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Born Believers: The Science of Children's Religious Belief
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Born Believers: The Science of Children's Religious Belief

3.23  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
From a noted developmental psychologist and anthropologist at Oxford University, this fascinating theory about the value of religious faith finds that we are all predisposed to believe in God from birth.

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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Atria Books
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Fred Kohn
Aug 14, 2012 Fred Kohn rated it it was amazing
I was quite surprised to see how few stars others were rating this book. The sign for me that this book was extraordinarily objective was the fact that I was not sure whether the author himself believed in God until quite late in the book (although I had early suspicions). Perhaps I am a bit prejudiced: the author takes quite a few shots at Dawkins and the the new atheists, and I myself dislike them quite a bit even thought I don't believe in God myself. Perhaps this explains the relatively low ...more
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Dec 01, 2013 Jonna Higgins-Freese rated it it was ok
While there was an interesting summary of research on cognitive development in children, overall, I was shocked by the simplistic nature of the author's arguments, and by his obvious biases. To give one especially striking example -- he argues that those who profess to be atheists appear to be disproportionately "male-brained" -- i.e., have difficulty understanding or empathizing with the feelings of others, and have difficulty "attributing agency" to others. At an extreme, he mentions, this is ...more
“. . . the facility with which children acquire and use god-concepts is obvious. Similar to how they come to reason about other people, children from religious families easily form ideas about gods. They readily explain events as possible consequences of a god’s activity. They make predictions and suppositions about god’s thoughts, opinions, and wishes. They apply ideas about gods in novel and sometimes personal ways. From where does this religious fluency come?” (77-78).

“The easy answer (perha
There are certain actions our brains make which are so natural that we don’t even realize we are making them. One of these things is “beliefs”. We have the ability to believe and a Webster’s definition of the term but why and how do we “believe”? Taking this a step further, Justin L. Barrett Ph.D shows the link between brain development in children and the ability, disposition, and even preference to have beliefs in something abstract or supernatural. “Born Believers” explores this connection be ...more
Feb 29, 2012 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Received this book as ARC from Goodreads.

"The belief in God appears to be a naturally occurring human phenomenon" Agree or Disagree?

Dr. Justin Barrett has written a thought provoking novel on the subject of children and faith. Are we born believing in a supreme being? Or is it something taught to us?

This book is divided into two parts. Part one is labeled "The Evidence". It is primarily a listing of many studies Dr. Barrett used to explain his belief that we are all 'born believers'. He states
Jo Oehrlein
Nov 20, 2012 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
Interesting book with many psychological students of young children to see what they believe and when. It shows that belief in the supernatural is the norm for young children. It refutes some of the claims of the new atheists about religious belief in children and religious teaching of children.

The last chapter is probably most relevant for Christian Educators and Christian Families. It talks about how to teach religion to children and has a nice bulleted list of 10 things to do that will help p

I received this book as an ARC from goodreads.

This book has an interesting premise that all children are born with the propensity to believe In a higher power. This Barrett refers to as Natural Religion, and does not necessarily translate into organized religious belief. The author uses results from several experiments to support this hypothesis. The second half of the book however, is more about how to mold those born believers into organized believers, which I think misses the point. If we ar
Jan magdalene
Nov 01, 2013 Jan magdalene rated it it was ok
Maybe this book could be called "boring believers" because it's a really boring book. like, who cares? you know. science just doesn't have anything of merit to contribute to this topic -especially uncritically accepted silly little test pseudo-science on kids that don't take extenuating circumstances into consideration. Other than that, a main evidence used to make the authors point is anecdotal evidence, i.e. "My kid said this", "my friends kid said this". and he doesn't really have a point to ...more
Apr 30, 2013 Janet rated it liked it
Interesting enough. Not as extensively researched, or the research wasn't as extensively explained, as others, but develops a case for how the human tendency to seek out cause and effect and determine agency (those things which can act indepently) leads to a natural affinity for belief in the supernatural.
Kayla Rae
Feb 15, 2012 Kayla Rae rated it it was ok
I feel as though it should have been half as long and twice as interesting. I found it to be very repetitive and often found my mind drifting from what would have been a very interesting topic. However, less-than-exhilarating writing and sub-par story-telling techniques are to be expected from a scientist.
Sabeeha Rehman
Jan 06, 2017 Sabeeha Rehman rated it really liked it
This book is serious stuff and requires careful reading, or to be in the zone of deep spirituality. Some parts are not a quick and easy read. But its probing and fascinating.
May 31, 2012 Stephanie rated it liked it
Really interesting for people of all religions, including atheists.
Mar 12, 2012 BHodges rated it liked it
Interesting premise, needs more substantive research to better sustain.
Walker Wright
Jul 31, 2014 Walker Wright rated it liked it
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Ahmed Fazly
Ahmed Fazly rated it it was amazing
Sep 10, 2012
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Nov 02, 2013
Maurice Goodwin
Maurice Goodwin rated it it was amazing
Mar 11, 2016
Fawn Bauman
Fawn Bauman rated it it was ok
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Mar 01, 2012 Epi rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-read
I received this book through Good-reads first read program.

It was rough.
Matthew rated it really liked it
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Rachel rated it really liked it
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