Episode 105: Are We Born to Believe?

Some atheists have argued that children are naturally non-believers. Were it not for indoctrination at the hands of parents and clergy children would never pick up supernatural beliefs on their own and religion would wither and die. But a growing body of research in developmental psychology suggests just the opposite. Children have a natural inclination to believe in invisible, immortal, super-knowing agents who are responsible for design in the natural world. For this first part in a series on the evolved origins of religious belief the doubtcasters review two books  (Justin Barrett’s Born Believers and Jesse Berring’s the Belief Instinct) which make the case that religious belief is not only natural–it is almost inevitable.

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  1. Alverant says

    I want to point out that there’s a big difference between a child’s belief in an invisible agent and the organized belief of religion. For example if their theory was correct we wouldn’t have such a variety of religions in the world today. Also invisible agents don’t justify a religion by themselves. Flipping a coin is an example of one of these super-knowing agents.

    It comes from the human trait to imbue objects with traits we can’t see. Some of them are useful (like mass) others are just superstition. Take gambling for instance. It’s human to think of lucky or unlucky streaks or that you are “due” for a win. I’m part of a pen & paper RPG group with some other Atheists and every session at least one of us will exchange one group of dice for another because “they haven’t been rolling well” even though we know it makes no difference, we feel better about it.

    Believing in the super-natural is a long way from a full blown religion. A religion has ceremonies and dogma, something is not natural.

  2. Chris says

    The sad thing is not that children are born to believe in almost anything, including supernatural invisible beings, it’s that they fail to shed those beliefs as they become adults. This is almost certainly a failure of adults to teach children how to think critically. So whilst magical thinking in adulthood is understandable, even “natural” (so is diphtheria!), it needn’t be “inevitable” at all.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    two books (Justin Barrett’s Born Believers and Jesse Berring’s the Belief Instinct) which make the case that religious belief is not only natural–it is almost inevitable.

    My experience says bullshit to that idea. I started Sunday School at age four and knew it was a scam from day one. On the way home after each lesson, I would explain to the other kids that such things just had to be “made up”. Jesus walked on water ! What a load of nonsense.

  4. says

    grumpyoldfart: That’s called anecdotal evidence. It doesn’t mean much. An analogy would be homosexuality. Psychologists say same-sex attraction is natural, you are born feeling that way. That most people report not feeling that way doesn’t disprove it.

  5. Corvus illustris says

    Are we born to believe, or born to seek explanations? When I was very small, my folks had a large radio/phono occupying a large cabinet sitting on the floor. Voices and music came out of it. Cabinet must be full of very small people (and a large orchestra), no? I was quite sure the cabinet was inhabited until one day when it was pulled away from the wall I could look inside, where there was a large paper cone, in a frame, from which the music and voices emanated, as well as glass tubes with glowing things in them. Wow, no little people! but more stuff, demanding more explanation, which my parents were willing to provide.

    Dumb anecdote, but obvious parallel. It’s not magical thinking, but a desire to understand the world. Even when Alverant’s buddies change dice because of a run of bad luck, they’re doing a sort of intuitive Bayesianism, rejecting the hypothesis of a prior uniform distribution. For religions to arise as explainers, malicious human intervention is required.

  6. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    “We know from controlled studies with mock juries that if a person swears on – or, better yet, kisses – the bible before testifying, the jury’s perception of that person’s believability is enhanced. After all, who in their right mind would lie before god?”

    Kissing books to show respect, eh?
    From Wikipedia’s Kiss article:

    Kissing in humans is postulated to have evolved from the direct mouth-to-mouth regurgitation of food (kiss feeding) from parent to offspring or male to female (courtship feeding) and has been observed in numerous mammals. The similarity in the methods between kiss-feeding and deep human kisses (e.g. French kiss) are quite pronounced, in the former, the tongue is used to push food from the mouth of the mother to the child with the child receiving both the mother’s food and tongue in sucking movements, and the latter is the same but forgoes the premasticated food. In fact, through observations across various species and cultures, it can be confirmed that the act of kissing and premastication has most likely evolved from the similar relationship-based feeding behaviours.

    Probably shouldn’t call upon Cloacina to deal with that mental image.
    *evil grin*

  7. angelina says

    I was watching the Morgan Freeman Through the wormhole episode about this topic last night.

