There is an argument one hears atheists make quite often. It's stated as well as any by a poster on Atheist Watch:
"Jake" a poster on Atheist Watch
we are all atheists of some form. Christians are hindu atheists, Hindus are Muslim atheists, and I am an everything atheist. We all know what it is like to no believe in a certain doctrine, so the fact that we are not all born as omnireligious or polyreligious nutbags, suggests that belief is part of the indoctrination process.
The problem with this argument is two-fold: (1) it uses not the modern ideological definiton of atheists which internet atheists will always use religiously (lack of belief), but the old first century pre modern definition that was used of Christians in the beginning, those who fail to acknowledged the right gods. (2) The second problem is that the basic assumption it makes demonstrates a real lack of understanding about the nature of belief in God. I say this because it seems to me that the original statement comes out of an assumption that belief in God is about choosing between a host of little personalities. God is a big man in the sky and all beliefs about God revolve around which big man is up there; is it Zeus? Jehovah,, Juptier, Brahamin, or whomever?
This is not the basis of belief in God. Belief in God is not about choosing between a host of little personalities. All of those personalities are merely place holders, they designate something beyond of all them. God is the ground of being, the basis of all reality, there can'tbe two of them. It's not a context between little personality figures, those are merely place holder that point to the one true reality beyond all of them. Individual personality gods are merely personifications of concepts, all the concepts pertain to the same basic idea. The only real questions are two fold:
(1) What does God want?
(2) which tradition best mediates relationship with the divine?
The second question assumes that the first question is answered by some notion of unity with the divine.
A Hindu is not an atheist to a Christian. I don't think of Hindus as atheists, I think of atheists as atheists I think of Hindus as people with a different understanding of what God wants. That's a pretty good give away that the atheist argument is wrong, because if I don't see Hindus as atheists then they probably don't see me as one either. Of course atheists resist this kind of understanding about it because they are losing several rhetorical helps at this point. First, they are always looking for ways to bolster their numbers and this allows them the illusion that everyone is an atheist and thus their position is really dominate after all, it's just a matter of realizing it. Secondly, it allows them to play divide and conquor agaisnt religious people, which they are always doing. They try to leverage one religion against them all on the pretext that since we can't prove one is true and all others false then one can be true.
When we point out that all can be true in some sense, as I show above, they go to pieces. That is one approach they can't handle, that accounts for the atheist viciousness to all of my theological positions. They focus upon the minutia of a religious tradition, ceremonies, and formalities, theology, and ignore the experience of the living presence of God that individuals experience, which is the same all over the world.
Hand in hand with this argument that we all born atheists because we are born without belief. That in itself is begging the question. There are lots of reasons to supposes that we have an intuative sense of God and we are born with it. I present a lot of data in my argument on religious instinct and demonstrate the position in many ways, from the dawn of pre-human history to genetic evidence.
The argument actually says that the fact of a religious speicies is far too coincidental to be merely the product of random chance. Why why would it be that we are fit to be reigious, that it is our isitinct and our way of life? That would indicate that an object of religious devotion desinged religocity into humans. In summation the following factors indicate that religiocity is part of human nature:
The vast Majority of Humans have been religious as far back as we have evidence of humanity (50,000 years) [see above A. 3]
That is not appeal to popularity, it's an argument about behavior which indicates an innate condition. Almost 90% currently of world population are rleigious believers in some sense.
When anthropologists see a behavior that transcends culture they assume it is innate. There has never been a culture that was atheistic. Every culture we have ever seen or found traces of on earth going back as far as we can has been religiious in some way.
Our bodies work better when we are religious, it is the major factor in health and far more of a motivator than any other trigger of the Placebo effect [see above C.3]
Archetypes are natural part of the human psyche (see the next argument). Also see Jesus Chrsit and Mythology page II. Archetypes are psycholoigcal symbols which point to transcendent ideal beyond the material realm. Studies show that they are natural to all people and emerge under a broad varitiy of psychologal techniques.Maslow says that they are found among all people using ever technqiue of psychoanalsys. [above B.3]
Psychological factors, relgious believers have far less depression and incidence of mental illness so the human mind works best when religious. [above C]
IF the appeal of the argument were merely popularity, it would not turn on things other than popularity. Obviously these reasons I'm giving here are not popularity. But, the transformative power of religious expeirnce is another aspect of the argument which proves that it' not merely an appeal to popularity. Religious expernce trasnforms lives, it gives people life affirming experinces which makes them better as people and makes life worth living. Not all psychological factors are capable of doing that. We are so contituted as a speices that we respond to these experiences in such a way that they do transform our lives. That proves that we are fit to be religious, and that is not an appeal to popularity.[see also point C above on psychological normality and self actualization]
Brain wave patterns are changed by religious experience. We go from Alpha waves to Beta and to other levels of Brain wave patterns when we have these experinces.
Scientists have identified a cluster of neurons in the brian which, when stemulated, produce feelings of extacy and thoughts about God and the trasncendent. This is too great a coincidence that nature would just produce this by random chance, expecially when taken together with all the other ways in which we are fit to be religious. It's an evidence of design, we are made to be a religious sepcies.
the studies I've talked about intently have demonstrated that around the world mystics experince the same phenomena in the presence of God inspite of the doctrine of their traditions.
Moreover, infants should not be counted as believers in any sense. We should hold the title of "believer" in abundance for infants and young children. No one is born with an intellectual theological thesis or is capable of stating a systematic belief. But most people come closer to having innate beliefs in God than to being without of any kind of belief.