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Study: Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief
An exhibit of Rodin's "The Thinker."
April 27th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Study: Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief

By Becky Perlow, CNN

(CNN) - When was the last time you sat down and questioned your decision to believe in God?

According to a new study, that simple act could decrease your religious conviction – even if you’re a devout believer.

In the study, published Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Canada’s University of British Columbia used subtle stimuli to encourage analytical thinking. Results from the study found that analytical thinking could decrease religious belief.

“Religious belief is intuitive - and analytical thinking can undermine intuitive thinking,” said Ara Norenzayan, co-author of the study. “So when people are encouraged to think analytically, it can block intuitive thinking.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Some of the more than 650 Canadian and American participants in the study were shown images of artwork that encouraged analytic thinking, while another group was shown images that were not intended to produce such thinking.

One of the images used to trigger analytic thinking was of Rodin’s statue “The Thinker.” A previous study showed that such images improved performance on tests that indicate analytic thinking.

In addition to the artwork images, the religion study used other stimuli to promote analytical thinking.

After exposure to such stimuli, researchers gauged participants’ religious beliefs through a series of questions. Subjects who had performed analytical tasks were more likely to experience a decrease in religious belief than those who were not involved in such tasks. That included devout believers.

“There’s much more instability to religious belief than we recognize,” said Norenzayan, noting that life’s circumstances and experiences, from traumatic events to joyous occasions, can lead people to become more or less religious.

“Religion is such an important part of the world and we have so little understanding of it,” he added. “So regardless of what you think about religion, it’s important to understand it because it’s so important in the world.”

Norenzayan is quick to mention that the experiments did not turn devout believers into total atheists. But he speculated that if people habitually think analytically, like scientists or lawyers do, it would lead to less religious belief in the long run.

Robert McCauley, director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Culture at Emory University, and author of "Why religion is natural and science is not," found the study particularly interesting because he thought it was difficult to make even a minimal change in religious belief.

“It’s not likely you would argue someone out of a religious belief very often because they don’t hold those beliefs on argumentative or reflective grounds in the first place,” said McCauley, who believes religious beliefs rely primarily on intuitive thinking.

Analytical thinking alone does not necessarily lead to a decrease in religious belief, emphasized Norenzayan.

“There’s a combination of factors [as to] why people become believers or nonbelievers - this is only one piece of the puzzle,” Norenzayan said, explaining that his team doesn’t think analytical thinking is superior to intuitive thinking.

“It makes the story we need to tell about religion and religious belief all the more complicated,” said McCauley. “That’s what great scientific research does – ask more interesting questions.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science

soundoff (3,468 Responses)
  1. CAL

    I found the opposite to be true.

    April 28, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Emma in Baltimore

      So did I.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Very well stated. (sarcasm meter jumps)

      You didn't think about it any deeper than just "You are wrong, I am right"? You just became a perfect poster child for the religious' lack of critical thinking....

      April 28, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Ed Hughes

      In times of distress I to find the opposite is true.
      But
      In good times I know the God story is not real.
      So
      I think we are a hypocritical.
      Why is it proper gated?
      Some of religious leaders just have a greater feeling of destruction even in good times.
      Studies have to make sure moods are factored in.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  2. Chris

    So if we could start thinking like lawyers and scientists that would make a better world? Hmm just think of where lawyers and scientists have led us so far. If God does not exist than everything is permitted.

    April 28, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Supra

      To be honest, fear of consequence from God hasn't really helped keep humanity in a moral check. In fact, most historical leaders would just modify the religious rhetoric to suit their wills and in the process get an extremely devoted following.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • RUM AND COKE

      No hero. All this is saying is that humanity can't move forward based on childish beliefs in shit that doesn't exist.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Puzzled

      lets see, scientists have gotten us things like antibiotics and vaccines...

      April 28, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • momoya

      God seems perfectly fine permitting anything terrible one human can do to another, so far, so what's the difference?

      April 28, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Aezel

      Hmm let's see.......lets just take one scientific innovation: genetically engineered crops.

      It's estimated that 2 billion people are currently alive that would not be without this advance. In other words, 1/3 of the total population of Earth.

