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. Paul

    " When was the last time you sat down and questioned your decision to believe in God?"

    It actually happens to me quite a bit. Sure I've had my doubts but those doubts have never ended in disbelief. They have always made my faith in God stronger. Just because you have doubt, doesn't mean you automatically give up on your religious beliefs. Critical thinking is a GOOD THING. You need to seriously consider the arguments both for and against your beliefs. In every single one of my periods of doubts, the case for atheism or non-theism has had the poorer arguments.

    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." Thessalonians 5:21

    April 28, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      ok then .. prove "god". You really don't need anything of a religious nature to have good things.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • Bryan

      I agree it is good to consider arguments for and against your beliefs, but atheists don't necessarily believe anything. It's quite possible they have never heard of god, so how would it even be possible to consider arguments for something you know nothing of? You can't create the Christian god from critical thinking alone, maybe you can come up with some sort of 'creator,' but it would not have the attributes of the Christian god.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  2. rashedAZIM

    I think there is no reason to decrease religious belief by increasing practice of analytical thinking. As we have seen scholars like Ibn sina, imam Gazzali and many more islamic scholars developed analogy in relation to the doctrine of cosmology and inspired by religious belief in the process of analogy building.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:50 am |
  3. MickCanberra

    "One of the images used to trigger analytic thinking was of Rodin’s statue The Thinker.” Yeah looking at a statue of a bloke without his clothes on triggers analytic think...? Hmm this "scientific study" sounds a bit bizarre...

    Einstein said "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Both religion and atheism can't be proven true by science. Therefore both religion and atheism are faiths people can choice to believe without concrete proof. Both religious people and atheists can be good or bad. As long as people have can freedom of faith then that can be measured as a good thing.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • Paranoia

      Atheism is not a belief, it is merely the rejection of your belief and the hundreds of other gods that are imagined by other believers.

      Have you ever asked yourself, if there are a hundred religions that claim to believe in the true god that means if you accept the premis that there can only one true religion you are probably backing the wrong horse; since you only have a 1 in 100 chance of being correct. Of course the other possibility is that atheism is reality and your are drinking the electric cool aid!

      April 28, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • michael

      Paranoia, maybe its there is only one God and it is man who wants to claim his faith system as the only true religion. There are many religions that accept other faiths.

      April 28, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  4. Ladya

    And standing in water will make you wetter than standing on dry land.
    Seriously, was research needed to confirm this? They make it sound as though it's a shocking revelation.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:41 am |
  5. Colin

    Upon any sort of sensible analysis, Christianity is faced with some prtty big problems.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • Kimia

      Loved your analysis...my thoughts exactly...

      April 28, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • Dun

      Long time fan.
      Don't stop.
      Write a book or something, too.
      Sincerely, Dun.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • michael

      May I just say if there is a God He will weigh one's actions more than one's proclamation of faith? The true problem with Christianity is Christians tend to be the most uncompassionate, judgmental hypocrites and yearn to accept what's fed to them by a bunch of rampant pedophiles without asking questions.

      Btw u are basing your 6,000 argument on Peter saying a day is LIKE 1,000 years. You are almost as bad as a Christian by trying to twist the scripture to fit your argument.

      April 28, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • michael

      Um should read.... I hope He will weigh...

      April 28, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  6. rezaone

    At the end of the day, we human beings believe in what works for us. Science can't definately tell us how we are here or why. But it can certainly put some fact infront of us so that, we can have an idea of how we are happened to be here on earth. The idea of God came up when our ansestors had no facts to support a belief without God, no science to look at the end of the universe to prove that we are not at the center of everything. So they made up some stories about a supreme being playing around with everything including us which was suitable to them. The idea changed during the span of time. Some call him Allah, some Ishawar, some God etc. I consider myself lucky to be born in such an era where science has flurished enough to prove some of those believes to be wrong. I'm lucky to have facts infront of me to support my analytical thinking even if it put away my religious faith. I believe everybody should open their eyes and turn away from blind faith.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  7. michael

    Can we take an example of how critical thinking MUST make you reexamine your beliefs? The Corinthians passage that condemns gay people was condemning mas tur ba tion instead less than a hundred years ago. Now unless you just hate gay people that should clue you in the Church will.switch its attack whenever they feel like it by altering the text.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:02 am |

      Well, if I write on a piece of paper, let's say, "You should question everything you know. PS. This is God speaking", then how is that different from the canonically accepted scripture in the Bible? Critical thinking here will force you to question either my word or the word of the Bible, or even both at the same time. I think any given belief can be called into question in similar ways.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • W.G.

