I’ve started reading Justin L. Barrett’s book, Why Would Anyone Believe in God? In it, Barrett uses “the latest cognitive and psychological scientific data and theory” to answer the question of the title. Here’s his argument in brief:
By virtue of our biological endowment as human beings and our environmental endowment from living in this world, people all over the world have similar minds. Regardless of culture, people tend to have minds with many basic structures that perform numerous mundane tasks, such as discerning the objects around us, defining those objects, and observing how those objects causally interact. Operating largely without our awareness, mental “tools” encourage us to think similarly about many banal features of the world around us. These mental tools also encourage people to think about and believe in gods, the Judeo-Christian God enjoying particularly favorable treatment, especially during child development. Once introduced into a population, belief in the existence of a supreme god with properties such as being superknowing, superpowerful, and immortal is highly contagious and a hard habit to break. The way our minds are structured and develop make these beliefs very attractive.
What do you think?