Oxford to Study Faith in God

University of Oxford researchers will spend nearly $4 million to study why mankind embraces God. The grant to the Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion will bring anthropologists, theologians, philosophers and other academics together for three years to study whether belief in a divine being is a basic part of mankind’s makeup.

“There are a lot of issues. What is it that is innate in human nature to believe in God, whether it is gods or something superhuman or supernatural?” said Roger Trigg, acting director of the center.

He said anthropological and philosophical research suggests that faith in God is a universal human impulse found in most cultures around the world, even though it has been waning in Britain and western Europe.

Full Story: AP on Wired.

See also: The God Experiments.

3 Comments

  1. Strangely, this “universal human impulse” is not found in children who are raised by secular parents. And while such superstition is “universal,” children raised by theist parents are almost always of the same specific superstition as their parents. It’s almost as if this “universal human impulse” is taught to children by adults, and it would go away if it wasn’t taught to them.

  2. Have you read the “God Experiments” article Trevor? It’s a very good look at current scientific efforts to explain belief in God. All come up lacking, suggesting that you are correct that religion is a learned behavior.

  3. Pretty sure I did read that. Humans do have some hard-wired tendencies (oh no! Behavior has biological roots! I’m Josef Mengele!) but “God” isn’t one of them.

    In my limited experience and research, children do make up explanations for things, but they abandon explanations as well. Faith is NEVER abandoning an explanation, no matter how poorly it fits the data.

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