the evolutionary path to atheism


People in all societies throughout time have had superstitious belief systems to explain the unexplainable. Every Christian I think would agree that the Mayan gods were a primitive attempt to understand life and death in the absence of a message from the god God. Every Muslim I think would agree that the Egyptian gods were a primitive attempt to understand life and death in the absence of a message from the god Allah. You get the picture.

As we totter along on our human journey, finding out more about ourselves, about the world and about the universe beyond, there is a trend towards concluding that we no longer need a superstitious belief system to explain the unexplainable. In highly scientific professions (i.e. people who understand a lot more about the mechanics of the universe than the rest of us) numbers of those still believing in deities are remarkably low.  Many of us in the general population are coming to the conclusion that the messages that any number of these deities are purported to have brought to humanity, have a familiar and common ring of ‘man-made’ shimmering from every word in their holy texts. There is no way to separate one belief system from the next. And no reason to think that any of these many invisible deities worshipped across the world, and across time, actually exist.

So, in 2013, the common trend is people with higher levels of education moving away from the traditionally held religious beliefs of their culture. I can say with utter confidence at this point in time, that there is no reason to believe in the supernatural, no reason to believe any gods exist and no reason to follow the default religion of my culture, or another that looks more interesting. What seems more likely to me is that some key characteristics of our animal nature have led us to imagine life and power beyond what we see, and cluster round developing supernatural beliefs and organised religions that we are exposed to in our cultures.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s not get too comfortable or arrogant with what we understand, for we are not at the end of an evolutionary path. And surely in 3013, future generations will be laughing about how little we currently understand.