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. sortakinda

    Some people were shown images from the Sears Catalogue, others from Playboy, others from Cosmopolitan and Popular Mechanics. They were all "designed to encourage analytical thinking." The result was that the subjects purchased underwear recommended in Cosmo from the Sears Catalogue and sent it by home-made rocket to the models in Playboy. Then they agreed, more or less, that they didn't need God, even if He did exist.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Nii

      I'm impressed at the analytical nature of your comment. Well done. Hope to hear more from you! I love you as myself.

      May 4, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  2. Robert Brown

    Analytical or intuitive thinking have nothing at all to do with faith or belief. Carnal thinking will reduce faith, spiritual thinking increases faith. Flesh and blood cannot enter God’s kingdom. God is a spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth. If your heart and mind are filled with things of this world you can’t communicate with God. It is only through God’s Holy Spirit that we are able to communicate with him and increase our faith. Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • momoya

      No. You're wrong.

      May 4, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Robert Brown

      I am telling you the truth.
      1 John 2:
      15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

      16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

      17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

      May 4, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • momoya

      No, Robert, you're telling me what you believe to be truth.. There's a big difference.. Simple logic can show your belief is irrational, regardless of whether or not it is 'true.'

      If I remember correctly, you've now not answered me on two important questions:

      1. What test can I do to verify that I have attained "a little faith?"
      2. What test can I do to verify that I have "some spiritual understanding?"

      You claim that these things are attainable, but you cannot tell me how to verify their presence in a person.. Why?

      May 4, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims


      Where did lust come from? If I believe in your god my only conclusion can be that it came from him directly of indirectly. There is now way of an.alytical thinking that could lead me to a different conclusion.

      May 4, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Robert Brown


      Actually, I did my best to define little faith. You did not accept my definition. I will agree that I didn’t attempt to explain how to test for it. So, try this.

      1. You will know that you have a little faith if you apply the following test. Answer this question for yourself. Do you believe that there may be a God? If you answered yes, you have a little faith, if you answered no, you don’t.

      2. You will know you have spiritual understanding if you apply the following test. Answer this question for yourself. Have you been saved by grace through faith in Jesus? If you answered yes, you have some spiritual understanding, if you answered no, you don’t.

      May 4, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Robert Brown

      No Truth, Just Claims

      It is a gift from God. Assuming, we are talking about the desire of a man for a women and vice versa. He only asks that we use some restraint. It is reserved for a husband and wife to enjoy.

      May 4, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims


      Your explanation of lust is reasonable, though as a christian I was taught if you have lust in your heart (thoughts) it is as bad as actually commiting the real act (thought crime), people can't turn off thoughts and this leads to guilt for something that was given by god.

      As to your test for faith. I leave open the possiblity for many unproven claims, does that mean I have a little bit of faith in everything that I have not completely closed the door of possibility on?

      As to your test on spritual understanding. I understand that you believe in Jesus and your version of christianity but if you were selling this idea to unbelievers why is your 'spiritual understanding' correct and the others wrong. I am not buying any of it because there is no way for any religious belief to claim true spiritual understanding other than through conjecture.

      May 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      No Truth, Just Claims

      Paul wrote a lot about the war between the spirit and flesh. The cure for the guilt is Jesus. Jesus described looking at a women with lust in your heart was the equivalent of committing adultery. He didn’t do this just to make us all feel guilty. He did it to make us see that the flesh is by nature sinful and that we all need forgiveness. There is a significant difference between a passing thought that you can clear from you mind with effort and dwelling on something to the point that you are ready to take action. Either way forgiveness is easily obtained by asking.

      If you are leaving the door open, then yes, I would say you have a little faith in whatever you have left open to possibility.

      If I have misinterpreted the written word of God through my spiritual understanding then I would welcome correction.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims


      I don't believe thoughts are crimes and will not live me life as if they are. Teaching the idea that thoughts are bad and 'sinfull' is in my opinion wrong, religion teaches us the disease (sins) and then provides the cure (in your case Jesus).

