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Kids are born naturalists

October 7, 2011

Ethan, 1 yr., 9 months old

Tom Rees has summarized a recent study called “Developmental Changes in the Use of Supernatural Explanations for Unusual Events,” which finds that younger children are more likely than older children and adults to offer natural explanations for miraculous stories.  People are more likely to offer a god as an explanation for the improbable only after about age 12.

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  1. Jonathan permalink

    That reminds me of a study I once heard of…now if I could just find it…ah, here it is:
    Is it just me, or do these two articles contradict each other to some extent? Obviously research is full of tripwires and different studies may come to different conclusions, but to me, an atheist can’t necessarily use both to support his/her point of view.

    To me, the natural and the supernatural simply aren’t opposite ends of a spectrum. I believe in God as a lawgiver, that nature obeys his laws, that he works within the laws he has set, and that miraculous and natural occurences are really ultimately one and the same. We simply understand some better than others.

  2. Jonathan permalink

    By the way, you have a very handsome boy there in that picture 🙂

  3. I think you answered your own question in your own comment, Jonathan. You first say that children being superstitious, for having beliefs in supernatural powers, contradicts this article talking about children finding natural explanations for things, and then you go on to say that natural and supernatural aren’t “opposite” (and therefore not contradictory).

    So, I think you’ve given a very decent answer to the concern that these two findings might be contradictory. See, a child might believe that his mother knows everything, without ever having been told this. But, that same child might have a very natural explanation for why this would be the case. The article you link to in your comment addresses certain powers that a child might believe that a person (or a god) possesses. This finding addresses causes that a child might give for events that may seem supernatural or unnatural–including those mentioned in the previous post.

    So, this isn’t really contradicting that other finding, it’s just another piece of the puzzle. They fit together quite well, actually.

  4. An interesting definition of “miracles”. Has there ever been one documented? 😉

  5. I found this very interesting thanks very much. I have my own at check it out


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