      Good luck to your pretend stories catching up to that number of positive benefit to humanity.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Well, Chris. ALL of the modern innovation that you have sitting on your desk around you that you take for granted– your cell phone, your PC, your TV, your processed foods, your modern medicines that keep us alive 5 times longer than is normal for humans, heck, even the manufacturing methods used to produce your Bible, were ALL PRODUCED BY MODERN SCIENCE.

      What has religion produced to improve the human condition? Wars, genocide, slavery, global terrorism, a flat earth, and Pi = 3.....

      I think I would take my chances with the scientists– at least they think logically.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Ghey

      Yeah, like how the F * c k do magnets work? Explain that scientists.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • mandarax

      I don't exactly understand, either. Therefore, magnets are proof of Jesus.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • momoya

      That was SOOOOOO hilarious, holy ... ..

      April 28, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Just claims, no evidence

      If your god exists everything is permitted.

      "I'm sorry Jesus"

      There,....all better.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Just claims, no evidence

      If your god exists everything is permitted.

      "I'm sorry Jesus"

      There,....all better now.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • E

      I am appreciating the beautiful irony.

      Of posting a question asking if scientists have gotten us anything.

      Using an electronic device, likely a computer. On a wondrous thing called a web site. Through a complex system called the internet. With this almost magical power called electricity.

      April 28, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  3. Puzzled

    So, just wondering why so many of you are bothering trying to use logic and reason to get
    believers to stop believing in god? After all believers by definition reject reason. So what if someone wants to believe in the tooth fairy or Santa Clause or a "Sky fairy"?

    Though, I suppose it could be because you are concerned about what believers do in the name of their god.
    Must actually matter to some of you that believers do things like fire teachers because they go to a physician to get help having a baby, or protect pedophile priests, or burned "witches" at the stake.

    It is scary to me how much evil crap has been done and continues to be done in the name of religion.

    April 28, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  4. Sra. Julia

    “Religious belief is intuitive – and analytical thinking can undermine intuitive thinking,”
    Religious belief for most religious is not intuitive, most people are brain washed from an early age into accepting and believing in the mythology called religion. Rejecting that training takes courage when you risk anger, rejection, and marginalization. Analytical thinking points out the flaws in religious dogma, intuitive thinking would have you protecting yourself by going along with the group that you had been indoctrinated into to avoid critizim and rejection not only from the group but from society in general. It took me a long time to have the courage to announce that I was not religious, spiritual, or held a belief in a supreme being and an after life. Once I said I was an Atheist I felt free, do what they will I'm not believing it.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  5. WSPIN132

    As a guy with a 130 IQ and a college degree, I think ALL THE TIME. I've been diagnosed as obsessive compulsive and an alcoholic (13 years sober). We're created to THINK. Sometimes, I overthink. But one thing that can't be conceived as humans is that something is so much bigger and smarter than we are, and God is exactly that. If everything fit perfectly into our worldly puzzles, equations, formulas, and synopses, then God wouldn't make alot of sense, merely something magical and fantasy. The greatest thinkers of our time cannot grasp God, and if they DO grasp the concept of a Creator, they can't grasp the emotions and feelings of a God who loves us yet watches depravity and monstrosities occur every day. And I can't either, but I'm not designed to, only to have faith, and to follow that faith, to live by that faith, to seek Him every day, and I can tell you, HE is here...in the quietest and the busiest times, He is real. And I'm not a Baptist, or a Mormon, or a Catholic, or a religious nut, I'm just a believer, in God, and in the saving grace afforded me by Jesus, a really weird guy who walked this earth 2000+ years ago, and got crucified by his peers. What made him weird was how he was always right, perfect, in an older but common imperfect world. And I can tell all the 'thinkers' out there that you can't grasp this deal by overthinking it, but only by faith in something bigger and more loving and more powerful and more gratifying than anything we could ever comprehend, and it's AWESOME.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      According to your own religion, this god of yours is the one who set the events into motion that led to these "monstrsities" and depravities.

      Once again, religion falls apart like shattered glass as soon as you apply even the smallest amount of scrutiny to it.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • RUM AND COKE

      Sober now? You must have gone through AA. AA is a 12 step program that retards people into thinking god is going to save them.

