We're not a completely blank slate, but we are heavily influenced by the sociatal conditioning we are exposed to. Humans are by their nature social animals, and you can see from the inter-personal relationships we develop between each other that we influence others in our world just as they influence us.
Clearly then, as you say, many children in heavily religious families will become religious. This is, of course, not universal - because sometimes this heavy conditioning makes them rebellious to the concept.
I cannot agree with you that this makes converts to religion from atheism a better religious follower. A Christian could have been a Christian for life from a Christian family and still be exactly what you'd expect of a good Christian. A convert maybe lack lustre in their attitude. Of course you're going to get cases which are vice versa - but the fact remains that converts cannot autmatically said to be "better believers".
Not blank slates but certainly maleable; it's one of those nature or nuture things. I think that everyone must have in them somewhere an innate desire to question what is around them and seek answers for what they see. The conclusions they reach though, are more often than not the result of social conditioning. You only have to look at statistics and demographics of religion and religious culture to see that.
As for whether the atheist converted is the 'better' believer - no, I don't think so. It may mean that, becasue they had to find God on their own, they have a stronger faith or a deeper interest in their religion though.
But suppose that a child grew up never being taught about god or religion. Does anyone think that the child would believe in God?
As God, in my view - at least in its "being that created everything" guise - is a construct of society, and that society is just mny humans interacting together, it doesn't seem unreasonable that the child may come to believe in some for of God, no. After all, it may experience things it cant explain, so what solution does it come to? Maybe it will create an all-powerful being to explain away the problems.
I'm a great believer in inter-personal relationships as far as development, morality and metaphysics is concerned. So if the child was never taught about God, then that is no reason to think that the child would never believe in God, but I agree it does make it less likely. The situation you've stipulated however does not say whether the child's upbringing is instead entirely atheist, or scientific - in which case that may become the adopted "religion", and God is likely to be frowned upon. Certainly the upbringing will have a crucial affect, but it is by no means the case that child could never believe in God. After all, the idea of God came from somewhere.
If their parents don't teach them religion, outside influences will be what informs them on the matter. Since we inhabit a primarily secular society, their outlook will be mostly secular; if they grew up in, say, Iran, it seems likely that they'd be a Muslim. You simply cannot divorce a child from the society in which they live.
An atheist is someone who denies the existence of God right? I feel that a baby does not have enough understanding of the world and ability to process thought to get to a level of "denying an existence"
Everyone gets to a point where they gotta be sure for themselves what they believe. Not what mummy or daddy believe. Its what you believe that you will stand on.
Well yeah, it would be shaped by the environment and his beliefs, and the link between his beliefs and his experiences.
If he experiences a miracle and beliefs that God was the one, he would naturally start thinking that God is real.
At the end of the day a person beliefs and faith is up to the individual. Sure it is filled with "prejudices and unfounded beliefs", both of which being apparent in your statements in your OP (:
I don't think it's viable to believe that I child is a completely blank slate, since there are clearly certain things which a child is predisposed to do or believe. However, since a child learns on it's own through trial and error, and observation, when it comes to religious and societal values a child must learn from others since it cannot learn on it's own about these things. Even if a child is born with a vague concept of God (and I don't believe they are), it must be those around the child that cause the child's beliefs about God's characteristics, since children from families of different religions will believe different things about the nature of God.
One of the reasons I wouldn't support the claim that children could be born with a concept of God is my personal experience. At home, God was never mentioned - neither praised nor denounced - since my parents considered the issue unimportant for a child. I went a mainly christian school, where we sang christian hymns and celebrated christian festivals, but I didn't understand what it was about. It was only at around the age of 10 that I was able to understand what the concept of God was, and I was genuinely surprised (and amused) to find out that so many people believed in some big dude who sat up there in the sky controlling everything. So at least in the case of this child, there was no coherent concept of God that I could either believe or disbelieve when I was young, so I find the idea I could be born with such a concept implausible.
Very well put Chumbaniya, I agree almost totally - I certainly don't think a child is born with a vague concept of God either. But i'm unsure whether such a concept cannot come about independently - because like I say, the concept of God must have come from somewhere in the first place.