      Well the Bible condems h0m0 – S e -x uality in the old and New testament . Why because it is spiritually bad
      as well as physically bad for you , as science has proven . To bad you live in such rebellion to your own self .

      April 28, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • michael

      Actually what I can do is read the Words of Christ, how we should love one another, show compassion, have forgiveness, to not judge each other, to help the homeless and feed the poor. And those words tell me what is taught and shoved down our throats by the Church is far from what Christ intended. Christ hated the religious hypocrisy of His time, how.men who sinned would get on their soap boxes about another man's sin. He especially hated how the temple was being used to make money off of God and this is what got Him killed. Guess what? Nothing has changed in 2,000 years and Christ would hate organized relgion today as much as He did back then.

      The differnece between the Message of Christ and today's Christianity could not be more vast.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • michael

      WG, you just missed the entire point. Corinthians is the New Testament and it was condemning something entirely different less than a 100 years ago. YOU are what's wrong with religion. You don't want to know what the original text states as long as the current translation tells you God hates all the same people you do.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • michael

      Byw WG, here's some more analytical thinking. The term translated to "as with" in n the clobber passage in Leveticus means "bed" every other time its used in that book and when Paul specifically referred to that passage when writing Corinthians he stated specifically "male bed". Now what does that tell you analytically????

      April 28, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • Frank Bund

      I like the "bible was translated billions of times" argument. It makes my pants grow firm.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:34 am |

      Michael, you've made a commendable effort then to sift out the useful information in the Bible and discard the rest. I think what you're seeing is the result of critical thinking beginning to take effect: It has already made you a better person. Not to say there's nothing further for you to think about, of course. There always is.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • michael

      Thank you Max. And, yes, Frank the text has been translated 1,000's of times by men with agendas to fill and biases to justify. Fortunately we live in the Info Age and its extremely easy to figure out fact from fiction.

      While I do love God, there is nothing more I detest than religion.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  8. Kaisar

    Do they not think deeply (in their ownselves) about themselves (how Allah created them from nothing, and similarly He will resurrect them)? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord. (Quran, Ar Room #30, Verse #8)

    April 28, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • Frank Bund

      The koran is trash. Shove it.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:14 am |
  9. Kaisar

    Do they not think deeply (in their ownselves) about themselves (how Allah created them from nothing, and similarly He will resurrect them)? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord. (Ar-Room, Chapter #30, Verse #8)

    April 28, 2012 at 3:54 am |
  10. The day a human mind can make a complete, living being

    from the elements, is the day I'll take science's rant of possessing the 'real,' 'true' correct universal understanding, seriously.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:51 am |

      Humans are pretty amazing, right? We do create human beings, just like you said. Well we do it with our bodies, not directly with our minds, but I don't think that's an important distinction. We are equal parts mind, body and heart after all.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Cat MacLeod

      Already done. Time to wake up.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • preacherman

      Yup, happens every day the world over. Someone should really talk to you about the birds and the bees.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • Frank Bund

      They even do it in the lab. Ever heard the term "test tube baby?"

      You're not much of a reader. I can tell.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • Dun

      Wow. Just wow.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • preacherman

      Well, there you have it, I guess it's time for you to be true to your promise and "take science's rant of possessing the 'real,' 'true' correct universal understanding seriously"

      Welcome to reality, come on in the waters fine.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  11. Any being who has ever had a baby in their life

    knows we were made, animated, given a soul, consciousness and delivered here, vice a being a pseudo-randomly-predictable collision of star dust, as calculated by some human mind's 'universal' theorem.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • karvictho

      Could you clarify what you mean?

