Born believers?
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15-08-2012, 09:39 AM
Born believers?
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Reasonable Doubts has an interesting new podcast titled Are We Born to Believe?

Quote:Some atheists have argued that children are naturally non-believers. Were it not for indoctrination at the hands of parents and clergy children would never pick up supernatural beliefs on their own and religion would wither and die. But a growing body of research in developmental psychology suggests just the opposite. Children have a natural inclination to believe in invisible, immortal, super-knowing agents who are responsible for design in the natural world. For this first part in a series on the evolved origins of religious belief the doubtcasters review two books (Justin Barrett’s Born Believers and Jesse Berring’s the Belief Instinct) which make the case that religious belief is not only natural–it is almost inevitable.

The podcast tackles some interesting theory of mind issues, as well as some of the latest research in developmental psychology

The idea that we are born believers has interesting implications. Many atheists want to believe that if we could only eradicate religion, people would suddenly become more rational, moral, etc. However, this has not empirically been the case. In countries with low rates of religiosity, such as Sweden, there is still a great deal of belief in mysticism, pseudoscience, "new age" philosophies, and the like.

An interest point made near the end of the podcast is that all of this research points to one thing -- children gravitate to supernatural explanations on their own. Any parent knows that! However, children still need to be indoctrinated into all of the twisted dogma of religion, which is what people like Richard Dawkins mean by "there is no such thing as a Christian child."





http://www.theofrak.com/2012/08/born-believers.html

www.Theofrak.com - because traditional religion is so frakked up

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15-08-2012, 11:34 AM
RE: Born believers?
Thanks for the RD link I hadn't heard of those guys. Very intelligent stuff.

Thanks for also for the RD vid (seen that before)

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15-08-2012, 12:37 PM
RE: Born believers?
Just because children are easily prone to believe baseless religious myths and even make them up themselves if not given any, doesn't mean that it's true. This is what the theists are trying to imply. So we naturally invent reasons for things that we don't have reasons for. No real revelation here.

You also don't have to be religious to believe mythology.
I know many seculars who have some insane ideas of the world. Just as poorly founded as any religious belief.

The human mind does appear to believe things that "sound reasonable", especially if you hear it from several sources. Three people you know doesn't count as a confirmation that an idea is fact, but for some reason that's all people seem to need to accept it as fact.

You must fight the urge to believe the "sounds good".
You have to actually train your thinking against your nature.

My daughter (8 years old) believes in the tooth fairy, dragons, Santa, etc., but she is an atheist. Just goes to show that it's more rational to believe in Santa than Jesus. I'm working on her to form her mind to think critically. To never believe anything she hears at first regardless of how many other people believe it. Healthy specticism is what we are missing naturally in our brains and it must be taught.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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15-08-2012, 05:03 PM
RE: Born believers?
Would also seem to indicate that many adults haven't matured passed a small child's understanding of the world if they still believe that a myth or monster is real.

Children aren't born believers and they aren't born atheists either. Both require an understanding of what is being claimed and what is being rejected on the grounds of not having sufficient evidence to believe that claim.
Children will probably always have imaginary friends but it's rare for that imaginary friend to circulate from person to person throughout adulthood to become a religion.
Adults will eventually outgrow religions as their brains mature hopefully due to natural selection

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15-08-2012, 05:21 PM
RE: Born believers?
I prefer to think of it as children (well humans) are born naive or trusting. They are born expecting people and things to help others and be kind. They have the ability to see patterns in the world, and eventually understand when the patterns have no noticeable influence. And children (well adults too) are imaginative.

For that matter, even other animals have rituals or could form them. It's a fairly simple thing, you push a button, good things happen, you're not going to jump off a cliff for good things to happen, you'll push the button. If it doesn't work, you'll try again, and again, because you know it worked once.

My mother, who outright asked "are you an atheist?--but no one else in the family is! They all believe in a god, well, yeah we never went to chuch, and we just believe a god exists [no mention of "which"]"... but even she says that prayer doesn't do anything other than make you feel better--yet she still does it.
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15-08-2012, 05:55 PM
RE: Born believers?
Religion doesn't just come from indoctrination, otherwise new religions would not keep springing up.

Tribal cultures often invent gods in lieu of police systems in order to keep people in line (and not becoming free riders in egalitarian systems). Religions are also often created for monetary gain (scientology, unitarians) or for power (Heaven's Gate). While it's true that children don't invent religion, that doesn't necessarily mean that they won't invent a religion when they grow up.

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16-08-2012, 09:35 PM
RE: Born believers?
(15-08-2012 12:37 PM)Thomas Wrote:  My daughter (8 years old) believes in the tooth fairy, dragons, Santa, etc., but she is an atheist. Just goes to show that it's more rational to believe in Santa than Jesus. I'm working on her to form her mind to think critically. To never believe anything she hears at first regardless of how many other people believe it. Healthy specticism is what we are missing naturally in our brains and it must be taught.

I find this to be an invalid analogy. Your daughter believes in the Tooth Fairy and Santa because you are providing the evidence of these figures (presents under the tree, money under the pillow, etc.).

I believe that skepticism is a natural reaction to our things we can't immediately understand. This natural need to question everything should be encouraged and nurtured. Children should be taught to question everything....including their parents.




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17-08-2012, 12:14 AM
RE: Born believers?
Andy Thompson (Why do we believe in gods?) says the same thing: children tend to believe in some kind of imaginary, superior being. All starts with the creation of the "imaginary friend" at the age of 4-5.





It doesn't mean that children create a new, complex religion in their minds; also no indoctrination of any kind is necessary. It seems we're born wired to believe in deities.

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17-08-2012, 02:56 AM
RE: Born believers?
(15-08-2012 12:37 PM)Thomas Wrote:  Just because children are easily prone to believe baseless religious myths and even make them up themselves if not given any, doesn't mean that it's true.

Waah, waah, waah... conformation bias. Angel

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17-08-2012, 05:59 AM
RE: Born believers?
(17-08-2012 12:14 AM)KVron Wrote:  Andy Thompson (Why do we believe in gods?) says the same thing: children tend to believe in some kind of imaginary, superior being. All starts with the creation of the "imaginary friend" at the age of 4-5.





It doesn't mean that children create a new, complex religion in their minds; also no indoctrination of any kind is necessary. It seems we're born wired to believe in deities.

It appears that we are wired to recognize agents. We impute intention to things - that tiger means to east me, that storm means to drown me. Ascribing intentionality to things is a useful cognitive shortcut that selection has favored in our evolution.

Gods are a way to rationalize the feeling of intentionality.

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