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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. dodgeball1963

    Seems like the simpletons (atheists) has all the answers....so let me ask all you simpletons: The universe is expanding as Hubble was able to determine a few years ago, arriving at the Big Bang theory, a major scientific discovery no doubt, but what caused the Big Bang, what existed, if anything before the Big Bang?

    April 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Observer

      Speaking of simpletons, please tell us what or who created God? Get serious.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Jespo

      Don't know. And that proves what? Not knowing that matter existed in a life possible state does not lead to any logical/wildly absurd idea that a god formed matter into life as we know it. Your point is useless.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • i dont understand why the terms i'm using demonstrate that i dont even understand the fundamentals of the subject im asking about

      me christian! big bang no make senses!

      April 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • SP

      So if atheists are simpletons, why are you looking to them for the answers to your question?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • MithraLives!

      So if we dont know yhet, that means your god is real? Or does that mean the Muslim god is real? Or does that mean Zues is real? Please answer

      April 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • dodgeball1963

      As I suspected, you only have an opinion. Mankind has been seeking answers to these questions for a long time, maybe one day the questions will be answered. Until such time feel free to believe or.....don't believe in whatever pleases you. The complexity of nature, DNA, bacterial flagellum, etc, etc. is too complex and advanced to have 'evolved into existence'. As christian we listen to science and recognizes the possibility of a Creator......got it?

      April 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Eric G

      @dodgeball1963: Your position is intellectually dishonest. You acknowledge the scientific method and then insert your unsubstantiated "god hypothesis" where your understanding ends.

      Please be quiet while the adults talk.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • momoya

      The big bang 'created' it's own time, so there was no "before" it.. As to if it had a cause or what that cause might be, we don't know because we don't have the technology available to look where we would need to look.. I don't even know how you go about starting to start to calculate how many possible variables there might be to predicting some sort of cause for the big bang.. Whatever huge number that would turn out to be, it wouldn't be "One," and it just so happens to be one of the thousands of god's believed in by primitive man.. Logically, it ain't gonna happen.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • momoya

      @dodgeball1963

      You must not understand how logic works.. When you don't know the answer to a question, you don't just shove in whatever you want into the blank.. That's stupidly childish.. That's what the muslims do when they assume their god with the exact same reasoning.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • jojo

      Ok. Let's say for the sake of argument that God exists. Now, is he good or evil? You know what the purpose of Human Life is? It's the one thing we've been doing since birth and the dawn of human existence. it's the same as a parasite. It's to destroy the Earth of it's natural resources and all animals besides us on the planet. That's the one thing we've been doing that's uncategorically undeniable. and we've been doing it for Millennia!!!!!! If you are a scientist you can agree to that. if you are religious you can agree to that. If you are non religious you can agree to that. and cause destroying the earth is evil so therefore human existence is evil and if god created man in his own image then god is evil. I just rocked your whole ideological paradigm. Your welcome.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  2. Jespo

    I know i'm not seeing the words Kentucky and Sciience in the same sentance....that's funnier than the post about someone getting hurt feelings at people stating their own thoughts.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Jespo

      Science...I was laughing when I typed...

      April 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  3. jojo

    Christianity: The belief that a Jewish cosmic zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat fruit from a magical tree.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Jespo

      in a nutshell....yeppers...

      April 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Dont Think So

      How many times have you read the bible?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Jespo

      who are you referring to?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Dont Think So

      Either of you.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Jespo

      I was acrtually reading the thing a few weeks ago...researching a book I'm writing. Had to read Genesis. Lots of blood and incest...and that's only chapter one. Love the way Abram marries his sister....the history starts out on a putrid note and just gets better from there....I don't have to speak out against the vile nature of religion, it does that all on its own....I do it because it's fun.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Dont Think So

      You are correct the bible is full of broken people. The Bible contains 66 books and you will find that God always uses broken people. Most of the people in the bible god used where considered horrible people before hand.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  4. Dont Think So

    This is funny because of all the Christians I know who were at one time devout Atheist all say the same thing. They set out to prove there was no GOD. The deeper they dug and the more they critically thought about things the closer they became to GOD. These are not your run of the mill so called "Ignorant" people. These are highly educated highly intellectual people Phd's, Doctors, Professors, ect.. It doesn't matter to me though. All I can do is share how Christ saved me from a life of pain and misery. You can argue all day long about this and that but you cant argue about what I have in my heart. What you choose to believe is up to you. I am not held accountable for what you do or do not believe. I am just held accountable for how I love others. So I pray one day you find him.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • MithraLives!

