Tarzan Would Not Believe in God

Trends in Cognitive Science. Volume 17, Issue 1

Trends in Cognitive Science. Volume 17, Issue 1

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.


One thought on “Tarzan Would Not Believe in God

  1. Personally, I don’t doubt that he would not start believing in a specific religion. He would not suddenly talk about Jesus or Mohammed, for example, neither about Vishnu or Thor. But, if you ask me, it IS possible that he starts fearing the “big thunder spirit” or something like that, simply because he lacks an explanation. Myths start somewhere, why should Tarzan not be able to start one? Ok, we don’t know if Tarzen would make a religion out of it, if he would start inventing rituals to please the big thunder spirit, for example, but the chance is there, that he starts inventing something like that.

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