For this to make sense, please check out my post exchange with Dr. Luke Conway here and here. You might as well check my Rebuttal, Part One too.
Dr. Conway says that one of the few things atheists and theists agree on is that we have religious instincts. Judging from the original post’s comments, this certainly doesn’t seem the case, but I’d be willing to let the professor’s cited studies do the talking...if he only cited any. He merely mentioned that studies have been done. Dr. Conway should know that an audience of skeptics won’t take his word for it. As it is, there is nothing for me to address here. I have no studies, no interpretations of studies, nor specifics on what said studies were studying. Eventually, even the professor states he doesn’t care about this alleged research, nor will I.
Most of us have an innate barrier to sexual attraction toward those with which grow up, especially siblings. Looking at this tendency from the perspective of our culture, it appears like a moral instinct. Apologists claim moral instincts are evidence of God. Is this one of the religious instincts to which Dr. Conway refers? If so, I can explain this example without be pointing out the clear evolutionary benefit to incest aversion--seeing how it usually doesn’t bear offspring or increases the risk of birth defects. I’ll explore other seemingly moral instincts in my Rebuttal. Part Three dealing with morality.
I mentioned in my post to The Apologetic Professor that some people are naturally more trusting than others. We could call this a trusting instinct, which is highest in children. Parents know, kids will believe all kinds of crap. This is why I am opposed to religious indoctrination. It’s not fair to the kids. Their cognitive faculties aren’t completely online and will accept any answer to whatever basic inquires they may think up. Dr. Conway mentioned Santa, which largely works against his argument. Kids believe Santa not because they have a Christmas instinct, rather because they have a trusting instinct. A near defenseless youngster believing his or her world-wise parent is a survival trait that would be continuously selected from an evolutionary standpoint. Most people think Darwin set back apologetics only in regards to the Argument from Design, but evolutionary biology acts as a valid hurdle for many a theist assumption.
Finally, Dr. Conway states that he thinks probabilistically. As a poker player, I approve, although I wonder where faith comes in when one thinks God is only probable and not certain. I also question the probabilities the professor assigns to the variables. Just because two things are possible, doesn’t make them equally likely. This, again, will be a common thread as the rebuttal continues.