avatarBenjamin Cain


The article argues that the Copernican Revolution and subsequent scientific discoveries have undermined the anthropocentric foundations of theistic religions, leading to a scientifically-supported atheism.


The text posits that the advancement of science, particularly the Copernican Revolution, has revealed the universe to be far vaster and older than human intuition suggests, thereby challenging the validity of theistic religions that rely on such intuitions. It suggests that the small-mindedness of these religions is out of step with the counterintuitive truths uncovered by science, which paint a picture of a universe that is inhuman in scale and complexity. The article contends that the persistence of religion despite scientific progress is due to humanity's reluctance to abandon comforting intuitions in the face of existential terror and bewilderment at the vastness of the cosmos. It concludes that atheism, or philosophies aligned with naturalism and secular humanism, are more suited to the reality of the universe, and that humanity may need to transcend its current limitations through technological advancement to fully embrace this larger perspective.


  • Theistic religions are seen as appealing to small-minded laypeople and are considered outdated in the face of scientific progress.
  • Science, particularly the Copernican Revolution, has provided an iron-clad argument for atheism by demonstrating the vastness of the universe and the insignificance of human-centered perspectives.
  • The article criticizes theistic religions for being based on intuitions that are no longer tenable in light of scientific discoveries about the universe's size and age.
  • The persistence of religion is attributed to human psychological needs for comfort and a sense of control, rather than any rational basis for belief.
  • The author suggests that the true challenge for humanity is to overcome its small-mindedness and intuitive biases to embrace a more accurate, albeit existentially challenging, understanding of the universe.
  • The text implies that the future of humanity may lie in transhumanism, where technology could enable us to personify nature and transform the wilderness into a galactic civilization, thus aligning our capabilities with the vastness of the universe.

The Obvious Way that Science Proves Atheism

The Copernican Revolution and the call for large-mindedness

Image by fszalai from Pixabay

You might be too intimidated to think much about whether a deity reigns over the universe because for centuries theologians have done their utmost to overcomplicate the question.

Having been harried by ancient philosophers and proto-scientists, priests defended their state religion by concocting “proofs” of God’s existence or of the miraculous formation of their pet scriptures.

So-called “atheists,” as in those who don’t go with the flow of our naïve intuitions about the universe’s source, or who don’t submit to state religious coercions and sophistries have had to delve into those abstruse theologies, inadvertently contributing to the impression that these basic questions about God are high-flown and academic.

Yet the historical tide turned in atheism’s favour, albeit not because of any such foray into theological abstraction. Science, not philosophy demolished the presumption that theistic religions deserve respect by default, and unlike in philosophy, there aren’t two viable sides to take on the decisive issue. Thus, an iron-clad philosophical argument for atheism can be based on a pivotal moment in science, namely the Copernican Revolution.

The thing is that exoteric religions, the ones that take their scriptures literally, appeal to small-minded laypeople or to those who aren’t interested in asking deep questions. And the world itself shrinks to suit the small-minded.

Image by Chil Vera from Pixabay

Science and the broadening of the human mind

Prehistoric animists were myopic in that sense, which isn’t to say they were unintelligent, incurious, or savage. But without the advents of writing or of large, stable societies, nomadic hunter-gatherers lacked the means and the interest of accumulating knowledge in history. For them, the world hardly extended beyond their friendly tribal dynamics, as they lived with animals in the wild. Specifically, these animists personified the local organic and terrestrial processes, coping with their vulnerability by presuming they could reasonably socialize with everything they encountered.

The later, state religions incorporated astronomy and the civilized divide between sedentary society and the wilderness by simplifying the animistic mythos. Folklores and religions were consolidated, and the deities were magnified and relocated to match the concentration of power in early civilizations. Just as the emerging upper classes were remote from the masses, the gods and heroes were identified with the stars and planets. At any rate, the spirits of nature were demoted once the point of society was to domesticate or to exploit natural processes rather than to live in harmony with them.

In both cases, theistic religions could seem paramount only because the world was deemed small enough to be intuited by wily social mammals like us. These religions made sense when our intuitions weren’t yet humiliated, so that we could still suspend our disbelief in taking our theological fantasies to be dignified, good-faith answers to the big questions: Who are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? What’s the meaning of life?

Religions supplied the naïve, instinctive, anthropocentric answers, and those answers were necessarily as small-minded as our evolved intuitions were myopic. We presumed that all natural energies are personal, that mind and society are at the bottom of everything, and thus that there’s no need to feel alienated from the world.

And all of that changed with the Scientific Revolution, a period that’s often symbolized by the shift towards Copernicus’s hypothesis that the Earth revolves around the Sun rather than the other way around. Crucially, again, this isn’t currently a matter of any sketchy philosophical allegation. You can argue on either side of this or that theological creed or atheistic counterargument, but there’s no arguing against the foundations of modern science.

What scientists discovered — largely with their newly invented telescopes and microscopes — was that the world is far larger and older than our intuitions can allow. Our world and thus our intuitions and reassuring ways of life aren’t central to all things. Instead, ours is just one of many planets, swirling in one of many galaxies. And that’s a gross understatement since the true numbers involved defy human comprehension.