      Leaving open the possibility of something being possible is really not faith. Faith is believing something is true without evidence, I don't believe it to be true but I will change my mind if I find reasonable evidence to do so.

      To your spiritual understanding, I have no reason to correct you other than pointing out that there is no way to know what a true spiritual understanding is compared to a false spiritual understanding. You could be correct, but so could the Hindu or the Buddist, ect.

      May 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  3. n8263

    Religion is delusional, prayer is delusional.

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you are afraid of death. It does not take a genius to figure out all religion is man made, so for humanity's sake, please stop lying to yourself.

    Deluding yourself in religion does not change reality. Lying to yourself is probably the worst possible way to try to find meaning in your life.

    May 4, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • sortakinda

      Hello n8263 your cutting and pasting of the "delusional piece" over and over again makes you a dull boy. We have a sign board to post the number of people whose minds you have changed with it. We're holding steady at zero. The agnostics who switched switched back again.

      May 4, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • momoya


      May 4, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Converted

      You can tick that sign board up to 1. What n8263 says makes sense and has given me some things to think about.
      Thank you.

      May 4, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  4. Nii

    De interpretative view is de childlike faith Christ recommended to His followers. This is de verse that struck me most as I went through my first Gideon's NT Bible. Needless to say this is not childish faith of literalism or overgrown mosquito allegorical view. It mimics de Scientific Method.

    May 4, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Nii

      Learning science has only reinforced my faith. There r so many ways that we can look at the Bible n for some the atheist, allegorical or fundamentalist view helps. INTERPRETATIVE for me. The scientific community back biblical concepts. No need to throw it away.

      May 4, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Nii, "Learning science has only reinforced my faith" Then you either haven't learned enough or your being selective about what you learn, because you haven't yet learned one of the precepts of science. "Don't jump to conclusions." Keep up the study.

      May 4, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • Nii

      I hope u have read the full width of my submissions. It is easy to jump to conclusions with the other views. The interpretative does not allow it. Read the Gospels. Christ's spirituality is not Christianity. Christianity has some off it not all.

      May 4, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • mandarax

      "The scientific community back biblical concepts."

      Nii, no matter what you mean by that, you are wrong. Every time the results of science and the claims of the bible have been in conflict, the bible has turned out to be wrong. If you are referring to the actual scientific community – no again. Scientists are among the least religious of any group of people.

      May 4, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Nii

      Before u moved in did u check what those concepts were. Bill Gates did not say religion has some valid points for nothing. The trinitarian personality of Man is modelled in the BIBLE. A lot of modern psychology is also found in the Bible. The Bible is not all fields of science.

      May 4, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Nii, As stated before I have 13 years of xtian education in a daily school. I also have my first 18 years of churchgoing as experience. I've read and memorized most of the bible. Like I said, "don't jump to conclusions"

      May 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  5. Nii

    There is also the interpretative view of the Bible which Christ encouraged rather than the literalist or allegorical or atheist view. This seems to be lost on you. That Christ didn't make iron-clad quotations of the OT which a writer wud have made is lost on you too. He took this view too.

    May 4, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  6. Nii

    U fail to understand that yes a literalist view can be overtaken by atheism or allegorical view if that is what u had in the first place. I took an interpretative view very early say 6yo. This is virtually unnassailable by the three that u have held. Faith n hope r not as powerful as love.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  7. Nii

    De existence of a Tabernacle is backed up by de Wailing Wall n so is de existence of Jesus by His brother's, James n Jude, letters in de Bible. Moses modelled de brain n Jesus modelled de intuitive function. God/Man? Jesus said He was God-Man. Prank or truth? It is sad when literalists miss de mark!

