Kids are naturalists. How would you like to spin that?

An article is up in Epiphenom called, “Supernatural explanations just don’t occur to kids – they need to be taught them.”

I saw this linked on Google+ from an atheist claiming this as evidence that children only believe in the supernatural because we “FORCE” them to learn about it. Religion is child abuse, etc.

It puzzles me a bit how this is touted as some kind of evidence that atheism as a default position is therefore more valid; there are all kinds of important things that kids don’t naturally know, but come to believe later after some life experience. This study, if it proves correct, may be handy as an excuse to refer to raising children from within a religious tradition as “mind-washing”, but it simultaneously seems to undermine another popular critique of religion.

Namely, is belief in the supernatural a childish, irrational, illogical, and completely unsourced just-so story, or is it the result of the higher reasoning of adults at least, or perhaps even some sort of supernatural revelation? If belief in the divine cannot be blamed on puerile and thoughtless speculation, isn’t it at least conceivable that the widespread human belief in the divine is the result of thoughtful adult reasoning (or revelation)? Occam’s razor cuts both ways.

I’m not saying any of these options is the most plausible. But the existence of different options does showcase the fact that no belief is exempt from the necessity of honest analysis, no matter how convenient it would be for our position to shortcut around it. You’ve heard of “gotcha politics”? Claiming this as proof of anything is gotcha science — hardly science at all.

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