      IQ does not equal common sense, numbnuts. Congrats on being able to read. Bummer you can't comprehend reality. Bottoms up jerk-off!

      April 28, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Ghey

      My 150 IQ tells me you sound like an alcoholic.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Andrew

      ... You really felt the need to put your IQ up? Really?

      Anyway, "god fits perfectly into puzzles, blah blah blah", pretend you had a puzzle box where there were 50 oddly matched shapes which needed to be placed in the box. Now, you dump out all the pieces and are left with a giant mess, maybe you lose a piece, or maybe just can't figure out what to do with it. But you have this tub of play dough that you bought next to you, and fill in the cracks with your play dough, rather than striving to find the right piece to the puzzle. You could be quite intelligent, after all, you did 'solve' the puzzle, but you took an easy way out, by using an object that would fill ANY hole, and ANY crack. That's the problem with god, it's very easy to say "god's the reason it's true".

      That kind of answer may be satisfactory for you, but as a physics major, (A UBC one, cause I love whenever my school is mentioned in international articles like this), I'm really not content just going "well, this god concept is nice, so lets use it to patch up all the holes rather than seek a deeper understanding of how the universe works". God is an entirely unnecessary concept to me, whenever there are holes in my puzzles, problems I, or the collective we, can't solve, I'd rather leave them open, taunting me, tantalising me, than filling it in with an easy fix.

      You could have an IQ of 200 for all I care, but that doesn't mean your solution is any more elegant, it just means you're content to look at ANY solution, rather than the correct one. I prefer to look at an incomplete solution with the hopes of one day solving a piece.

      WSPIN132

      As a guy with a 130 IQ and a college degree, I think ALL THE TIME. I've been diagnosed as obsessive compulsive and an alcoholic (13 years sober). We're created to THINK. Sometimes, I overthink. But one thing that can't be conceived as humans is that something is so much bigger and smarter than we are, and God is exactly that. If everything fit perfectly into our worldly puzzles, equations, formulas, and synopses, then God wouldn't make alot of sense, merely something magical and fantasy. The greatest thinkers of our time cannot grasp God, and if they DO grasp the concept of a Creator, they can't grasp the emotions and feelings of a God who loves us yet watches depravity and monstrosities occur every day. And I can't either, but I'm not designed to, only to have faith, and to follow that faith, to live by that faith, to seek Him every day, and I can tell you, HE is here...in the quietest and the busiest times, He is real. And I'm not a Baptist, or a Mormon, or a Catholic, or a religious nut, I'm just a believer, in God, and in the saving grace afforded me by Jesus, a really weird guy who walked this earth 2000+ years ago, and got crucified by his peers. What made him weird was how he was always right, perfect, in an older but common imperfect world. And I can tell all the 'thinkers' out there that you can't grasp this deal by overthinking it, but only by faith in something bigger and more loving and more powerful and more gratifying than anything we could ever comprehend, and it's AWESOME.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Andrew

      And apparently I forgot to delete the message under my reply. I like copying/pasting messages to have a quick reference, sometimes it gets me into trouble.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Cq

      Maybe you should try thinking about the universe as Carl Sagan did?

      "The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky."

      April 28, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Converted

      God bless you WSPIN132!! As for the reply from RUM AND COKE... grow up. Why do people think they are smart when they act so childish and call names... try to compare spirituality with childish sayings.

      WSPIN132 has been there and now knows just as the scriptures teach and I thank him for sharing with us.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Aezel

      I'm glad believe in pretend bulls*** helped you get sober but in the end it's still just pretend bulls***.

      Most of the scientists that work in cosmology have IQ's that are 170+ Do you think their colleagues just take their word for it because "hey I have a high IQ." No, they have to prove it with evidence.

      Oh but you have a high IQ and "feelings" that God exists. What a joke......

      April 28, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Gotcha

      “There are in fact four very significant stumbling blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear t_itle to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge.” Roger Bacon (1219-1294)

      April 28, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • momoya

      LOL I do that too, Andrew!!

