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Is Atheism the Next Stage in Human Evolution?

I was recently reading a section of Sam Harris’s book, The Moral Landscape. In one part of the book, Harris talks about how our brain is wired. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it seems that religious believers tend to be more fearful, paranoid, and value authority more than secular people. I also remember reading something similar to this when reading one of George Lakoff’s books about Democrats and Republicans. I am starting to think that maybe atheism is evolutionary.

In the past, there might have been an evolutionary reason for people to be religious. For example, religion creates a strong community. The down side to this is that this strong community also fosters a strong tribe mentality. As the world has become more interconnected, we are losing the need for tribes and are moving toward the view that we are all part of the same tribe.

As this now becomes more conducive to human survival, perhaps this view is becoming more prevalent on the biological level of the brain. Since atheists tend to value reason over faith, this could also be a biological adaptation. We no longer need to rely upon paranoia to protect us from harmful plants and animals, now we have science and reason to help us.

The only real problem with this theory that atheism is the next stage in human evolution is that atheists tend to have much less children than religious people. The whole Quiverfull movement kind of destroys my theory.

On the other hand, Socrates once viewed the mind/body problem from the other end. Perhaps, our biology can change by our behavior and attitudes. Maybe, we can re-write the wiring of our brains by thinking differently about the world around us. In this sense, evolution is less about biology and more about the propagation of new ideas. So all those people born out of the Quiverfull movement may become atheists and that new wiring might then continue to be propagated by education and genetics. I don’t really know if this makes much sense, but it is just a thought I was having. What do you think?

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