Research indicates that humans are born with a predisposition for religion. After all, religion is nothing more than an anthropomorification of the unknown and humans are predisposed to anthropomorphize everything.
Further, if anything, children are borne agnostic since babies don't know anything and cannot be said to hold beliefs about God's that would make them theist or atheist.
Are we "born atheists" , as some people claim?
It is certainly true that babies are born without any specific religious faith, but does that make them "born atheists"? I do not think so.
First: Not every being that does not belief in God is an atheist. Nobody would argue that insects or sharks or mice are atheists, although none of them believes in God.
I'd say that we can only say "A is an atheist" if A is (in principle) able to grasp intellectually the concept of "God" and then decides not to subscribe to this concept.
Second: If we can say anything about babies and their relationship to religion, it is analogue to babies and their relationship to language. Babies cannot speak, but that does not mean that they are "a-lingual". Just the contrary: babies are born with a brain that is prepared to learn any language quite effortlessly. Therefore although infants cannot (yet) speak they are "born speakers"; all they need is sufficient linguistic input.
The same can be said - mutatis mutandis - about babies and belief (religious or not). They do not (yet) hold any belief, but they are born believers, as they are equipped with cognitive mechanisms to acquire any belief effortlessly. No toddler or child will ever come up spontaneously with the idea of the Christian god or the idea of karma or reincarnation, but s/he will adopt these beliefs easily because evolution prepared the human brain to expect and adopt beliefs like these.
For comparison: Evolution did not prepare human brains to learn how to write or to read or to do math, which is why it takes many years of intensive training to master these skills.
Given that Homo sapiens is a cultural animal, and given that culture (in addition to artifacts and knowledge about the natural world) also consists of fictions, tales, belief systems, imagined orders etc... , it is absolutely necessary that babies acquire and adopt the beliefs of their specific culture as effortlessly as their language.
The "gullibility" of toddlers and children is not a bug, it is a feature, the very characteristic trait that enables culture to exist and to be reproduced. It is this trait that makes us human.
Though I voted the first choice, I've read that there is sufficient anthropological evidence that humans tend to want to worship something, be it the cliché sun and thunder gods, etc. and that this tendency evolved around the same time as language did.
Again, that's just shit I've read, but it makes sense to me.
As Richard Dawkins pointed out.
"Children are naturally credulous. Of course they are , what would you expect ? They arrive in the world knowing nothing, surrounded by adults who know by comparison, everything. Learning by trial and error is often a bad idea, because errors are too costly. If your mother tells you never to paddle in the lake because of the crocodiles, it is no good coming over all sceptical and adult. It is easy to see why natural selection might penalize an experimental and sceptical turn of mind and favour simple credulity in children. But this has an unfortunate by-product which can't be helped. If your parents tell you something which is not true, you must believe that too. Credulity as a survival device, comes as a package."
But that is where belief differs from religion, because it is possible to believe in, and be taught, things which are true, even empirically true. There are crocodiles in the lake, but not, goblins in the hills. Belief even a genetic tendency to belief is not the same thing, at all, as religion.
Children are predisposed to follow instructions from their parents or other teachers. This is common in most species and is beneficial for the continuation of the species.Belief in gods was primitive man's way of trying to understand a dangerous world but we are a bit more knowledgeable than that now I hope.
Apart from in a few theocracies religious observance is decreasing in most countries because many children are not indoctrinated as before. My two boys now grown with their own families have no interest in religion whatsoever because it was never even discussed when they were young. The two boys their age from across the street who's mother was an ardent churchgoer were amazed that my two didn't go to Sunday school.
I contend it could be a combination of both. The man-made part is obvious, the concept of organized religion pretty much speaks for itself. I say it could also be instinctual in the sense that a lot of human beings possess a seemingly innate desire for some sort of structure/organization/appeal to a higher authority. Over the years I have observed such from a considerable number of fellow agnostics and atheists, the belief in or need to believe in a deity may have been removed from the equation, but the desire to appeal to a "higher authority" manifests itself in the need for more/bigger Government involvement in personal affairs.
I don't believe children are born with either atheist tendency or religious belief.
I don't believe they innately are aware of either of those ideas.
Though they might become indoctrinated later.
I was dropped off at a Sunday school at about age five to be babysat.
I remember feeling how weird the experience was.
A woman there tried to make me feel deficient for not knowing 'god'.
This is the big issue. Some atheists get quite adamant that religious belief is nurture not nature. I say that I would love to believe that, but my experience and observations in life, and yes this is subjective, Incline me to believe that some or nany but not all people are born predisposed to religion, but they can out grow it or move beyond it. This is a depressing fact but it's my honest view. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think I am.
In no way could children be born with innate religious beliefs. They are blank slates, but their brains are desperately seeking connections and correlations whether they are valid or not. Thus, the tendency to superstitious behavior may well be innate. Religion is the elaboration of superstition into rituals and repeating just-so stories. Early humans were likely to practice animism, while monotheism is a relatively recent invention.
I am more none of the above. Most athiests I know, were raised in some religion. I think peoples reactions or what they take from it varies. I don't believe in God, and found lots of it made no sense. I loved the rebellious nature of Martin Luther and Jesus, and identified with it. Then in 9th grade we read the play JB by Archibald Macleish. From there I took what I thought was good and resonated with me and ignored what didn't. I do that with all information or new ideas or philosophy I read or hear. regardless of the source.
In 9th gradeI took honors English and