Further to a recent call for evolutionary psychologists to study atheism, from Caroline McCarthy, a Silicon Valley veteran, at Vox, writes about receiving an invite to a tech entrepreneur event:
“We are bringing together the sacred plant medicine ayahuasca with leaders at the world’s most innovative startups,” the email said. “Together we will go on a journey to deeply explore our individual and collective purpose.”
They were not kidding.
Half of tech workers identified as atheist or agnostic, according to a survey by the Lincoln Network, an organization dedicated to advancing principles of economic conservatism in the tech industry. That’s compared to just 7 percent of the US population who identify as atheist or agnostic (although an additional 16 percent identify as religiously unaffiliated but without either of those two labels), and the respondents in this particular survey skewed slightly conservative.
At Google, I spent every day in a work environment with a specific cultural uniformity — one with its own rituals and deities that have come to feel decidedly contradictory for a population that so fervently rejects “faith.”
One quick scan through the email from the ayahuasca invitation and a pattern of vocabulary emerges: “Sacred,” “purpose,” “transformation” — with this kind of language, you may as well be in church. More.
We need to find out why atheists are a market for flim flam spirituality. Is it the fact that these cargo cults require nothing in terms of intellect, fidelity to principles, or self-discipline? Will it be a sacred animal next year?*
* There are already people claiming to be cats or racoons (a very old shamanistic idea). The furry movement has long been a feature in the Valley.
See also: Sceptic asks, why do people who abandon religion embrace superstition?
Call for papers: How did atheism evolve? Evolutionary psychologists now want to study atheism Is it due to natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinian evolution)? Is it adaptive? A byproduct? A stop on the road to extinction?