From a recent ToTheSource, Dr. Benjamin Wiker establishes the meaninglessness of the atheist argument that religion should be eradicated, as it is an evolved trait:
Here’s the basic plot. “Like our physiological DNA, the psychological mechanisms behind faith evolved over the eons through natural selection. They helped our ancestors work effectively in small groups and survive and reproduce, traits developed long before recorded history, from foundations deep in our mammalian, primate and African hunter-gatherer past.”
Got that? Trait X can be hypothesized to have helped Tribe Y to survive. Trait X can be anything, from something obvious (the capacity to cooperate) to something weird but undeniably necessary (the capacity not to mistake your foot for your nose).
How does that get us to religion? Trait X is then hypothesized as being useful for baneful religious practice Z. “Among the psychological adaptations related to religion are our need for reciprocity, our tendency to attribute unknown events to human agency, our capacity for romantic love, our fierce ‘out-group’ hatreds and just as fierce loyalties to the in groups of kin and allies. Religion hijacks these traits. The rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, for example, or the doctrinal battles between Protestant and Catholic reflect our ‘groupish’ tendencies.”
And the conclusion? Stop the religious hijackery! “We can be better as a species if we recognize religion as a man-made construct. We owe it to ourselves to at least consider the real roots of religious belief, so we can deal with life as it is, taking advantage of perhaps our mind’s greatest adaptation: our ability to use reason.”
Would that Thomson and Aukofer had taken a bit more advantage of that ability themselves! The first problem with this line of reasoning is that it is based upon the Enlightenment assumption that religion is the cause of all our woes, and that science is fundamentally opposed to religion.
But more carnage was caused by ideological atheism in the 20th century than all previous centuries combined. Should we then look for an evolutionary explanation for the attachment to materialist utopian fantasies such as could end in the nightmarish extermination by Marxists of over one hundred million human beings? And the notion that science is fundamentally opposed to religion has been thoroughly debunked by historians of science; the opposite turns out to be historical fact—that the development of modern science rests on achievements reaching back into the early Middle Ages. Should we then look for some evolutionary explanation as to why atheists would be so bent upon misrepresenting the actual history of science?But over and above that, the problem with this kind of “reasoning” is that it both explains everything and nothing at all. For example, the notion that “fierce ‘out-group’ hatreds and…fierce loyalties to the in groups of kin and allies” are the evolutionary causes of religious disagreements is absurd. By the same reasoning we would say that any conflict (for example, the heady and passionate disagreements concerning the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics) can be put down to our “love-us, hate-them” traits encoded in our DNA, rather than to the passion to get at the truth. The “in-group, out-group” explanation of religious conflict is meant to convince us that once we grasp the evolutionary source of religious conflict, we will scoff at all religion as a mere after-effect of our lamentable, primitive past. But the explanation actually reduces all conflict—even among rival scientific theories—to the same thing: a primitive need to believe that our side is good and right, and their side is bad and wrong. The explanation therefore deflates both religion and reason by making any conflict, any disagreement, the result of some primitive urge emblazoned in our genes rather than the result of our very human desire to get at the truth of things, even and especially when we disagree.