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. martog

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    April 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Jh

      I am someone who grew up with no religion, no family to brainwash me. Yet, after many years of intense study,i have found peace in God. I dont believe all the miracles stories per se, but to deny that all of this amazing world just happened by chance is in my analytical brain, foolishness. Keep searching my friend. Life is no accident, it had a creator with a purpose. Read joseph campbell

      April 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Muneef

      Obviously you are asking to think of them selves as Apes that evolved into human beings rather than being created as human beings from the first place...?

      Well am happy as human created by GOD rather than an Ape created by big bang or what so ever...

      April 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Bob

      @JH – You fail to realize the crux of this "debate" over religion versus atheism: This world did NOT happen by chance.

      Why is that so hard to comprehend? The only people who think it is "chance" don't understand how planets form or how life evolves. There is chance; yes. But not at the pure idea that we have of chance (whereby the end product is a result of chance instead of the steps taken to get there being the chance; the result is purely deterministic given a pre-determined set of inputs).

      April 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • martog

      I guess none of you that responded with religious regurgitation are thinkers.....too bad..

      April 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • EuphoriCrest

      jh: I assume YOU have read Joseph Campbell and, therefore know that Campbell did NOT believe in a creator and. in fact, was an atheist. So, why the reference?

      April 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Snow

      @JH Your argument would have held water if there were a billion planets teaming with life.. but there is only one known.. ours.. out of about 1000000000 planets in different star systems that was observed.. why do you think god (if he exists) chose this one rock to put all the life in this huge ginoromous universe? or wouldn't it be chance that out of so many planets, the right conditions with right forces that enhanced the chance for amino acids (also found in meteorites and comets) to transform into "life" only happened here..

      you living on this one planet teaming with life does not give you any logical leap that the chance of right conditions to be created are high everywhere.. nor that it is some magical chance that caused life to "pop up" here and no where else.. you are wrong in both your logical cause and effect you describe in your argument..

      April 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • 3vix6

      Muneef, if a book can prove the existance of Gods or a God than a comic book is proof that Superman and the planet Krypton exist.

      What makes your religion of Islam so much greater and more correct than say, the Mormons, Jews or Christians? (which each believe in the abrahamic god)

      April 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian


      We may be the only planet which we know contains life but let's face it, statistically, there are countless frillions of planets which support life, many of which may be far more advanced than our own .

      April 28, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Muneef


      We judge it from it's contents and from the history of our prophet from his childhood until he received the revalations...there is nothing we find to doubt... I can tell you as well that even if it was not the Holy Quran we will still believe in the existence of GOD and monotheism of GOD because it is obvious to whom gives thoughts.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Nicole J

      Thank you for that. That is great!

      May 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      We've only recently developed the ability to identify planets that may be suitable for life as we know it.
      In the last couple of years, we have discovered THOUSANDS of such planets.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Portland tony

    Man has questioned their gods since they first invented them. Greeks, Romans, Egyptians as well as Christians. It's probably a question of "why"?

    April 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  3. Muneef

    The example of [this] worldly life is but like rain which We have sent down from the sky that the plants of the earth absorb – [those] from which men and livestock eat – until, when the earth has taken on its adornment and is beautified and its people suppose that they have capability over it, there comes to it Our command by night or by day, and We make it as a harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We explain in detail the signs for a people who give thought. 10:24

    And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a straight path 10:25

    April 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Penny

      Yah, the straight path of that airplane into a building

      April 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Muneef

      That sad full even has nothing to do with religion belief it is more like war crimes and yours have a bigger record of worldwide...

      April 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Muneef

      That sad full event has nothing to do with religion belief it is more like war crimes and yours have a bigger record of worldwide...

      April 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • orion

      The reason 9/11 occurred was because of religious fanaticism. Don't try to peg it as a "war crime".

      April 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  4. Muneef

    Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.

    Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], "Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.

    April 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Penny

      If that's the best that your god can do as a "sign", no thanks. If he lacks the balls to show his face, you can keep your impotent god.