    May 4, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Nii

      Sometimes people have taken an allegorical view or a literalist view. I take an interpretative view because I see it as a set of theoretical models of human psychology. Allegorical n literalist views have their merits. however de interpretative helped de Prophets, Apostles n Saints n now help me.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  8. Nii

    St Paul even says that on Earth esoteric things are not clearly understood.
    The Bible was written for a purpose. That purpose was to help men achieve moral fulfillment and emotional maturity. DOES IT DO THIS? Yes it does! Like a scientific model it doesnt have to be true to work.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Nii

      Moses Tabernacle was the first accurate functional model of the human brain ever made. To a primitive minded Literalist it was a tent with smoke on top. If u study the Bible and psychology in an unbiased manner you recognise it for what it is. De question is did a certain Moses design it or GOD DID?

      May 4, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  9. Nii

    What u r doing is reinforcing your own belief. A religious undertaking.
    I follow Christ. I know His mind-set can be reproduced. Unfortuntely there r so few examples around so I don't even understand MOMOYA when she says I'm modelling a living person other than Christ. Christ lives n I'm proof

    May 4, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Nii

      I don't know why someone like MOMOYA would want the Bible to be literally true. The prophets and even Jesus never quoted it as a literal work. It has always been a theoretical work. Everyone knows a prophet started the whole show and it is called the BOOK OF PROPHECY.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  10. Robert Johnson

    "This Just In: Analytical Thinking Decreases Religious Belief!" Duhhh! Who'da thunk it?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  11. garrettspeaks

    Anyone who uses their head to any serious sort of academic degree knows that definite error of assuming a set religion as correct, moreover I would say any serious thinker would understand the degree of error in human religion.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • n8263

      Religion consists of myths from ancient societies who's view of the world was a narrow sliver of what we now know.

      May 4, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  12. Faithful

    Faith makes idiots of intelligent people and affirms that most of us, the faithful, are irrational, naïve, gullible idiots.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Town Crier

      You keep telling your self that. Make it true.

      May 4, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  13. Pope_Inquisitor

    any rational, thinking person realizes it's all myth and legend. God is pretend, just ancient myth.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  14. Really?

    This is true. I've recently adjusted my view of God and the Bible and that can be very disturbing. I still believe in God as a Force but not as a guy with a beard. There are those that represent God to us and they are real and he has a beard. The Jesus of the Bible is not the real personage. That is even more upsetting. i don't know his name. But Christ is real. Even Yahweh is not a real god per say. Forget this allah god, he doesn't even exist.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  15. Shawn Irwin

    Most people who believe in the christian god have just not read the bible enough. It is a known fact that on the average, disbelievers know the bible better than believers.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • sortakinda

      I just love "known facts," don't you? And generalizations. They're always the best.

      May 4, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  16. bla

    File another one under the DUH file.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Duh

      Thank you – almost word for word what I was going to post. Duh. There is a reason they call it "faith."

      May 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • momoya

      Faith works equally well for believers of all gods, unicorns, and leprechauns.. duh.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Nii

      Momoya thats why when we tell you that you worship the god of Skepticism you we.ep like a baby because only a Webster di.ctionary can defend you.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Nii

      Faith if invested in an untrustworthy object makes the brain reject it. This is why Easter bunnies, etc are not taken serious anymore. It is harder to rid oneself of the Judaeo-Christian concept of God since it is satisfies a lot of questions.
      Pagans did not give up their faith for nothing!

      May 4, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Nii, historically, Pagans were forced into relinquishing their religion to avoid being killed.

      Today, Pagans are returning to the faith of their ancestors in large numbers. This Pagan (me) had to walk away from the toxicity of Christianity to find my way. It was a long journey. I am much happier now though.

      May 4, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  17. GLCarmine

    God is Spirit ... Christ was a teacher ... the Bible is religious cultural history all of which has some kind of significance (factual, cultural, historical, allegorical, etc) As a Christian, I don't let this get in my way: what is in the Bible either happened or is something that one can read to learn from. Even the areas that aren't scientifically plausible still have a cultural significance as a statement of faith. Whatever the case, I believe in God and focus my life on the teachings of Christ. Because of what He taught, I believe He is who He said He was. I leave it at that and live my life. And since I'm writing a dissertation, I can say that I'm educated enough to be able to process analytical and critical thought ... but I'm just a peasant, man ...