      So you have special powers in your heart that the rest of us dont have? Riiiiiiight. Nice lie about your friends too. Educated adult atheists dont become religious.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Hey

      stop lying

      April 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • chrism

      Amen. After 30 years calling myself an agnostic, I have seen. God has shown me He is very present within and around us.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • MithraLives!

      chrism, so what does god look like? OR didnt he really show you himself?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Dont Think So

      Like I say it doesn't matter to me whether or not you believe me. If you would like you can send me your contact information to gzfreeme@gmail.com. I CAN put you in contact with them and you could have a conversation. I don't have to lie so its up to you.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Al

      I was thinking the same thing as the others. Just how many former atheist turned Christians do you know? Do you have a PhD/MD? It's not common to know a lot of those unless you're in the same field.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • chrism

      MuthaLives, you don't sound the least bit interested or sincere. Even if I said God "looks like" a friend calling at a moment they could hardly have known how much they were needed what would claim? A coincidence? Or pervert my words to a literal definition? Of course God's loving work iis visible in the world and of course anyone can also say that I have not "seen" God in the constrainingly literalistic definition of "see" you wish to impose. What better example can you ask for than Jesus Christ if you really want to know what God "looks like?". For Jesus said when you have seen Him you have seen the Father. What do we see Jesus do? Love, lay down His life to save you and I, heal, speak Truth. You tell me then, what does God look like? Oh that's right, you already knew all that. You already knew neither you nor I have seen God as an apparition but you also knew in a less literal constraining definition we both knew what God "looks like.". God bless you. Thank you so much for asking this question,

      April 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "The closer they became to God"?

      Oh, puhleeze.

      What a pile of horse sh2t.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  5. Kentuckyscience.com

    Infinite Universe – zero is not equal to one (there is a point where matter can't be divided – God is Something that can neither be created nor destroyed that is dependent on nothing.) An infinite universe lacks a beginning, so there is no one set past or a given future.
    In all other cases, Newton used the phenomenon of motion to explain the origin of various forces acting on bodies, but in the case of gravity, he was unable to experimentally identify the motion that produces the force of gravity. Moreover, he refused to even offer a hypothesis as to the cause of this force on grounds that to do so was contrary to sound science. He lamented that "philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of nature in vain" for the source of the gravitational force, as he was convinced "by many reasons" that there were "causes hitherto unknown" that were fundamental to all the "phenomena of nature". These fundamental phenomena are still under investigation and, though hypotheses abound, the definitive answer is yet to be found. Gravity is a force that lacks activation, since it is constant and the only way that we know of to produce gravitons uniformly from a surface is to make that surface have a lot of mass! Moreover, Newton's second law states that an object must have mass in order to produce a force. Matter is defined as anything that has mass and takes up space. Why is gravity being used as evidence for this universe? The infinite Universe supports the view that all particles considered to be energy have mass or substance; that there is one fundamental particle which accounts for all the diverse forms of matter in the Universe. It is the ultimate example of team work, since it fundamentally has no reason to destroy itself. So, why does evil exist? Free will and without freewill, God would lack choice. Balance is the nature of perfection in the Infinite Universe. In an infinite Universe the total amount of something remains constant. When an atom is divided it no longer has the characteristics of the original element. There is a point where matter can't be divided and at this point something and nothing are distinctly defined. In the infinite Universe, the term infinite is used to describe the difference between something (1) and nothing (0). There is an infinite difference between zero and one.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Plain Ol' Dreamer

      Kentuckyscience.com,,,,,,,,,,,, ,.,,..

