The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

Every child is an atheist

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/9/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 617 times Debate No: 56337
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)




I believe that every child is born atheistic. To clarify, Atheism refers to a lack of beliefs in a god or gods.The popular definition of atheism is a "belief against any gods." A child does not understand deism, unless that environment is introduced to them.
Most people confuse religion with human empathy. We do not hurt people because we know how it feels to be hurt. We do not kill people because we don't want to see the people we loved killed. For example, when we pinch someone, they cry. When it happens to us, it hurts. It's the concept of pain that causes us to cringe when we see skateboarders straddle rails on YouTube. We understand pain, physical and emotional...because we have all been there.
Religion exists because of these fundamental concepts that link us all together: pain and fear. Children grasp the idea of causing harm. They cannot adopt a philosophy based on harm...unless the concept is introduced to them.
Religious belief is dependent upon geography. If a child were born in India, they would most likely "believe" in Hinduism. If a child were born in the American South, they would most likely "believe" the Christian god. If a child were born in China, they would most likely become Buddhists or Taoists. How many Native Americans, before colonization, were "Christian"? Exactly zero. They were animists, or usually polytheistic, depending upon location. The Native American culture originated over 12,000 years ago. Where are the ancient texts describing any modern god?
We cannot accept nature as a "god", so it is not included in our definitions of modern theism. What child is not enamored with puppies and kittens? What kid doesn't find their first snowstorm amazing? We can label anything "god". Introducing a set philosophy, or instituting rules based on religious dogma, does not validate a parent's worldview. It simply obscures the fact that their children are born innocent...without fear of the pain and suffering, under which we created these gods.


I am a little confused with what you are trying to prove. Do you believe every child is an atheist or every child is born an atheist?
Based on argument that every child is born atheist, this is my counter-argument and argument:
How can you conclusively determine whether a baby is an atheist or not without asking him/her? As you said, children are born innocent, therefore to come up with an explanation for the phenomena around them, they can think of their own explanations to form a conclusion; a situation where a baby might form an explanation is when a baby first experiences the outside world. Experiencing what it is like inside of his or her mother at an early age is very different from experiencing the outside world that has different conditions that are new to the baby. By forming an explanation, they essentially come up with their own religion. Usually it is tied to the baby's mother, which explains the high level of comfort the baby has with his or her mother as compare to the father or a stranger.
You point out that because the baby is not introduced to the concept of religion or philosophy, the baby cannot believe in God since the baby does not know about it. However, it is possible that the baby could be introduced to it...when it is in the fetus. As studies have shown, the fetus can respond to stimuli from the environment outside its mother's belly when it is around 28 weeks old. This is exemplified by the example of music played to the fetus. A baby, while inside the womb, kicks more in response to music being played outside the womb. If a baby can be influenced by this, then a baby should be theoretically able to be influenced by the culture around it. You make an excellent point when you say that "religious belief is dependent upon geography," but I think that religious belief is more dependent on the people in that area, not the geographical location itself. I'm sure this is what you meant, but I wanted to clarify the idea. If this is true, then the beliefs being held and the traditions being followed, especially by the mother, can influence the baby before it is born. Therefore, when it is born, it might not be atheist.

Based on the argument that every child is an atheist, the following is my response:
Much of what I have to say to support my argument has been stated in the paragraph above. To be more efficient, I will state points that are specific to the idea that every child is an atheist. Technically, a child is anyone who is still a minor. Another definition is that a child is a person in the stages between infancy and puberty. A less technical definition is a 1 to 7 year old. Keeping all these definitions in mind, they all share a commonality, every child not cut off from society has had experiences with culture(s). Because children r more credulous than adults, they r more likely to believe in the mysticism provided by believing in God. Therefore, every child is not an atheist. A perfect counter example is me: when I was a child, I was a faithful believer of Hinduism plans the pantheon of Gods, meaning I had a system of beliefs I practiced. Therefore, I was not an atheist when I was a child. This can be generalized to: every child does not have to be an atheist.
Debate Round No. 1