    My impression was people were mixing up imagination with spirituality. Children, and adults are more than capable of imagining things, monsters under the bed, invisible friends. In the case of the adults shown in the program who would not touch a serial killers cardigan, the reason the psychologist gave was that it is because they feel it is imbued with something of that person, and said this indicates a spiritual dimension.

    Children look around and see loads of stuff they do not understand in the world, from water boiling, to feeling the wind. To them these things seem magic, that is not to say they believe in invisible, immortal, super-knowing agents who are responsible for design in the natural world.

    It is equally as likely that as adults, we have the ability to associate a feeling or emotion with a name..so personally, I would feel weird knowing that a serial killer held a jumper I was holding, not because I thought the ebil might rub off on me, but more a “What did he do while wearing this”

    I think it depends on a persons standpoint when evaluating these phenomena. For someone like me, it is due to the amazing human ability known as imagination. For others who I have talked about this with, imagination is spirituality.

  8. says

    Another unique Doubtcast perspective on a very tricky topic. Thanks for bringing in the thoughts on how Europeans have noticed that belief doesn’t go away when you reduce organized religion. You could do a whole show on that.

    On the Santa Claus thing, I recommend watching this talk from the Madison Freethought Fest by Dale McGowan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgDb_IMoKyQ&feature=plcp (MP3 is also available on their site). Around the 12 min mark he talks about how he let his son discover the myth on his own and that he sees that as an important part of developing critical thinking.

    On an admin note, do you have any links to an article about the person who was studying philosophy and stuck around after the Batman shooting? Much appreciated.

  9. says

    Thanks Lausten,

    It’s nice to see someone who actually listens to the episode before commenting instead of just reading the description and then rushing to tell us why we are wrong. That kind of stuff happens alot since we’ve moved to FTB and it gets annoying.

    Here is the link to the article you asked for (there isnt much there but I still thought it was worth a mention) http://www.denverpost.com/heroes/ci_21173727/aurora-college-student-thought-mom-greek-philosophers

  10. Steve G says

    Hey guys! Unrelated to the current episode (which I haven’t actually listened to yet I admit), you should check out


    Here’s another great but small podcast that put out a request/challenge to its listeners to fund their “third season”. I’m not sure if money would help you guys do anything different from what you do already, or do it more often, but if it would, consider a Kickstarter campaign. Set a money goal, set a number of backers goal, print t-shirts for folks who pledge $50, whatever. Look at how 99% invisible did it, and think about whether you guys could do something like that.

    Love the show! Again, I haven’t actually listened to the new episode yet. I usually get my other podcasts out of the way first, savoring Reasonable Doubts like a fine dessert. The recent double episode on Presuppositional Apologetics was fantastic, by the way.

    Keep up the great work.

  11. Anubis Bloodsin the third says

    Children are naturally superstitious and given to flights of fancy based on an incomplete understanding and appreciation of forces and principles involved in the natural world.
    As they gain insights and knowledge of previously mysterious phenomena their fantastical superstition fades away and rationalization becomes a default setting, and Atheism thrives because supernatural explanation is not required.

    What some Atheists imply is that the religious authorities are well aware of the ‘problem’ that faces their delusional cobblers and step in, because society is just to damned sycophantic to these cretins, and are allowed to spin their yarns and gobbly gook unopposed to ‘impressionable children who have yet no faculty for sorting balderdash from reality.

    With a subtle combination of sensationalist claptrap, erroneous and invented historical bollix and the pink and fluffy angels, animals two by two on some poxy improbable ark and paradise, backed up by not so veiled threats of damnation in this world or simple ostracism from the hive mind, to the bodily agony of an eternity on a spit roast in the bowels of hell.

    Fucking hysterical lying bastards are really proud of themselves for inventing that particular demonstration of some insane god and his lurve’ of torturing his creation simply because they do not believe a word of nonsense from the same god’s representatives on earth (according to the story) and be programmed for enacting the all to human penchants of bigotry hatred and intolerance, the theists are even prouder for instilling such vicious fear and anxiety in children to the point brainwashing, because that is precisely what it is, at the very least it is child mental abuse.
    And theists are above all else bullies and cowards…that is why they need a fictitious result of a Bronze age goat herder’s brain fart to support their own irrational insanities.

  12. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Anubis Bloodsin the third #11:
    An excellent show of cathartic purging.

    And despite its volume, your effluent prose was surprisingly on-topic.
    I doubt anyone else here will have so much to offer. Good grammar too, though your word count could be tightened up with some colon use.

