Advice for Atheists

Advice for Atheists March 29, 2014

Belief in God is natural, argues Justin Barrett in Born Believers. His is not a theological or philosophical argument about natural knowledge, but a conclusion from interviews, surveys, and other psycho-sociological evidence.

Which makes atheism rather an anomaly, Barrett things, and a comparatively rare one. After surveying the factors that, statistically speaking, correlate with atheism, he offers seven steps toward confident atheism (219-20):

First, “Have less-than-average fluency in reasoning about minds or a tendency to not use psychological or social reasoning.”

Second, “Do not have children,” since fewer dependents makes unbelief easier to sustain.

Third, “stay safe,” since people often irrationally turn to religion when faced with danger.

Fourth, credit or blame humans for whatever you can, since they are the only intentional agents in the environment.

Fifth, get acquainted with “pseudoagents” like fate, chance, justice, government, natural selection. You’ll need them.

Sixth, reflect. You can only resist the naturalness of religious thought by reminding yourself of the reasons for not believing.

Seven, indoctrinate the young, so that unbelief will have a future.


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