Author Topic: Are we born atheists?  (Read 1170 times)

Sherman Firefly

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Are we born atheists?
« on: August 10, 2018, 02:34:11 PM »
I have often read things like " All of us are born atheist, then most of us get indoctrinated into something else".

I used to agree with this, but now I don't.

What do you think?
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Dave

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2018, 03:17:30 PM »
I have often read things like " All of us are born atheist, then most of us get indoctrinated into something else".

I used to agree with this, but now I don't.

What do you think?

It's interesting that you have changed your opinion, Tank, it begs a question!

I will consider "theism" as any beleief in the supernatural, of any kind.

Short of the very basic perceptions -  basically of anything that annoys a newborn -  I have always thought that us humans are born as a "tabla rasa". But do we have a genetic "toolkit" that is merely awaiting the appropriate trigger? If we do have that "god gene" in that box then it could be said we are all "theists" at some early point, before experience and education modify things.

Not theists in terms of the Abrahamic god but available to, or even needing, some form of external agency/authority beyond our family or teachers. Personally I cannot remember ever feeling the "passion" of any kind of theism, it did not snswer enough of my questions. So, maybe, I had such a strong curiosity gene it swamped the god gene?

Hmm, I will go for being born an atheist, or so close it does not matter.
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No one

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2018, 06:08:01 PM »
We're all born blank. Devoid of any conclusions. However, not having any knowledge is entirely different than making an informed decision.

Sherman Firefly

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2018, 06:11:39 PM »
We're all born blank. Devoid of any conclusions. However, not having any knowledge is entirely different than making an informed decision.

 :)
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2018, 08:38:25 PM »
We're all born blank. Devoid of any conclusions. However, not having any knowledge is entirely different than making an informed decision.

Agreed. However, what qualifies as an "informed decision" may differ from person to person, depending on experiences they have had.  Individual experiences inform our decision-making process as much or more than pure evidence-based reason.

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2018, 09:32:39 PM »
We're all born blank. Devoid of any conclusions. However, not having any knowledge is entirely different than making an informed decision.

I go along with that.
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Sherman Firefly

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2018, 10:01:14 PM »
We're all born blank. Devoid of any conclusions. However, not having any knowledge is entirely different than making an informed decision.

Agreed. However, what qualifies as an "informed decision" may differ from person to person, depending on experiences they have had.  Individual experiences inform our decision-making process as much or more than pure evidence-based reason.

Which is exactly why religions do their utmost to indoctrinate kids as early as possible. If they can install Religion 1.0 in a child's mind they have virtually won the race to ownership of that mind for life. And that is also why it has a limpet like grip in later life and why it is such a struggle to remove it.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Sherman Firefly

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2018, 08:30:43 AM »
I am of the opinion that we are born as a 'clean sheet' neither theist or atheist. To be an atheist one has to be aware of the concept of theism and then to reject it.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Dave

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2018, 08:49:14 AM »
I am of the opinion that we are born as a 'clean sheet' neither theist or atheist. To be an atheist one has to be aware of the concept of theism and then to reject it.

I am going to challenge that, Tank.   :grin:

Does one need to have knowledge of something and then conciously reject it to be "without" it? Is not the person that has no knowledge of even the concept of god not also "without god"? Does the newborn baby have any such concept?

This is the old trouble with the label, it inherently assumes the possible existence of a god to be able to reject it. "Realist" might be better label, a newborn is hardly that!
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Sherman Firefly

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2018, 09:18:08 AM »
I am of the opinion that we are born as a 'clean sheet' neither theist or atheist. To be an atheist one has to be aware of the concept of theism and then to reject it.

I am going to challenge that, Tank.   :grin:

Does one need to have knowledge of something and then conciously reject it to be "without" it? Is not the person that has no knowledge of even the concept of god not also "without god"? Does the newborn baby have any such concept?

This is the old trouble with the label, it inherently assumes the possible existence of a god to be able to reject it. "Realist" might be better label, a newborn is hardly that!

