Certainly the social biologists have put forward arguments that religion could have an evolutionary basis, that we humans are designed in a certain way to look for agency behind actions that we don’t understand. That may then relate to why various cultures over time have identified something mysterious and supernatural outside of their own experience to try to explain things that didn’t otherwise have an explanation.
I think it’s too simple to basically say, "well that does it." Either God is true or God is not true. Either God is real or God is not real. It’s not a matter of whether you can explain it away by hypothesis. The question is what’s the real answer?
I think far too few people have looked at the question from that perspective. What’s the evidence for the idea that God exists or doesn’t exist? I think anyone who’s looked at that would conclude that the strong atheist position of saying, "I know there is not God" is not an easy one to sustain. It basically implies a certain degree of hubris and arrogance to say that "I know so much that I could exclude any possibility of there being a God."
On the other hand, the evidence will never draw people to the conclusion of saying "I know confidently there is a God." Maybe god didn’t intend it to be that easy.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock