There are many people who contend we are born with a “god sense.” But are we? And is this “knowledge” of the numinous the Christian god (as many believers contend) or is it any god?
Preparing for this post, I did some internet research. (Qualifier: I have not studied philosophy and hold no degrees. Everything I offer in this post is based on my limited research plus personal opinion.)
Nearly every site I came across was Christian-oriented which, of course, contended … “Oh Yes! The God Spirit is there at the very beginning!” They would then cite various scriptures from the bible to support this belief, along with quotes from some other individuals who affirmed this view. For example:
Swiss theologian John Calvin, who states …
That there exists in the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of deity [sensus divinitatus], we hold to be beyond dispute
Along with philosopher Alvin Plantinga, who contends that …
when human beings function naturally in the world, without coercion or indoctrination, they do in fact naturally form the belief that God is there.
Some of the websites even referenced innatism, which holds that the mind is born with ideas, knowledge and beliefs and is not a “blank slate” as early empiricists claim. Plato and Descartes were two prominent philosophers that agreed with this perspective.
Yet the best supported findings of developmental psychology tell us children are born with almost no innate concepts of anything. They are simply innocent human beings entering this world.
Further, when one considers we have no control over our birth circumstances, to wit: we do not get to choose the day we are born, the family we are born into, what we are named at birth, what country we are born in, nor do we get to choose our ancestry, it seems unlikely we would have any kind of “special knowledge” about a supernatural being.
I feel certain many (especially those who regularly read this blog) would agree with this perspective. In fact, one person in particular (who calls himself “rawgod“) recently offered his thoughts on this subject on another blog. I tended to concur with what he had to say so, with his permission, I’ve included (some) of his remarks below:
Were a baby to be born and NEVER introduced to the god fantasy, it would never conceive of a god or gods on its own, there is no need to do so. But once gods were invented, and made popular, suddenly everyone had to have them. This was slowly accomplished through great salesmanship, and then brainwashing youngsters. But it was accomplished, and at one point in history probably 99.999% of humans had some kind of belief in gods, or a god.
We are told about religion, and gods, so now we are predisposed to believe … we are very very seldom left to ourselves to grow up not believing in something
Remember, we are not born with the idea of gods, but it is in our nature to need to feel connected to something. When our parents, teachers, and preachers turn us in the direction of religion it is an easy place for a child to go to. And it is just as easy to become trapped there.
It would seem rawgod is onto something in that last paragraph as there are studies that validate the need to feel connected/attached, But does this automatically lead to a god figure?
Absolutely! IF this is what the child is exposed to.
For example, Christian parents begin teaching their children at a very early age about the “goodness of god.” Along with weekly Sunday School or catechism classes, reading bible stories, singing Jesus songs, saying grace at meals, praying at bedtime, the child is regularly exposed to, as rawgod put it … “the god fantasy.” (Naturally, the same would be true for children of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other faiths.)
As a result, there is little doubt that as the child grows and matures, the predisposition towards the chosen deity has been firmly set.
But now let us return to the primary question (as asked by rawgod):
Were a baby to be born and NEVER introduced to the “god fantasy,”
would it conceive of a god or gods on its own?