This is fascinating research, and it reminds me of a parallel I became aware of a few years ago. Some in the West insist there is a “god gene” and that believing in supernatural deities is instinctual among human beings, essentially.
Daniel Everett went into Brazil as an Evangelical Christian missionary, intent on converting the Pirahã people, a “stone age” tribe that had thus far proven immune to Christian missionary efforts. Everett was certain that HE could, with the help of God, succeed. He ended up becoming an atheist just like they were, because he realized, in a nutshell, that they were so content and so happy and such good people that he couldn’t offer them any promise of improvement through Christianity – they were already better off. And he felt wrong about attempting to coerce them into religious faith, realizing in the end that Christianity is all about coercion.
This is another good article – an interview at Freethought Today.
This tribe is absolutely, utterly atheist. They have no concept of “god”, and they have no interest in that subject. They are pretty much the most absolute pragmatists and literalists you’ll find (no, I’m not explaining well nor exactly) in that they demand personal experience. If not their own, then yours – and it must be actual and direct (beliefs need not apply). If not your direct experience, they’ll accept your father’s direct experience, but unless that direct experience is there (YOU *saw* it or *heard* it for yourself), they dismiss whatever it is.
It’s quite hilarious – I hope you’ll read it. So much for a “god gene” – that’s entirely a cultural construction just like what’s being described in this post. In fact, it might well be that there are other isolated tribes that are equally atheist – if we could only protect them from the predatory Christian missionaries long enough to learn about their belief systems before they’re destroyed forever!