  13. jacobfromlost says

    Interesting. From the reading I have done, children tend to believe more easily because they don’t have enough experience of the world to evaluate it for themselves–so they must rely on adults to give them information to survive (if they attempt to evaluate dangerous situations on their own, more often than not they end up dead because they haven’t developed the skills to do so yet–at least beyond simple fear).

    It is interesting that the lower levels of moral thinking include doing what authority says, avoiding punishment, and seeking reward–what would otherwise be thought of as childish thinking.

    Similarly it seems that poor intellectual “thinking” depends upon authority, not questioning the authority (no matter what), not making the authority angry (no matter what), etc, which fits remarkably well with thinking like a child. Indeed, you even hear phrases like “we’re all god’s children”, god is an “wrathful” “father”, etc. Not to mention that the emotional core of such simplistic moral and/or intellectual views is very much child-like.

    If you combine our human inclination to see agency in almost everything in order to avoid death, projecting that agency onto an unquestionable authority figure that allows me to feel like a safe child who can let the “father” worry about the big problems has its solipsistic virtues. But as such there can be no growth, intellectual, moral, or emotional.

  14. Tx Skeptic says

    It was an interesting episode with lots on information to contemplate. It does show the importance of actively educating kids against superstitious & supernatural beliefs, rather than simply shielding them from exposure to such nonsense. But, whether or not we are “born that way” (to believe) or not is not the issue, it is whether or not what we believe is true. Hey, we are “born that way” to crap in our britches, but our parents teach us differently as soon as we are physiologically capable of doing it differently.

  15. says

    This is sort of off topic, but I’m having a fail on finding the RD contact email address, and this is something I’d really like to get y’all’s take on. Someone on our local atheist meetup board recently shared this study with the rest of us:


    If the study is to be believed, it is now the case that only 60% of Americans identify as religious, and only 59% of people do so worldwide. This seems wildly out of line with the numbers I usually hear around this issue, so I was wondering if you’d seen this study and have any idea what’s up with this data. Is there some kind of methodological or definitional weirdness going on (although it’s hard for me to believe even that the “spiritual but not religious” crowd is big enough to explain this), or is can we actually take these numbers at face value? And if this really is for real, how did things get so good all of a sudden (assuming I’m not just wildly out of touch) and what does this mean?

  16. says

    Terrific cast – meaning the content of what you said, not you individual hooligans :)

    I know a looming portion of your raison d’être is challenging religion but I have often wondered as I listen to your commentary if constantly framing ideas and evidence as religious or nonreligious is as useful as other frames.

    This series on developmental psychology is an example. Rather than framing intuitional biases, developmental agency, etc. as prototype religion – how about prototype explanation? If our bias is to believe in continuity of emotional attachment and the invisible superperson – that describes the anthropomorphic scaffolding we use to explain the unexplainable. This shift enlarges the discussion’s frame, rather than maintaining the dense congeniality biased frames of religion/secular.

    I suggest this only in terms of the developmental series you currently are discussing. I think the religious/secular frames work well for most of your material – but something as fundamental as how our explanatory brain systems work from birth might be better treated more neutrally (even though you were examining two authors books who had already structured their comments in this more familiar religion/secular frame).

  17. upprunitegundanna says

    Only just discovered this podcast on Friday and have been working through archive episodes all weekend. Thank you for the great and interesting work you do.

  18. jacobfromlost says


    I think a lot of self-described Christians reject the term “religious” because they don’t see their beliefs in the bible, Jesus, etc, as religious. They don’t “follow a religion” but “follow the teachings of Christ”, yada-yada-yada. So that may partially explain those numbers.

    In addition, I think some people, when asked, “Are you religious,” also have a tendency to think that means, “Are you heavily into your beliefs, talk about them all the time, go to Church 3 or 4 times a week, every religious holiday, etc?” Many people who may hold religious beliefs, go to church every week or a few times a year, but don’t much think about it beyond that may answer “no”.

    If you add those two groups to the “spiritual but not religious” group, as well as the atheists and agnostics, the numbers make some sense.

  19. says

    You may be right, Jacob. I guess part of the difficulty I have with this number is that it’s just flopped out there without a lot of explanation of the methodology or analysis of what the survey respondents seem to mean by their answers. So we can come up with speculations about why the numbers are like that and what it all means, but we have nothing to go on to actually evaluate the validity of those speculations.