      Our consecrated by us universe is but a singular finite universe within untold of culminant universes within the great Cosmos of all Cosmological Fractals! To believe that our universe is all there is within the framing of the Cosmos is sheer lunacy on the part(s) of all sciences precepts! The "Hubble" space telescope did do an exercise by pointing itself to a blackness void of space while many nervous scientists thought that blackness would be all thay see, were all startled to beegeezums when after a long while of exposure the Hubble brought forth an image of many clsters of galaxies where once was blackness!

      April 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  6. Ron from New Jersey

    Very true....if what u believe truly is false doctrine. Yet true evengelical Christianity only grows stronger in the heart of an inquisitive believer.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  7. Kentuckyscience.com

    Finite Universe – zero and one are equal (matter can be infinitely divided into nothing – God is Nothing that created everything out of emptiness) "At the Planck distance and the Planck time all physics, as we know it today collapses. This is the reason we call the beginning of the big bang a singularity. You cannot apply ordinary reasoning there. Zero and one have no sense there.OK?" J-P Burri There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Big Bang views one and zero as being equal, since it states that zero appeared out of the absence of zero; then zero created something. Many scientists believe or have faith that light does not have mass, thus they believe the Universe is Finite. Religion promotes the most commonly accepted idea of the group. If light does not have mass, then it would be impossible to move an electron. Light described as a particle means nothing, if it has no mass since it would be impossible to distinguish from nothing because no mass means void of substance. If it has no substance, then nothing is present to distinguish the particle from other particles.
    The Big Bang theory prevents any condition where something has always been. Infinity is defined as the difference between one and zero. Once one and zero are the same according to the big bang, the definition of infinity as stated above is no longer valid. If the big bang occurred, all math's must deal with the proof of 0=1.

    This is evidence for a mathematical proof defining zero and one as equal. Currently, math and physics before the Big Bang and after it do not relate. Why should this spectacular random singularity be left out of current proofs, since it is such an important event? It is not that it is a singularity, it is a random singularity. This is the reason no end date to the Universe has ever been given. This theory that nothing created everything including the singularity that caused the big bang works well for atheists, since they believe that nothing is in control and some creationists agree with the idea that God created everything. However, considering that it defines God as nothing they aren't promoting it in church. Nothing and Emptiness are not the same; according to this universe nothing has power over emptiness, since nothing created everything out of emptiness. Could zero be equal to one only under certain mathematical conditions? No. Not according to the Big Bang Theory. It states that nothing created everything that exists in the Universe. Steven Hawking states that nothing can continue to create even more. So, the Big Bang theory prevents any condition where something has always been. Emptiness is proven not to exist based on its own definition. Emptiness is the absence of space, time, matter, and energy, thus no test can be done to determine its existence. It is common knowledge that substances which are finite have predictable endings. To even begin to publicly claim that the Universe was finite without being able to give a predictable ending shows a lack of self discipline and general education. If the big bang occurred, then there would be major miracles associated with it which are explained in our book. Miracles require faith and religion promotes the ideas associated with the belief. However, to prove the big bang researchers have invested heavily in particle accelerators. These accelerators cool particles then smash them. The particle they are trying to destroy or change into nothing is called the God particle http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/god-particle/achenbach-text . When atomic nuclei smash together, the goal is to examine the exotic particles that result. Like dismantling a car engine to figure out how it works. The Higgs Boson or God particle is the missing evidence in a theory that explains how fundamental particles acquire mass. Thus the plan is to try and smash the God particle apart creating energies and temperatures not seen since the universe’s earliest moments, then determine how it fits back together is the goal.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  8. Jose M. Pulido

    Can you trust a naked guy who is thinking: "Where in the hell did I leave my clothes?" He probably partied too much the previous night and now he can't remember anyhting. "Think about that, McNaulty."

    April 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  9. Plain Ol' Dreamer

    I see God's eyes whenever I look into the eyes of the homeless! I see His eyes ever looking back at me whenever I know I can't help due my own living arrangements! He sees me whenever I look upon the faces of indignations! He knows my faults and infidelities! I see God's eyes whenever my brother asks me take him to the store for his liquor! I see God's eyes whenever I look at anyone who has problems and they are having a hard time! In God's mercies does God allow us all to live Life as one is capable of doing so! I saw God the other day in passing! He still does Love the lot of us and He ever will!

