Born Believers: The Science of Children's Religious Belief

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Simon and Schuster, Mar 20, 2012 - Psychology - 302 pages
2 Reviews
From a noted developmental psychologist and anthropologist at Oxford University, this fascinating theory about the value of religious faith finds that we are all predisposed to believe in God from birth.

Infants have a lot to make sense of in the world: Why does the sun shine and night fall; why do some objects move in response to words, while others won’t budge; who is it that looks over them and cares for them? How the developing brain grapples with these and other questions leads children, across cultures, to naturally develop a belief in a divine power of remarkably consistent traits––a god that is a powerful creator, knowing, immortal, and good—explains noted developmental psychologist and anthropologist Justin L. Barrett in this enlightening and provocative book. In short, we are all born believers.

Belief begins in the brain. Under the sway of powerful internal and external influences, children understand their environments by imagining at least one creative and intelligent agent, a grand creator and controller that brings order and purpose to the world. Further, these beliefs in unseen super beings help organize children’s intuitions about morality and surprising life events, making life meaningful. Summarizing scientific experiments conducted with children across the globe, Professor Barrett illustrates the ways human beings have come to develop complex belief systems about God’s omniscience, the afterlife, and the immortality of deities. He shows how the science of childhood religiosity reveals, across humanity, a “natural religion,” the organization of those beliefs that humans gravitate to organically, and how it underlies all of the world’s major religions, uniting them under one common source.

For believers and nonbelievers alike, Barrett offers a compelling argument for the human instinct for religion, as he guides all parents in how to effectively encourage children in developing a healthy constellation of beliefs about the world around them.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ljldml - LibraryThing

Received this book as ARC from Goodreads. "The belief in God appears to be a naturally occurring human phenomenon" Agree or Disagree? Dr. Justin Barrett has written a thought provoking novel on the ... Read full review

Enlightening

User Review  - Lynn P. - Overstock.com

Talk about things that make you go Hmmmm. Very good book. Read full review

Contents

On the Train to jaipur
1
Part One The Evidence
15
Three Identifying the Maker
56
Four The Mind of God
81
Part Two The Implications
135
Seven Its Okay to Be Childish
167
Eight So Stupid Theyll Believe Anything?
176
Nine Is Atheism Unnatural?
198
Ten Should You Introduce Children to God?
221
Eleven Encouraging Childrens Religious Development
237
9
262
References
283
Index
293
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About the author (2012)

Justin Barrett is the author of Why Would Anyone Believe in God? A senior researcher at Oxford's Centre for Anthropology and Mind, Dr. Barrett lives in Pasadena, California.

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