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Still Waters

Unbelief, the world’s third-largest religion

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I wonder what the belief statistics and outcomes would be like if people were not indoctrinated...I'd love to see it, y'know. People finding their own ways.

Kids should not be labelled with a faith until they are mature enough to actually understand religion.

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I wonder what the belief statistics and outcomes would be like if people were not indoctrinated...I'd love to see it, y'know. People finding their own ways.

Kids should not be labelled with a faith until they are mature enough to actually understand religion.

Human beings, particularly young children, create their own gods and belief systems. They do so "from scratch" because of the way our brains function, and our minds work.

This has been demonstrated around the world by scientists in a variety of fields, and "The new scientist" devoted quite a few pages to it, in its "god" issue, 17 march 2012.

Very briefly; based on the "theory of mind" "children do not need to be "indoctrinated", to believe in god . They naturally gravitate towards the idea."

They do this because of how they view what are known as agents and non agents, which they observe and categorise around them, in the very early years of their lives.

So; dont allow a child any exposure to the idea of religion or god and it will create its own unique variants of both.

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Human beings, particularly young children, create their own gods and belief systems. They do so "from scratch" because of the way our brains function, and our minds work.

This has been demonstrated around the world by scientists in a variety of fields, and "The new scientist" devoted quite a few pages to it, in its "god" issue, 17 march 2012.

Very briefly; based on the "theory of mind" "children do not need to be "indoctrinated", to believe in god . They naturally gravitate towards the idea."

They do this because of how they view what are known as agents and non agents, which they observe and categorise around them, in the very early years of their lives.

So; dont allow a child any exposure to the idea of religion or god and it will create its own unique variants of both.

From the article:

"Drawing upon research in developmental psychology, cognitive anthropology and particularly the cognitive science of religion, I argue that religion comes nearly as naturally to us as language. The vast majority of humans are "born believers", naturally inclined to find religious claims and explanations ..."

I can't read the full article, so maybe you can explain a couple of queries I have with it.

First of all, from the above quote, it appears that the article is an opinion piece. It's the writer's interpretation and application of principles to religion. This is clearly controversial to a degree, but is something you embrace as it may fit your view of the world. I could be wrong, but I think you claim that "young children, create their own gods and belief systems. They do so from scratch", may be something of an embellishment of the article.

How can anyone make a claim that young children will invent god without any external influence. Where did the researchers find these children? In a forest being raised by wolves? Sorry to sound so cynical, but without clear evidence that it happens, it's not a sound claim to make. You need a sample of children who have received no external cultural influences. Pretty difficult, I would imagine.

From http://somethingsurprising.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/new-scientists-god-issue-disappoints.html

Moving on the the first of these authors, Justin Barrett seems to be a little known academic with a book to sell. On the basis of this performance I think you should not be tempted to buy it. He starts with basic and obvious observations (to anyone who has read anything at all about the subject) that babies are born to recognise agency, that adults retain some of these characteristics, and that we are all sensitive to the concept of 'design'. Eventually he gets to 'theory of mind' and develops the idea to say that we are all born believers in 'natural religion'. So what? He goes on to point out that nobody starts believing in Santa when they are adults, but that they do convert to religions, as if this proves something superior about gods. He neglects to mention that there is no well-funded and well practised organisation offering Santa as a solution to all your problems when you are feeling at your most sensitive and vulnerable. Religions do tend to prey on those who are in need.

Barrett's assertion that "adults do not typically eat sacrifices left out for the gods" demonstrates precisely that he has no notion of the role of the priesthood. These people live solely on the sacrifices of their followers - either literally as in the priests of the temple in Jerusalem or metaphorically by consuming financial contributions. Religion is big business. Just look at the Vatican if you don't believe that

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New Scientist isn't really a scientific journal, but a magazine marketed to people interested and generally knowledgable about science. In a market dominated by Scientific American (and its many other affiliated titles worldwide), and for the especially discerning, American Scientist, New Scientist aspires to be edgy, as opposed to the staid competitors. Long story short, if it's in NS, then it's not necessarily true, but it's probably fun to talk about if you're a geek.

How can anyone make a claim that young children will invent god without any external influence. Where did the researchers find these children? In a forest being raised by wolves? Sorry to sound so cynical, but without clear evidence that it happens, it's not a sound claim to make. You need a sample of children who have received no external cultural influences. Pretty difficult, I would imagine.

The basis of the statement is the same as for many engineering inferences. We know the properties of the materials, that much allows us to predict confidently the behavior of the construction using the materials. While it is true that occasional failures are instructive (who hasn't seen the Tacoma Narrows bridge film? Well, yes, there have been feral, or otherwise language-isolated children... fortunately few, but enough to see what the deficits are).

I would modify a flat prediction about gods, however, because "god" is a loaded term. We see it here in the forum. People seem to think the gods of ancient pagan religions were "of the same species" as the modern God of the Protestants. There's really no evidence of that. So, what is reliable is the development of archetypal props for a particular modality of reasoning.

Anyway, there is no reason whatsoever to think that archetypes are learned, although (like language acquisition) social interaction, even if naive, may be crucial. "Gods" are specializations of archetypes, "worship" is a certain kind of contemplation of an archetype.

