Children Know That There Is A God

It is written:

Psalm 8:2-Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

Often when I work with atheists, it is claimed that children would not have any belief in God if their parents did not “indoctrinate” them with such concepts.

However, the facts tell quite a different story.

Justin L. Barrett (PH.D.) has spent many years researching the reality of children’s belief in God. The evidence shows that the existence of God is a knowledge that children are innately born with (to the irritation and dismay of many skeptics). Barrett is a research associate at Oxford’s Centre For Anthropology And Mind, and directs the “Thrive Center For Human Development At Fuller Seminary.”

After carefully laying out the evidences and proofs offered for defending his belief that children are born with the intrinsic knowledge that there is a God, Barrett writes:

“SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH on children’s developing minds and supernatural beliefs suggests that children normally and rapidly acquire minds that facilitate belief in supernatural agents. Particularly in the first year after birth, children distinguish between agents and nonagents, understanding agents as able to move themselves in purposeful ways to pursue goals. They are keen to find agency around them, even given scant evidence. Not long after their first birthday, babies appear to understand that agents, but not natural forces or ordinary objects, can create order out of disorder. Before children start school, they see the natural world as purposefully designed—even in ways that religious parents would not teach or endorse. This tendency to see function and purpose, plus an understanding that purpose and order come from minded beings, makes children likely to see natural phenomena as intentionally created. Who is the creator? Children know people are not good candidates. It must have been a god. Gods are not just humans with the ability to make mountains, trees, and butterflies, however. Early default assumptions about minded agents make it easy for children to understand gods as having full-access knowledge, superperception, superpower, immortality, and perhaps moral goodness. In fact, on some of these dimensions, children show the capability of reasoning in a theologically accurate way before being able to reason accurately about human beings on the same dimensions. This collection of religious ideas is among the features of what I call natural religion. In this chapter, I describe natural religion and also how it deviates from theological beliefs. Though children have strong natural tendencies toward religion generally, these tendencies do not inevitably propel them toward any one religion. They still have a lot to learn.” (Justin L. Barrett, Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief, 135-136 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY; Free Press a Division Of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

Children have this innate knowledge of God “hardwired” into them.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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