I apologize for the confusion. I must clarify my argument: Every child is born an atheist. Though I must admit, I believe that every child (newborn to adult) is an atheist, I can only conclude that, before exposure to religious dogma, a child enters the world sans religion.
There is a body of scientific evidence that supports the idea that fetuses can respond to external stimuli. Even though I have read those studies, I cannot dispute them. I remember being in my third trimester. All four of my children responded to loud noises and pressure. However, what you are stating doesn't make any sense. Are you implying that fetuses can react to a religious environment from inside the womb? If that was the case, wouldn't fetuses be able to respond to every stimuli that they were exposed to...when they are born? If you were in an accident during pregnancy, would your nine-year-old suffer from PTSD? No. Show me a scientifically conclusive study, and I will invalidate my argument.
I have four children. None of my children were introduced to religion INSIDE the womb, (following your argument), much less, OUTSIDE the womb...until they were introduced to the religious environment. None of them, from birth until ten years old, could verbalize the concept of "god". None of them knew anything about Christianity or could identify a single concept regarding it. My five year old stated that "when a person dies, they become stardust." Most of her friends would have responded, "They go to Jesus."
Many people would say that a person cannot be good without a moral compass, specifically, a supernatural being who directs good and evil. If every child is born a "believer", how do you explain the continued civilizations of non-religious countries? Wouldn't the birth rates demonstrate a forward movement TOWARDS religious affiliation, rather than AWAY from it?


Thank you for the clarification. I must say before I start with addressing the debate that this is a very good topic and a fun debate!

Moving on, you mention the idea of a child suffering from PTSD after the mother has experienced an accident. I agree that this may sound ridiculous, but child might respond to the accident in a form other than PTSD. It could be that the child is born with symptoms that are as a result of the accident. For example, an accident would cause a high level of stress being experienced by the pregnant woman. This would lead to an increase in levels of cortisol, a hormone, to deal with the accident; the cortisol can make its way through the placenta to the fetus. For an unborn baby, increased quantities of cortisol can have negative effects on the fetus such as less cognitive reasoning ability and higher amounts of LDL (bad cholesterol). Although this can be considered a digression, my point here is that an unborn child can respond to stimuli around us. Despite this scenario proving a physical response, a mental response can also be theoretically be proven because the feelings the mother feels about topics such as atheism and such affect the nervous, cardiovascular, and other body systems of the mother that can be transmitted to the child. Essentially, the fetus, after prolonged exposure to the belief in God, can establish its own belief system; therefore, the baby might not be born an atheist.
You make some excellent arguments when you ask, "If every child is born a "believer", how do you explain the continued civilizations of non-religious countries? Wouldn't the birth rates demonstrate a forward movement TOWARDS religious affiliation, rather than AWAY from it?" I do not surmise that every child is born a believer, but I do believe that not every child is born an atheist. Furthermore, I cannot think of any non-religious countries. If you are referring to countries that claim to have secular political institutions (like America for example), then I argue that despite having a secular government, the citizens of those particular countries can still follow a religion and at the very least, possess religious bias. If you would be so kind as to state a country whose inhabitants do not follow a religion(s), I will most likely invalidate my argument. As for why there is not a forward movement towards religious affiliation: just as much as people should be exposed to God to believe in him/her if they haven't already, so too should people who already believe in God be exposed to the concept of atheism to be an atheist. Those born as believers could become atheist as time moves on if atheism appeals to them better than a belief in God. As I have mentioned before, children are more likely to believe in the mysticism associated with God, but as they become more pragmatic, some might want to rationally prove the mysticism associated with God while others would let go of their belief in God altogether. This explains why there is not a forward movement towards religious affiliation.
I hope you keep in mind that my thesis is not every child is a believer but that every child is not an atheist.
Once again, thank you for the wonderful debate! I am not exactly sure if this is professional or not to say thanks but it is one of my first debates ever so I hope you pardon any mistakes I have made.
Debate Round No. 2


lindsay792001 forfeited this round.