      April 28, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • Hugo

      Are you claiming that all parents are religious?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • preacherman

      I've had a baby, but that never proved anything about the "soul" to me. As a matter of fact, he didn't appear to exist before he had a physical body. He has a wonderful, beautiful mind but I have not detected any evidence for an invisible divine ether that exists separately from his or anyone else's body.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Frank Bund

      More rhetoric. Is this jerk-off a star child wannabe?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:17 am |
  12. God's Oldest Dreamer

    I see God wherever I look! I see Him in the darkest of darkness where only by light's lensed magnifications can one see of God's splendors of microscopic principalities! One can well see the structures of microbial Life thru a microscope's lenses! We are structures that God calls "His" buildings! Our body-like buildings is where God makes His innumerable mansions wherein He and His kindred kinds do live and rent out to the beneficiaries who do ever roam our innerness domain!

    April 28, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • Frank Bund

      Can god hand me a plunger? I've clogged by toilet.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:12 am |
  13. Peter

    It is a false statement that true analytic thinking can decrease true belief in God. Just the opposite.

    False analytic thinking decreases true belief and true analytic thinking leads to decrease in false religious belief.

    God wouldn't have it any other way.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • Andrew

      "No scottsman would ever kill another person"
      "What about that guy last year?"
      "No TRUE scottsman would ever kill another person".

      Very easy to deflect any real questioning and evaluation of critical thinking if you say "well, there is true and false critical thinking, and true always confirms my already established belief"

      Isn't that the very ant-thesis of critical thinking?

      April 28, 2012 at 3:32 am |

      Critical thinking is to ask questions. It's not possible to ask false questions.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • karvictho

      Max stargrave: you can certainly ask false questions,,,,, but the risk of getting false answers is high.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:58 am |

      True, but it's certainly more true to ask questions than to persist in ignorance.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • Frank Bund

      I'm fairly certain peter is an idiot.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  14. michael

    Can we please separate the belief in God versus the BS religious dogma the Church shoves upon us? While I believe in God, I can figure out the Bible has been translated so many times to fit the bias and hate of the day and while I do believe in Christ, I think it is obnoxious Christians want to proclaim themselves as the only valid faith.

    If you EVER tell another how they're sinning, the true Message of Christ escapes you. We are all sinners and my relationship with God is NOYFB.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:24 am |
    • Dun

      It's none of my business unless you make it my business by intruding on my freedoms and rights.
      You'd better listen to what I am saying here. You give me legal cause and I might do something legal to you.
      That's a legal threat your way as well as towards anyone else in this world.
      If you want equality of rights, equality of freedoms, etc., then we can agree and live together in peace.
      Encroach or violate or damage anything and I won't care what your idiotic motivation was, I'm going to seek justice however I can legally. And I would expect you to do the same, but I cannot depend on you to do this if you are schizophrenic.
      And thus we have a conflict raging in your schizophrenia-controlled mind that may endanger others or violate their rights.
      This is where I fight. I have rational logic and scientific facts as well as the law on my side.

      What do you have on yours?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • michael

      Wow, you come across as psycho.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • reDetroit

      Very well said, Michael. Thank you.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • Frank Bund

      None of my business? Then that must mean the relationship is perverse.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Dun

      Thank you, michael, for making me look good by calling me crazy without any provocation whatsoever.

      So...you did not answer my question, apparently refuse to discuss things rationally, and have "issues" we will not go into right now...
      But I will ask again: What have you got on your side?
      Tell us, if you would be so kind. I would like to help you understand your folly without resorting to ad hominems but if you continue I might toss a few your way. Or not. I have other things to do besides trade insults.
      Show me where I am wrong or "psycho" and maybe we can go from there.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:29 am |
    • michael

      You sound psycho because you make no sense. If you're referring to my sins being NOYFB they arent. However if that sin is also wringing you, ie stealing, then you can use the law or whatever. However you sound beyond mental and are.only fooling yourself if you think.otherwisemm

      April 28, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • michael

      Dun, you're not very quick are you? If my relationship with God is NOYFB then obviously your relationship with Him is NOMFB. Therefor my faith and beliefs should not interfere with how you live your life.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Dun

      michael, how is that in disagreement with what I said?
      Maybe you could read it once again and see I agree with you about your religious beliefs – that we're living in peace here and I'm just reminding you that there IS a fence there between us that makes us "good neighbors" because it is a good damn fence.

