Yet Pinker’s own solution to the problem is no better than Dawkins’s. He suggests that there might be a “God module” in the brain that predisposes people to believe in the Almighty. Such a module, Pinker writes, might serve no survival purpose but could have evolved as a byproduct of other modules with evolutionary value. This is another way of saying there is no Darwinian explanation. After all, if a “God module” produces belief in God, how about a “Darwin module” that produces belief in evolution?
Still, the question raised by the Darwinists is not a foolish one. Biologists like Dawkins and Wilson say there simply must be some natural and evolutionary explanation for the universality and persistence of religious belief, and they are right. There is such an explanation, and I am pleased to provide one in this chapter. The Reverend Randy Alcorn, founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries in Oregon, sometimes presents his audiences with two creation stories and asks them whether it matters which one is true. In the secular account, “You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm washed up on an empty beach three and a half billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance, and natural forces. You are a mere grab-bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an empty corner of a meaningless universe. You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus, or amoeba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. In short, you came from nothing and are going nowhere?’
In the Christian view, by contrast, “You are the special creation of a good and all- powerful God. You are created in His image, with capacities to think, feel, and worship that set you above all other life forms. You differ from the animals not simply in degree but in kind. Not only is your kind unique, but you are unique among your kind. Your Creator loves you so much and so intensely desires your companionship and affection that He has a perfect plan for your life. In addition, God gave the life of His only son that you might spend eternity with Him. If you are willing to accept the gift of salvation, you can become a child of God:’
Now imagine two groups of people—let’s call them the secular tribe and the religious tribe—who subscribe to these two worldviews. Which of the two tribes is more likely tosurvive, prosper, and multiply? The religious tribe is made up of people who have an animating sense of purpose. The secular tribe is made up of people who are not sure why they exist at all. The religious tribe is composed of individuals who view their every thought and action as consequential. The secular tribe is made up of matter that cannot explain why it is able to think at all.
Should evolutionists like Dennett, Dawkins, Pinker, and Wilson be surprised, then, to see that religious tribes are flourishing? Throughout the world, religious groups attract astounding numbers of followers and religious people are showing their confidence in their way of life and in the future by having more children. By contrast, atheist conventions draw only a handful of embittered souls. One of the largest atheist organizations, American Atheists, has around 2,500 members. Throw a stone in the faculty parking lot of an elite American or European university and you have a good chance of hitting an atheist. But throw a stone anywhere else and you really have to aim.