Is the need to believe inborn?
In his work entitled "the Sense of Religion 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 take part as well as the society itself. The child himself 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) announces, “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 the American philosopher William James. In order to catch the natural religious senses in a child without any interference, he examined the memories and behaviors of a deaf and dumb child named Ballard, who until the age of eleven, did not receive any sort of instruction. The child, who received quite good education afterwards, summarized his pre-educationmetaphysical thoughts and feelings as follows:
“We used to go out for a walking with Daddy. The scenery and landscape would impress me. I was speech-impaired and did not know how to write. I would ask 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 especially was unable to find an answer to this question. I would think of it again; then I would give it up, and after a while I would turn to the same matter.” (See. Pierre Bovet, the Sense of Religion and the Child Psychology, p: 71-72).
Many other psychologists have researched this matter and approximately got similar results. Thus, it has been 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 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 the moon, and in the sun, and then taking wings and “going beyond of beyond.” (Gerçeğe Doğru C.3, Zafer Yayınları)