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.”
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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.”
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Einstein believed in GOD !!!!
Einstein did not believe in a personal god, like the Christian god.
"It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems."
Pete from Canton and Sara too
Think there is a TERM for that. TRY MIND MAPPING it WORKS !
No god(s) required !
Not sure what term you're going for Science.
Spinoza's "God" is one of the more sane god-concepts...but not what most Christians would consider a god.
In line with the comments I'm seeing I have a challenge that I am genuinely interested in an answer to...
In ALL of history is there ANY single fact about the observable Universe that had a widely accepted scientific explanation, but that was later found to be supernatural in origin through religious study and thought and is accepted as the most likely explanation by the learned community today? Just one. That's all I ask for.
On the other side, how many facts can you name that were once thought to be of supernatural origin that have since been found to have a completely naturalistic explanation based on scientific findings about our observable Universe. Some of which are even officially accepted as the genuine explanation by high-ranking members of major faiths?
The supernatural/religious worldview is an ever shrinking box that is getting more and more uncomfortable. One day it will be too small for sane people to occupy.
My response to this study? A simultaneous "No DUH!" (hello... faith is the exact opposite of analytical thinking) and "Wait a second, HOW did you reach THAT conclusion?" (they showed them statues and art and then asked them WHAT?). I wish the reporter could have explained what they did.
Visualize a rational post-religious world.
SHALOM, THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.
YOU SHOULD ALL HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.
SHALOM, YOM TOV.
I think there may be a problem with the research which stems from the ‘intuitive’ rather than ‘deductive’ assumption that the bible is not factual. Knowledg is socially constructed and therfroe many peole believe the bible to be jsutified true belief, in which case it's a bonefide source of data. If we are talking about analytical versus intuitive thinking, then most Christinas by this process are analtical thinkers.
For example, Christians believe that the word of god (bible) is largely factual and therefore they operate through deductive logic rather than intuitive logic when referencing their conclusions in ‘exactly’ the same way that a scientist may reference their theorems. Because the research was conducted through 'confirmation bias', the proposition can’t be proven, it can only be assumed through rhetoric. The process for both Christians and Scientists is deductive analytical logic, which probably explains why so many analytical thinkers are in fact Christians.
It depends on your point of view of the bible, iis it fact or fiction?
The point of these results (and you can find more details online) is precisely that religious people, on average, do not think in exactly the same way analytically as non-religious people. Religious people are, in fact, in all areas – even unrelated to religion – less analytic. Again, this is an average. There certainly are a lot of analytic religious people and a lot of non-analytic atheists, but overall atheists and other non or less-religious folk are more analytic.
David and Sara too Oops mind map off reposted from above
Think there is a TERM for that. TRY MIND MAPPING it WORKS !
No god(s) required !
These are actually enormous ideas in regarding blogging. You have touched some fastidious factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.
I would love it if they would publish an article just one time about Islam. Just once.
As the report makes clear, the Government is cmteitmod to raising our concerns about infringements of the right to freedom of religion or belief. We will continue to lobby for changes in discriminatory practices and laws and take action when persecution of discrimination occurs.The FCO is currently reviewing its existing policy on how we promote religious freedom. This includes how the FCO and its overseas posts can develop more targeted responses to specific cases of discrimination in particular countries, backed up by programme funding to support local initiatives.
Also there's a new groundbreaking study revealing that people who look before crossing the street get hit by cars less often.
lmao you are one cheeky kunt mate. well said, well said.
Let every man live peacefully with his fellow man , worship and believe what ever he wants as long as it does not hurt his Brother...
blah blah blah 500years in future looking back of us now we are idiots and ignorance to believe that theres a supernatural being . those people believing in god stop deluting yourself open your eyes not to be bias on your belief learn science peace on earth
By the eighteenth century, the Jesuits had contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter’s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon effected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light. Star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics — all were typical Jesuit achievements, and scientists as influential as Fermat, Huygens, Leibniz and Newton were not alone in counting Jesuits among their most prized correspondents [Jonathan Wright, The Jesuits, 2004, p. 189].
What does any of that have to do with anything?