      If there's anyone here being a bit slow, it would be you and your lack of reading comprehension. Try to keep up.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:55 am |

    WWJD: You need to stop yelling at everyone else about what you know and ask yourself how you know what you know. This is frightening when you start to really think about it, but you need to be brave and do it anyway. I'm telling you this to help you and your fellow believers, because your church cannot afford a preacher such as you.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:21 am |
  16. Flamespeak

    Is it really surprising that when you appraoch the subject of religion with an analytical mind that your faith becomes shaken?

    Let's look at the Abrahamic faiths, for example, from an analytical standpoint the existence of a large man who is all seeing, all knowing, and ever present that made the world and everything in it in six days then took a nap made every human on Earth and made them just to be put into a place of eternal suffering where they will be subject to the most horrible means of torture ever unless they follow rules set forth by desert nomads thousands of years ago that are still supposed to apply Today, and he loves you no matter what you do, is quite simply impossible to take in from a reasonable stance.

    Faith has little to do with reason though. Looking at it from the surface without guaguing how it effects you personally on a daily surface, all religions are, well, silly in the tamest light and downright barbaric in the harshest. That includes the religion I practice.

    So why then do we follow religion or have religious beliefs? Simply put, we are hardwired to do so. Ever since mankind has been on the face of the planet, we have held some kind of belief in a higher power, what that higher power is and how it is represented has changed quite drasitcally over the years, but it has always been there. Religious beliefs, while a dividing factor in many situations, is also what allowed humans to cobble together so effectively and formed a basis for the begining of civilization as we know it.

    In short, humans are spiritual beings from the onset, it makes no sense that we have this mentality and it probably never will make sense that we have it despite years and years of outside study on the subject, but it is highly doubtful that we will simply stop having a firm belief in a higher power.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • michael

      Taking the Bible as 100% literal, especially when various translations have greatly altered the text, is foolish. Seven days? Highly doubtful but its a bit odd how the Big Bang theory is actually the Story from Genesis.

      You can argue against the existence of God all you want but it will never been won or lost until you're six feet under. An

      April 28, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • Andrew

      The big bang theory isn't a story from genesis. "Let there be light" isn't a very good approximation of what happened in the big bang. Nor does the order of events come anywhere near to what actually happened, nor does the timescale seem right, since the timespan of a "day" shifts wildly from multiple billion years, to few hundred million years, or less.

      You can consider it an allegory all you like, but you'd think an actual all powerful deity would at least get the order of events right.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • michael

      Actually, Andrew, "let there be light" is exactly what the Big Bang theory is. And what order of events? I am surprised that someone who wants to go on and on about how smart they are couldn't figure out a "day" would be impossible to define until actual forth day. Again, show me what day is out of order and how you know this to be factual. Were you there to record what happened???? The fact is the very first line is "let there be light" and that, my friend, is the begining of the Big Bang.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:54 am |
    • michael

      Again Andrew, you're taking it way way too literal. As I just pointed out a day would be impossible to define until God was already over half way done.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • Colin

      The unknown authors of Genesis believed what they wrote was literally true. It was accepted that way by Christians for about 2,000 year, until the sciences of geolog, astronomy and biology showed beyond doubt it was mythologyy. The ible is full of mythology- men living to be 700 years old, stars leading to stables, virginal births, a man living in a whale's belly, seas splitting, languages developing in the tower of bable, etc. It is a rather silly book,

      April 28, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • Frank Bund

      The first two books in genesis give different accounts on the order of "creation." That in itself proves that the bible is full of shit.

      As for the creation myth, the claim was 6 days and a 7th day of rest. The bible goes on to say that a day to god is a thousand years to humans. The bible gives an explanation for that mess that people can't seem to understand. It wasn't 6 days, it was actually 6,000 years. That is, if you actually believe in the stupidity that is the bible.

      If you read on with all the genealogy and so forth, doing the math, you'll find that according to the bible, the entire Universe is less than 20,000 years old. We know this is bullshit. For a fact. Just like the entire bible. Nothing but trash.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • michael

      And Colin exactly how do you know the authors meant egerything literally. Did you personally speak to them? Did they maybe write you a note and buried it for you to find 6,000 years later? Did a group of pedophile in dresses wearing prada tell you this. If you're going to make such a BS claim then the rest of what you say can only be BS too.

      Anyone with half a brain could figure out if q day didn't technically exist until.the fourth day then there is no way it could be literal. I am sure there are tons of people who take it literal but there are some of us who can think analytically on our own.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:12 am |
    • Dun

      Flamespeak, you wrote:
      "Religious beliefs, while a dividing factor in many situations, is also what allowed humans to cobble together so effectively and formed a basis for the begining of civilization as we know it. "

      That is absolute BS.
      It wasn't "religious beliefs" but merely the primitive social instincts and other instincts that we as a species have carried with us from our pithecine ancestors that could have formed any group activity in the first place.
      You would have us worshiping volcanos next, I suppose. All that "awe" surely means volcanos are gods, right?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • michael

      Actually it states this... 2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is likea thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

      ...so you guys are basically lying to make your point when the actual scripture backs up exactly what I am saying... One day is LIKE 1,000 years. It's not meant to be taken literally or to be given a set definite amount of time.

      If you have to BS to make your case then its just more BS.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • Frank Bund

      The bible is BS. The end.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • Navin R. Johnson

      "I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days.
      The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days.
      And the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days.
      And the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day, and then you came back and later on the sixth day.
      In the evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days.
      And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half. I have it written down, but I can show it to you tomorrow if you want to see it." – The Jerk

      April 28, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • Colin

      Michael, your case would have more credibility if Christianity was saying this before science proved so much of the Bible to be nonsense. Once one backs out the obvious Iron Age mythology and the obviously trumped up vainglorious history of the Jews and early Christians, there is not a lot left in that silly little book.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • Frank Bund

      Oh yeah Navin R. Johnson?

      Well, All I need is this thermos.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • michael

      Both of you are doing a bang up job here...

      Let's go over this again. We have what's in the Bible, a lot of it might just be allegories, etc. Then we have various translations which are completely different from.each other and the original and then we have men trying to tell us what it all mean.

      If you can't separate the two don't blame me.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Andrew

      The order of events like flowering plants (that is, plants bearing fruit) happening before fish, or the sun coming after earth, and no, "let there be light" is not accurate simply because during the big bang, it would have been fairly dark. Why? Because any photons emitted were pretty much immediately absorbed, it was incredibly high energy. The universe didn't become transparent until a few hundred thousand years after the big bang. And really, re-ionization didn't occur for significantly longer after that. Then you have two stars come and go to form the elements for earth, and spark our sun, which happened as the earth was still forming. Finally, after the earth formed, it was about three billion years before you get complex animals, at which point life evolved in a very different order from what the bible describes very rapidly.

      Creation according to genesis isn't just simplistic, it's not accurate. It is the kind of story bronze age nomads would come up with to explain the universe. It's got a very simple structure. "Some god created everything", light being a good metaphor for that. "Then god made the earth, and gave us two balls of light". Also pretty simple for a bronze age nomad to come up with. "Finally, he created life, first plants, then animals". Still a pretty simple easy narrative for a bronze age nomad to come up with.

      The actual story, the actual history of most of the evolution of the universe... and most of the formation of earth, and how quick the evolution of life happened is quite a different picture. You can say "A day to god is like 1000 years", but the universe apparently formed over 7 days in the bible, and I know for a fact the universe is 13.7 billion years old (see WMAP data, one of my profs at UBC worked on that project, awesome guy), so you've got 7,000 to compare to 13.7 billion.