      April 28, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Converted

      Andrew complains about him posting his IQ when he blatantly tries to expose his superior "thinkiing"? I read an earlier post from you Andrew and you stated we don't know 70% of the equations or however you put it. Why is it so hard to believe in the spiritual realm along with the physical. God is real. Darwin started as a man of God and evolution was furthered by a Christian monk. God was showing his wonders.

      God bless you... you have a strong mind... now find your spirit.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Cq

      Converted
      But did Darwin end up keeping his original faith in God and the church's official explanation for life on this planet? Lemaitre wrote the pope telling him that his theory really didn't help prove God's existence. These cases only help prove that the application of analytical thinking even in clergy can lead to less acceptance of dogma.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Converted

      @cq From what I understand, his faith was shaken... it very well could have been because of the backlash he received from the church. That's kind of the problem with religion as Jesus himself showed us. However, this does not dismiss his beginnings. God has revealed many of the mechanisms he used in the creation of both the world and man. Unfortunately, man has tried to take this and pat ourselves on the back as though we made it. I have yet to see man even make a mosquito let alone a universe.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • momoya

      No one has seen god make either, either.. (A universe or a mosquito)

      April 28, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Converted

      But does anything just appear without a creator? Look at what man makes (a toaster for example)... it doesn't just appear. Because I didn't see my toaster being made, I can reasonably assume that someone made it. Now take something much more complex (like a mosquito)... I can reasonably assume that it was created by someone... that someone being God. I love the first part of Genesis where it says the Spirit of God came upon the waters. This is when the organization started.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Andrew

      We don't know how to describe roughly 70% of the energy density of the universe, housed in what's called "dark energy", but this is a bit of a fancy term for what appear in our equations as the "cosmological constant".

      However it's faulty to then say "well, because we don't know what this cosmological constant is, we're mostly ignorant about the time evolution of the universe". It may sound like a nice sound-bite, but it betrays a slight ignorance of what the FLWR metric actually describes. Since we have the model to describe the expansion of the universe, as it turns out, the dominent terms in the metric change with time. For example, when the universe was incredibly dense, the expansion of the universe was radiation (see:light) dominated, because the universe was hot enough to where radiation was the best way to store energy-density. Then as the universe cooled, it became matter-dominated, followed by dark matter dominated, followed by the now current dark energy dominated term.

      However during the initial expansion of the universe which gives rise to much of the structure of the universe, the cosmological constant was an entirely negligible term. So not knowing what is currently responsible for the acceleration of the universe's expansion is a problem for cosmologists today, but doesn't factor very much in determining *most* of the current evolution of the universe up to today.

      Again why do people with NO education in the subject always feel so willing to say "what scientists say are wrong?" Do people criticise brain surgeons this much? I'm barely a B.Sc in physics (degree in less than a month, scary), and even I feel very uncomfortable talking about details in cosmological evolution because I realize that I've got a very shaky General Relativity foundation. So how is it that people with less of a foundation than even I do find it so easy to say "all those physicists don't know anything"?

      The problems in physics are talked about more often simply because they're interesting, that doesn't mean physicists know nothing.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • Dun

      Andrew, you state way too many things as if they are facts when some of them are pure guesses even today.
      I would love to argue physics with you, but I'm guessing the problem I'm having is that you are not characterizing things accurately.
      We do not know the order or the steps beyond a certain point. You state stuff like it was all established, proven-in-the-math physics.
      Too much of what you said is mere thought experiments, hypothesis, etc. Please do not state it in that irresponsible fashion.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • christa

      Thankbyou wspin132 for writing down the truth. Bless are those who believe and have not seen or heard Jesus. I agree with everything you said. Its OK to put your IQ I am proud of you for speaking up. God Bless. I am a believer to.

      April 28, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • christa

      Thankbyou wspin132 godbless

      April 28, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Cq

      Converted
      Still, the more we come to understand about how nature works the less need we have for a magical answer such as God, or any of the other creation story explanations. As things stand now, the biblical creation story fails to distinguish itself from any of the others we call "myth." It truly is enough to start a person to question what else of the bible is merely myth.

      People have created new species, and even patented them. Creating a new universe would likely take more energy than we could ever harness, and world end our present universe. So using this as an example of "failure" is actually quite silly, isn't it?

