I don’t have room in this blog to go into the theology of children and their eternal salvation. In this message I answer the question, “What happens to babies and young children who die? – Do they all go to heaven?”
Now, back to my original statement – children are born believers! According to Dr Olivera Petrovich, an expert in psychology of religion, “Infants are hardwired to believe in God, and atheism has to be learned.” In other words, belief in God is not taught but develops naturally. Her findings were based on several studies particularly one of Japanese children aged four to six, and another of 400 British children aged five to seven from seven different faiths. The conclusion: “Atheism is definitely an acquired position.”
This has certainly been born out in my own experience over many years of teaching Religious Education to children in primary schools. There were always one or two kids who would be atheists, but it was always as a result of what they had heard their parents articulate about there being “no God”. All the other kids – including those from homes where no particular faith was adhered to – believed in the existence of God and were particularly fascinated by discussions on the spirit world and life after death.
What a huge responsibility there is in parenting a child – to protect this inherent belief in God and to nurture it into a vibrant faith that remains a strong foundation throughout the child’s life. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:14-16).
Atheists are created, not born. Let’s create fewer of them!