Is Atheism or Religiosity Innate?

Is atheism or religiosity innate? I don’t know.

I’ve thought about this from time to time. This time it was inspired by a comment someone made here about asexuality that I realized was similar to an atheist experience, and as asexuality is an innate characteristic, could atheism be as well? Another time I thought about it briefly and dismissed it without further consideration, it was popular science nonsense about a region of the brain supposedly there to make faith happen – a “god lobe” or whatever they called it.

What would it mean for one’s status with regards to god belief, for it to be innate? To me, it would mean that the belief or lack thereof, once set by development (natural inclination + environment), would be something we cannot truly change about ourselves. That belief isn’t something we can have a choice about, and that debating the matter is just about completely pointless.

I act as if that’s true already. You don’t see me arguing directly with theists here, not that they ever come around. Now, is that a good way to be? The argument is often made that the debate isn’t to convert your opponent, but to give undecided bystanders something to chew on. And where would someone with flexible god belief fit into this concept? Call ’em demitheistic?

This path of inquiry could get wildly offensive, I suspect. It’s my Friday tomorrow (today?), and the work week turns my brains into mush. Not thinking of all the ramifications, I’m sure.

As I see it from mush PoV, feels for and against:

For: Anecdotally, it really feels like I have no control over what I believe, strongly feels like any attempt to “choose faith” would be a toxic act of self-abuse, a time for buzzing cognitive dissonance that couldn’t last long. When you look at someone like Stephen Colbert “choosing” Catholicism – well aware of all the towering unbeatable arguments against it, it’s easy to imagine he’s just innately religious – that it was the path of least resistance for him.

Against: God belief seems hella unnatural, at face value. I mean, it’s natural insofar as you can see the mechanisms that underpin it: pattern recognition gone haywire, fear of death making a denial of that reality tempting, and so on. But the concept of god just seems like an artifice that had to be contrived and communicated socially, not something that would arise out of a brain naturally. Then again, something something, bicameral mind theory, bleh bleh.

I have to be at work in seven hours. You get this post as is. Good day!

Have a go at it, if you like. What do you think?


  1. says

    God belief is just one type of belief in unevidenced things. You can easily be an atheist and yet believe in many other impossible things, e.g. homeopathy, white supremacy, pareidolia etc. Belief in things that “seem true” is innate in humans, it’s a form of pattern recognition. Religion is just one facet of this behaviour.

  2. says

    I’ve spent my entire life trying to work out what makes people tick. The advertising industry has of course worked it out long ago and continues to press the buttons of the unaware. At least I now have the tools to resist brain washing in its many forms.

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