A world of atheists

There’s a really interesting post by Matthew Yglesias from last week that I only got around to reading today. The topic is the argument one sometimes hears that the widespread nature of religious experience is somehow evidence of the supernatural. The whole post is worth reading, but here’s the punchline:

There’s clearly a significant human predilection for not-supported-by-science beliefs of various sorts — in the existence of a god or gods, astrology, fortune-telling, alien visits to earth, the healing power of crystals, etc. — but there’s no particular convergence of these beliefs on anything in particular. Meanwhile, on many of the particular question you might ask about religious subjects, atheists are going to be in the majority. Like most people on earth, atheists don’t believe that Jesus Christ died for man’s sins. Similarly, just like most people, atheists don’t believe that Muhammed was Allah’s greatest prophet or that the Hidden Imam will return. And, again, like most people atheists don’t believe that you’ll be reborn on earth after death in a new body.

I’m reminded of the famous quote from Stephen F. Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

One thought on “A world of atheists

  1. Mason

    First, thanks for the quote. I had a variant of that on my quotes web page but didn’t know who said it (and never got around to googling it), so now I’ve fixed that. (Well, I don’t know which variant is precisely correct, but given that I didn’t have an attribution, I’ll go with yours.)
    Second, what is “correct” or “better” clearly doesn’t have particularly anything to do with popular opinion/vote on just about anything. Hell, look at how we choose our leaders (from high school class presidents all the way on up). OK, so I’m oversimplifying with the above comment, but the divergences are wild and not just on the issue of religion.
    When I was growing up, it was uncool to show any interest in video games, math, RPGs, or just about anything else in which I showed interest. So I was ostracized because completely arbitrary societal preferences and beliefs arose—just like with my religious beliefs.

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