      April 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Muneef

      We might be able to see his face on judgment date...otherwise it is not at all a test that we are in belief if his face was shown to all... Would you be given the Answers to the Questions you are being tested with...? Just remember that generations before us although have seen the prophets of GOD and the mirecals that came with them but still they disbelieved... Just remember that there is Paradise and there is Hell and that we are being tested in life towards which we will be rewarded..

      April 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  5. Muneef

    With thinking of the creation, you will realize the existence of GOD..

    April 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you can't "think" and still be a creationist. you have to curb your skepticism.

      "circ.umvent your intelligence."
      - kirk cameron

      April 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's called 'suspending your disbelief.' The trouble is that there's no compelling reason to do so.

      April 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Snow

      B S !!

      April 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • TING

      Muneef: If you want to keep thy faith, thou shall not think! Logic 101

      April 28, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • Muneef

      My logic tells me that there is GOD and Only One GOD..my logic tells me we are among a test in life for which we will be rewarded in after life...

      April 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  6. Thinking is unhealthy for religion and other delusional ideologies


    April 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Bootyfunk


      April 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son


      April 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  7. Cq

    "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness";" 1 Corinthians 3:19

    So much for God encouraging analytical thinking, eh?

    April 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  8. Reality

    Let us start with some basics:


    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today
    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    April 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Russ

      @ reality:
      “Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would be quite different. [But] the same goes for the pluralist...If the pluralist had been born in [Morocco] he probably wouldn't be a pluralist. Does it follow that...his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process?”
      ― Alvin Plantinga

      April 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Reality

      If a plurist was born in Morocco, there is a 95% chance that his parents were plurists.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, make that pluralists.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  9. Really-O?

    "Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief" – hmmm...who'd 'a thought?!

    April 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...and, so I don't simply appear trite...it's not only "analytic thinking" that makes people less religious, education, intrinsically, is inversely correlated with religious belief. Makes one think...no?

      April 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  10. Denise

    Sign at evangelical church "Check brain at door."

    -and they didn't need very strong brain racks.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Nonimus

      evangelical ?

      April 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  11. BoldGeorge

    Wait a minute. Why is this considered a new finding??? This is classic Atheism 101. This is why atheists have their forefathers way back when: Diagoras, Cyrenaicus, etc., and the more modern ones, Baruch, Knutzen, Meslier, Hutton, Lyell and of course Darwin and many more from our times. And I'm sure there's been non-religious believers even in biblical times.

    Yes, I support the fact that analytical thinking can make you lose faith in God (that is if you have faith to begin with). But it doesn't have to. In fact, the bible tells this: 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 : Do not despise the word/prophecies. Test all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the problem is, who decides what's evil? the bible?

      April 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      The Bible has no problem with us testing things, but we have a problem with the other commands, the one before the testing: "Do not despise the Word" and the one after it: "Abstain from every evil"

      This is where we get stuck because we want to no adhere to the Word, we want to test all things SO we can live in our lusts.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • momoya

      Nobody is saying that this is a zero sum game.. Obviously many people can maintain faith and be analytical thinkers.. See my earlier post.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ bottyfunk

      Yes, the bible. Who else will tell Hitler, Osama, Stalin, Saddam, rapists, scammers, pedophiles, liars, cheaters, etc... what they do/did is/was pure evil?

      April 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      come on, the bible tells us not to think for ourselves over and over. to be religious automatons.

      and lust is a good thing, btw.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Snow

      what do you call all the good christians filling the prisons? righteous sinners? last study put the christian population in prisons at about 70%

      April 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Denise

      BoldGeorge, no, you are just stupid.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the bible also says to kill g.a.y.s, non-virgin brides and disobedient children. the bible is a awful example of good ethics. murder, stealing, r.ape, etc. were already considered wrong long long before christianity ever reared its ugly head. christianity doesn't get credit where it's not due, sorry.

      also, hitler was a christian. he was doing god's work by killing the killers of the messiah - the jews. the bible supports genocide.

      how about you compare the ethics of Humanism with those of Christianity? Humanism is far superior and compa.ssionate than Christianity.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk


      LOL. christianity protects child molesters.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Tony

      BoldG, your circular reasoning is circular.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Cq

      Too bad the Bible wasn't able to tell the Crusaders, the inquisitors, the witch burners, and all the others who used religion as a means to commit evil, eh?

