The Origins of Religious Disbelief: A Dual Inheritance Approach
Citation: Will Gervais, Maxine Najle, Sarah Schiavone, Nava Caluori The Origins of Religious Disbelief: A Dual Inheritance Approach.
To currently believe in a god, one must:
- be able to mentally represent gods (or not: mindblind atheism = relatively lower in advanced mentalizing)
- be dispositionally or situationally motivated to believe in some gods (not: apatheism = relatively more existentially secure)
- receive credible cultural cues that some gods are real (not: inCREDulous atheism = exposed to relatively fewer credible cues of religiosity in childhood)
- maintain this belief over time (not: analytic atheism = scoring higher on cognitive reflection)
Describe different models for understanding religious disbelief:
- secularization models (sociology and social psychology) predict greater importance of apatheism
- religion as a cognitive byproduct of other mental adaptations (cognitive science of religion and evolutionary psychology) predict importance of analytic atheism
- dual inheritance models incorporate insights from the byproduct account while also drawing heavily upon work in cultural evolution (gene-culture co-evolution) predict importance of inCREDulous atheism
We preregistered a set of analyses that directly pit secularization, cognitive byproduct, and dual inheritance models against each other, https://osf.io/kfasv. Specifically, we posed three broad questions:
- What are the relative predictive contributions of each pathway to atheism when considered simultaneously?
- How do the four pathways interact with each other in predicting disbelief?
- Does early work on each individual pathway successfully replicate in a nationally representative sample?
Surveyed nationally (U.S.) representative sample of 1417, found inCREDulous strongest predictor of disbelief.