    April 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Really? So when we see real human beings suffering, we should think about your "god"? I thought your "god" was supposedly in "heaven". Does your "god" actually suffer what millions of starving babies suffer on a daily basis? Or is your "god" in his heavenly bliss? Which is it? Inquiring minds wanna know!

      April 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Sin came as a result of disobedience to God way back in the Garden of Eden. God gave free choice. We all were created in the image of God but the sin nature has marred us and caused separation from God. He provided a way of redemption through Christ. We can choose to go back to Him His Way through Christ or stay where Satan wants us in his dominion. The sorrow we see in this world is the result of Satan and sin. God will right the wrongs and bring justice. I believe all those starving babies will spend eternity with God and He will judge fairly in the end.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  10. Matter of Faith

    Of course critical thinking can undermine religious beliefs; however, those who are college-educated and are constantly berated throughout their lives, especially through their college years, for their belief can come out with stronger convictions. The reason for this is faith. Personally, I appreciate atheists and agnostics challenging my beliefs, as it only makes me more resolute and brings me closer to God. I'm not the preachy type. I believe everyone, whether or not they believe in God, has the right to believe how he or she feels. If people would simply accept one another and embrace the diversity of beliefs, I think the world would be a much better place, and one I think anyone's diety or conscious would appreciate.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Observer

      It sounds like you are advocating the concept of the Golden Rule, which most people would support regardless of faith.

      The sad part is that there are so many Christians who ignor the Golden Rule while hypocritically picking on others like gays or pro-choice supporters.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Lol

      "If people would simply accept one another and embrace the diversity of beliefs, I think the world would be a much better place, and one I think anyone's diety or conscious would appreciate."
      You think the god of the jews, christians, or muslims appreciate diversity of beliefs?
      LOL!
      Their holy books have their gods repeatedly and very strenuously state that quite the opposite is true.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Yes, Observer, it is sad, and I hope they will understand their folly. But try to understand, Christians are still human and in process called sanctification. They have taken the first step by believing in Christ. As you are well aware, they are not instantly perfect. Yes, you are right that they often do not treat others the way they should and hopefully, for Christ's sake and their own, they will recognize that the Golden Rule comes from God, too.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Observer

      @It comes down,

      Amen.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  11. SokrMom

    So if you're religious, try not to take a moment to think about whether religion is rational. You might be surprised to discover that it isn't. And that nonsense about the importance of a "leap of faith"? Try not to think about the average five-year-old's certainty that there is a Santa Claus.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Ron from New Jersey

      Perhaps you need to be a little more analytic. If you never read the Bible please don't knock it.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      "Ron from Jersey", I'm thinking that a good number of atheists if not most of them here in the US have read and studied your "bible" more than most Christians. In fact, one of the reasons they DON'T believe is because they read and studied your "bible".

      April 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  12. Kentuckyscience.com

    Therefore the principles of human evolution from an insane species require a virgin birth of Adam and Eve for the establishment of a moral and just human government (Isaiah 9:6)

    April 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  13. Kentuckyscience.com

    Who was the greatest man to have ever been born out of a mothers womb or the greatest man to have ever lived? Jesus is the Son of God, so the obvious answer would be Jesus. However, Jesus says that John the Baptist was the greatest. Jesus was not a liar, so why did he say the John the Baptist was greater than the Christ born of a virgin womb? John the Baptist is associated with loving God, since he prepared the way for Grace. If you are a Christian and you think that Grace is above the greatest commandment you are wrong. Don't take my word for it, read Luke 7:28. Jesus makes it clear that even those who love God the least in the Kingdom of God is greater. Talk about humility, that is remarkable humility by Jesus Christ. Jesus is associated with Grace, one can only get to heaven through the son. This fact alone should make Jesus the Greatest man to have ever come from a mothers womb, however Luke 7:28 can't be overruled. John the Baptist condemned Herod to Hell for being an adulator, since he had no desire to change his ways and Love God. (Mark 6:14-29) John the Baptist is associated with loving God, since he prepared the way for Grace. Why does this matter? John the Baptist got his head cut off for speaking the truth about consequences. It is obvious that Herod used his position as King to do whatever he wanted with complete disregard to God’s Word. That is why John rebuked King Herod! Herod was sinful and unrepentant for his actions. If a preacher tells his congregation that all they need to do is accept Jesus and be saved by Grace without informing them of the consequences of not being born again, then why should they have any regard to God's word? John the Baptist was not afraid to speak the truth about the importance of loving God. Money made Herod appear to have authority. How much authority does he have now?