    May 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • momoya

      I disagree that all the biblical stories have moral merit or some other "good" quality.. I'm almost certain that you could find some too, if you looked.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • scott

      Very well said, and its exactly how i feel on this matter. Intelligence has nothing to do with beliefs and how we feel about God.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • momoya

      You're incorrect, Scott.. Intelligence is directly related to belief–depending on the type of intelligence gained and the sort of belief held.. For instance, when a person from a far away tribe somehow achieves advanced medical degrees that person typically believes LESS in the evil spirits that they used to believe caused illness.. (This has happened, and is on record).

      Intelligence gained in the sciences also lessens FUNDAMENTALIST belief and leads to more liberal belief.. If you understand the theory of evolution, you're not going to believe in a literal 6-day, 6000 year old earth.. You'll believe the "allegorical" meaning of Genesis.. That sort of thing.. We use mythos to take over where our understanding fails.. As understanding increases (say understanding the physics of lightening/thunder=Not Thor) the allegorical nature of the myth increase.. As understanding decreases (say we lose most of civilization and no longer know what causes thunder/lightening=Thor) so to do the literal interpretations of the culture's myth.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • GLCarmine

      Momoya – I'm not guessing. A decade and a half of dysfunctional religious education can offer insight into people. I'm definitely not saying that intelligent people must side with me. And I don't mean "good": I mean that there is some insight, on the failings of human beings, the vices of culture and behavior and how power works, just to name a few things. In short, things of educational value (a family of teachers too), and just because the interpretations don't have to be literal to have value, doesn't mean that there isn't significant meaning. Meaning itself is subjective and people of faith can also be intelligent.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • momoya

      I didn't say you were guessing; I'm guessing that you're not trying hard enough–you and I both know that the bible contains some truly disgusting stories that serve no apparent purpose (other than causing unbiased people to conclude that god is a sick creep).. All writing from history has value about the culture, but in some cases that's the only value.. Of course people of faith can be intelligent–most are; however, if you get intelligence in the sciences you're just not going to believe much of what "average christianity" considers essential for "salvation."

      May 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • GLCarmine

      Considering that men wrote the Bible, what is written of God might be extremely disturbing, but does that mean that men wrote of God correctly? If they wrote of Him improperly, must we believe that therefore there is no God, or could we choose to believe in the God we know and not take their word for it? For instance, I was told to be saved I must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ ... is it necessary for me to literally grasp on to the creation story for salvation? If my life's focus is on attempting to be Christlike, am I not trying hard enough, or am I simplifying what is most important after distilling the dictates of religion? One thing that is definitely of importance to state: never assume that people become Christians for the same reason ... not all of us are motivated by salvation. Some of us aren't' fleeing Hell in the afterlife – we're trying to live a life worth living now and think of Christ as that example. If anti science material in the Bible has absolutely nothing to do with why I believe, than learning more about science or evolution isn't going to move me farther from God.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • momoya

      I appreciate the civility, honesty, and direct manner in which you write.. I am writing a reply to your latest, but wanted to say that first.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • GLCarmine

      I want to state the same – you're very forthright and it's good to have a thinking person's conversation about these things.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Really?

      Carmine, sound like you already took the blinders off. I can tell you it does get worse in the sense that all you have ever believed in is turned upside down. See Christ is a conscious frequency to tune into. Once there you'll see things in a different light. One thing is for sure, you can't get to the Source (GOD) without that Christ level of consciousness so the scriptures are telling the truth in that sense.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • momoya

      Okay, I got a three-word combo that's tripping the filter (like const.itution) and I can't find it so I'm going to go paragraph by paragraph: sorry.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • momoya

      You are qu.ite cor.rect to do/.ubt whether or not the wr.ite.rs rec.o.r.ded "God correctly.".

      May 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • momoya

      T.h.a.t. .s.h.o.w.s c.r.i.t.i.c.a.l t.h.i.n.k.i..n.g!. If t.h.e.y w.r.o.t.e o.f H.i.m i.m.p.r.o.p.e.r.l.y i.n o.n.e p.l.a.c.e t.h.e.n t.h.at m.e.a.n.s w.e c.a.n.n.o.t t.r.u.s.t t.h.e d.o.c.u.m.e.n.t.s. .a.s "G.o.d.'s W.o.r.d.".