But babies are not born theistic either.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Dave

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2018, 11:56:24 AM »
I am of the opinion that we are born as a 'clean sheet' neither theist or atheist. To be an atheist one has to be aware of the concept of theism and then to reject it.

I am going to challenge that, Tank.   :grin:

Does one need to have knowledge of something and then conciously reject it to be "without" it? Is not the person that has no knowledge of even the concept of god not also "without god"? Does the newborn baby have any such concept?

This is the old trouble with the label, it inherently assumes the possible existence of a god to be able to reject it. "Realist" might be better label, a newborn is hardly that!

But babies are not born theistic either.

Yes, true!

I can see where I found dispute but cannot seem to express it clearly - that problem revolves (for ne) with the very word "atheist".  I will meditate on it whilst I have lunch. No guarantee of resolution is implied!
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Sherman Firefly

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2018, 04:00:32 PM »
I am of the opinion that we are born as a 'clean sheet' neither theist or atheist. To be an atheist one has to be aware of the concept of theism and then to reject it.

I am going to challenge that, Tank.   :grin:

Does one need to have knowledge of something and then conciously reject it to be "without" it? Is not the person that has no knowledge of even the concept of god not also "without god"? Does the newborn baby have any such concept?

This is the old trouble with the label, it inherently assumes the possible existence of a god to be able to reject it. "Realist" might be better label, a newborn is hardly that!

But babies are not born theistic either.

Yes, true!

I can see where I found dispute but cannot seem to express it clearly - that problem revolves (for ne) with the very word "atheist".  I will meditate on it whilst I have lunch. No guarantee of resolution is implied!

We are suffering from the inadequacy of language. Wittgenstein would be proud.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2018, 07:23:13 PM »
In supporting the definition of "atheism" as lacking belief in deities, one could take the position that infants are atheists. However, I'd say that awareness of the purported existence of something is required before one can hold a position on its existence. Somebody who isn't mentally equipped to take a position one way or another on a question, or even comprehend the existence of the question, cannot be said to belong to a distinct category in relation to that question beyond "unaware."

I suppose to clarify this, one could define "atheism" as rejection of belief in deities. That might appear to lean toward hard atheism; the claim that deities definitely do not exist, which certainly doesn't describe all atheists. In the interest of an inclusive description of atheism as a whole, I think I'll stick with "lacking," and happily explain why if somebody wants to question it. I agree with Tank: people are not born atheist anymore than they're born believing in a deity.

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Icarus

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2018, 08:26:07 PM »
There are arguments that insist that an unborn child can be influenced by the behavior and/or environment of the mother.  A propensity for music for example.  If that argument has any traction then the infant of a fundamentalist might be born with at least a tendency toward theism.

In the case of an atheist mother, prenatal spiritual influences might be  less likely to affect the brain of the unborn.  Atheists do not regularly go to church, sing hymns, recite bible passages, say grace, praise God, or other vocalizations of that sort.. 

 :shrug:

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2018, 08:39:12 PM »
There are arguments that insist that an unborn child can be influenced by the behavior and/or environment of the mother.  A propensity for music for example.  If that argument has any traction then the infant of a fundamentalist might be born with at least a tendency toward theism.

In the case of an atheist mother, prenatal spiritual influences might be  less likely to affect the brain of the unborn.  Atheists do not regularly go to church, sing hymns, recite bible passages, say grace, praise God, or other vocalizations of that sort.. 

 :shrug:

 I can see music, and arguing etc, affecting the unborn kid. I had a fried who plugged in two sets of headphones, one on her head, the other on the bump - soft classics, folk and pop, no harsh stuff. The kid was very placid when born, especially when mudic wasbplayed.

But I cannot see the belief bring passed over. That mother might relax more, or feel passionste, when certain rrligious piecescare plsyed and the newborn reacting to similar rythms placidly or excitedly - yes. But I think the association involves the mother's hormonal state and the rhythm of the music rather than its "esoteric" intent.
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