It's is hard to say for sure that every child is born an atheist because it is not like we can ask a baby and get an answer. However, the fact that they are more credulous and they respond to their surroundings show that they can formulate their own opinions and create their own belief system. Otherwise, they would not have any emotions; the first action babies perform when they come out of the womb is crying, which means they have emotions. They cry because they don't like their new environment; therefore, they have the belief that their new environment is scary and bad. This means that the children are not born with a lack of beliefs.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Sagey 2 years ago
LOL @ Jjjohn's depiction of Philochristos's Fallacy.

A more accurate statement that depicts what "Babies are born Atheist" means is that:
Every Conscious organism that has no concept of God is an Atheist as they are (Atheos Gk.) Without God.

Atheos was a Greek derogatory term for anybody that either lacked a belief in Gods or denied Gods.
It was a general term to Attack Non-Believers.

The big problem with terms used to deride groups, is that eventually those groups will adopt those terms as some form of Badge Of Defiance.
Such as once American Negroes hated the derogatory term Nigger, but now they apply it to themselves with pride, their songs are full of this once derogatory term which they call themselves all the time and they even label their bands with the term, such as one of my favorite bands, NWA.

Theists derided non believers by calling them Atheists and the identical term now used by Islam is "Infidels", but now Atheist and Infidel are used as badges of rebellious honor by many non-believers.
Posted by PeacefulChaos 2 years ago
That is not the same kind of logic philocristos used ... this is the kind of logic he used.

1. Atheism refers to a lack of belief in a god or gods.
2. Babies lack a belief in a god or gods.
3. Babies are atheists (as is by definition).

The example you presented assumes that people are defined by the fact that they cannot fly without mechanical help, which is entirely not true. If that were the case, everything under this definition would be a person. The fault lies in the definition of "person." If it was valid that people are defined by their ability to not fly without mechanical help, then what you presented would be valid, but that's not the case.
Posted by Jjjohn 2 years ago
"Rocks are atheists, too, by that standard. Anything that lacks the cognitive ability to have beliefs is an atheist by that standard."

That's a simplistic interpretation of the claim "Atheism refers to a lack of beliefs in a god or gods.". Using that logic, one could easily make an argument that rocks are people.

1. People cannot fly with out mechanical help.
2. Rocks cannot fly without mechanical help.
3. Rocks are people.
Posted by philochristos 2 years ago
"I believe that every child is born atheistic. To clarify, Atheism refers to a lack of beliefs in a god or gods."

Rocks are atheists, too, by that standard. Anything that lacks the cognitive ability to have beliefs is an atheist by that standard.

So it's trivially true that babies are atheists. Not only do they lack a belief in God, but they also lack a belief in morality, they lack a belief in logic, they lack a belief in the reliability of their memories, etc. So what? What is the pay-off for atheists to make these banal observations? Where does it get you? What conclusion do you draw from it?
Posted by Bible13 2 years ago
Wow, never mind. Turner seems to have good arguments. I will research that.
Posted by Bible13 2 years ago
There is nothing to argue, it's a fact. I would have accepted the debate, but we simply don't agree on the definition of an atheist.
Posted by turnerjb04 2 years ago
Even atheist sociologists and psychologists have proven that the believe in God is natural to all children and atheism is an acquired belief, e.g.

Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford Centre for Anthropology and Mind, states "The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children"s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose"" He adds that "If we threw a handful [of children] on an island and they raised themselves"they would believe in God".

Oxford University atheist development psychologist Dr Olivera Petrovich, who is an expert in the Psychology of Religion states that, belief in God develops naturally and that ""atheism is definitely an acquired position""
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Sagey 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con did not really counter Pro's arguments well enough, yet Pro's arguments also match my own and my family's experience, having had no God ( atheos, without God) for the first 8 years of my life and thus having no concept of God. Same goes for my own children, who even as adults don't think about God at all, thus having been atheists from birth to adulthood, without any real influence from us, as we never spoke of religion at all. Babies are definitely born without any spiritual beliefs. It is environment and indoctrination that change this. In a non-religious environment they can remain Atheist for life.
Vote Placed by Cold-Mind 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Child is born not consciously knowing(believing ) anything. We don't have to ask them to confirm it (on which they can't respond, because they don't know).