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Monday, 2 February 2015

We are born believers!

Don't judge THIS book by its cover
A few years ago, Justin Barrett came out with a book in which he claimed, through a serious of scientific studies, that....

"....children naturally develop minds that encourage them to embrace belief in the god or gods of their culture. People may practically be born believers." (p.3)

I don't particularly like the cover but I'm not surprised by the findings.

Romans 1:19-20 teaches that all humans everywhere know there is a God by the evidence of the natural world around them, so that on the last day, there will be no excuse for them to say to God, "This is the first time I ever knew of your existence." God will point to stars, flowers, the complexities of our bodies and minds - and 1000 other proofs which demonstrate that there is a God.

This is how it works: God has not only provided much external evidence of a Designer, he has put within us the internal reasoning processes that run perhaps something like this:

objects have an origin -> I can tell which ones are human artefacts and which are not -> the ones that are not must have been created -> people can't make flowers or mountains or physical laws or universes -> therefore a God must have made them

The internal brain-processes which lead to the inescapable conclusion are as much a part of God's final judgement on men as the external beautiful world he has made. 

What this book shows is that babies are born with all the mental equipment and processes necessary to lead to the most natural conclusion that there must be a God.  

The pre-wired software of an infant
Infants know how the world works (they have an inbuilt 'naive physics'),  they know the difference between agents (something which can purposefully act) and objects (which can't act), they know that agents create order and nonagents can only create disorder. They have built in reasoning systems which automatically detect the presence of intelligence. They even know the difference between agents and superagents. When you put all of this together they are pre-wired to naturally accept the existence of God, and even something about his superlative attributes.

The ridiculousness of evolution
What they find difficult to believe is evolution. Since they know that animals bring forth animals after their own kind, since they know that order is the product of intelligent agents, not impersonal forces, since they know that stuff has to be been made by agents, they find it ludicrous to believe that one kind of animal gave rise to a totally different kind of animal, that intricate design is the result of nonagents, and all the other foolish contortionist thinking evolution requires of the natural human mind.

This book raises the real question as to whether a false belief like evolutionary thinking may actually damage the natural reasoning processes of a child - research on this would be interesting: do children indoctrinated with evolution early in their life turn out a lot thicker than kids who learn about a Creator, a belief which simply builds on all they know already about the world around them? 

The ones who ought to be charged with indoctrination, mental-process damaging and brain-washing, in that case would be parents who twist up their kids minds with irrational evolutionary junk-science. 

Where does atheism come from?
The real puzzle, for Dr Barett, is where does atheism come from? Since children most readily believe in God, and since most people in most of history have been believers in a God or gods, where does atheism come from? Where do the few atheists in the world come from? Barrett makes some interesting suggestions, including the prevalence of male-brainedness both in the academy and now increasingly in the wider population, the non-relational tendency of science-types whihc makes them thus unable to imagine other mind(s), and so on. 

The deep source of atheism is, going back to Romans 1, personal sin. In a recent outburst on Irish TV, the atheist Stephen Fry revealed the heart of an atheist in his irrational tirade against "God". The real source of all atheism is personal sin, which suppresses the truth about God. If there is no God we can indulge in whatever sin we please without any painful tinge of conscience. If there is a God, we secretly fear his judgement which makes sin a lot more uncomfortable.

So to cope with their knowing rebellion and sin,  men and women suppress the truth in unrighteousness in order to continue their life of sin without remorse.

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