Dualism is an instinct — you are born with the feeling that a “real you” will survive death. Indeed, the inborn nature of this idea can be a starting point of conversation between Theists and Atheists. This link is to a Paul Bloom’s version of this illusion (with which I essentially agree), and this link is to responses to his views by other well known scientists.
Atheists don’t escape being dualists either — it is an unavoidable illusion. This may seem contradictory, but if you understand my view of self, the apparent contradiction disappears. My post on “Many-Selves, No-Self” explains a non-standard view of self and will help you understand the following explanation.
Let me use this diagram to explain: Imagine an individual with 6 selves (A, B, C, D, E, F). Now let’s look at one function in that individual — the belief/disbelief in a god. Depending on the individual, there may be many different historically nurtured functioning contradictory beliefs. When the individual shifts into self C, D or E, for instance, he is strongly an Atheist. But when person F emerges, that person’s mystical side emerges. The Mystic in him/her may not normally be as strong (represented here by a lighter smaller dot) as some other selves, but when this self takes the foreground, the atheist side is largely nonfunctional. Thus, there may even be a small Theist in the somewho who envisions themselves Atheist.
The saying “The are no atheists in foxholes” illustrates this model. An atheist, under incredible stress of war or illness or suffering of a loved one, may find their mind shift and desire supernatural intervention. They may be surprised by what comes over them. But their surprise is simply due to the fact that they don’t understand their own minds. The don’t understand that their mind contains many beliefs — their mind has multi-valent or poly-valent beliefs. We all hold beliefs that contradict each other.
The title of this post was meant to jar the reader into seeing this phenomena of mind. I hope I have explained myself clearly. Your thoughts and feedback on this post are deeply appreciated !
Related Posts: My Cognitive Narratives