      May 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • momoya

      That logical co.n.cl.us.ion simply me.ans that we must bring other t.o.o.ls to be.ar on our unde.rsta.nd.ing of the text–but more im.p.orta.ntly–the en.t.ire question of God's na.ture an.d/or ex.is.ten.ce..

      May 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • momoya

      Clearly it is NOT necessary for you to interpret any of the bible literally and yet claim to be "saved" or christian.. Allegorical interpretations will get you there if you insist.. But I think it's healthy to consider the logic of the salvation message IF certain events did not occur.. For instance, those who do not interpret Genesis literally have no basis on which to build an argument for sin being in all people because the bible's logic is that sin is a "disease" carried through Adam's "spiritual dna" into the "soul" of each person born.. Of course intelligent people like yourself can easily make up this ground by more liberal interpretations of other sections, but at some point you realize that you're just making truck loads of a.ssumptions to keep the thing running.. If you keep on having to replace literal parts of the machine with more realistic, allegory parts–at what point is it no longer the same car you drove home with?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • momoya

      If you're trying to be "Christlike" then you're walking around with no job, no worries, and only the good of humanity on your mind while teaching twelve other people your philosophy–but that's not what you mean.. When you say you're trying to be like Christ, what you really mean is that you're trying to live up to a moral standard that has been modeled for you by someone who, by your reckoning, is a "Christlike person.". See how that works?. You're following traits you admire, not traits you tease out of the gospels.. I've spent decades on the gospels, so I know you're not literally attempting to live "Christlike" because this conversation would be going completely differently if you were.. (If you were simply in a cave, studying Christ's life and teachings without looking to human 'examples,' you'd be talking with me about a specific subject–I'll tell you what it is if you would like me to.)

      May 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • momoya

      It's good that you're trying to live life now and think of Christ as an example, but again, you're not understanding what Christ actually taught in relation to the traditions of the Old Testament.. You can't divide the god of the bible into neat sections of 'this isn't a big deal' and "oh, this is how I want it to be over here.". I absolutely LOVE the bible for all sorts of reasons, but part of that love is accepting all its flaws with its few, but important virtues.. I don't separate out what I don't like to admit, but rather I simply look at it all for what I now see it to be: a book of collected and revised mythos of many different peoples but largely defined under one ethnic grouping of individuals.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • momoya

      The bible isn't "anti-science" unless you use the text as a science book.. But nobody is seriously saying that sa.cr.ificing a cow and sprinkling diseased bird blood on a person with leprosy is a valid cure.. The same principle applies to your attention to evolution or geology or any other discovery.. It's more of a c.u.mulative effect.. The more whacky ideas are in the text the less you can take it seriously as divine revelation.. I mean, if it's not correct where we can test its claims, why would anyone expect it to be correct where we can't test its claims..

      If the book was an amazingly useful tool and accurate in every area we could test then we could believe with confidence even without verifiable proof of god's existence.. Since the book is INCORRECT on so many of its claims AND no god can be proved to exist at all–much less this specific one–there's just no need to believe in its precepts or its god.. The thing to remember is that the person who makes the claim bears the burden of proof.. Those who claim god exists have the burden to prove their claim.. It is not up to those who are skeptical of a claim to disprove it.. We understand this simple fact whenever we make big purchases in lawyers' offices with stacks of paper "proof" of who is doing what.. Those who claim god exists have no evidence; therefore, the ONLY logical position is disbelief/unbelief.. The day a god will show himself plainly is the day there will be no atheists.. You can't decide what to believe but are compelled by what you understand..

      May 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • GLCarmine

      1. Christlike: following that spiritual and moral example; believe that my best life should be lived according to His teachings.

