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Born believer

  1. Nov 4, 2009 #1

    drizzle

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    "born believer"

    is it the right place to post this?
    I just thought it's intresting..

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/3512686/Children-are-born-believers-in-God-academic-claims.html" [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2009 #2

    Garth

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    Re: "born believer"

    Is this not a leading question? In other words do not young children, wanting to please the questioner, therefore find an answer that seems to fit the 'why' question?

    Garth
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
  4. Nov 4, 2009 #3
    Re: "born believer"

    Interesting, but a few things that bug me when reading the excerpt in your thread:

    Surely they would believe in a god or gods or some kind of equivalent creator, not necessarily God (as in a christian view).

    Also, I think that a child will assume anything has a puporse or should have a purpose, but if that thing was created by a being or a person or just is, is not something that I think they would contemplate until they became able to perform abstract thinking at a later age. By asking "why is a bird here", the 'why' will give the person being asked the question the initiative to assume that there is an answer and therefore a purpose for birds. It's almost a loaded question actually. If you just said "bird" and pointed at one, a child or anyone else would respond with a yes or a no or a maybe or confusion, they wouldn't immediately want to tell the purpose of the bird. The 'why' question forces a 'reason' response.

    I also do not believe that evolution is such a hard concept to grasp, depending on your age as a child. A child can see things grow and surely understands cause and effect, to a certain degree if it has been experienced. A small kitten becomes a big cat. A tree without fruit or leaves in winter looks very different to the same tree with leaves and fruit and summer. So telling a child that dogs looked different a long time ago wouldn't be too far fetched in a what a child understands in comparison to divine creation, I would assume.
     
  5. Nov 4, 2009 #4
    Re: "born believer"

    ah, beat me to it garth :)-
     
  6. Nov 4, 2009 #5

    Wallace

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    Re: "born believer"

    I think the fact that religion has emerged in every single known human culture indicates that there is some strong reason for that. This kind of study, even if it has some inevitable flaws and biases, sounds interesting.

    Suppose we were able to get to the point where it is clear that religious belief gives a significant evolutionary advantage (a proposition that is very plausible in my opinion), to the point of possibly playing a significant role in the emergance of our distant ancestors as the dominant huminoid species (as compared to Neanderthals or others). If we did get to this point, what would that knowledge tell us? If we can rationally find the origin of an irrational belief that has none the less been at the cornerstone of human development, what do we do?

    I think it's a very interesting area. My own view would be that only an atheist would be able to truly consider these questions clearly, but what does an atheist do if they can prove that atheism is an evolutionary dead end?
     
  7. Nov 4, 2009 #6
    Re: "born believer"

    You couldn't put a group of kids alone on a desert island, because they are not old enough to fend for themselves - they need an older guardian to look after them. If that is the case, the bias lies in the guardian who will instill values and some sort of social norms.

    Religion is transmitted that way, from parents to child who are very prone to what the parent tells them.

    I'm not sure what will happen if religion is absent from a child's life. I suspect the majority grows up being atheists and agnostics.

    Although in tribal societies, religion was a form of strict social norms, which held the tribes together, and that made them stronger. They were held together by fear of deviating from the society's ideals, and the fear of punishment of course.

    So given a group of kids starting out with tabula rasa, (clean slate) , a social hierarchy would form based on dominance and submission. The next confident kid, with gifts of eloquence, would come up with an extraordinary idea (hulu is a sun god) and then would transmit that to the others.
     
  8. Nov 4, 2009 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: "born believer"

    It seems evident to me that the idea of evolution would not naturally occur to a child. What is not clear is why one would assume design rather than timelessness - that things have always been here.

    A person of faith might argue that a prediposition to belief in a deity or designer is the result his existence. That is to say that this study would tend to confirm what religions have taught all along - that we are born with an awareness of God [or, god, if you prefer]. Ironic, eh?
     
  9. Nov 6, 2009 #8
    Re: "born believer"

    Although, I don't necessarily believe all the conclusions that can be made by evolutionary world views; I never had a problem understanding where the idea came from or how evolution works. It seemed like a perfectly logical conclusion from a young age. I was raised a Creationist, but I have developed much different perspective as I have grown older.
    I don't recall ever having difficulty comprehending the evolutionary thinking. I think your understanding would have a lot to do with how you were raised.
     
  10. Nov 6, 2009 #9

    Moonbear

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    Re: "born believer"

    I agree. The question itself presumes things are created for a reason to ask "why."

    Also, it is impossible to isolate children from all religious influences, even if the parents do not have any such beliefs. These attitudes are too prevalent in society for one to entirely isolate a child from such ideas.
     
  11. Nov 7, 2009 #10
    Re: "born believer"

    I'm pretty sure it naturally occurred to me. I was raised by Christian parents who didn't impose their views on me, but if asked they would simply state that they believed in a god. I think it was in 4th grade that a teacher first mentioned evolution in a class in reference to how animals develop and I distinctly remember thinking that it was a waste of our time to dedicate several weeks to this concept as it was rather self-evident when you realized that parents passes on their traits to their children. Of course I wasn't raised in a completely controlled environment so had been exposed to religion and atheism, but as far as I know the first time I heard of evolution I simply used it to refer to an idea I had already thought about.

    I don't think the issue is that children are "born believers", but that they make deductions based on their prior experiences and when you're little all creation you have experienced have been by some human for some reason, so if they're asked about the creation of birds they will instantly imagine a creator with human-like characteristics. A human would make something because it pleases them, and as they like birds for their song, then they assume that the creator of birds must have made them so they can sing. Children, if prompted for a reason, guess that the reason something was created is to have a purpose because that is why humans create things.

