Orientation quiz. True or false: periodically, some societies have gone insane. The answer is True, true with bells on. Many examples will suggest themselves. Thing about these cultural sanitariums is that most of the folks living inside them didn’t know they were inmates.
Second question. We in one of these places now? Belay your answer. Here’s question number three. Should voting decide truth? Those who answer this wrongly usually answer question number two wrong, too.
Anyway, one John G Messerly, proud but puzzled atheist, writes that only about fourteen percent of English-speaking academic philosophers have a firm grasp of truth, the remaining eighty-six percent having lost their way. Messerly think this disparity should “cause believers discomfort.” It does. How could so many smart people make such fundamental mistakes? See question two.
Even though the majority of academics align against religion, Messerly says that “religious beliefs [still] have a universal appeal”. How can this be, he wonders, when smart people say “arguments for the existence of gods, souls, afterlife and the like” are “unconvincing”? Why aren’t people listening to their intellectual betters?
Genes, he says. “Genes and environment explain human beliefs and behaviors—people do things because they are genomes in environments.” So says proud atheist, high IQ, Messerly. Messerly the intellectual.
Thus that Messerly is an atheist is because of his genes and environment, yes? He had no choice. His genes interacting with his environment made him reject God. Poor thing. What a disability! Can we then say “The near universal appeal of” religious antagonism among academics “suggests a biological component” to atheistic beliefs and practices, and that “science increasingly confirms this view”? Messerly must say yes.
I say bunk. But then Messerly would have to argue that I have no choice but to say this. It’s cold where I am (my environment), which mixed with my genes makes me say hurtful things like this. I’d really like not to do this kind of thing, but my genes are such horrible taskmasters.
Today there are two basic explanations offered [why religious beliefs persist in the face of ardent intellectuals]. One says that religion evolved by natural selection—religion is an adaptation that provides an evolutionary advantage. For example religion may have evolved to enhance social cohesion and cooperation—it may have helped groups survive. The other explanation claims that religious beliefs and practices arose as byproducts of other adaptive traits. For example, intelligence is an adaptation that aids survival. Yet it also forms causal narratives for natural occurrences and postulates the existence of other minds. Thus the idea of hidden Gods explaining natural events was born.
A false dichotomy. Messerly the intellectual forgets that religion could have arisen because it was correct or close to correct, because the ideas behind religion were true or approached truth.
It is self-evident from the fact that religions are predominant in certain geographical areas but not others, that birthplace strongly influences religious belief. This suggests that people’s religious beliefs are, in large part, accidents of birth.
It is just as self-evident that atheism is predominant in certain geographical areas but not others. This suggests that people’s atheistic beliefs are, in large part, accidents of birth.
There is also a strong correlation between religious belief and various measures of social dysfunction including homicides, the proportion of people incarcerated, infant mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage births, abortions, corruption, income inequality and more. While no causal relationship has been established, a United Nations list of the 20 best countries to live in shows the least religious nations generally at the top.
There is also a strong correlation between atheistic belief and mass murder, such as in the Soviet Union, Red China, and other scientifically engineered near paradises. Anyway, casting aspersions through statistics is the act of a politician, not an intellectual.
More than three times as many Americans believe in the virgin birth of Jesus than in biological evolution, although few theologians take the former seriously, while no serious biologist rejects the latter!
Joke: What do you call a theologian who doesn’t believe in the virgin birth? Professor!
Messerly goes on and on in a similar vein, making as many as two logical errors per sentence. He never once attempts to understand that there are perfectly good, rational, logical, definitive reasons to believe. I’m betting he’s unfamiliar with these arguments. We really should take his article apart, piece by piece, but I haven’t the time. The kicker is this:
Why is all this important? Because human beings need their childhood to end; they need to face life with all its bleakness and beauty, its lust and its love, its war and its peace. They need to make the world better. No one else will.
Atheists are always saying things like this. They always forget that after childhood come the rebellious teenage years. The years of atheism. With maturity and age come wisdom. Let’s hope our adolescence doesn’t last long.