      April 28, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  6. Rob

    religion and science are not mutually exclusive....it was the Catholic priest Georges LaMaitre (mathematician and astronomer) that came up with the Theory of the Primeval Atom that led to the Big Bang Theory.......

    April 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Gotcha

      My Priest told me it was the Easter Bunny. I've been deceived !

      April 28, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Georges LaMaitre's religous beliefs were incidental to the discovery of the atom. He did not pray to find atoms, he found them using empircal methods.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Cq

      Fr33th1nk3r
      Remember also that Darwin's greatest ambition at one time was to become a country vicar where he could study his beetles with leisure. Being clergy was an easy enough job for someone to do science as a hobby, which it basically was back then.

      Oddly enough, the Pope tried to claim that Lemaitre's theory was proof God created the universe, but he wrote the pope asking him to stop saying that.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  7. Gotcha

    I've spent a lot of my life fishing. Everything else was pretty much a waste of time.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Ricky L

      A river runs through it.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • mandarax

      Well, maybe not EVERYTHING else was a waste of time (parenthood, love, and se.x are pretty wonderful, too. As is a good Scotch). But heII yeah – more time fishing!

      April 28, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • mandarax

      Sorry – I missed the reference. Great book.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  8. Ronin

    We didn't really need an article to show that actually thinking reduces one's chance of believing in mythical stories. Everyone believes Santa Claus is real until the day they actually think about it for 5 seconds.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  9. Ricky L

    Why should the universe be any different than other living beings.

    Planets and stars live and die.

    I see a big bang as rebirth, confusion, elemental. Evolution and gravity brings the physical mass back together....evolution and conciousness brings the spiritual, metaphysical universe back together.

    A few million years of paradise, nirvana and heaven.....and it's monday morning again with the next big bang.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Ronin

      Man... Could you imagine living to be a million years old. It's hard to imagine even God wouldn't go insane just sitting there for millions of years by himself.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • momoya

      You see!! I told you that theorizing was fun!. There you go!!! I'm impressed.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Ricky L

      Haha!

      I think God goes into a Universal Coma for a long time before coming back out. Like a huge hangover.

      And I mean huge.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Ricky L

      Well, I did tell you to reserve judgement.

      This didn't come to me tonight.

      And I've had a lot of help getting to this point.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • momoya

      Ricky, I think that our universe is just one tiny trichome on a super-duper-massive "tree" with "leaves" as dimensions.. You ever seen a bud unfurl from the tip of a branch?? Big Bang. Trillions and trillions and trillions ... in trillions and trillions and trillions of dimensions–bumping and rubbing and shifting around each other.. How's that?

      April 28, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Ricky L

      Very believable, momoya, coming from the human mind.

      I think it was Spinoza who said, "I am the universe looking back at myself."

      Anything is possible.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Jonboy

      I can still remember being about 12 or 13 when it really hit me that time is all relevant to our mortality and lifespan as human beings. Asking questions like"what would be a long time to a rock or a flame if they had consciousness?" One of those AHA! moments when a lot of what we do as pople started to make more sense and made other things look so silly and senseless. Those AHA moments are the most valuable commodity in my life now. They give my life just as much meaning as any religion gives to someone who needs faith.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • momoya

      It's all metaphor, anyway.. Our human minds can only contemplate so much.. The "tree" dynamic seems extremely universal to me, but that's probably a lot more to do with the millions of years of evolution carving that pattern in my brain for various reasons.. We don't even know what we don't know!!

      April 28, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Ghey

      Jonboy, I love smoking pot too.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Horst

      Posted on This is awesome. At least the kitty looks like he sort of appatcirees his shoulder warmer/pillow.And I'm thinking you might be able to find a market for the, um, phallic cat toy maybe really angry militant feminists?Shoveling Ferret’s last blog post..

      September 6, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  10. DS

    Analytical thinking has also decreased my belief in evolution as well.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • APPLES Bottom

      Evolution has been proven. Let me guess, you were "critically thinking" while trying to play the christian version of words with friends from the comfort of your toilet?