I might never develop theology from archetypal roots without being exposed to the idea, but I could develop Buddhism from dreams alone (my own and comparing notes with my fellows). "The clear white light" isn't a god, but what Tibetans do with it is indistinguishable from Eastern Christian theosis. Ancestor worship? There isn't any suspense about that arising of its own accord. Shamanism, ditto. Even a high-culture religion, like Shinto, is well within reach without a pre-exisiting version to copy from.

The emergence of a god from the archetypal soup is a little like a mine or unexploded bomb. I can't actually know whether it will ever blow up or not. There are probably some mines still floating around from WW II. I do know that the bomb has the potential to blow up, however, because I know what the materials it's made from will do, given a chance.

And that is the basis of a confident statement, "Even if the production of explosive ordnance were banned tomorrow, there would still be explosions of ordnance." Same thing with gods.

I am unsure why some specific god-believers take comfort in their fantasy type being universal. Nevertheless, I am fully confident that they are correct about that. The counterarguments, that "proper" socialization would "correct" any and every "shortcoming" that the critic identifies in existing human beings is pretty much a fantasy, too, and a perennial. And like a lot of other fantasies, that one even has a nice little story about why it could never actually be tested.

So, we'll just have to believe it's so. Believe what again? That nobody would believe an untestable but attractive idea unless they were socialized to do so. Lol.

Edited by eight bits
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From the article:

"Drawing upon research in developmental psychology, cognitive anthropology and particularly the cognitive science of religion, I argue that religion comes nearly as naturally to us as language. The vast majority of humans are "born believers", naturally inclined to find religious claims and explanations ..."

I can't read the full article, so maybe you can explain a couple of queries I have with it.

First of all, from the above quote, it appears that the article is an opinion piece. It's the writer's interpretation and application of principles to religion. This is clearly controversial to a degree, but is something you embrace as it may fit your view of the world. I could be wrong, but I think you claim that "young children, create their own gods and belief systems. They do so from scratch", may be something of an embellishment of the article.

How can anyone make a claim that young children will invent god without any external influence. Where did the researchers find these children? In a forest being raised by wolves? Sorry to sound so cynical, but without clear evidence that it happens, it's not a sound claim to make. You need a sample of children who have received no external cultural influences. Pretty difficult, I would imagine.

From http://somethingsurprising.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/new-scientists-god-issue-disappoints.html

Moving on the the first of these authors, Justin Barrett seems to be a little known academic with a book to sell. On the basis of this performance I think you should not be tempted to buy it. He starts with basic and obvious observations (to anyone who has read anything at all about the subject) that babies are born to recognise agency, that adults retain some of these characteristics, and that we are all sensitive to the concept of 'design'. Eventually he gets to 'theory of mind' and develops the idea to say that we are all born believers in 'natural religion'. So what? He goes on to point out that nobody starts believing in Santa when they are adults, but that they do convert to religions, as if this proves something superior about gods. He neglects to mention that there is no well-funded and well practised organisation offering Santa as a solution to all your problems when you are feeling at your most sensitive and vulnerable. Religions do tend to prey on those who are in need.

Barrett's assertion that "adults do not typically eat sacrifices left out for the gods" demonstrates precisely that he has no notion of the role of the priesthood. These people live solely on the sacrifices of their followers - either literally as in the priests of the temple in Jerusalem or metaphorically by consuming financial contributions. Religion is big business. Just look at the Vatican if you don't believe that

The article quoted studies from around the world reported in scientific journals and other sources (Perception vol33 p355. Journal of cognition and culture vol3 p208 vol6 p3, Cognitive psychology vol42 p217, Cognition vol111 p138, Proceedings of the national academy of science vol107 p17140, Journal of cognition and culture vol 8 p235. It quoted studies carried aout in; albania israel britain america mexico and other cultures.

However there were other pieces by experts in other fields which explained in cognitive terms WHY children(and adult) humans think like this.

Relifion is the way humans organise their desire to belong and to be a member of a team, like we belong to sport or social clubs. It is an expresion of our psychology and spirituality, but it is not the same as innately constructing a belief in gods any more than desiring to play football is an innate desire in humans.

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Atheism, and agnosticism, is as much an religion as not collecting stamps is a hobby.

.

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Atheism, and agnosticism, is as much an religion as not collecting stamps is a hobby.

.

But the decision/choice to be agnostic or atheist is very much the same, in construction and form, as the decision/choice, NOT to collect stamps.

One is neither an agnostic, nor an atheist, if one has never encountered the concept of god. One cannot decide not to collect stamps, if one has never heard of the concept of a stamp. In such a person's world neither stamps nor the idea of stamps is present and so no choice ever exists. Actually, in such a world it would be impossible for such a person to collect stamps because collection requires the existence of, and knowledge about the existence of, stamps, by the collector.

Likewise, in a world where the concept of god had never arisen, and knowledge of god was not present, there would be no atheists, agnostics, or theists. Nor would there be linguistic, symbolic, or conceptual terms for such things.

Edited by Mr Walker

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