About a year ago, I wrote what I thought was one of my better memebombs:
Religion is a man staring at a tree and wondering who is moving the leaves.I thought that it succinctly encapsulated the problem religious thought has with purpose, intentionality and agency. Religions often sees intention where none is involved. Everything is seen to have a purpose and many inanimate objects and natural forces are seen as having a mind capable of making decisions. Now imagine my surprise when I was reading the terrific book "Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable" by Bruce Hood (website, Twitter) and read the following on page 97:
In hundreds of interviews with children between the ages of four and twelve years, [Jean] Piaget asked them to explain the workings of the world. He asked them about natural phenomena such as the sun, clouds, rivers, trees, and animals. Where do they come from? Do they have minds?, and so forth. What he discovered was recurrent supernatural beliefs, especially in the youngest children. They thought that the sun follows them around and can think. That’s why children paint smiley faces on suns. It’s much more reassuring to think of it as a friendly being who makes summer days pleasant and people smile than as an inanimate ball of nuclear energy that would frazzle us if it were not for the earth’s protective ozone layer. The children Piaget studied believed that trees have minds and can feel. In short, they thought the inanimate world is alive, something Piaget called “animism.” Animism means attributing a soul (Latin, anima) to an entity, and it can be found in many religions as well as in secular supernaturalism. Where do children get these ideas? No one tells them to think like this. It’s just the way the child makes sense of the world.Now, I'm not one to brag but...
Excuse me while I do a little victory dance. Don't ever doubt me again.
P.S. Greetings, Google Searcher. Please give credit where credit is due. It took me a whole 5 minutes to make that image.