      April 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Cq

      Prison Christians are called "backsliders", but they can easily become prodigal sons and daughters if they're eager enough to testify (brag) about how terrible they were before finding the Lord (again) in churches and on Christian TV. Far more valuable than the gentle souls who never hurt a fly in their lives. Seems like you need "street cred", a real nasty past life, in order to be taken seriously as a Christian. All the more reason not to hang around with church folk.

      April 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Cq

      Wouldn't circular, circular reasoning be "screwy" reasoning? Hmmm... 🙂

      April 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • adrian

      well certainly there were non-religious believers during biblical times, the christian Nazarene wasn't even born until 2000 years after the biblical period began. AND EVERYONE BEFORE HIM IS IN HELL!!!

      April 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Peter

      Ok, so its obvious lots of people have negative views of religion, Christianity in particular.
      To follow up with BG's comment, the Bible in fact does NOT encourage blind faith. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "... Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect". We who are Christian do not rest our faith on some whimsical notion, but on a historical fact that Jesus Christ died and rose from the grave on the 3rd day as authentication of his deity. Which was seen my many I might add and also recorded by Josephus, a non-christian historian at the time (fyi).
      In response to cq, I would not say that those people were Christian, because Jesus said himself that his kingdom is not advanced by the sword. Its amazing how much damage un-saved, un-regenerate religious people can do. (eg are: witch hunts, crusaders, molesting priests, Hitler, etc.) Those people said they were Christian, but they weren't REALLY Christian, please understand that.
      Furthermore, to clarify adrian, that is unsound theology, as in Romans 3:25 it says, "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood —to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had LEFT THE SINS COMMITTED BEFOREHAND UNPUNISHED." This demonstrates that those who trusted in God in the old testament had their sins forgiven, and so did NOT go to hell.
      Hope that clarifies some things.
      Kind regards,

      April 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • daneste613

      @ Peter: Unfortunately for you, christianity is per-se a religion go absurdities which calls for "refrain from thinking" no matter what your bible says. List of ridiculous things, such as god 1 or 3? jesus man and god at the same time? jesus born from a virgin? jesus making miracles but couldn't save himself? jesus is god and died?? jesus, the god, knows everything but says he does not know many times?? really god needed his "son" to die and shed blood?? what type of non-sense is this???? And we could continue on and on.... SEE? Your religion NEEDS to avoid thinking or crashes into the most ridiculous things....

      April 27, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  12. Nonimus

    Very interesting. I would like to see more research though, this seems a bit speculative, yet.

    “That’s what great scientific research does – ask more interesting questions.”
    Love it.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  13. Kalessin

    So...if they got some really "devout" atheists and made them look at art that would encourage intuitive thinking...they would get more faith?

    April 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  14. Snow

    which is why bible specifically discourages man from thinking too much for himself.. Great cult follower's handbook, eh? 🙂

    April 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Kalessin

      I don't know...very early in the book God told Adam to go out and name the animals. That's encouraging the idea of searching for knowledge in a sense.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Snow

      throw a bone to keep the dog away from the picnic basket.. mindless robotic morons ain't ever good for a cult.. unquestioning unthinking morons capable of doing the assigned work, on the other hand, are great!

      April 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the bible does not a single time praise intelligence or independent thinking.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Nonimus

      It is really hard to reconcile the idea that God forbade the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, even it if it was only knowledge of good and evil, with the idea that He also encourage thinking and investigation.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Kenosis

      "the bible does not a single time praise intelligence or independent thinking."

      Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. (Psalms 2:10)
      All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it [was] far from me. That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out? I applied mine heart to know , and to search , and to seek out wisdom, and the reason [of things], and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness [and] madness. (Ecc 7:23-35)

      April 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • momoya

      Psalms 2: 11..

      Serve the Lord with fear
      and celebrate his rule with trembling.
      12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
      and your way will lead to your destruction,
      for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
      Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Cq

      "Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."" Isaiah 29:14 repeated as

      "For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."" 1 Corinthians 1:19

      God, apparently, likes to play games with the intelligent, much to the delight of all others.

