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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Why is belief in God so widespread? The Islamic answer is that it's because mankind has a God-given fitra, or innate tendency to believe in God. This wasn't the answer atheists typically gave. For Marx, religion was something propagated by the oppressive ruling class, to control the masses, 'the opium of the people'. The 19th century anthropologist Tyler explained religion as a primitive attempt to explain life and death. For Freud, religion was a means to control the Oedipal complex, wish fulfillment, and means to control the outside world. For sociologist Rodney Stark, religious beliefs act as 'compensators' for failures to attain certain goals. Add to this list all other possible secular sociological explanations and anthropological explanations. Any one of these theories could have been proven to be the true and complete explanation, and refuted the Islamic explanation of fitra. And yet, according to the findings of contemporary Science, in the words of atheist Professor of Psychology Alison Gopnik: Islam is right: we do have an innate tendency or fitra to believe in God. It's not because of class struggle, or compensation, or brain-washing. Does this prove that God gave us this innate tendency? No, I'm not claiming that. For psychologists who aren't keen on religion, it's a mistaken innate tendency to attribute teleology and intentionality to everything - of course they aren't going to say that it's God-given. What I am claiming is that Science has confirmed a claim of religion, specifically Islam and some versions of Christianity, that we have an innate tendency to believe in God. Science has proven the existence of the fitra, in a very basic sense. This is just one of many other instances in which Science has confirmed the religious worldview in some way or another, e.g. Big Bang cosmology showing the Universe had a beginning, fine tuning in its various forms pointing to design, falsity of determinism undermining classical materialism, psi research and NDEs showing that we aren't our brains etc. The list isn't exhaustive.
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