Is the need to believe inborn?
In his work entitled “The Religious Sentiment and the Child Psychology”, the Swiss psychologist Pierre Bovet writes that all children at a certain age have a natural religion which is peculiar to them, in other words, a religion, which is in their nature innately. In the formation of these preliminary beliefs, the individual’s conscience, comprehension, and imagination play a role along with the society itself. The child himself probably determines the content of religious concepts that he acquires from the society. Yet in the course of time, he sees the discrepancies between the society and himself and adopts new ways. As our Glorious Prophet (PBUH) states,
“All children are born on the Islamic nature; afterwards, their parents make them adopt this and that religion.”
Many scientists and thinkers have made researches about “the innate religion” of children. One of them is American philosopher William James. In order to catch the natural religious senses in that child without any interference, he examined the memories and behaviors of a deaf and dumb child named Ballard, who did not receive any sort of instructions until the age of eleven. The child, who received quite a good education afterwards, summarized his pre-education “metaphysical thoughts” and feelings as follows:
“We sometimes went out for a walk with Daddy. The scenery and landscape impressed me. I was speech-impaired and did not know how to write. I asked myself:
“How did the world come into existence?”, “How did man start to live?”, “How did plants and other beings come into existence?”, “What causes the world, the sun, and the moon to exist?”, “How did this world of beings come into existence?”, “Who makes me think of all these questions?”, “How did the first human being, animal, plant without a seed, come into existence?”, “Where are we coming from and going to?”, “How was the beginning of the universe?” I was unable to find an answer especially to this question. I would think of it; then, I would give it up, and then after a while I would turn to the same matter.” (See. Pierre Bovet, the Religious Sentiment and the Child Psychology, p: 71-72).
Many other psychologists have researched this matter and reached approximately the same conclusions. Thus, it has been made clear that those children have been directing their attention to the universe and nature since early ages and asking the questions the examples of which we have given above. This is man’s nature. As is seen, these questions set not only thinkers and philosophers but also children, young people, and adults into thinking.
The Holy Quran narrates beautifully the story of the great prophet, Abraham (PBUH), how he as a child directed his attention to nature and the universe to seek his Creator in the stars, in moon, and in the sun, and then taking wings and “going beyond of beyond.”
(see Gerçeğe Doğru, Vol. III, Zafer Publications)