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Meditation 465
Is It A Human Instinct To Believe In God?

by: Dan Shanefield

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A recent (Feb. 2006) book[1] by Tufts professor Daniel C. Dennett claims that there is an instinct in humans to believe in God. I think that, instead, we do have an instinct to want membership in a tribe or similar group. Non-human animals have some strong "herd" instincts, which are the same sort of thing, and what I mean by a "tribe" includes a church, a fraternity, nationalistic group, or other human organization that is often similar in many ways.

For more detail about this, please see my essay at:

Joining A Tribe Is Instinctive
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A lot of human behavior seems to fit into my "instinctive tribe" theory, including the idea that this explains the common wish to join a church or analogous group. It might explain why so many people are willing to join suicidal cults or become individual suicide bombers. Once we join a church, our tendency to think in terms of "abstract" ideas makes it easy to then believe in whatever God (or gods or godesses) that the other church members are talking about.

There is still more in my article at:

Tribes, Cults, And Psychology, Part II

I can't prove any of this, but it all seems to fit the facts quite well.

This doesn't prove that there isn't a real God behind it all. But it does offer an alternative explanation for all the intense belief that we agnostics see around us.


  1. "Religion As A Natural Phenomenon," by Daniel C. Dennett (Viking, February 2006)