    April 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Observer

      The Bible has several places where it states that all you need for salvation is to believe in Jesus. That is ALL.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. . . . .oh I'm sorry. . .did you say something?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Kentuckyscience.com

      Mr. Observer, have you ever tried to evangelize to a Jew? If you tell a Jew that they do not need to love God first, they will call you a fool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      April 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Answer: none

      April 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Boston Rationalist

      Did you forget to take your meds today? Stop blabbering and stop including the word "Science" in your name. Just because you mention the word "gravity" and "gravitons" a couple of times, it does not indicate your grasp on science. Your nonsensical post remains just that – nonsensical.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  14. Aristocles

    There is an old saying: a little science estranges man from God, but much science brings him back. Critical thinking can undermine a naive or simplistic belief in God, but it can also lead to a deeper understanding of God, if given enough time.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Thank you oh most wise one, thank you.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Excellent observation Aristocles!

      April 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Haha that must be it. Take a 7th grade bio course BAM atheism, become a rocket scientist and BAM you become ostensibly a pastor.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Observer

      Much science brings the realization that the laws of physics and science exist in the real world, but apparently not in the Bible.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • JT

      When one already presupposes that god exists then everything they see around them is proof of god. It's like if one believes that fairies cause rain then every time it rains is proof of fairies.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  15. WKass

    Why waste money on what is ostensively obvious.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  16. Raz

    If Atheism satisfies your need to feel intellectual, go for it. No problem with me. We all have our little crutches. Certain illusions are necessary for a healthy mind. Still, many atheists sound like the kid in grade school who finds out there is no Santa Clause and takes a perverse join in revealing it to the other kids and laughing as it makes them cry. If offending others is the way you keep your self esteem up, there is really something wrong with you.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Are you mad at atheists. . .or are you mad at this experiment?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • momoya

      Raz, the debate isn't where you think it is..

      April 27, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Or. . .are you mad that most atheists are probably analytical thinkers?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Chuckles

      I'm confused, are you telling to "go for it" and be an atheist or that "there's something wrong with me" because I'm an atheist? You should probably work out your messaging before writing next time.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Observer

      Raz,

      Well done. Trash atheists for trashing people.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • WKass

      If living in a world of illusion makes you feel good, take a vacation at Disney World.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Raz

      This experiment doesn't bother me though it's not showing what a lot you here want to say it does. What I'm saying is that if you atheism is your crutch that's fine, just don't rant about sky fairy at people to puff yourself up.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Raz

      Most people don't (this blog notwithstanding), more often than not someone will ask me what religion I am and I say Atheism and they immediately take offense. Oh, and atheism.... yeah, it's not really a crutch, it's the removal of the crutch

      April 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Raz

      Oh and having illusions and it has nothing to do with religion. Most people have illusions of their own intelligence and locus of control. Not having those illusions often causes depression.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Raz

      The crutch is very subtle, but it's still there. See if you can find it.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • momoya

      You were right on the money, that time, Raz.. Careful!! You might end up on the other side if you start approaching this thing with logic! 🙂

      April 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      Raz...you sound like the adult who STILL believes in Santa Clause.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      @DeeCee: How do you conclude that Raz is mad?
      Here's Raz's statement:

      If Atheism satisfies your need to feel intellectual, go for it. [Positive statement saying "go for it]. *No problem with me.*[*A sign of NOT having anger here]. We all have our little crutches. [an observation, politely including all of humanity]. Certain illusions are necessary for a healthy mind[another positive statement].. Still [nevertheless/however – followed by a critique], many[carefully limiting statement by saying "many"] atheists sound like the kid in grade school who finds out there is no Santa Clause and takes a perverse join in revealing it to the other kids and laughing as it makes them cry. If offending others is the way you keep your self esteem up, there is really something wrong with you[Constructive criticism].

