New from Simon & Schuster

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory
Rebel Yell by S. C. Gwynne
Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
You Can't Make This Stuff Up by Theresa Caputo
Born Believers

Born Believers

The Science of Children's Religious Belief

Infants have a lot to make sense of in the world: Why does the sun shine and night fall; why do some objects move in response to words, while others won’t budge; who is it that looks over them and cares for them? How the developing brain grapples with these and other questions leads children, across cultures, to naturally develop a belief in a divine power of remarkably consistent traits––a god that is a powerful creator, knowing, immortal, and good—explains noted developmental psychologist and anthropologist Justin L. Barrett in this enlightening and provocative book. In short, we are all born believers.

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.
Choose a format:
  • Atria Books | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439196540 | 
  • March 2012
List Price $26.00
This title is temporarily out of stock, please check back soon.

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

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

About the Author

Justin L. Barrett
Jean-Luc Jucker

Justin L. Barrett

Justin Barrett is the author of Why Would Anyone Believe in God? A researcher associate of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, he is Thrive Professor of Developmental Science at Fuller Theological Seminary. Dr. Barrett lives in Pasadena, California.

BECOME A FAN

Explore

CONNECT WITH US

Get a FREE eBook
when you join our mailing list!