Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Born Believers: The Science of Children's Religious Belief Hardcover – March 20, 2012
Elsevier Sales & Deals
Save up to 50% on textbooks, study guides & resources for your medical specialty.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
-- Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman, Cordoba Initiative, and author of Moving the Mountain
“Born Believers will challenge the anti-religion camp with Barrett’s careful science. His analysis shows that infants have a natural inclination to believe in a supreme being, and that their subsequent beliefs cannot be explained as the sole result of indoctrination or brainwashing by heavy-handed adults. This book raises profound questions about the origins of theism and the place of religious belief in human affairs.”
-- Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words and The Power of Premonitions
“For those of us adults who have wondered from where our certainty derives that there is a Divine Force embedded within the world and in our lives, Justin Barrett in Born Believers provides the well-documented answer. My research into the physical and biological wonders of life’s cosmic development cemented this belief for me, but the origins, the initial stirrings, had always eluded me. Barrett’s well-written book solved that quandary.”
-- Gerald Schroeder, Ph.D., author of The Science of God and God According To God
“A fascinating and readable account of why religious beliefs are
perfectly normal and virtually universal. In an age of atheism, this
book will challenge widespread assumptions that nonbelief is the default
and that children must be indoctrinated to believe. Jam-packed with
insight and wit, Born Believers should be required reading for all
parents and for anyone else interested in the spiritual lives of children.”
--Robert A. Emmons, Professor of Psychology, University of California,
Davis and Past-President, American Psychological Association’s Division of the
Psychology of Religion
“A must read for anyone interested in knowing where and how spirituality develops in our life and our brain. A great combination of stories and information that will provide everyone with a new way of thinking about our beliefs.” (Andrew Newberg, MD., author of How God Changes Your Brain and Why God Won't Go Away)
About the Author
If you’re the author, publisher, or rights holder of this book, let ACX help you produce the audiobook.Learn more.
Top Customer Reviews
Born Believers summarizes some findings of contemporary cognitive and evolutionary psychology that suggest humans have an "instinct for religion." Barrett hypothesizes this instinct is based in something like the hypothetical "Language Acquisition Device," emerging in infancy and developing in children apart from any cultural influences but declining in power with age. Barrett uses western and non-western studies plus some anthropological data to make a case for there being several points of "natural religion" that nearly all people will normally gravitate toward, at least early in their life. Barrett does not spend much time speculating why this is the case, what good it is, and what problems it may cause. Instead he wishes to complicate skeptical arguments from Freud to the New Atheists that describe religious belief as infantile, illusory, and natural to outgrow if one is not exposed to religious indoctrination in one's family or culture. Barrett succeeds at all this, but his last three chapters are almost not worth reading. They fall into a confusing, disingenuous attempt to explain why atheists exist with mock suggestions for how they can build their confidence and numbers. This chapter seems to develop into satire with a polemical edge. The last two chapters advocate and prescribe both religious inquiry and passive indoctrination that will only make sense to western readers with some type of Christian background. Most will find Barrett's prescriptions too committed to a specific, rather deistic construction of God to jibe with their religious tradition.Read more ›
However, in Chapter 8 ("So Stupid They'll Believe Anything?") Barrett focuses on the subject of the religious indoctrination of children, and asks if this is the primary reason for religious propagation. While Barrett reaches some valid conclusions regarding the limitations and applicability of indoctrination, he fails to see the obvious, which is this: early on, children are subject to indoctrination primarily by way of unthinking mimicry via parental example, whereas later on they become indoctrinated because of fear. Barrett's kindly grandparents are acting not so much out of altruism and goodness, but out of fear of what may happen to them if they don't; their very young grandchildren simply don't understand any of this.
Barrett details the hypothetical example of a person who, for whatever reason, decides to believe in ghosts, and how this belief can propagate down through generations of family members, and he compares this situation with a similar decision to believe in trans-dimensional cows and mind-reading socks. But normal human beings, even children, are not afraid of trans-dimensional cows and mind-reading socks. They're afraid of ghosts simply because ghosts, if real, can hurt you. Young children come to the conclusion -- rationally reinforced as they reach the age of reason -- that there may be some very negative supernatural consequences for refusing to believe in a god or gods and paying them due tribute, usually by way of some kind of ritualistic behavior.Read more ›