The Science of Children's Religious Belief
Belief begins in the brain. Under the sway of powerful internal and external influences, children understand their environments by imagining at least one creative and intelligent agent, a grand creator and controller that brings order and purpose to the world. Further, these beliefs in unseen super beings help organize children’s intuitions about morality and surprising life events, making life meaningful. Summarizing scientific experiments conducted with children across the globe, Professor Barrett illustrates the ways human beings have come to develop complex belief systems about God’s omniscience, the afterlife, and the immortality of deities. He shows how the science of childhood religiosity reveals, across humanity, a “natural religion,” the organization of those beliefs that humans gravitate to organically, and how it underlies all of the world’s major religions, uniting them under one common source.
For believers and nonbelievers alike, Barrett offers a compelling argument for the human instinct for religion, as he guides all parents in how to effectively encourage children in developing a healthy constellation of beliefs about the world around them.
Read an Excerpt
On the Train to Jaipur
THE HOT SEASON HAD begun, and the sun bleached the barren landscape outside the train from Agra to Jaipur, India. Inside, amber dust eddies scampered down the aisles and among the rows. I sat uncomfortably on the squeaky, sticky, turquoise-colored vinyl seat and glanced at my fellow travelers. Nearby was a middle-aged man dressed in a single bright orange cloth draped over one shoulder like a toga. In contrast with his bald crown, grizzled hairs carpeted his exposed shoulder, arms, and legs.
“He’s a saint,” a well-dressed man across... see more