      April 28, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • mandarax

      One doesn't have to believe in evolution. It happens whether or not you accept it. That debate is pretty much over unless you are either miseducated as to what it actually is (which is too common, especially within the religious stranglehold of the U.S.) or just in absolute stubborn denial. Either way, life around you will continue to undergo natural selection regardless of whether or not you personally approve.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • tnfreethinker

      Can you explain this analysis that made you doubt evolution?

      April 28, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Just claims, no evidence

      has analytical thinking affected your belief in gravity too?

      April 28, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • AntonS

      @Apples If evolution was proven I would like to know where and when as we then need not indulge in any more foolish debates.

      Read how analytical thinking changed the mind of Anthony Flew who has been one of the greatest proponents of atheism all his life and has written many books supporting it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_Flew

      April 28, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  11. Fr33th1nk3r

    Duh. Who would have guessed that critical thinking reduces belief in things like invisible men in the sky, talking trees, talking snakes, and killing angels?

    Can we classify this article under:

    "THE OBVIOUS – THINKING AND RELIGION DO NOT MIX"

    April 28, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • joe jones

      Really. It's a no brainer as no brainers come. don't know who this article is trying to turn, the religious with a soft glove I guess

      April 28, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  12. Meh

    What an obvious article. Obviously if you have never questioned, you would believe anything. The problem of evil simply sums up what I think.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Nunu

      Many years ago, I worked with 2 ictiendal twins. It was really hard to tell them apart until you got to know them. One April Fools day, they decided to pretend to be each other. I caught on right away, but pretended I didn't know. They really had everyone fooled, and it was so funny to watch.

      September 9, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  13. CJA

    "But he speculated that if people habitually think analytically, like scientists or lawyers do, it would lead to less religious belief in the long run."

    If the above is true, then it should be clear that churches don't have much to worry about. The percent of the population who understand and use logic is tiny.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  14. So CRATES

    Well, NO SHIT. Who ever would have believed that THINKING could actually be productive?

    In other words, mongrel idiots that don't think about anything are called believers.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Converted

      Surely you don't consider yourself one of the "thinkers" as I didn't see an intelligent thing in anything you said.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • So CRATES

      Thank you for enlightening us all with your valuable and thought-provoking, scholarly input. I'll be sure to file this one under "things to ponder while on the toilet; liquid bowel evacuation." In case you're curious, it's a reference to the runs. The next time a torrent of coffee-like liquid sprays forth from my posterior, I'll be sure to keep you in mind. You are extra special, cupcake.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • JonesyMan

      So CRATES – before we go about the whole sale cleansing of the useless results of these "mongrel idiots" let's not forget that among the "mongrel idiots" of religion stand the fathers of physics, calculus, genetics, modern geology, paleontology, optics and... among others... the scientific method itself. And that's just those who are Christian. If you include all of the other types of "mongrel idiots" out there you'd find yourself among a rather sizable, though by no means all inclusive, collection of the great minds of our species.

      The fact that men who are know for the depth and complexity of their thoughts, in some cases over centuries, find meaning and truth in religious belief suggests that the phenomena of belief is nothing simple or idiotic.

      Rather than attacking, perhaps you should stop, THINK, and examine your own prejudices.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  15. Supra

    @Aezel I buy the argument in that something beyond our understanding could have created us (As to what created them, that is another question but i'm focusing only on human creation and this universe).

    Very unlikely but still plausible I think.

    One thing I don't understand is how people say God's will or God's purpose for you.etc. Wouldn't an omnipotent being by definition be free of human emotions or desires like will or love?

    April 28, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • joe jones

      You are just touching the tip of an iceberg. an omnipotent and omniscient God wouldn't have the need or desire to do any of the things done in the bible–at least not from our human perspective which is the only perspective we have.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Aezel

      I appreciate the fact that you are trying to remain open minded. However through understanding of quantum physics and our cosmological observations of the early universe, we know that no divine hand was required to make things "go" so to speak.

      Religious apologists like to invent things like the concept of "nothing" in their minds and then ask even more ridiculous follow-up questions like "how can something come from nothing?" Sorry but this is just a grossly inaccurate concept that only a person who has no education about physics can come up with.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Aezel

      So what do we know? We know that the universe as we know it can in fact set itself in motion with no divine hand. That is very clear from scientific observations. So why make up pretend stories to "remain open to"? That's like saying "well, I know from the evidence that most likely my wife put this jar of peanut butter in my cupboard but instead I'm going to remain open to the fact that it could have been aliens."