    Some of my fellows on the meetup were cheering the number, and in particular the fact that the number had gone down dramatically from the 73% that was measured in 2005. And I just don’t know if it means what they’d like it to mean or not, nor do I have any obvious way to figure it out. So. *mutter*

  20. Miwanpela says

    Didn’t Richard Dawkins say that our desire to believe in “God” is a psychological by-product of our herding instict?

    Has there been any studies done on this?

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Miwanpela #20:

    Didn’t Richard Dawkins say that our desire to believe in “God” is a psychological by-product of our herding instict?

    iirc, he’s given a number of reasons for his “religion as a byproduct” (as opposed to adaptation/group selection) position. That’s its own debate in evo-psych circles.
    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘herding instinct’, but these terms may be of interest:
    – Authoritarians
    – Self-monitoring
    – Social Psychology
    – Alpha male god (dunno the formal name for this)

  22. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Anne C. Hanna #15:

    Is there some kind of methodological or definitional weirdness going on

    The methods summary chart says USA data came from internet polling by TRiG (The Research Intelligence Group). I couldn’t find the underlying US-only poll data published by itself.

    * Huh, Gallup International Association != Gallup Poll.

  23. says

    Yeah, that asterisked bit is really weird to me, and is part of the reason why the whole study just fills my head with question marks. I’m hoping maybe our illustrious hosts can use their greater expertise in this area to help sort it all out.

  24. says

    When you said “both of the Luke Galen fans, here it comes”, I felt incredibly lonely, but then not so much, because I realise there’s another one out there.

  25. says

    Thanks for the link Anne. The most common comparison I hear is the US to other developed countries, so I accept the truth of the statment that the US is much more religious. This is the first time I’ve heard of this “world” data on atheism. When you have some countries coming in at 95% plus, that does tend to pull the overall average up. Plus, as noted, the self reporting is a problem. If you had asked Iraq citizens if they supported Saddam in 1992, they would have said yes, but that would not have been accurate data.

  26. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lausten North #25:

    I accept the truth of the statment that the US is much more religious. This is the first time I’ve heard of this “world” data on atheism. When you have some countries coming in at 95% plus, that does tend to pull the overall average up.

    That document lists countries individually, if tersely. They don’t influence each other to raise values.

    And the confusion is that the US religiosity is said to have abruptly gone down. Hence Anne’s comment: “And if this really is for real, how did things get so good all of a sudden…?”
    Compare with gradual drops reported by Gallup Poll.

  27. says

    I was discussing this with my fellow meetup message board posters, and one point that was raised was that the number of “convinced atheists” is also substantially lower than the numbers of atheists one tends to get when one asks people more detailed questions about their beliefs, like whether they believe in deities or other supernatural phenomena. (It does seem to have risen dramatically since the previous iteration of the study, something which I suspect probably can be credited to Gnu/New Atheism.) So it seems like a big problem in understanding the results of this study is that the “not religious but also not a convinced atheist” category is pretty large and is not broken down in any kind of detail.

  28. jacobfromlost says


    I noticed that too. Another thing that occurred to me was that in framing the question with those three categories, the “religious person” category and the “convinced atheist” category could be seen as polarizing (and then the “not religious” would be seen as moderate, or “leave me out” of this argument). Many people may have just picked the middle category because it was in the middle.

    If it is suggested there is some kind of heated social/political argument between Coke and Pepsi, and people are given a “middle” option I bet many would take it–no matter if it were “water”, “7-Up”, “juice”, “mix the two together”, “both are good” or “both taste like sludge”. None of these “middle options” have much in common or tell you anything about the person’s actual views on Coke or Pepsi–it just tells you they wanted to answer by not answering (and thus not being burned by the heated argument).

  29. shuckstuck says

    Rather than an innate tendency to believe in invisible sky fairies, I’d suggest it’s rather more likely children would come with a tendency to believe what adults tell them. That at least would confer some advantages for survival: don’t eat those plants, they’re poisonous; don’t go out alone, a sabre-tooth might bite you; don’t talk to Neanderthals, they’ll eat you; etc.
    Sometimes adults use this innate gullibility and tell kids things because they want them to do or stop doing things: if you eat carrots, you’ll be able to see in the dark; go to sleep or the bogeyman will come; eat your corn and you’ll grow up to be a big green giant; etc.
    Unfortunately adults sometimes get it wrong: don’t masturbate or you’ll go blind; don’t talk to those kind of people, they’re bad; our family believes the world was made in seven days by a big sky fairy, if you don’t believe too you won’t be a part of the family and you’ll go to hell.
    And of course the adults are simply repeating what they were told when they were kids.