I am contesting the idea that intelligent scientific query is incompatible with religious observance
Religion contributes next to nothing to science (except perhaps studying how the brain works)... Were it not for religion, there would be a lot more research towards embryonic stem cells and their ability to help regenerate parts of the body... What about people who's religion is against vaccines? They are putting others at risk by decreasing the herd immunity... Religion is also responsible for much pain and suffering in the world: Boston Witch Trials, 9/11, and the making of kosher meat products...
A person who thinks analytically is going to weigh pros and cons and essentially go down a checklist to derive a simple theory or answer. Religion allows for interpretation and openness in how you apply. The benefit is you don't have to apply and agree completely with all theories etc.
And you can hallucinate and say it's real.
I am NO part of this world, and neither should you." Those are the words of Yeshua. And yet, followers of Christendom are arguing over the decisions of this government. Why? If you are a lover of Yahweh God, why are you even delving into worldly politics? If it doesn't affect you, and it shouldn't, then why worry? Here's what irks me. You call yourself a "Christian", and yet your actions and doctrines refute it. Yeshua (Jesus) was not affiliated with any part of politics when he was around. When asked to be King, he turned it down saying that his kingdom was NOT a part of this world. Neither should his followers who claim to love him. True Christian's don't vote because you know that this system and government is overseen by Satan. Christendom holds to Pagan traditions enacted by Constantine and Babylonian gods! Here's a hint..if you want to judge others on their decisions in life, start with yourself and your so-called faith. Stop listening to these money-hungry pastors that go to school to learn the Bible when if you are truly called by Yahweh, then you don't need a theology based college that all preachers and pastors go to. Here's a hint...research! Christmas...pagan, Easter...pagan..the cross...pagan! Yeshua died on a stake NOT a cross. So before you whine about decisions Satan's government makes and you claim yourself as a follower of Yeshua, you need to do your research. You are to be NO PART OF THIS WORLD. You pay back to Ceaser what is Ceaser's (Pay your taxes) and follow the laws of your government, because many laws are guidelines of the ten commandments. Other than that, politics are not of Yahweh. Jesus wouldn't touch politics. PERIOD! Learn your history. Christendom is bloody! The Catholic church, Catholicism, which every other denomination stems from (Reformation) ,are child-molesting cover-ups! You call yourself followers of God? True followers of Yahweh stay out of worldly churches that teach lies. Churches will be destroyed and those inside of her will be destroyed too. The Vatican and the Pope are already under attack because of the secrets coming out about abuse, child-molesting and abortions of pregnant nuns and what they did to the Native Americans. Mormons are a cult as well as Jehovah's Witnesses. Baptists and Protestants are "Sunday" Christians,and these feel-good churches are just that..feel-good. Get out of the churches, study for yourself what the scriptures say. Stop putting money in preachers hands cause they are all businessmen.
ARE YOUR DESIRES AT ONE WITH YOUR DREAMS? IN THE BOOK OF DANIEL GOD IS PROPHESIZING ABOUT PRESENT TIME ECONOMIC CHANGE AND GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO READ THE BOOK OF DANIEL. DANIEL INTERPRETED THE DREAMS OF KINGS AND ALSO GOD SPOKE TO DANIEL THROUGH THE SON OF MAN AND BOUGHT FORTH HIS DREAMS. IT SPEAKS OF THE NATION OF GREECE AND THE HEAD OF GOLD AND FEET OF CLAY(THE DIMINISHED ECONOMIC POWER OF NATIONS). NOW IS THE TIME AND JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN HISTORY, IF WE DO NOT LEAD ,HISTORY WILL REPEAT THIS STORY AGAIN. THE BIBLE IS NOT ALWAYS BLACK AND WHITE AND WE CANNOT ALWAYS TAKE IT AT FACE VALUE . LET YOUR SUB-COUNCIOUS BE YOUR GUIDE TO YOUR REAL DESIRES. WHO WILL BE AMERICAS LEADERSHIP FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, WHO WILL BE MORE BALANCED IN HIS APPROACH TO WORLD ECONOMIC PROBLEMS AND MORE CARING ? I WILL POST A SERMON ON DANIEL IN THE COMING WEEKS. i LOOK FOWARD TO SHARING AND CARING WITH YOU. ANALYTICAL THOUGHT IS PART OF THE BIBLE IF YOU READ IT AND ANALYZE IT AS YOU WOULD ANY OTHER BOOK.
