A three-year long Oxford University research project has recently concluded that religious belief “comes naturally, even instinctively.” The study, led by Oxford University Professor Roger Trigg, was a transcultural mega-project that actually incorporated data from forty different studies around the world. Trigg notes that the findings reveal that children and adults alike naturally think in religious terms, demonstrating a readiness to believe in an afterlife and divine purpose in life and the cosmos.
This study appears to confirm John Calvin’s notion of the sensus divinitatis—the idea that there is an innate awareness of God hard-wired into human beings. As Calvin puts it, “to prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance, God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty” (Institutes, I.III.1). If Calvin is correct, and I think he is, then atheistic dreams of eliminating religious belief in society could never be realized. In Roger Trigg’s words, the “secularization thesis…[is] hopeless.”