      Analytical reading can be your friend!

      April 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Raz you have pointed out a clear fact that Atheism itself is a belief system, and Atheists also use it as a crutch just as much as religious believers do. Without a belief system there is no logical reason to not commit suicide.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • JT

      You act like lacking a belief in a deity is a choice. Do you choose to not believe in leprachauns (assuming you do not of course).

      April 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Eric G

      As an atheist, I acknowledge that no verifiable evidence has ever been presented that supports any claim that any god or gods exist.

      The position of a believer supports the claim that a god or gods exist without verifiable supporting evidence, and in many cases, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

      Your statement of using atheism as a "crutch" is intellectually dishonest.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • momoya

      FOR RICKY L.

      You are correct that we all have beliefs; the more important difference is our principles.. Your god does nothing for you that another belief would not do for you just as well.. It's the mental model you're addicted to, not an actual being.. Yes, we all have emotional crutches.. Some people need the god crutch to much to let it go.. Sometimes it doesn't make much difference..

      Sound reasoning pretty much dictates agnostic atheism, so the real questions are do you want to examine beliefs of another god with the same energy and focus as you do your own, and do you want to critically evaluate your beliefs of god with the same severity and reasoning you would examine another god belief?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Eric G, my point is that the lack of believing in something higher than 'self' is a belief system within itself, and therefore Atheism is a belief system and is just as much a 'crutch' as Christianity.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Raz, if you need your imaginary "friend" in the sky who rules the entire universe, go for it. What this article is saying is that when human beings engage in analytical thinking, logical, factual thinking, the part of the brain involved in religious belief is suppressed. So how do YOU interpret that?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Raz

      Please, grace us with your intelligence and point out where this "crutch" is? I need to lean on no god in order to ..... what? Think?

      @Muzzlebast

      Idiocy in it's highest form, trying to twist and coax a definition into something that makes sense to you doesn't mean you are right. Calling Atheism a belief system just shows that either a) you have no idea how to read a definition out of a dictionary b) do know how to read, but is unable to comprehend c) being intellectually dishonest is the only thing you have or d) you have a form of mental retar.dation.

      I'm going with D

      April 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Muzzleblast: I am sorry, but you are incorrect. Your claim of the existence of a god or gods has an inherent burden of proof responsibility. The fact that you cannot produce any verifiable supporting evidence for your claim is why it is a "belief". My position is that you have not presented any verifiable supporting evidence for your claim and thus, requires no "belief".

      Your statement is a common logicall fallacy called "begging the question".

      Or, as the old quote states... "Atheism is a belief like abstinence is a se-xual position".

      April 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Chuckles, name calling serves no purpose but to lower you to the level of a troll. What I am saying that humans require a belief system in order to survive....with out one there is no logical reason to not commit suicide. The fact that you choose not to believe in something higher than 'self' means by default you have adopted a belief system to serve as your 'crutch'. If not then I must be talking with a ghost.....

      April 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What a crock of poo, Muzzleboob. There is not even the slightest evidence that your ridiculous, idiotic, moronic claim has ANY basis in fact.

      If it did, you'd be able to post cites that show it to be factual.

      Good God, how friggin' dumb ARE you? How do you even remember to breathe?

      April 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Eric G, a belief system does not need to be proven or it would not be a 'belief system' in the first place. The whole point of faith is to believe....do you have absolute proof every morning that you will make it to tomorrow or do you just believe??

      April 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wonder how someone so stupid earns enough money to buy a computer and pay for the electricity to run it. I can only conclude that Muzzledolt lives with his mother.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, then, you idjit, you acknowledge that your "beliefs" are nothing more substantive than fantasy. Thanks for proving what I've asserted all along, muttonhead.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son, look up what a belief system is. It would seem that you Atheists have no idea what it is....