      Forget "metaphor", forget "allegory", those are on entirely different scales. If the bible was actually written by an all knowing god, you'd think a day to him in the actual universe would be a LOT longer than 1000 years, and you'd expect all of this whole "life" stuff to happen over the last two days, with humans as a footnote at the last minute of the last day. Why give us this simplistic version that any bronze age nomad could come up with, instead of the actual story?

      I'm sorry, I'm not impressed by creation according to genesis, it is a poor accounting of events, and the stuff of myth.

      April 28, 2012 at 5:13 am |
    • Dun

      Andrew, this passage here that you wrote is pure rubbish:

      "....and no, "let there be light" is not accurate simply because during the big bang, it would have been fairly dark. Why? Because any photons emitted were pretty much immediately absorbed, it was incredibly high energy. The universe didn't become transparent until a few hundred thousand years after the big bang. And really, re-ionization didn't occur for significantly longer after that. Then you have two stars come and go to form the elements for earth, and spark our sun, which happened as the earth was still forming."

      Everything else in your post is good stuff. But that crap you wrote there is bunkum. Pure BS.
      Protip: Write only what you KNOW to be as accurate and correct as possible and leave out the armchair pseudo-science you are stating as if it were an established fact. Toss that rubbish, I say!

      April 28, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  17. Anne

    I've always believed that there's a big guy up there who watches us and guides us.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • The Diaper

      I've always believed that there are idiots out there that believe there's a "big guy" that's "up there" watching and guiding everything.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • karvictho

      Why can't it be a big girl?

      April 28, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • mandarax

      Why can't it be a big chicken?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • Dun

      I have it on good authority that there are thousands of man-made satellites up there. Some have been said to be able to read over your shoulder.
      Isn't that just annoying? I mean, seriously. Don't you hate it when people do that?

      April 28, 2012 at 4:21 am |
  18. Stephen Hawking is focusing all of his analytical mite

    into a diaper.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • The Diaper

      I'm full.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • Situation: Excessive Critical Thinking

      ... need an atheist to publish Stephen Hawking's diaper.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • Frank Bund

      ....need a believer to eat some and smear the rest on some canvas and claim jesus' face appeared in the "painting" and then sell it on ebay for a small fortune to be spent on heroin.

      April 28, 2012 at 4:23 am |
  19. WWJD

    Atheists are all liars. Jesus will return soon. Do not believe what atheists tell you. The think there will be a giant happy party in hell. I can tell you not one of them has ever picked up a Bible because they're afraid. They FEAR Jesus because they know they'll have to look themselves in the mirror when they read the truth. Atheists live in FEAR of the truth and run away from it like babies.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • WWJD

      Also atheism is immoral in the eyes of the Lord. Without Jesus, there is no morality, and nothing but sin. Atheists are evil by nature and deceitful. They are not to be trusted, especially around children.

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

      LOL what a crank u r....

      April 28, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • michael

      You can always spot the fraud when they tell another with glee they're going to burn.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • karvictho

      The article is about doing critical thinking and analysis about what is in the bible and what you believe. The question then is whether you believe everything you have read in the bible? My guess is you don't. Feel free to correct me if I am incorrect.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • Beelzebub

      karvictho – People like this don't read the Bible. Most of them can't read anything more complex than a comic strip. They let other people (con-men like Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson) tell them what the Bible says and that's what they believe. They are really no different from the illiterate schoolboys in Pakistani madrassas in that regard, and every bit as likely to strap on a bomb or a gun and go smite some unbelievers. They are dangerous fanatics, spewing hate with every word that comes out of their diseased mouths.

      April 28, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Dun

      Well said, Beezlebub!

      April 28, 2012 at 4:19 am |
  20. In God We Trust

    One Nation, under God.

    so help me, God.

    April 28, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Andrew

      Yes, I too can recall things inserted into the pledge of allegiance back in the 1950s due to the red scare.

      What, exactly, is your point?

      April 28, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Andrew

      Well, that "In God We Trust" stuff, I like to have people give me, when I ask them for a hand.

      ... and that "so help me God" has helped me convince my fellow citizens I'm not the liar that I truly am, a time or three, or more...

      ... but I read Wikipedia, and now I think I'm thinking

      April 28, 2012 at 3:18 am |
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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.