      2. God is a teaching spirit. Why would I assume that He would necessitate a perfect text to teach humanity through? If we are made in His image and learn from each other, all of us imperfect, than getting what we should know from a flawed source isn't a stretch. Place on top of this the fact that the original Bible was assembled for the political benefit of bringing Christian factions under religious control and one already goes into the situation knowing that there is manipulation involved. The question is: does this thwart God's impact?

      3. I don't need Genesis to be convinced of human evil or "sin" – this is everywhere. Furthermore, I can see the teachings of Christ as the exact opposite in motivation and effect. Now – how deeply am I relying on the scriptural definition of "sin"? This is what I meant when I said that one can never assume that everyone has the same motivation for believing: if my definition of "salvation" has very little to do with the devil (but it does a little, because I do believe that there is a force that preys on innocence) and much more to do with the Hell of my life before I chose to follow Christ's example, AND I therefore call myself "saved" and be convinced by this power … see? Not several different assumptions about trying to twist a story 50 different ways in a flawed book, but having the power to tell the story of your own soul.

      Unless insomnia hits, this might be it, but I didn't want you to think me rude …

      May 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • momoya

      1. Again, I think if you sat down with the gospels you'd be working towards a different goal.. I really think you're attempting to live up to YOUR IDEAL image of Christ, but his teachings are too radical for you to be using except through the filter of your indoctrination.. We all do this, but here the difference is really important.. I understand that you want to be the best person you can be; you just don't understand how you'd have to live were you to actually live according to his philosophy as gleaned from the gospels.. I could show you this very plainly, but we'd really need to be in a live discussion with the texts in front of us.

      2. The errors in a "Word of God" book certainly have implications to the nature of that being.. Yes, these troubles with the text thwart his impact if it misrepresents his nature as it must if it is not completely reconcilable.. If there is a god, he shouldn't allow this sort of confusion about himself–at least if he's interested in a specific outcome.. If some god is allowing humanity and the universe to climb levels of knowledge unto further power, then that god lines up with our history and science, but it does not line up with the bible.. We can have faith for any sort of god, but that doesn't mean that reasonable sort of faith is supportable by the bible.. Also, I don't know why anyone would a.ssume that god is a teaching spirit.. Is there a force that causes consciousness to thirst for knowledge and might that be a "god?". Who knows, but that's not the god of the bible or jesus and the bible doesn't help you with that sort of philosophy.

      3. You're doing what all christians are doing with the idea of salvation.. It's not really based on a logical dissection of the mythos you're infusing your belief with, but rather based on feelings of good will for your fellow man and the desire for increasing beauty (symmetry) around you.. The fundie interprets the whole thing literally, and basis his feelings of good on his 'salvation' on the terms of actual demons and real-but-invisible diseases (sin) in a real-but-invisible portion of himself (soul).. Others simply ride across the tops of the waves and base their 'salvation' on their feelings of good they posses.. What I'm saying is that you don't need the extra steps, and since the bible has some really nasty stuff in it, we're all better just being honest about things and admitting that we don't know if there is a purpose or not and nobody knows what happens when we die.. Instead of "God exists," simply say "I don't know if god exists, but I know how to recognize good and emulate it.'.

      If there's no evidence for the existence of unicorns, why claim they exist?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Nii

      I sometimes feel I alone hold an interpretative view of the Bible nowadays but you are a wonderful examle. Keep it up. I fear jail more than Hell if it exists.

      May 4, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • GLCarmine


      Good afternoon!

      Indoctrination and patterning myself after someone whom I view as Christlike … you've assumed a lot in those statements. I'm not religious (I don't attend church, I've never been baptized, I've never had communion and abhor collective observance) and I've always viewed the messengers of the Gospel in a very critical light. We are not all indoctrinated sheep who long to be like our favorite youth pastor (I also never had one of these). Once again, you can't assume or stereotype people why choose to believe: there might be millions of different reasons. I have atheist friends and I don't shove my belief down their throats and would never stereotype why they don't believe.

