This is a good example of low-brow atheism.
It opens with an offensively stupid thought experiment about archaic humans scurrying around the plains of Africa interpreting every noise as a threat and running for their lives, because it is better to be wrong than to be eaten by a saber-tooth tiger. Because of this, human brains evolved to be gullible and that is why we believe in God. Like all thought experiments about our remote ancestors it assumes everything and proves nothing.
Whoever invented this thought experiment has never watched how animals actually behave. Even frequently-victimized herbivores like rabbits do not in fact run at every noise, they are as adept at filtering out meaningless sensory information as we are. When they hear a worrisome noise they stop whatever they are doing and look, listen and sniff to confirm the threat, not run around like an idiot. Even when startled, they will often run a few steps and then look back to make sure. If you see an animal running away from you as you walk through the woods it had likely heard and smelt you long before you ever saw it, and only decided you were a possible threat as you bumbled too near.
Moreover, archaic humans were not frequently-victimized herbivores, they were predators, quite near the top of the food chain. Like any predator they would have had to travel wide ranges, explore new things and take risks, always on the look-out for an animal to eat. Hardly the sort who would be scared of the wind.
The speaker then attempts to demonstrate the behavioral basis for our god-shaped delusions by pointing out an experiment in which scientists told three-year-olds to behave because an invisible princess was observing them, and lo, the children behaved. Of course we know that children of three know the distinction between the imaginary and real and are in fact “naive skeptics” so I suspect they did not really think the princess existed but thought of her more or less as what the adults intended her to be, a sort of game, or an analogy for their consciences, but not having read the experiment I can’t say for sure.
The main thing is this: he uses the example to assert that religion developed among humans as a means of behavior modification; if this were the case all religions would have have abstract ethical content and an afterlife… but they don’t. Some traditional religions make very little reference to ethics, and certainly not to God watching your every move, which is a poor motivator for good behavior, at least for those of us over three.
As for the thousands of gods argument, it only moves people who have never left their hometown or wondered about the opinions of others. Of course our beliefs are contingent on all matter of things and of course no religion is self evident. Jesus and his followers understood as much, which is why he spoke of the “Good News” not the “Good Principles Self-Evident to All Humans”, and which is why the response he asked for was “faith”, not agreement.
I hope the good Doctor was dumbing down his argument for the audience, because there just wasn’t very much there.
Though if I were a high-brow atheist wondering about where the phenomena of religion developed I too would go back to those intrepid predatory apes stalking wildebeest on the plains of Africa (though it could just as easily apply to any one of us): as a predator he is always using his brain and nourishing it with fats and proteins. It is now so highly developed that it can recognize complex patterns and use those patterns to form global models of reality. Several parts of the brain, all of which evolved for different purposes, are able to take these patterned global models of reality and create a parallel system of signs (that is, a language) with which he can share not only things about the global model of reality, but the model itself.
He is not just a predatory ape, but a story-telling ape. Religion is the story of the world, not only the physical world but also the interior and social world of man. As a high-brow atheist I might dislike aspects of various religions but would not see any reason to argue against religion per-se, seeing how there is nothing out there to replace it other than a cold materialism that renders all human experience ultimately absurd no matter how much I tried to dress it up.