      April 28, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  16. Emma in Baltimore

    Since when does analytical thinking block intuitive thinking? Analysis involves a great deal of intuitive insights. That's what allowed innovators like Newton and Einstein to make their great leaps of discovery. I guess these researchers lack intuitive insights - it must be as if they go through life with blinders on.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Aezel

      You don't really understand how analytical thinking and intuitive thinking work if you think that is true.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Emma in Baltimore

      @Aezel I'd say you are the lacking in understanding. Intuitive thinking refers to abstract thought processes. Analytical thinking refers to more concrete thinking. Both are needed to make brilliant discoveries. One of the best places to find this is in theoretical mathematics - analysis of the mathematics can lead physicists to brilliant intuitions and insights. Analytical thinking is not boring, rigid, and sad. It is very interactive and beautiful.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  17. Joshua Ludd

    Why is this? Because there isn't actually any solid proof for any god to exist. If there is no proof, there is no reason to believe it.. if there is no reason to believe it, why believe it? Because you "feel" it is true? Thats just plain foolishness.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Alessandro

      I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets inAnd stops my mind from wenradingWhere it will goI'm filling the cracks that ran through the doorAnd kept my mind from wenradingWhere it will goAnd it really doesn't matter if I'm wrongI'm rightWhere I belong I'm rightWhere I belong.See the people standing there who disagree and never winAnd wonder why they don't get in my door.I'm painting the room in a colourful wayAnd when my mind is wenradingThere I will go.And it really doesn't matter ifI'm wrong I'm rightWhere I belong I'm rightWhere I belong.Silly people run around they worry meAnd never ask me why they don't get past my door.I'm taking the time for a number of thingsThat weren't important yesterdayAnd I still go.I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets inAnd stops my mind from wenradingWhere it will go.

      September 7, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  18. Arran Webb

    Hogwash. Go read some Alvin Platinga. The acceptance of a metaphysical experience is an entirely logical choice based on the evidence. Now black holes... that is more an act of faith than acceptance of a divinity.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • momoya

      Since the debate is raging more than ever these days, with many people leaving their faith, I don't think it's as locked up as you project.. Nice try.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Supra

      People think black holes are mysterious, but really it's just a really massive round star. The only difference being that it's mass is just big enough that photons can't escape it's gravity well. (Massive doesn't mean big in this case, but very heavy)

      April 28, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Aezel

      "The acceptance of a metaphysical experience is an entirely logical choice based on the evidence."

      Accepting something on zero evidence is logical? Huh. Someone forgot to tell you that you don't get to redefine logic to make it fit with what you want to be true. Of course, this is the mistake most religious make in the first place.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • momoya

      Yep, about the stars.. We also wouldn't see super-massive Ultraviolet stars, either.. It's just gravity caused by mass producing a force on particles..

      April 28, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • CJA

      If you think that one must accept the existence of black holes on faith then you don't know what science is.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • JonesyMan

      Just Claims, No Evidence –
      While I'm dubious that this question was asked with the intent of receiving a reply I feel oddly compelled to respond nonetheless. While I don't have a specific answer maybe I can provide some reframing for your question.

      Consider this: Amputation is the result of surgery or trauma that renders a limb incapable of sustaining functionality by disconnecting it from the body ... i.e. the tissues are or will soon be dead. So what we're really dealing with is the question of death just a partial death rather than on a body wide scale, which is the same question with a difference of scale.

      So we can really reframe your question by asking: "If there is a God why does he permit mortality?"

      Again, not exactly an answer but maybe this provides some context for your question.

      April 28, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  19. b4bigbang

    Momoya, from what you told me of your 50 years of religious affiliation, I must say that the "word-churches" are a great big FAIL (and both relgious as well as non-religious folks know they fail).

