“It’s natural to believe in God”

It’s also natural to crap where we’re standing but most of us adults have the sphincter control to hold it in until we can make it to a bathroom.

The post title comes from an article about the results of a research project.

Human beings have natural tendencies to believe in God and life after death, according to a three-year international research project directed by two academics at the University of Oxford.

The 1.9 million pounds project involved 57 researchers who conducted over 40 separate studies in 20 countries representing a diverse range of cultures. The studies (both analytical and empirical) conclude that humans are predisposed to believe in God and an afterlife, and that both theology and atheism are reasoned responses to what is a basic impulse of the human mind, a university release said.

The study wasn’t on the hunt for proof of god. The ambition was find out if we learn to believe, or if the ability to believe is innate within us.

The findings are due to be published in two separate books by psychologist Dr Barrett in Cognitive Science, Religion and Theology and Born Believers: The Science of Childhood Religion.

The studies by Emily Reed Burdett and Justin Barrett suggest that children below the age of five find it easier to believe in some superhuman properties than to understand similar human limitations. Children were asked whether their mother would know the contents of a box in which she could not see.

Children aged three believed that their mother and God would always know the contents, but by the age of four, children start to understand that their mothers are not all-seeing and all knowing.

However, children may continue to believe in all-seeing, all-knowing supernatural agents, such as a God or Gods.

And it’s noted that research on adults out of China and Belfast suggested that belief in an afterlife is instinctual. The books they’ll release about this research might be worth looking for. Quoting Project Director Dr Justin Barrett, from Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind:

Just because we find it easier to think in a particular way does not mean that it is true in fact. If we look at why religious beliefs and practices persist in societies across the world, we conclude that individuals bound by religious ties might be more likely to cooperate as societies.

“Interestingly, we found that religion is less likely to thrive in populations living in cities in developed nations where there is already a strong social support network.”

But, Project Co-Director Professor Roger Trigg, also at Oxford, figures that since the mental habits of religion can be found all over the world, ridding the world of religion is a pipe dream and unlikely to occur.

“This suggests that attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived as human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts, such as the existence of supernatural agents or Gods, and the possibility of an afterlife or pre-life.”

We’ve evolved to want to believe in something. It won’t matter how many organized religions might dwindle, the urge to create images of gods in our minds and share them with others will keep going on.

Assuming the Rapture doesn’t solve this problem for us on the 21st…

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3 Responses to “It’s natural to believe in God”

  1. […] “It’s natural to believe in God” (1minionsopinion.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Mike D says:

    The whole write-up was just awful. We’re pattern-seeking animals, and it’s nothing new that one of the most common errors of perception we can make is imposing a pattern of intent where there is only randomness.

    It’s also a little silly to suggest that it has anything to do with a ubiquitous conceptualization of “God”. Lots of indigenous cultures worship ancestral spirits, nature, animals, etc., but the authors weren’t about to claim that it’s natural to believe in ancestral spirits.

  3. 1minionsopinion says:

    That’s just it. All that can be stated as fact is that the desire to believe exists and is in some ways measurable. Nobody could refute that.

    I wonder if adding god into headlines is the media’s way of making sure a story piques some interest. I don’t know if I would have clicked, but the headline seemed written to lure people into thinking “It’s natural to believe God is real!” (and therefore unnatural to be skeptical and atheist) hence my interest.

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