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Call for papers: How did atheism evolve? Evolutionary psychologists now want to study atheism

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Atheist, Atheism, Symbol, Icon, Generic, Disbelief Is it due to natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinian evolution)? Is it adaptive? A byproduct? A stop on the road to extinction? Papers wanted here:

Evolutionary perspectives on atheism/unbelief

Despite increasing secularization and a decreasing role played by institutionalized religions in the western world, many scholars within the study of religion – from history through sociology and evolutionary accounts – continue to focus their inquiries on the study of the religious, without giving much attention to non-believers. There are few evolutionary explanations of atheism, and those that exist are either under-developed or investigate atheism through the lens and default starting position of religious belief. An example of this is the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR), since even though many scholars are working towards an evolutionary paradigm for atheism, a widely established Cognitive Science of Atheism does not yet exist, so studies of cognition and atheism fall within CSR.

We would like to invite scholars interested in the evolutionary study of atheism (including unbelief, nonbelief, agnosticism, etc.) to submit their paper proposals to the special issue of the “Studia Humana” journal published by De Gruyter (affiliate at the Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszow, Poland). We are going to consider, among others, the following topics:

– Critical evaluations of CSR and other literatures that approach nonbelief as an irregularity

– Atheism as an adaptation/feature of evolution

– Atheism in the light of bio-behavioral and epidemiological theories of culture

– Atheism in the light of gene-culture co-evolutionary approaches

– Atheism as a default or alternate human cognitive mode

– The atheistic worldview being an evolutionary source of morality

– Atheism as group and/or individual level adaptation

– Ultimate causes of atheism

– The evolutionary functions of atheism

Note: Atheism is being used as a blanket-term here for any studies dealing with the religiously unaffiliated, unbelievers, non-believers, and to a lesser extent, agnostics. If your work falls within these boundaries, please feel free to send us a proposed article. More

All interested authors are welcome to send a summary in the form of an abstract by the end of June. Papers should be submitted by the end of Septemberto messickk@uni.coventry.ac.uk. Please include “Studia Humana Special Issue” in the title of the email. We anticipate the special issue entering press around the beginning of 2019. [Color emphasis added.]

This is likely overdue. Lots of apparent pop sociology and social news is written about atheists:

Claim: Atheists have mutant genes, don’t live as long

Are atheists generally smarter than religious people?

The “Bias Blind Spot” Makes Smart People Say Really Stupid Things (Barry Arrington)

Atheists To Put Up Their Own 10 Commandments of Atheism

and

And now for something completely different… Darwinian PZ Myers laments the sad state of atheism today

It would be interesting to see what a sustained, serious effort at scholarship would sound like.

See also: Shambolic atheist community faces some tough choices

8 Replies to “Call for papers: How did atheism evolve? Evolutionary psychologists now want to study atheism

  1. 1

    Not sure how atheism evolved, but it has clearly ended in a “sad state” (PZ Myers). I find most a/mats to be angry, bitter, and hostile. They don’t always show it, but it’s there just beneath the surface of what they want you to see.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    On evolutionary terms – survival of the fittest – it’s obvious that religion has been far more successful than atheism, although it doesn’t seem to matter which particular faith. That’s why I don’t see atheism supplanting religion in the foreseeable future.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Truth Will Set You Free @ 1

    Not sure how atheism evolved, but it has clearly ended in a “sad state” (PZ Myers). I find most a/mats to be angry, bitter, and hostile. They don’t always show it, but it’s there just beneath the surface of what they want you to see.

    I’ve seen a deal of anger and bitterness towards a/mats here although what impressed me was what felt like even greater animosity towards believers who held different views like the Christians who accept evolution.

  4. 4
    bb says:

    This is something one can have fun with. But I don’t see anything seriously coming from research papers that assume materialism.

    – Atheism as an adaptation/feature of evolution

    It isn’t adaptive, it’s deleterious. Atheists reproduce less, and live shorter, characteristically miserable lives, that end in suicide more many religious groups.

  5. 5
    jpwilson says:

    Your topic list appears to contain an apriori assumption that belief in deities is a normal state of human mindfulness? Given we modern Homo sapiens date back some 300,000 years and given the archaeological and historiographic records show the appearance of deities and worship of same began a mere 5,000 years ago, it would appear a much stronger case exists for atheism to be considered the normal or base state of human mindfulness. Aethism did not evolve as a reaction to deities.

  6. 6
    Nonlin.org says:


    4. Atheism is mostly encountered in stable environments where people are subject to the illusion of control (i.e. “we are the masters of our own destiny”). Young, healthy, employed, urban, males in affluent societies are prime candidates, as this cohort has little exposure to life’s uncertainties outside their bubble of stability. More precarious living reminds people of their limitations and that they were gifted with abilities they did not earn. In the animal world, a farm animal would be an atheist while a wild one would not be one.
    http://nonlin.org/atheism/

  7. 7
    PaoloV says:

    In this video a relatively famous person declares “what we want, what we need and the path to real happiness and wisdom”.

    http://www.foxnews.com/enterta.....-belt.html

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “How did atheism evolve?”

    If Darwinian evolution were actually true, there would be no way for us to know.

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Survival is all that matters on evolutionary naturalism. Our evolving brains are more likely to give us useful fictions that promote survival rather than the truth about reality. Thus evolutionary naturalism undermines all rationality (including confidence in science itself). Renown philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued against naturalism in this way (summary of that argument is linked on the site:).
    Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

    Why Atheism is Nonsense Pt.5 – “Naturalism is a Self-defeating Idea”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”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff-5rsrDRGM

    Why Atheism Is Nonsense Pt.4 – “Our Intellect Wouldn’t Be Reliable” – Plantinga – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lriapinO7pc

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 2015
    Excerpt: “An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.
    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.
    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?
    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

    The following interview is sadly comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that our faculties of reasoning will correspond to the truth, not even for the truth that he is purporting to give in the interview, (which begs the question of how was he able to come to that particular truthful realization, in the first place, if neo-Darwinian evolution were actually true?);

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

    A few years back, an atheist said this to me in response to Dr. Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism”:

    ‘Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.’

    Yet we find that,,,

    Can attending church really help you live longer? This study says yes – June 1, 2017
    Excerpt: Specifically, the study says those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%. The Plos One journal published the “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” study May 16.
    “For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/02/can-attending-church-really-help-you-live-longer-study-says-yes/364375001/

    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/

    The Facts: Atheism is Dying Out (lower birth rate, etc..) – April 8, 2015
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/s.....g-out.html

    No wonder militant atheists have to be so persistent, and dogmatic, in ‘evangelizing’ their false nihilistic religion on the internet and public school classrooms.

    Thus either the atheist is right and evolution is producing a true belief, and that true belief is Theism, since atheists have a ‘praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind’, or Dr. Plantinga is right and there is no guarantee that the results of Darwinian evolution will produce true beliefs about the nature of reality! Which is it? Either answer is a self defeater for evolutionary naturalism!

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