The argument goes like this: All you have to do is stand on a mountain top, or stare up into the night sky, and you just KNOW that a god made all of this. How could it exist otherwise. Then from there, we make this "natural" leap to the notion that this god who made all this wonder and beauty is telling us about himself and what he want from us in this book called the Bible.

Then things happen in your life and one day you pick up a book about evolution or any number of other areas of science. In your search you come to the conclusion that the theological view doesn't stand the test of logic and reason. So...you turn from one path and begin a new journey in your life. Your journey of discovery takes you through the human genome or the wonder and puzzle of quantum physics or the spectacular diversity and majesty of the evolution of species.

Then a funny thing happens...

I have immersed myself in reading about evolution. Some of it is really complicated...all of it is fascinating. Foundation shaking, wonder and majesty of the world we live in, fascinating. So much so that I will be reading about some new aspect of evolution and am suddenly overwhelmed by the thought: "How is it possible that so many varieties of so many bats have developed such complex, sophisticated sonar guidance systems without the outside intervention of an even more complex and sophisticated entity?"

Of course I eventually talk myself through the power of tiny changes over vast periods of time. And I understand the argument that to invoke the instant existence of a complicated "creator" to explain a complicated creation makes no logical sense. But I wonder...are these thoughts the workings of that part of our brain that pulls us toward the belief in gods or cosmic overseers? Or is this just the ghost in the machine calling me back to something I learned in the past?

Do you experience this? What do you think explains it?

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I think you're experiencing the effects of a lifetime of indoctrination. We were repeatedly exposed to the false dichotomy that all that exists in nature arrived thanks to either an intervening Creator or blind chance. As you've discovered in your reading about evolution, natural selection is the answer to our questions about the development of species.
I successfully escaped from the tyrannical indoctrination of the "Holy" Roman Catholic Church and am now a fierce Atheist.

em hotep
I lover your comment I am the same, I am very catholic about my atheism.
"Who ever died from thinking god created the universe than from thinking a godless big bang started it?"

It seems to me that Atheism/Secularism has been gaining in strength in recent years. Perhaps one of the reasons is that thinking god created the universe has led more and more to thinking we need to slaughter everyone who disagrees. That surely can't be an evolutionary advantage.

Mr. Black points out, religion's tendency to focus on the hereafter devalues the focus on living now and the evolutionary by product of effectively passing on our genes.

It's not that I don't accept the idea that we are in some way hardwired for religion, I just think it's important to note that religion isn't necessarily an evolutionarily sound aspect of humans.

One other thought. I recently began a conversation with someone who was asked to leave my father's church when he had the temerity to ask a few insightful, potentially explosive, questions about their doctrinal system. Much of his struggle with being separated from them centers around the loss of fellowship. He is an admitted agnostic now, thanks to my father's extreme dogma, but he longs for the sense of belonging that was lost. Mr. Black's comments about "tight knit groups" alludes to that very potent aspect of humanity.

I was talking with Dr. Andy Thomson last month and he was explaining to me about that ancient drive within humans to maintain connection with a group...that our very survival depended on it in the distant past. So powerful is that instinct, that we will deny things as plain as the nose on our face in order to maintain inclusion in a group. That leads me to conclude that something even more powerful or profound must act on a human to cause them to act contrary to that instinct.
I think cognitive science might have some preliminary answers to this. Pascal Boyer, a cognitive scientist, wrote an article (PDF) on how religion is probably the byproduct of various cognitive traits.

I think it was this article that related religion to writing. Virtually every human society has some sort of writing system, but there isn't any part of our brain that serves as a "writing module." Rather, writing is a natural outcome of our ability to recognize and create patterns and languages, along with our fine motor ability.

The downside is that atheism is probably more cognitively "expensive" or energy-consuming that pseudo-scientific explanations :( But then, that probably goes for nearly everything.
And it all happened within 6000 years, because that's as old as the earth is? Yah...

but when you consider the possibility that the earth is actually billions of years old, several millions of years seem rather easy to have achieved what has happened.
It is natural to try to tack this sort of an explanation on things that are so complex. It seems to satisfy, but it doesn't really satisfy, you know? Like junk food. I think it is particularly difficult to shake those thoughts when it has been taught to you previously that these things were created. It becomes a situation of not just learning something special about your planet, but having to validate your own thoughts over thoughts you have previously been told were correct.


Have you watched very much , or any of Richard Dawkins videos? He is really a wonderful teacher. I believe it was "The Watchmaker" in which he uses a computer selection algorithm to demonstrate how evolutionary changes take place in a way that is easier to grasp. Of course, it is on a faster timescale, but it really helps drive it home. I watch him often on You Tube.

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