This is a yes and no question. I have ranked and indexed a few pages without ever making a single backlink to them. Of course, these were in the most uncompetitive of all business niches and keywords.
Here are a couple of rules of thumb.
1) If the niche and/or keyword is competitive, and/or you are in a global niche, and/or you are trying to go Organic (ie: no paid traffic), you will need backlinks -> no if's, and's or but's about it. An example of a competitive keyword phrase, would be: Personal Injury Lawyer (or absolutely anything to do with Lawyers) or Payday Loans.
2) If the niche/keyword is non-competitive or it is local specific, like say: "Wiley's Wild Explosive Rocket Repair in Weed County California" you may be able to get by with zero or a very few backlink's.
The bottom line is though: you need to learn to make backlink's, if nothing more than to be confident in your SEO knowledge.