Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford's Centre for Anthropology and Mind, claims that young people have a predisposition to believe in a supreme being because they assume that everything in the world was created with a purpose.
He says that young children have faith even when they have not been taught about it by family or at school, and argues that even those raised alone on a desert island would come to believe in God.
"The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children's minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
I won't disagree that the vast majority of children believe in "God", however the big question is "why". Certainly there is no scientific evidence to disconnect the power of family, friends and especially society from someones belief in religion (or other issues). It is easy to say there are kids he has studied that are free from outside influences who believe this, but where are the studies? The overwhelmingly lions share of people in the world, including the Western world, believe in "God" - including most Democrats, regardless of whether they attend services or not, so how can you separate the two? And to me this issue has nothing to do with whether God really exists. The issue is the influence of society and your surroundings. Back two thousand years ago when most people thought the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around the Earth, I am sure you could have made the same arguement. Maybe it is because I am biased. When I was young I only paid a token acknowledement to God. My parents both believe, but I wasn't at services every Sunday, although I attended some. It was never pushed on me so I at best was parroting the laissez-faire attitude of my upbringing, even early on.
but there is a deeper issue here. the concept that the world is here for a purpose, that the universe, and its inhabitants, were made for a reason. that all this craziness actually serves a some higher purpose.
he is saying that children hold this belief from the word go.
But the question is do they really believe that or are they just responding to (leading) questions? Again, I would love to see some truly unbiased data on this, it is just that I haven't seen it yet. A question can be phrased in a number of ways to get the response you desire. It certainly would be an interesting "science project" to get to the bottom of this.
I guess what I am really saying QE is that it would be pretty hard to do a truly unbiased survey on this issue. The studies/polls show that probably 90% of America believes in God. Ted Kennedy may support abortion and gay rights but he is a catholic. I would imagine those numbers are pretty consistent across geographic ranges. So in essence you would need to study children of aethiests. Although I am not saying that his premise isn't true. It is just that as someone who has done a thesis that involved setting up a study, collecting data, and running confidence intervals, you have to at least go on more then observation. Although as someone who has done it, the numbers can be swayed to your point of view pretty easily. I know hehe. It is why I passed.
this is always the problem with people! they are not mathematical formulas, they are not insects on a microscope, they defy simple scientific rational explanations.
thus any scientific study of human nature will be open to interpretation and subjectivity. so in that professors own subjective interpretation of the data children are born believers. its also been my own experience.
i think its impossible to have a truly unbiased and totally scientific opinion regarding the intracacies of human nature. it just doesn't work that way.
Some of the comments to that article are more insightful than the article itself. Dr. Barrett is subjectively interpreting his findings and coming to conclusions that are the antithesis of true science. Given his research affiliations... it's no surprise...
When my son was a wee lad - his parents at that stage wanted nothing to do with "God" nor "Religion" - he came to the conclusion that all men and women living on the earth today must be brothers and sisters.... I suspect he´d heard about Adam and Eve being our original parents, but I have´nt a clue where he may have heard about this since we certainly had´nt told him this and was quite surprised and taken aback.
Now its exactly the other way around.... The parents are once again totally convinced of the Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omniscience of "Consciousness" for want of a better word. Whereas my son who has always had the type of "rational" way of thinking that makes him a great mathematician and scientifically minded, today does not believe in a "higher authority".