    I remember before I learnt English, but used a computer, whenever I closed an application it would ask me "Are you sure?". I didn't know what sure meant, but I figured that the computer was annoyed that I terminated our game (having seen similar behavior in other children) and asked if I was annoyed. For quite some time I was certain "sure" meant "annoyed". This is not proof that computers possess humanity, but rather that children tend to overextend the lessons learned from their experiences because they haven't learned where to draw the line yet.

    Also I don't really see why this even matters. Even if concept A is harder to grasp than concept B, that doesn't mean that B is right. Especially since you haven't considered C, but even if A or B is true, A could be true. General relativity and quantum field theory doesn't come easy to most six year olds either (I know the article doesn't make a conclusion using this fallacy, but I don't see any other reason for the study than to use/imply this argument).
     
  12. Nov 7, 2009 #11

    marcus

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    Dearly Missed

  13. Nov 7, 2009 #12

    marcus

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    Religions without a "creator god" which take the universe for granted.

    The idea of a creator god is not a genetic, inborn, part of human nature, IMHO. In some cultures the gods exist/existed IN nature and are or were to some extent subject to the conditions of physical existence.

    The idea of a Creator, particularly one with conscious intentions (which can serve to explain phenomena to children) is not hard-wired in the brain---I think rather that the Creator idea is a brilliantly creative cultural invention.

    The Romans originally had practical gods to be invoked in various circumstances that the gods covered---war, planting, marriage, childbirth, burial etc. Or so I believe.

    In northern European religion, the gods got into various scrapes with giants and stuff, but no personality or intelligence was responsible for creating the whole physical universe. As in Roman religion, the World was taken for granted. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    In traditional Chinese religions there can be spirits and things you are supposed to do to deal with them and ensure good fortune, but on the whole it's practical, as I understand. They did not think it was necessary to have a Creator. Nobody needed to be there to set things up and establish the natural laws.

    In pragmatic polytheisms, I gather that supernatural agencies and beings exist, one can reverence them and sometimes obtain their aid. But it doesn't seem necessary to have one who creates existence. Existence simply exists, and is how it is.

    I think the report of Justin Barrett's work gives people the impression that creatorial monotheism is part of inborn human nature.
    Somehow genetically hard-wired. Surely that can't be right. He must be saying something else, something a bit more sophisticated with more logical qualification.
     
  14. Nov 14, 2009 #13
    Re: "born believer"

    Religious myths may be innate to the human mind. That is why they are universal.

    "Nature herself has imprinted on the minds of all the idea of God."

    -Cicero

    Some have even suggested a God gene.

    Look up collective unconscious by Jung:

    "Like the instincts, the collective thought patterns of the human mind are innate and inherited."

     
  15. Nov 14, 2009 #14
    Re: Religions without a "creator god" which take the universe for granted.

    The gods themselves had an origin, thus "Theogony" was an accepted myth in Greek paganism.

    Yes and no. Some were more cosmic than others, particularly Zeus.

    Aside from uniquely northern European geographic features - realms of Fire and Ice - the Nordic gods were much like the Greco-Roman ones. Both had to contend with usurping Giants.

    Well that's where your summary comes unstuck. The early Chinese religion was monotheistic and China had a few revivals of ethical monotheism from time to time, even prior to Western contact.

    Most polytheisms have a Creator Spirit - the Egyptian pantheon for example was seen as aspects of the one underlying Spirit. So monotheism isn't odd, just usually de-emphasised in polytheisms.

    Creator Sky-Gods appear through a multitude of human societies. I think they're a "strange attractor" in systems of explanation that rely on analogies to human agency. Hard-wired? Not so sure.
     
  16. Nov 14, 2009 #15
    Re: "born believer"

    How does one explain the dream narratives we share? I'm sure we have all had similar dreams. Teeth falling out, being naked or dressed inappropiately for work or school, etc.. When did we learn these narratives? Where did they come from? Why are they invoked?
     
  17. Nov 15, 2009 #16
    Re: "born believer"

    Anxieties that come at the appropriate age I guess. Just how such things translate into dreams that all (?) have is anyone's guess since the genome doesn't hold enough information to "store" them in any way. Perhaps they're neurological "strange attractors" that our common pattern of neurogenesis "finds" along the way. Thus they're not stored "as genes" but come into being because of our genetic similarities.
     
  18. Nov 15, 2009 #17
    Re: "born believer"


    Exactly. How they translate into dreams is what the puzzle is. I think dreams are symptoms. Of things like anxiety. Like you said.

    Our genome was smaller than thought but that doesnt at all mean these dreams couldnt be in there. How could we calculate how much room they would take up?

    When Carl Jung was a kid, maybe 8 or 10, he started doing something strange. He was an odd and introverted kid. He had some troubles and one day out of the blue grabbed a piece of wood and started carving.

    He had created his own totem. As a child he had created his own religion. Just for himself. A religion that has already existed all over the world since the beginning of civilization. How many times do you think this scene has played out in history?
     
  19. Jan 23, 2010 #18
    Re: "born believer"

    Well, this will not help, but.....there are a bunch of God/Devil/Dipstick thingys in it.....

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  20. Feb 14, 2010 #19
    Re: "born believer"

    Small children engage in what we call magical thinking which they tend to outgrow, and it's more than reasonable to refer to this outgrowing as the result of empirical learning. Hence, the idea that a small child has a tendency to believe whimsy is very near to saying that a small child is apt to act like a small child. Growing and concomitant learning works for some people while for others, obsessions, anxieties and generalized fears arrest the learning process. I don't see anything very remarkable here except to say that Barrett is reframing the realities of child development to look like a discovery.
     
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