So here’s where I’m headed with this thought experiment: if the evolutionary account of religious belief that many atheists are now promoting is correct, then atheists don’t have much of a future. Their own arguments, plus some elementary demographic data, show that their position cannot become dominant. The only real chance that atheism has to flourish is if it’s wrong. If the Christian anthropology, for instance, happens to be true, then we will expect people to rebel against God, to act in violation of his will. But we will also expect them not to want to admit that that’s what they’re doing. So they will try to argue that their actions, however sinful, however violent, intolerant, and cruel, are somehow in keeping with God’s will. But eventually the cognitive dissonance of that position is likely to become too much for them, at which point they might find—like that one-time Russian Orthodox seminarian Josef Stalin—that the easier path is simply to deny the existence of the God who otherwise would be their Judge.
So if Christianity is true (and a similar case could be made with regard to some other religions, though not all), then we might well expect atheism to flourish, at least in certain places and at certain times. But if the evolutionary argument against religious belief is true, then atheism is doomed.