  30. jernau says

    You stated that in Europe organized religion is replaced by New Age and other superstitions. I am not sure that this is correct.
    Do you have any statistics that show Europeans to be more superstititious than Americans?

  31. says

    One thing that strikes me in debates like these is the assumed age of the “children” being talked about. Perhaps I heard it wrong, but I have the impression from the podcast that the children displaying the pronounced belief in super agents were VERY young – under two, and that it dropped off rapidly up until school age.

    Yet, when I hear people talk about it in general, they seem to be targeting slightly older kids, school age and the like.

    Plus, like another commenter above, I see this very much as a matter of developmental psychology, not “religion”. I get a bit narked at religionists who want to co-opt the development of toddlers into support for belief in their deity of choice.

  32. says

    Note to Fletch: I’m still waiting for a polyatheism on Angra Mainyu from Zoroastrianism. You tricked me with this one – I was all excited to hear you were doing one on a listener suggestion. Oh, the crushing disappointment!

  33. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @barefootbree: Nice.

    I’ve been curious about Kali/Mahakali, Hindu goddess of… multitasking apparently. Time itself, a darkness that preceeded everything else, inertia/momentum/change, Shiva-stomping destroyer and creator of worlds, death, indifferent mother, benevolent protector, Ultimate reality…

  34. davejohnson says

    5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet


  35. Cozman57 says

    Children may be born to believe, but is belief the same as faith. They may believe in Santa Claus but that doesn’t mean they have a religious faith capable of surviving the revelation that he is made up. When the evidence of the fantasy of Santa is presented to the child they embrace it with the same level of belief as they did in his existence. I am convinced the reason god persists is because of the reinforcement by parents, friends, and especially religious education. The child’s natural belief system is manipulayed through consistently repetitive reinforcement.

  36. says

    As a child I never believed in a god, never believed in Santa or the easter bunny either.

    I think kids understand that make-believe is make-believe and only get confused about it when parents and others lie to them.

    I knew cartoons weren’t real, I knew Rudolph wasn’t real.
    I knew I wasn’t really a dog when I was three and crawled around on my hands and knees and barked and insisted on being called “Spot.”

    When I was four my mother sent me to bible school and I was astonished to discover that an actual grown-up there believed in a fairy-tale as she explained that fairy tale to me. My parents had never mentioned religion either way, so my only exposure up until then was reruns of “Davey & Goliath.”

    It was only upon discovering that there were people who actually BELIEVED these things that I realized that I was somehow different.

    I didn’t find out what my parents believed until I was 16 in the case of my dad, and in 45 in the case of my mother. They’d simply agreed not to state a position either way and let me make up my own mind.

    I have never for an instant in my life believed in the supernatural, and I was neither coached into that position or coached out of it. In fact, I didn’t even know there were other people like me until high school. I thought I was surrounded by insanity, and had been confronted by classrooms full of angry yelling students and TEACHERS when I expressed my disbelief.

    So in my case, yes, I was naturally not a theist and all the propaganda did was to make me realize early on that people are not all they crack themselves up to be.

    I still like claymation Goliath though.
    (Davey’s family always gave me the creeps.)

  37. thepoint says

    5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet



    one applicant right here…

    get the POINT, Randi….

  38. thepoint3 says

    5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet



    one applicant right here…

    get the POINT, Randi….

  39. grumpyoldfart says

    #4 Lausten North says:
    August 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    grumpyoldfart: That’s called anecdotal evidence. It doesn’t mean much.

    I know it’s called anecdotal evidence.

    Did you notice though, that my experience falsifies the claim that

    Children have a natural inclination to believe in invisible, immortal, super-knowing agents who are responsible for design in the natural world.

    This child did not have that inclination.

  40. Antonzon says

    A childrens belive in a god or in a super hero is not a faith, its only a fantasy.

    Since there is no god there can be only fantasy.

  41. says

    You’re digging a deeper hole and I’m not going to sift through the dirt for you. Look up “inclination”, then you might understand why your personal experience does not “falsify” the claim.

