Born atheist? Watch

Blue!
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#1
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Children are born atheists. They are born without any belief in the afterlife and any supernatural forces; and without the knowledge that their country is the best country on Earth, and their race is the best race. Children are empty vessels which the parents and the rest of society proceeds to fill up with prejudices and unfounded beliefs.
It's an interesting point, but how many people believe it? Are we naturally blank slates after birth? Or do we have some tendency towards certain things. Surely it can't be coincidence that in largely religous areas, people end up being religious? Christian parents have christian children, and vice versa. (Obviously a generalisation, but warrented I feel)
But what does this say about the nature of my religious beliefs, are they inherited from family/society? If so, what does this say about the nature of faith. Surely someone born to an atheist family and culture, who then realises the err of their ways and converts would be a better Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Budhist etc ? I mean, none of us truely chose to believe in God, or not as the case may be. So, why then should we be rewarded or punished for it?
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Inspiron
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#2
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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".
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1013
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#3
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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.
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Fragsta
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#4
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(Original post by Blue!)
It's an interesting point, but how many people believe it? Are we naturally blank slates after birth? Or do we have some tendency towards certain things. Surely it can't be coincidence that in largely religous areas, people end up being religious? Christian parents have christian children, and vice versa. (Obviously a generalisation, but warrented I feel)
A coincidence? No, not at all. They don't just happen to turn out a Christian by a dice roll, or something. The reason most children who have Christian parents become Christian is because their parents push the religion upon them, either deliberately or not. It's just what they pick up, I think. As they grow older and more independent their beliefs may change based on the beliefs and arguments they've been exposed to elsewhere.

(Original post by Blue!)
But what does this say about the nature of my religious beliefs, are they inherited from family/society? If so, what does this say about the nature of faith. Surely someone born to an atheist family and culture, who then realises the err of their ways and converts would be a better Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Budhist etc ? I mean, none of us truely chose to believe in God, or not as the case may be. So, why then should we be rewarded or punished for it?
So are you saying we a genetically predisposed to be part of a particular religion? Or by not choosing do you mean we just end up in a particular faith due to exposure from parents?
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Blue!
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But suppose that a child grew up never being taught about god or religion. Does anyone think that the child would believe in God?
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Inspiron
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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.
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Blue!
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#7
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(Original post by Inspiron)
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.
This seems to imply that anyone with a scientific upbringing would reject God, which definately is not the case.
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Inspiron
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#8
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It most certainly does not imply that. It does imply that a child in a scientific familily will probably have a scientific outlook, which you seem to support. I at no point say a child with a scientific upbringing would reject God, in fact i'm very careful to say:

Certainly the upbringing will have a crucial affect, but it is by no means the case that child could never believe in God
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Foxius
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#9
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(Original post by Blue!)
But suppose that a child grew up never being taught about god or religion. Does anyone think that the child would believe in God?
This is all rather interesting - and my answer to this question is: it depends.

You see it seems apparent to me that Humanity has a natural tendency to be religious as one of the means to create civilization and society and thereby improving our chances of survival as a species. But with the advance of science, technology and civilization we have become less naturally impulsive beings, and more rational ones - perhaps this too is an aspect of our natural survival instinct however. Furthermore, our increased means of production as a collective entity creates more materialistic goods which our lives are geared towards. Inevitably therefore, we begin to abandon our old gods and religions, the things that helped us construct society in its early stages.

So from here, the answer to the given question emerges - if the child was brought up in the way described in wild country, without any real civilization, but an urge to survive, then I think religious belief - that is to say a belief in a higher being - would manifest itself in him/her sooner or later. If the same child was born into our present, economically advanced society, then it would mostly likely reject traditional ideas of God and religion - as it would be unecessary in this climate.
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BovineBeast
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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.
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BovineBeast
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#11
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(Original post by Inspiron)
entirely atheist, or scientific
I wouldn't confuse the two. Science is basically agnostic, since it doesn't, and likely can't address questions regarding things that aren't in the universe, which a creator has to be, by definition. One can believe in the validity scientific method and simultaneously believe in a God. One must admit, however, that it is unproven and unprovable by scientific method, since it addresses a domain beyond the reach of the scientific method.
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rawkingpunkster
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#12
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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"
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Blue!
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(Original post by rawkingpunkster)
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"
That's not the issue. What kind of beliefs the child would grow up to have is.
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BovineBeast
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(Original post by Blue!)
That's not the issue. What kind of beliefs the child would grow up to have is.
Without any education whatsoever, besides basic things, they'd probably end up making up their own cosmology, of sorts. They may or may not conclude the existence of a creator.
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Candy_Shop
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#15
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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.
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rawkingpunkster
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#16
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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 (:
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Phonicsdude
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#17
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Amen to the OP.
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Chumbaniya
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#18
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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.
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Blue!
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#19
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(Original post by Chumbaniya)
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.
Ditto, except I think I remember being slightly more rude about the concept at the time
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Inspiron
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#20
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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.
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