Some recent scholarship in the bio-cultural sciences of religion has argued that atheism, like science and doctrinal theology, is less natural than religion. This scholarship, however, draws on problematic natural/unnatural and nature/culture binaries that denaturalize culture and reify a more basic essence/accident binary. Here, I argue that (1) while the suggestion that religion is more natural than atheism indicates something important, it reinforces assumptions about the naturalness of cognition and the unnaturalness of culture that confuse as much as they explain; (2) a clearer understanding of atheism requires the thorough naturalization of culture; (3) multiple pathways to atheism can then be understood as natural developments of both cognitive and cultural predispositions, and analyzed along continua of religion-reinforcing cultural scaffolding and religion-fostering cognitive intuitions; and (4) finally, I suggest an economic frame for better understanding atheist expressions that construes atheism, despite its relative costs and rarity, as a natural though expensive phenomenon. Because atheist expressions are differentiated by the mechanisms (cultural and cognitive) they utilize to pay the costs of overriding religion-fostering intuitions and religion-reinforcing cultural scaffolding, all atheist expressions are naturalized along with culture; however, the basic insight, indicated by the claim that religion is more natural than atheism, is preserved.
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