  42. Leon says

    Excellent podcast as usual, my faverite so far due to the karthartic rant!
    In regards to childeren being primed for belief, could it not simply be a survival mechanism for young childeren to be able to extrapolate extended chains of causality? As we neurologically develope we aquire the cognitive reasoning to grasp that the invisible agents are not supernatural entities but forces of nature (dimention, mass etc). Therefore would it not be feasible to have said logical chains of inference primed in social animals as the prime mover of social animalistic behaviour, the foundations of Darwinian morality perhaps?

  43. says

    My own experience with spirituality is that as far back as I can remember, I’ve questioned everything, asked myself, “What is this place we live in, where did it REALLY come from, do the things I’ve been taught (Religion) really add up as the answers, what’s the scientific answer to what the universe is and how it came to be or is it even possible that it always been?” In this sense, in my own experience, I am a thinker. I don’t think all children have this inclination, but do remember the old saying about kids… always asking “Why? Why? Why?”! : )
    Some people stick with what they’ve been taught, or if whatever they’ve been taught makes absolutely no sense to them (and they feel inclined to need to only believe in something that makes sense), they might choose to just refute any beliefs in anything at all, perhaps siding with Atheist or Agnosticism, or just choosing not to have a stance at all. Personally I think people are this way due to a personality continuum… well, maybe not a continuum, but I think some people are more inclined to seek answers than others are, and some are more inclined to give up on the search than others, if siding with whatever is available seems “comfortable enough” for them. From this point of view, perhaps some people choose to not publicly question their social network’s spiritual beliefs because it seems “good enough” of a belief system and questioning it to try to seek answers would cause problems greater than it’s worth. Other people do the opposite- they relentlessly seek answers in the face of adversity. I think psychological type probably plays a huge role in which side or form of behavior a person takes.

  44. says

    Yes, of course we are evolved to seek and construct intentionality predictions – children are evolved to believe – that is obvious to me since forever.
    BTW: I love your “nice to see someone who actually listens to the episode before commenting instead of just reading the description and then rushing to tell us why we are wrong. That kind of stuff happens alot since we’ve moved to FTB and it gets annoying.”
    I will have to look into this blog here on FTB. Who said FTB cannot improve.

  45. Dustin Arand says

    A couple of other books in this vein, which you may want to check out, are Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origin of Religious Thought, by Pascal Boyer, and In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion, by Scott Atran. Both make a compelling case that the basic building blocks of religion are byproducts of innate mental modules. However, that is not to say that religious belief is inevitable. Only that it is very easy to fall into, especially when the surrounding community is primarily composed of believers. On the other hand, a paper written a couple years ago and published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology argued that religious belief depends upon a certain amount of social dysfunction and that, when societies become less dysfunctional, religiosity wanes. Here is the link:

  46. andrewviceroy says

    Hmmm… Jesse Berring. Is someone looking for a Templeton grant?

    As for the Barrett research. The naturalistic fallacy wasn’t explicitly noted and should be. Science isn’t inherent either, yet it’s demonstrably useful.

    At first, I was worried that this might be more ammo for anti-science people, but then I thought, Barrett’s book is fascinating in another ironic sense: it’s “evidence” for a theory that ultimately cashes out to a worldview that *rejects empirical evidence* (Plantinga’s basic belief). On what grounds can he cite his “evidence” that learned “evidence” is secondary to the primacy of divine abduction? And at what point does all this get recognized as absurdly convoluted?

    I’ve been saying for years that the important place to focus is not the jump from “no god” to deism, but from “higher power” to theism- actual positive claims, like multiplying fishes and loaves, the Trinity, rising from the dead, talking snakes, etc. I don’t care about deists, honestly.

    One more thing, Luke makes the great point that it’s absurd that god would put a sensus divinitatis in us and not finish the job. I would go further and say that it’s absurd to do that and then still make us completely dependent upon other indoctrinating humans (family) just to survive for many years. We can recognize god but not survive alone???

  47. andrewviceroy says

    One more thing: I love the Copan logic for child killing (and the Flood version in Stranger than Fiction). It implies a type of predisposition in cultures that cannot be solved by free will!!! (Enough to have to wipe them out!!) This is very important not only for the free will discussion in general, but also in terms of collective culpability, which might be a fun topic for a future episode. You could talk about this and also how some Christians try to theologically wiggle out of the DNA evidence against no first couple (via polygenism).

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