Mon 13 Apr 2009
I’ve seen it claimed, in discussions regarding differing worldviews, that atheism itself is a worldview, or even that strong (or “militant”) atheism is a religion. (For the record, I would not consider atheism a religion, though I would consider it a worldview.)
A response that I’ve seen is that atheism is not a worldview because it is not a belief, rather it is merely a “default position”. The rationale given sometimes compares belief in God to unicorns or some other such mythical animal, in the sense that unbelief in such things (or anything, really) is the default until convinced (or proven) otherwise.
While I can certainly see the reasonableness of this line of thinking and its general applicability, I wonder if it applies equally well to the question of God. There’s at least two reasons to think in this specific case things might be different. First, the vast majority of people throughout history have believed God (or gods) exist(s), a phenomenon which remains the case today. Should a belief be regarded as a default position when the majority believe the opposite?
And secondly, related to the above, if Richard Dawkins and those who agree with him are correct that human beings have evolved a natural proclivity towards belief in God(s) as some sort of survival/social assistance mechanism, should not belief in God be considered the default position, since we are supposedly “hard-wired” for such belief? Shouldn’t such naturally impelled belief be considered the default? Although I would agree with Dawkins that human beings seem to have an innate proclivity towards belief in God, I would suggest that there is different reason why so many people seem to have an innate awareness of God.