      April 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You idiot. I doubt you have a clue as to what an "idea" is. You are completely incapable of sentient thought, you dimwitted sanitary napkin.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Tom, Tom, you 're a troll....from now on you will be ignored (the fate of all internet trolls that can not put forth a logical argument and must resort to childish name calling).

      April 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Muzzie

      Here's the definition for ya, "faith based on a series of beliefs but not formalized into a religion; also, a fixed coherent set of beliefs prevalent in a community or society"

      Now, since atheism is that lack of religion and the lack of the faith, this doesn't really apply to atheists. Now, atheists do have belief systems according to their own societies and the communities they as.sociate themselves with, but since atheism has no "fixed coherent set of beliefs" but rather the only thing that binds atheists is their disbelief in religion. That's it, that's all folks.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      OOOOhhhhh. Ohhhhh, Awww, my red candy heart is broken. Some moron thinks his opinion of my posts matters! *Gasp* However WILL I recover???

      Really, moron, get over yourself.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Eric G, thanks, I think you have prooved my point. Atheism is a belief system....show me a man without one and I'll show you a man not soon for this world, or is well on his way out.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Muzzle: You have not made any point. Lets start on page one. Your belief carries a burden of proof. Please provide verifiable evidence that your god exists.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Eric G, I will do so as soon as you provide me with verifiable evidence that you will make it to see tomorrow....but yet you believe that you will. That is the definition of faith (and a belief system).

      April 27, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Eric G

      Again, that is not a belief system. I have rational expectations that I will live to see tomorrow based on historical evidence and daily examples. Both of which can be examined, tested and verified with repeatable results.

      Please provide your evidence for verification.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Muzzleblast

      Those rational expectations (not so much the historical evidence and daily examples, that really doesn't really mean anything) is encompassed by a larger belief system that keeps you going from day to day. Your belief system also has goals, hopes and dreams all leading to a single purpose. I don't know what your sources of motivation are but there must be one or several. These are the very things that a 'belief system' allow you to do. This is what Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or any other 'god in the sky' religion does for its believers. The fact that you chose not to believe in a being higher than 'self' does not mean that you do not have a belief system on par with any religion.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Eric G

      Sorry Muzzleblast, your attempt at putting reason and logical expectation on par with religious belief is not valid. Until you can provide your verifiable evidence (which you claimed you would and have not) that a god or gods exist, any claims made as to the actions, abilities or desires of that god or gods are invalid and illogical.

      Again I ask... Please provide any verifiable evidence that your god exists. Once you have established that your god exists, you can then make claims about the validity of your belief and use it to compare with how others examine reality.

      April 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  17. WKass

    What a waste of money to "show" what is ostensively obvious.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Dana

      ostensABLY

      April 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ostensibly. Really, it's just not that hard to get it right.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  18. joe

    Oh, great. Now the right wing crazies will want to ban scientific studies and stop schools from teaching critical thinking. Way to go, science journal.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • J

      You mean they aren't trying to do that already?

      April 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      Yes, they are. TN just cleared the way to allow students to argue creationism as an alternative to evolution in the classroom.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  19. Jespo

    Does the easter Bunny exist...or the Tooth Fairy? Santa Claus or the Bogey Man? I know there's a great differance between an omnipotent, omniscient architect of an entire universe and a jolly fat guy that brings presents, a fluffy bouncing bunny, a winged fairy and a scary whatever...but it seems to me their existence cannot be proven, or disproven, either. The proof/no proof argument seems a foolish and irrelevant one when allplied to these other childhood characters.

    Murd-erous jealous spiteful god or fluffy bunny? Wow, we really scre-wed the pooch on that one.....we could have had the bunny....

    April 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Raz

      Actually Kurt Godel proved it logically. Go look him up.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Jespo

      What, the Easter Bunny...will do, looking it up right now....thanksabunch.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Observer

      If ANYONE could prove that God does or doesn't exist, we wouldn't be debating it.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Raz

      Why? People debate things all the time. Simply because the information is there, doesn't mean people accept it.

      April 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  20. LinCA

    For those that are interested in a slightly more elaborate explanation of the study, you can find the article on Scientific American here:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=losing-your-religion-analytic-thinking-can-undermine-belief

    April 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.