I think it is great when people use all caps. It makes it so much easier to know which posts not to read.
Thus the Republican hatred for colleges, professors, students, higher learning in general. The base of the GOP lives in trailer parks.
I grew up in a trailer park. I am educated and I believe in evolution, not religion. I am also a democrat. Watch how you generalize people.
That would be the same Republicans who believe that life is sacred and begins at conception, and the ones who believe everyone is responsible for themselves? Because that's a whole lot better than being a liberal.
intelligent, learned, logical people figure out religion is make believe. "But Einstein believed in god!" No, not really. He was agnostic at best, thought nature was wondrous, was part of a culture and time that rather forces everyone to 'believe'. God is pretend. Learn some science, see the light!
some historians of science, including non-Catholics such as J.L. Heilbron, A.C. Crombie, David Lindberg, Edward Grant, Thomas Goldstein, and Ted Davis, have argued that the Church had a significant, positive influence on the development of Western civilization. They hold that, not only did monks save and cultivate the remnants of ancient civilization during the barbarian invasions, but that the Church promoted learning and science through its sponsorship of many universities which, under its leadership, grew rapidly in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Bill you are correct that there was a time when much of science was conducted by the religious as they could read and write and live off of the money/food of others. That time is long gone. How much science is coming out of the Vatican?
When an Architect builds in a flaw to help perspective we applaud His genius. If God is the ultimate Architect do u think He doessn't know this!
The flaws in the Bible are meant to be there. There are reasons they were built-in.
Reminds me of when PeeWee Herman would fall down and then jump back up and claim "I meant to do that."
The scriptures are ridiculous, offensive and demonstrably false.
I like Deut 23:1 He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
@Nii: the flaws were meant to be in the bible? huh? why would a perfect being want to be misunderstood? wouldn't it be more effective to make a clear line of thought? let's not even go to the fact the bible was elected on what it would and wouldn't contain......i mean it's not like these great men would ever think of stacking the deck in their favor or anything. lol
The interpretative view of the Bible is brutally efficient at dismantling the other views on the Bible because it asks the reader to practise what its thought to understand the concepts. It is very hard for the allegorical, literalist n atheist viewpoints 2 advance against a practi.tioner's faith.
I agree with you: one has to have an interpretive view of the Bible, because so many different cultures and denominations already do. On top of that, no one can even view all of the people even in the same room as having the same interpretation, even if they listen to the same message, because every message is evaluated by an individual's own experiences.
One's believe in the existence of God is (I've found) based on their evaluation of their own experiences in their own lives. I understand that I can't use the proof of my life to compel someone else, but they definitely will never be able to convince me that my experiential reasoning is something I should abandon for them. I've always thought it to be madness in the outset that people would start to try to convince each other that they didn't have souls. How can any external source tell you whether or not you have a soul, and how could any thinking person take anyone else's word on that? In light of various social class struggles, this in itself is a level of humanity that many people are simply not going to be giving up because they might have had to fight so hard for their humanity in the first place.
Isaac Newton was a brilliant scientist AND a daily Bible reader. He thought Atheism swas "So senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at exactly the right distance from the sunto receive the exact amount of light and heat. That did not happen by chance"
Richard Dawkins' book, on the other hand, failed to support previously debunked assertions he had made; quotes out of context; and shows a marked desire to escape moral and personal responsibility. In fact – he reduces man to animal status.
Nop WONDER he's popular!
BTW – Misleading headline: "Analytical thinking CAN reduce belief" implies that it does. Later on it says "COULD" decrease it.
So they don't actually KNOW.
Its plain 4 all 2 see that abstract thinking cud have helped u decipher what ROBERT had 2 say.
Analytic thinking is just what it is. Literal thinking isnt analytical. Otherwise a lot of scientific ideas wud b thrown away 4 not making sense. Every branch of knowledge is important.
What scientific ideas would get thrown away if literal thinking was analytical? Wait, are you thinking at all?