CA22 Why We Believe in Gods: The Byproduct Theory of Religion

If naturalism is true, why do so many people believe in god? What is it about human psychology that has made belief in god, in one form or another, the default position for the overwhelming majority of human beings that have ever lived? The theory of religion as a byproduct provides a potential answer. It’s possible that religious ideas are byproducts of normal human psychological modules that evolved for other reasons. Our psychological evolution imbued us with theory of mind, decoupled cognition, agency detection, and other useful functions for social animals. These modules interact and misfire — creating beliefs in souls, an afterlife, and even gods.

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Magic Tricks by Whalers

J. Anderson Thomson – American Atheists Lecture [YouTube]

Why We Believe in God(s) – J. Anderson Thomson [Amazon]

Steven Pinker on Byproduct Theory [YouTube]

Michael Shermer on Belief [YouTube]

Paul Bloom on Byproduct Theory [YouTube]

Paul Bloom on Dualism []

Why Would Anyone Believe in God? – Justin Barrett [Amazon]

The Believing Brain – Michael Shermer [Amazon]

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought – Pascal Boyer [Amazon]