Depressing news. BTW, this is from May, so not real current. This is pretty brief, so it's hard to know how to interpret it. When discussing the children and their belief in an omniscient parent, they fail to mention this is typical of children who have not developed ToM. - Dallas
Belief in God is part of human nature - Oxford study
Humans are naturally predisposed to believe in gods and life after death, according to a major three-year international study.
Led by two academics at Oxford University, the £1.9 million study found that human thought processes were “rooted” to religious concepts.
But people living in cities in highly developed countries were less likely to hold religious beliefs than those living a more rural way of life, the researchers found.
The project involved 57 academics in 20 countries around the world, and spanned disciplines including anthropology, psychology, and philosophy.
It set out to establish whether belief in divine beings and an afterlife were ideas simply learned from society or integral to human nature.
One of the studies, from Oxford, concluded that children below the age of five found it easier to believe in some “superhuman” properties than to understand human limitations.
Read the rest here.
Mmmm... the Telegraph, a study we have not even a reference to, which latter turns out to "several studies"... the only rational conclusion we can draw here is our resident Texan is easily depressed by shoddy journalism.
The co-director of the 'study', Dr. Roger Trigg, happens to be a theologian:
From 2007-11 he was co-Director of a project, jointly with the Faculty of Anthropology, on the cognitive science of religion, based in the Ian Ramsey Centre.
I presume this is what the Telegraph is alluding to. Am I surprised that a project on the "cognitive science of religion" comes to the conclusion that belief in God is inherent to the human species? Not really.
And the director, Justin Barrett, is described by the NYT as
a "prominent member of the byproduct camp" and "an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” [and] “that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.”
Again, am I surprised to read this? Again, not really. Give his published work a quick look, he seems to be a very specialized kind of anthropologist.
By the way, the NYT article which describes Barrett as a "prominent member of the byproduct camp" is worth a read.
You'll also notice it's 4 years old, i.e. it's been published before the study began. And if you clicked the relevant link in my previous post, you already know the meaning of cognitive product:
The view that religious beliefs and practices should be understood as nonfunctional but as produced by human cognitive mechanisms that are functional outside of the context of religion.
I've got a feeling that the sole purpose of this 4-years, £1.9 million study was to 'prove' the views of its director.
Thanks for the additional info Jaume. I'll look through it just as soon as I can. Yes, if the co-director is a theist, it is unlikely he was unbiased.
You know, I should probably get into the habit of looking these people up (like Trigg) before I post their stuff. That way I can learn a little about their background first.
Children were asked whether their mother would know the contents of a closed box. Three-year-olds believed that their mother and God would always know the contents, but by the age of four, children start to understand that their mothers were not omniscient.
That's three years of conditioning to start with, isn't it?
And do 3 year olds even really understand what god is? Did you see Jaume's comments above? These guys are theists to begin with. Boy do I have egg on my face.
I really can't believe in this at all. Just because an idea is more simple and absolute when it's explained to them doesn't mean we're predisposed to believe it. I was born an Atheist and never bought into religious bullcrap. It didn't make sense to me as even a young child. My foster dad would say, "God loves us all" and then I would hear about God's wrath during sermons at church, and my child head said "Wait, that doesn't make any sense."
This to me still solidifies that religion is social. The only way to find out whether it's 'deep rooted' is to isolate a child totally from religion of any sort, the concept of God, a higher power, or anything, and see if they still ask about God while growing up. Otherwise any questions they have are socially influenced and prove they're not 'deep rooted' in our psyche, they're indoctrinated because it's easier for them to handle than the truth, which can vary and change.
Sadly enough I do not agree with this statement or the results of this research that cost so much money. Maybe the researchers were already biased and statististics are very easy to manipulate (this I know for a fact having studied statistics al university).
Also, I've never joined any atheist community or site apart from this site and almost have always been an atheist...
When I wrote my little comment , I hadn't read what Jaume replied and I completely agree with him.