Rationalty and atheism

I just discovered Only Sky. It’s loaded with good articles by about atheists. This debate about arguing people out of religion has been interesting. Seems like it might be a dead end

I didn’t read that but long ago I figured out that it was a dead end. A friend in college was incredibly intelligent, graduated number one in his class, got a free ride to Cambridge or someplace like that for grad school. And to top it off he was a debate coach. And even with all that, whenever we started talking about religion and belief in “God” you’d think he barely made it out of grade school. It was a totally emotional thing for him, rationality never entered into it.

Perhaps it takes a (fact based) story to confront religious blind faith.

But human psychology isn’t all about intuition. Since at least William James, psychologists have recognized that we have different ways to process information. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahnemann’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow summarizes decades of work finding that people shift back and forth between relying on gut intuitions and relying on more effortful rational thought. These two systems – a fast intuitive one and a slower rational one – often run in parallel, but sometimes come into conflict. So if religions are supported by our natural intuitions, maybe atheism results from the rational system taking charge. As Pascal Boyer, a leading figure in the cognitive science of religion, put it in a prominent summary, “Some form of religious thinking seems to be the path of least resistance for our cognitive systems. By contrast, disbelief is generally the result of deliberate, effortful work against our natural cognitive dispositions—hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.”