Question: Is atheism more or less evolved than belief in God?
Lionel Tiger: I don’t think that we have any reason to say that one way of life is better than another except if it doesn’t scare the horses, that so long as it doesn’t denigrate other people, so long as it doesn’t despoil the environment, so long as it allows people to live civilly with each other whether they believe in the same thing or not then I would be reluctant to say you’re better than you are simply because you don’t believe in God and you do. For example, Habermas, the leading German philosopher has said that we may need religion because there has to be some way of controlling rationalism. Remember he came out of the Nazi country where there was a lot of rational argument in favor of what happened there. It was quite well argued. However, it was as we know remarkably awful because there was no religious or moral anecdote to what the logical power of the Nazi regime insisted on doing.
Question: Are we more or less likely to believe in God as we evolve further?
Lionel Tiger: One of the reasons we wrote God’s Brain was in part because it seemed to us that the world was strangely enough becoming more religious and more dangerously religious, so what used to be fights between communists and capitalists, which is really who gets to own a factory making tools has now become a conflict between one priest and another and in a way it’s more reassuring to fight over who gets to run the factory because it’s there. When you’re dealing with theoretical issues like who serves God better that becomes rapidly rather frightening and unattached to any reality, so I’m not sure that if we look ahead we will see more religion or less religion. The evidence so far is that even though the enlightenment and the history of… recent history of Europe was supposed to liberate us from all of those old religions the opposite seems to have been true in sufficient places so that we can’t assume this is a law of nature.