    Regarding the Baptists: My mother's side of the family is Baptist and I've seen their shortcomings first-hand. Their problem is spiritual dryness/deadness. The Southern Baptists wouln't even allow prayer for the sick in their services until they started losing so many members to the Charismatic and Pentecostal denominations, and as for the rest of the spiritual gifts – well, just try practicing them in a Southern Baptist church and you'll get the bum's rush out the door in a New York minute.

    You would've been better off searching for a small group of unaffiliated Christians and not stopping until you found one that has a balanced view of the Faith based solely on the New Testament.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • momoya

      Here's a reply I made for Chad that'll do here, too.

      Chad, you don't understand the purpose of a debate if you're really dealing with "score cards.". Debates aren't won or lost, they're buffets.. They are buffets of ideas.. You take as much as you want of whatever dish and leave whatever you want of another–except you've got to follow your own principles.. Craig is a good debater, but he has never presented anything that even borders on "substance," and you know it as well as I.. If Craig were as good as you imply, the god debate would be over..

      You see, you assume that there's all sorts of forces and powers against you, but there isn't.. People really do want to know if there is a god and what he wants.. If there were good arguments, there'd be only Craig's religion.. But they aren't good.. I've listened to at least 8 or so debates with Craig.. He's good.. No question.. But his arguments suck, and that's the honest truth if you are evaluating them critically and weighing the arguments fairly..

      I've been on the other side.. I know what it's like rooting for the apologist, but it just isn't solid.. I know.. I spent almost two decades pouring over every argument I could find.. I WANTED to find evidence or really good arguments, but there just wasn't any.. It killed me!! I mean it really turned me inside out for almost seven years.. The arguments for god don't hold up.. There's no sense to them when you take back all the layers of fluff.. It's philosophy, that's what it is and where it belongs.. Don't try to make it more and act as if it can be demonstrated sound and true.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Momoya, was your latest reply in response to me?
      If so, I noticed where you said this:
      " I spent almost two decades pouring over every argument I could find.. I WANTED to find evidence or really good arguments, but there just wasn't any.. It killed me!! I mean it really turned me inside out for almost seven years.. The arguments for god don't hold up.."

      You mention "argument" as most of the context of your quest, with a brief mention of wanting to find evidence. Almost 20 years of "pouring over arguments".

      I'll tell you right now that I went approximately 15 years as a Christian before I witnessed my first supernatural miracle of healing (c1995), and now it's 2012 and I've yet to see another one. Not that they aren't happening, but that they're very rare by definition, and you have to be in the right place at the right time.

      I guess my take on it is "how many miracles does it take to believe"?
      If you never saw a miracle, I'm sorry, but many Christians live their whole lives in the Faith without ever seeing one.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • momoya

      I've performed miracles! More than one! Ha!

      April 28, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • momoya

      Yes, the last reply was for you.. Read the very first line again..

      April 28, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Just claims, no evidence

      Why doesn't god heal amputees?

      April 28, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  20. Supra

    I buy the argument that some higher intelligence can have created the universe and everything. However, I cannot see how you can jump from that to saying that the higher intelligence is the Christian/Muslim God or any other historical God.

    April 28, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Arran Webb

      Reasonable point. What you are discerning is how a force of creation becomes part of human mind.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • momoya

      That's what sensible people conclude, yes.. And yes, the only position an apologist has any footing on.. But get him/her to connect that to one or another "personal god" - rubbish.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Aezel

      "I buy the argument that some higher intelligence can have created the universe and everything."

      Why would you buy that argument when it has zero evidence to support it?

      April 28, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Supra, there are some good, reasonable treatises you coould read to size up the Judeo-Christian claims for validity. A couple that come to mind off-hand are "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis and "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" (by Josh McDowell). Also some of Francis Schaeffer's books. Also, "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • momoya

      b4

      Those are really terrible suggestions.. The average atheist will be able to shred the arguments in those books before lunchtime.. They are really, really poor arguments all around.. There are several better apologists, but that's for me to know and you to find out.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • mandarax

      Yeah, I've taken a look at "The Case For Christ" and I have to agree with Momoya – the evidence that is presented with such confidence is just a shaky house of cards.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Lisa

      @mandarax
      I've found that "The Case For Christ" reads more like the editorial "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." :-)

      April 28, 2012 at 1:26 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.