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“A masterful discussion of whether children are born with a natural ability to exercise faith in God” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
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 looks over them and cares for them?
How the developing brain grapples with these and other questions leads children, across cultures, to imagine at least one creative and intelligent agent, a grand creator and controller that brings order and purpose to the world. Belief begins in the brain. Further, these beliefs in unseen super beings help organize children’s intuitions about morality and surprising events, making life meaningful. Summarizing scientific experiments conducted with children across the globe, Professor Justin 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 and unites all of the world’s major religions.
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.