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Born Believers : The Science of Children's Religious Belief

ISBN: 9781439196540 | 1439196540
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub. Date: 3/20/2012

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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.We are all Born Believers, explains Oxford University’s Professor Justin L. Barrett in this enlightening and provocative book on how human beings, across every culture, instinctively develop a belief in a divine power. It all begins in the brain. Infants, under the sway of powerful internal and external forces, make sense of their environments by imagining a creative and intelligent agent, a grand controller who makes the sun shine and the night fall. In the chaos of childhood, where so much is out of the child’s control, this belief in a morally good creator can bring tremendous comfort and calm. A child’s world is then filled with beings who intentionally act upon the environment, maintaining order. 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 major world religions, uniting them under one common source. For believers and non-believers alike, Barrett offers a compelling argument for the human instinct for religion, as he guides parents on how to effectively encourage children in developing a healthy constellation of beliefs about the world around them.


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