May 26, 2012

Are Children Born Theist?

Edited 5-30-2016

Buon giorno. In late 2010 and early 2011, I attracted the attention of a certain furious misotheist tinhorn who used one of the mantras that people of is type will copy and paste from other non-thinking atheist propaganda sites. Specifically, the claim that "children are born atheist, and learn theism later on". I called him on it; this is an unprovable assertion. Instead of offering evidence to support his fallacious assertion, he followed the Atheist Handbook™ and resorted to ridicule.

It appears that not only is the claim that "children are born atheist" a fallacy of assertion and completely unsupportable, the opposite may be true! Yep, children may be born theist.
Is atheism or theism more natural for human beings?

According to online author Tim Covell, “Everyone is born atheist. Religion is learned.” Over at the “rational response squad” you’re treated to the claim that “Many people don’t know it but everyone is born an Atheist, it’s not until a child has religious beliefs Pushed on them with out any evidence to support them that they “think” their [sic] a Theist.” David McAfee makes the same claim: “Now, the way I see it, everybody is born an atheist and, without submersion into religion as a child, we would most likely maintain that position…”  These are just examples. There are plenty more out there in the non-peer-reviewed pool of “intellectual diversity” that is the internet.

Now, there’s at least some truth here. Newborns don’t have a lot by way of beliefs. They’re an ignorant sort, you could say, so the fact that they don’t overtly believe in God, or stars, or carrots, or causation, or planets etc, really isn’t very interesting. However, when people call themselves atheists, they don’t usually mean to convey their ignorance. It’s hardly fair game to point out what babies don’t know as grounds for any claims about what’s natural for intellectually developed adults to believe. To simply talk about what babies actually know is one thing – and something pretty uninteresting at that. What is more interesting is to talk about the kind of beliefs that babies – unaided by religious education – naturally form as their minds develop. It is here that comments like those above are quickly culled from the pool of those that can now make it to the level of scientific respectability. They are wrong – children are not natural atheists after all.
You can continue to be enlightened by reading the rest of "Born Atheists? Science and Natural belief in God", here. Note two things: I don't endorse the entire site or entire article, and that the main thing that happens is that the atheist claim of "born atheist" is shown to be false.
  

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