Understanding atheism/non-belief as an expected individual-differences variable

A compelling body of scholarship exists which proposes that religious and spiritual beliefs exist in every human society because they reflect fundamental aspects of evolved human nature. This raises the question: why do atheists exist and are atheism and non-belief unnatural? A diverse and growing literature on irreligion reveals that distinct personality and cognitive styles are associated with atheists and non-believers. They are slightly less social than religious believers, less conformist, and more individualistic. Atheists in particular are over-represented among scientists and academics, and their high intellectual achievement may stem in part from their preference for logic and their enjoyment of rational reasoning. Lacking interest in a reality beyond this world, non-believers focus their moral concerns on social justice and the here-and-now. This suggests that non-believers possess cognitive and personality strengths, in contrast to the negative assessments that have been historically the norm. This characterization provides a foundation for asking new research questions, such as whether these traits were adaptive during evolution, or whether they are artifacts of the current historical period, given that characteristics such as skepticism and nonconformity may facilitate rejecting the dominant cultural tradition.



One thought on “Understanding atheism/non-belief as an expected individual-differences variable

  1. Another study concluded that both males and autistic people believe less in God because they interpret the world less personally than women or neurotypicals. The reason that both men and autistic people were less likely to believe in God was at least partially because they were less likely to see the world as being made up of personalities. Instead, autistics – and, to an extent, males – were more likely to see the world as being composed of impersonal objects and patterns.

    Thus, according to those oh-so righteous fundamentalists, an autistic man will most probably burn in hell for eternity. But then, they’re nuts!

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