      April 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Kenosis

      More like he is saying that they are not as smart as they think they are.

      April 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • daneste613

      Christians love to show off how their bible proves that god encourages thinking. But when you confront christian beliefs carefully, you realize that most of those beliefs are plain ridiculous and contradictory with reason and logic. Imagine a god that is one, but insists it is actually three, but one.... or a god that actually "died" on a cross... or that there is a god that actually "needed" his son (god got a son??) to die and shed his blood so he (the other guy also god) could forgive the sins. In other words, the guy god in heaven is so cruel and ridiculous that needs the other guy god to die and suffer big time (why sent his "son" and didn't come himself?? ahhh! think about it... if you start questioning, you'll get an awful frown from your pastor or priest...!

      April 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Cq

      Actually, more like his clerics, and inventors, saying that their critics shouldn't be listened to.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  15. Edward Brown

    II'd like to see the breakdown among the different religions for this study. For some religions, like Buddhism, analysis and self reflection are a critical part of the spiritual path.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Not sure that self reflection is analytical, but it would be interesting to see if there are differences.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Good question.

      April 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  16. xmatman

    If that were true, religious scholars would be the most devout unbelievers on the planet!

    April 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      LOL. no, they wouldn't. they are taught to think only within the boundaries of their religion.

      religious scholars = oxymoron

      April 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
      • xmatman

        A 'wise fool' and 'religious scholar' once told me that a true scholar is 'learned' rather than taught. 😀

        April 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • J.W

      Explain why religious scholar is an oxymoron. I personally figured it was a scholar that studied religion.

      April 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
      • xmatman

        As do I. 🙂

        April 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • fred

      You are a scholar without a collar

      April 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
      • xmatman

        I'm just an old fool from the ole school, but there's hope for me yet! 🙂

        April 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Penny

      Who let fred and J.W off their leashes?

      April 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
      • xmatman

        The Master, perhaps? LOL

        April 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  17. momoya

    Everyone values logical reasoning; the believer is CONSCIOUSLY turning off that logical reasoning for an entire schema in his brain.. The believer must realize both facts: 1. He is compartmentalizing his brain into "logical" and "unquestioning faith" sections.. 2. The brain should hold very few ideas above the ideal of logical reasoning.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  18. Huebert

    And in other news antibiotics decrease the presence of pathogens.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  19. Bootyfunk

    "“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.”"

    religious belief is intuitive? where did he get this premise? bad.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • J.W

      Well maybe the whole study is wrong then. Maybe analytical thinking increases religious belief.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      i.e. not based on evidence, facts, logic, etc.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the study shows suggests thinking decreases religious belief, but it does not show that religion is intuitive.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I think they meant that religion involves intuitive thinking, i.e. non-inferential, non reason based, thinking, not that it is intuitively correct.

      April 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Thinking is unhealthy for religion and other delusional ideologies

      Look up the definition of "intuition" and you will see that it is basically a gut feeling not based on reason, logic, or evidence.

      April 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i suppose that intuition is to explain anything unexplainable with "magic". but i don't really think so. i don't think it has anything to do with intuition. it has to do with knowledge/ignorance. now that we have shown the sun is no longer a god pulling a chariot across the sky, those "magic" or "divine" explanations are unsatisfying. i don't think it is our intuition but our ignorance that causes us to fall back on the "magic" explanation.

      April 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  20. Bootyfunk

    thinking decreases religious belief - who knew? LOL.

    April 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      I think what the author of this study is saying is that religious "belief" comes from a gut-feeling, or "intuition", since religion requires "faith" and does not hinge on actual proof of a god. This type of thinking is somehow suppressed temporarily when the subjects engage in analytical thinking. If the human brain is trying to figure something out logically, what is the need for "intuitive thinking"? And is "intuitive thinking" actually really a form of "thinking"? Is joining a religion part of evolution since being in the company of a group was at one time better for chances of survival? Is "intuitive thinking" better than no thinking at all? I think "intuitive thinking" is there for a good reason of course, making decisions quickly without having to take the time to think it all out logically and methodically, but I think it is abused by religious leaders and other world leaders.

      April 27, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.