Most atheists would probably claim they’re not superstitious in any way.
They’re right when it comes to religion. But consider these situations:
- Would you not want to live in a house in which someone once got murdered?
- If you needed a heart transplant, would you not willingly receive the organ from a once-convicted rapist?
- Have you ever slept next to a teddy bear?
- Would you want to hold a pen that was once owned by Einstein?
- Do you wear a certain article of clothing on every “big” date?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then there’s some sort of supernatural thinking going on in your mind — something author Bruce M. Hood calls a “SuperSense.”
Why does that sense exist in a world that prides itself on scientific progress? In his new book, Hood explains and elaborates on the answer. He is chair of the Cognitive Development Center in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol, so he’s certainly had plenty of time and experience looking into this topic.
Among the explanations for this SuperSense is the idea of a human need for cohesion and community. Religion serves that purpose, via common rituals and places of worship, and that is one key reason why it persists.
Is it even possible to get rid of that SuperSense? Not really, argues Hood. It’s a by-product of our evolution and a better way to tackle it is to simply understand where it comes from and why it’s there. In fact, it could help us achieve a stronger sense of unity.
There are ramifications to this argument. Indeed, if even atheists can be accused of supernatural thinking, perhaps a science-based rebuttal to religion is not the way to go…
This is a fantastic and interesting book for religious and non-religious readers. It probes into our ways of thinking without necessarily offending either side, a tough feat to accomplish.
Any high-schooler can understand Hood’s arguments, and the Freakonomics-ish chapter titles (e.g. “Blooming, Buzzing Babies” and “Would You Let Your Wife Sleep with Robert Redford?”) definitely make you want to read each page. It manages to be both a quick read a thought-provoking book. I definitely enjoyed reading it.