The author asks whether Tarzan would develop religious beliefs in absence of social exposure to religion. The author concludes that religious beliefs are dependent on culture. Less than two pages
Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Jan;17(1):7-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.11.005. Epub 2012 Dec 11.
Would Tarzan believe in God? Conditions for the emergence of religious belief
Would someone raised without exposure to religious views nonetheless come to believe in the existence of God, an afterlife, and the intentional creation of humans and other animals? Many scholars would answer yes, proposing that universal cognitive biases generate religious ideas anew within each individual mind. Drawing on evidence from developmental psychology, we argue here that the answer is no: children lack spontaneous theistic views and the emergence of religion is crucially dependent on culture.