly eternity in special relativity), should make any normal person shake in their boots.,,,

    Moreover, if Jesus were truly a fairy tale as you hold AB, the evidence I’ve touched upon, substantiating Christ’s claim as to being ‘THE TRUTH”, should not even be on the radar scope of reason, but there it sits. ,, Personally, I find the evidence more than enough to substantiate Jesus’s claims.

    Music and verse

    Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video)
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....tantsearch

    2 Peter 1:16
    For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

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