      Loving the Bible is not the problem – making sure that one isn't tripped up in being literal about it is. What I take to be a Christlike person is what I've discerned from reading the New Testament myself. Let's not assume that I'm not getting what I believe out of the Gospels because you interpret them differently. Not that I'm alone: there are many different leaders and thinkers who have commented on, along with many different books about, the impact of the figure of Christ as an ethical and spiritual leader. Even in consideration of how He is written about in different religions … there is more to the impact of Christ than taking on a Monastic lifestyle.

      "The errors in a "Word of God" book certainly have implications to the nature of that being" … Here I completely disagree: utilizing a written lie for political gain is completely possible without calling into question the status of the subject written about. What God would or wouldn't allow is quite a speculation. For example, people suffer because other people allow it. Asking for God to intervene isn't appropriate, because He already has people on earth who should, out of dignity and a sense of citizenship, try to do something about it themselves. Why God didn't stop something that someone should have had the humanity not to commit in the first place would never be my reaction.

      May 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  18. sean

    is this news? any rational person will quickly realize how stupid religion is. whether or not there is a god or supreme being is a whole other issue, but organized religion? absurd.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Kurt

      Maybe a God would want to communicate with his creations. Maybe an organized religion is a way of doing that (of course, it would need to be led by men God told to lead - otherwise, they're probably out of line).

      May 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • LookAndSEE

      Nobody has Ever described the moment that there was no life, then there was life.
      No matter how hard u think, dust particles or not, where did it come from?
      There has to be a place where u don't know where it came from so u MUST imply faith cause it came from somewhere and since u don't know where u must assume and that needs faith.
      If u're using faith, that's religious!

      May 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • sean

      you're talking about abiogenesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

      you're right, there is no concrete proof for any theories of the origin of life. just please realize that abiogenesis is not related to evolution. evolution is a proven theory, not up for argument. it is true that life evolves. what is unknown, is where life actually started from. however, that evolution is true pretty much invalidates any religion, since they all state that god created man. we know this is simply not true.

      May 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Gary

      Maybe the dumbest comment I have ever read. You are one of those people that learned just enough to aquire so much knowledge...about so little. The fact that you feel you are qualified to answer these questions speaks to your incredibile narcisim. Unbelievable. I feel sorry for the poor godless children you either have or will have.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • momoya


      The people who describe themselves as "unbelievers" or only marginally considering some deistic god is the fastest growing world view.. Sean's view is quickly becoming the norm.. You may have to do better than just "Ur dum and godless 'n hedded fur hay-el n' I fill surry fur ur kinfolk 'n sech."

      May 4, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  19. Dear God

    Dear God, I need a job. its ok if i have to move. prefer warmer, no crime, clean water, healthy food, no corruption, and better quality health care. a national health plan would be good.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dear God

      i have to make enough money to be able to survive and pay back extortionous student loans.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Dear God

      Can you help my son through school since there's not a speck of a chance that I will be able to do it? (not student loans) maybe he will have to teach himself. its not possible for us to send our kids to school now. we can't strap them with that kind of debt. it would just be wrong.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Dear God

      but i don't want to live near violence or violent people.

      May 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Dear God

      and i don't want to deal with evil people at work. or bullies.

      May 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  20. Lone Gunman

    http://www.MormonThink.com has the image of 'The Thinker' on their website. I think when I first saw it, it inspired me to review my own thoughts about The Mormon Church. I was amazed what I discovered when I applied some analytical thinking to Mormonism.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • sirdon

      i recently became a mormon, after many years of being an atheist. the understanding that belief is something you have NO EVIDENCE OF was crucial. from this definition, or approach, it became apparent to me that i could SAY or PROFESS to anyone, that i held any belief i wanted to claim to believe – and not be engaging in duplicity. i happened to already pretty much be living like mormons do...with the exception of drinking coffee. when the mormon missionaries told me i could not drink coffee, and be a mormon, i asked if it was ok to drink an energy drink with my breakfast instead. they said there was no prohibition in doctrine and covenants on energy drinks. so now i drink energy drinks instead of coffee, and i am a mormon.

      so good, so far....

      May 4, 2012 at 1:17 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.