There are hundreds of billions of trillions of stars in the known universe. Yes, that number sounds like made-up childish gibberish…but it’s true! It’s a scientific fact that nature is perfectly inhuman in that respect. And whereas we naturally think of time in terms of human lifespans or historic generations, the universe’s age, too, makes a mockery of that human-centered standard. The universe is nearly 14 billion years old, and it’s expected to go on for trillions of years before the lights go out.

What I’m saying is that that’s all you need for immaculate, invincible atheism. You’re obliged to doubt the core claims of theistic religions once you recognize the smallness of the anthropocentric intuitions that support them. Science cut the legs out from under those creeds and theologies by showing that our intuitions of what must be so are preposterous on astronomical or subatomic scales.

Scientific truths tend to be counterintuitive because the truth of nature turned out to be greater than we can imagine, and in that context theistic religions seem all-too imaginary.

What’s more is that we can surmise why our intuitions are so small-minded. Our narrow-mindedness and human-centeredness evolved to direct our attention to problems we needed to solve just to survive on a planet populated by many wild animals and indiscriminate terrestrial processes. We didn’t evolve to understand the universe’s immense size. On the contrary, the relevant technological devices and scientific ways of thinking are artificial, meaning they were invented to flout what nature’s given us.

The basic, modern argument for atheism, then, is simple:

  • (1) Theistic religions are intuitive.
  • (2) Modern science undermined intuition.
  • (3) Therefore, science undermined those religions.

Sure, this argument applies to the worst of theistic religions. A religious person might protest, then, that it doesn’t apply to her religion since her theology isn’t so simplistic or naïve. For instance, maybe instead of being a person, God is a force, an absolute, a prime mover, a first cause, or the ground of being.

Here we’d be talking about mysticism or the philosopher’s abstract God rather than the folk’s naïve mental projections. And indeed, those elite theological abstractions aren’t so intuitive — but for that very reason they’re also not so theistic.

Once you personalize these absolute concepts, you’ve injected human intuition into the mix, which leaves your religion vulnerable to the above atheistic argument. And the more you de-personalize your ultimate thingamabob, the closer you already are to atheism, in which case the above argument is superfluous.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Why do religions still exist after the rise of science?

Why do the small-minded, exoteric religions still exist despite that argument’s overwhelming scientific support? Why are Christianity and Islam specifically still discussed and practiced as though their theologies have any reasonable hope of being true or respectable in the grand course of history?

Supposedly, there are over 2.2. billion Christians, and over 2 billion Muslims, which means that half the world’s population is dead wrong about the most important matters in their life. Why is that still the case some five centuries after Copernicus published his famous book on heliocentrism? What’s wrong with humanity?

The above atheistic argument is so strong, though, that it answers that question too. Religions still exist because we cling to our intuitions, and we do so because the scientific truth is existentially terrifying and bewildering.

This is why the new atheistic movement won practically all its debates with religious fundamentalists, after 9/11, and yet Evangelical Christians brushed off the defeats, and regrouped under the authoritarian banner of Trumpism, escalating their obnoxiousness tenfold.

And it’s why the Muslim world isn’t inclined to modernize itself. Christendom was forced to do so because the Scientific Revolution happened in Europe, so Muslim countries can still demonize liberalism from a safe distance. In any case, modernism applies mainly to the intelligentsia, and capitalism ironically perpetuates medieval levels of economic inequality. Thus, even as secular liberal nations abound with wealth and information, and support for premodern religions drops off in those places, Christianity persists in the West.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

The harsh existential facts

There’s no mystery why the world hasn’t relinquished its theistic religions despite the rise of science. The real mystery has shifted to how nature can be both so creative and godless, and scientists and philosophers are working on it.

In understanding religion, atheists are faced not with a mystery but with the repulsiveness of certain existential facts. Whereas atheists are generally sympathetic to the humanistic goal of progressing as individuals and societies, what we face is the disheartening reality that we can’t easily improve because inherently we’re still so small-minded. We protect our intuitions because we want the world to be small. And we want that because we can’t live easily in a big world.

As mainstream religions conceive of him, God could rule only a small order of things, one that can be encompassed by the intuitions that flatter and empower us by projecting personhood onto the unknown.

Atheism, or rather naturalism, secular humanism, or pantheism is an inhuman philosophy that suits the world’s vastness. These philosophies are hardly conducive to making us happy, however. Sure, science supports consumerism, but the shallowness of that cultural materialism and egoism proves disappointing and perhaps self-destructive.

A more invigorating prospect of scientific knowledge is captured by transhumanism, which amounts to the potential deification of our species. That is, the proper use of that knowledge would entail the personification of nature not just in our imagination but in a technological transformation of the wilderness into a galactic civilization.

Nothing short of that enterprise will satisfy the large-minded enthusiasts of scientific and philosophical truth. To become as large-minded as the universe is vast, we must dehumanize ourselves, learning to laugh at our intuitions and to form new ones that are suitable to a godlike endeavour.

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