Children whose parents stress religious beliefs but do not uphold them are prone to becoming atheists earlier in life, according to a study from Religion, Brain & Behavior.
The study, in which researchers surveyed 5,153 atheists concerning the age at which they stopped believing in God, showed children whose parents acted in line with the religious beliefs they professed tended to become atheists later in life, rather than earlier. Conversely, those who grew up in households with a lot of religious conflict or with parents who did not display much religious credibility tended to become atheists at a younger age. (RELATED: SCIENCE: Kids With Religious Parents Less Likely To Kill Themselves)
“The average person can take away three main things from this study,” author of the study Joseph Langston told PsyPost. Langston is also a Victoria University PhD student and researcher at the Atheist Research Collaborative.
“First, the extent to which parents faithfully model their own religious beliefs to their children (i.e. CREDs), works in tandem with other processes to produce unique trajectories of the timing at which one becomes an atheist: being allowed greater religious choice seems to drive the age of atheism down, but so do elevated levels of religious conflict,” he said.
Langston then said credibility-enhancing displays (CREDs) are not enough to determine when or if a child will become an atheist, but that they have a huge impact on the age at which a child becomes an atheist.
The study’s findings on the impact of CREDs on the religious development of children was limited, however, by the fact that they surveyed only atheists. Langston said a superior study might sample large numbers of both believers and non-believers so as to directly compare the impact of CREDs on both.
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