Monday, April 30, 2012

Thinking Analytically Leads to Religious Disbelief

In a recent issue of Science:  Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief, by Will M. Gervais and Ara Norenzayan:

Scientific interest in the cognitive underpinnings of religious belief has grown in recent years. However, to date, little experimental research has focused on the cognitive processes that may promote religious disbelief. The present studies apply a dual-process model of cognitive processing to this problem, testing the hypothesis that analytic processing promotes religious disbelief. Individual differences in the tendency to analytically override initially flawed intuitions in reasoning were associated with increased religious disbelief. Four additional experiments provided evidence of causation, as subtle manipulations known to trigger analytic processing also encouraged religious disbelief. Combined, these studies indicate that analytic processing is one factor (presumably among several) that promotes religious disbelief. Although these findings do not speak directly to conversations about the inherent rationality, value, or truth of religious beliefs, they illuminate one cognitive factor that may influence such discussions.



7 comments:

Άσυλο σοφίας said...

This is exactly what you've been saying all along!

Chris Mills said...

I love reading information like this or how statistically atheists know more about the bible than your average Christian. I wonder if analytical believers (a Christian scientist perhaps) appreciate god more than intuitive believers.

secularphilosopher.blogspot.com

Grundy said...

It occurs to me that the difference in analytical and intuitive thinking also helps explain my view of morality. We can rationalize the best ethical decision in any given situation while, in the more black and white moral choices, we intuitively know right from wrong. This isn't due to some divinely inspired conscious, it's simply instinct.

Miles Andrews said...

Here's an analysis of this study by a Christian research scientist: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/analytic_thinking_faith.html

Matt McCormick said...

Thanks Miles. That guy's poor analytical thinking pretty much demonstrates the point being made in the study.

Miles Andrews said...

Hm. Seems to me that he made valid points about the statistical biases present in the study, although truthfully I haven't looked into it myself. Whether or not his theory about stress is accurate or not is far less important as far as I'm concerned.

shugden said...

Great work dude.