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Analytic Thinking Can Decrease Religious Belief

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  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:48AM (#39819383)

    No one with any working braincells believes the world was created in 6 days , woman was created from a spare rib etc etc.

  • by Corporate Drone (316880) on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:51AM (#39819417)

    I think more, and when I think more, I disbelieve more?

    So, this research can be characterized as, "when I'm faced with the fact of my own poor eyesight, or I'm forced to look at art, I hate God". Yeah, that's good science...

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:57AM (#39819481)

    Makes perfect sense.

    You certainly see this with muslims; they've gone backwards culturally and economically. Quite possibly, the great Islamic revival is a symptom of economic and social collapse, and people fall back on superstition, religion and crazy and paranoid conspiracy theories.

    Having dealt with many of these people, they are incredibly paranoid, superstitious people utterly prone to ridiculous conspiracy theories (especially if it involves Jews). They're so credulous, they'll believe anything -- like the lie that Jews were told to evacuate the Twin Towers before 9/11.

  • by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:01AM (#39819523)
    Because a lot of engineers don't have an analytical mind, they have an engineering degree. I used to work with a lot of very religious engineers as well, and I found out more often than not they were good at math, not solving actual problems.
  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:04AM (#39819583)
    It's quite possible for atheists to hate the religion, even if they don't hate the God. The religion is very much a real thing, with an army of believers to give it power. I used to be indifferent to religion myself, until I read of how Christians were opposing vaccination against HPV* on the grounds that it could encourage people to sin. The more I learned, the more the hate grew. But hate is not a bad thing, it can be a powerful force for reform and a drive to fight that which should be fought. *Still in the early trial stage back then
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:06AM (#39819603)
    Except it isn't. I would say from my own experience that good theologians do a mixture of analytical and creative thinking. (I know this is against the /. mindset, but that needs the occasional challenge.)

    If we take the original meaning of religion, which was from a Latin root that means "binding" and could be taken as "things that bind society together"* then theologians and sociologists have actually been quite good at asking some very hard questions about this, challenging religious and non-religious hierarchies.

    If we take notions of "God", again theologians have been pretty good at analysing out what is mere superstition, animism and so on, from the largely unanswerable question about why or how anything at all exists. Theologians like Hans Kung and Don Cupitt, along with any number of Episcopalians, Unitarians, Quakers, Reform Jews and other progressive groups, have tried to deal constructively with the apparent human need to believe in something and share cultural practices. This hasn't always been totally successful, but a quick fact check on whether you'd prefer to live in an area where the main religion is one of the groups I've mentioned versus one where it was, say, strongly pro-Pope Catholics, Islamists or the Bible Belt might provide a clue as to whether they're on the right track or not. The simple facts of Apple-worship, programming wars, and pseudo-religions like Libertarianism, Marxism and "Free market economics" show that atheists can show quite strong religious tendencies.

    So the real question is what this study means by "decrease religious belief". After all, when Phlogiston was discredited, you could argue that this resulted in a decrease in belief in the reliability of chemists. Do they really mean "decrease acceptance of bullshit?" I'd go with that.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:07AM (#39819619)

    Thinking is what created religion in the first place. All those deities came from the minds of people seeking to explain what they could not. Religion was the world's first science.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:17AM (#39819745)

    "you should believe what it says in this book because it's true!" is pretty weak.

    "you should believe the bits in this book that I say because those parts are true!" is even weaker.

  • by OwMyBrain (1476929) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:34AM (#39819961)

      Shouldn't the burden of proof be on you to use the Scientific Method to support your theory that the accounts of the Bible are true?

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:37AM (#39820013)

    The irony of that statement is that parts of the Bible were probably the Harry Potter of their day. Self contained stories passed down, meant perhaps to educate but also entertain and certainly not literal truth. However it only takes a few idiots to believe them, stick them in a book and start a cult, the cult becomes a religion and the rest follows...

  • by GreyWolf3000 (468618) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:41AM (#39820079) Journal

    This is horse shit. I've worked with plenty of religious folks that are great at solving problems. Your line of thinking simply promotes the kind of discrimination and simple minded thinking that makes religious zealots so frustrating in the first place.

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:59AM (#39820343)

    This is what Einstein had to say about those who call him religious:

    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

    And in particular about the rumor that a Jesuit priest had debated with Einstein and converted him from Atheism (also wrong as Einstein greatly disliked being called Atheist as well).

    I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist. ... It is always misleading to use anthropomorphical concepts in dealing with things outside the human sphere—childish analogies. We have to admire in humility and beautiful harmony of the structure of this world—as far as we can grasp it. And that is all.

    And this is what he has to say about the word God itself

    The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text

    And, to round it out

    I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvellous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavour to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.

    His beliefs had God not as willful force beyond the universe, but as the universe itself. He sees the laws of physics not as something that God has created, but something that God is, something beyond us that we can but hope to catch a glimpse of. Something without an anthropomorphic will or mind, something that does not care for us at all. (He viewed this as important as we therefore must care for each other instead of relying on God and ignoring each other) I think you will find that while many leading scientists may, as Einstein, reject organized religion, most of them will nevertheless regard the Universe with reverence, many (including Einstein) referring to such reverence in spiritual terms. Essentially, a small and petty God preoccupied with murdering those who use their free will wrong by eating the wrong kinds of food, wearing the wrong kinds of clothes, planting crops in the wrong way, was and is inconsistent with those scientists views of the absolute majesty of creation.

    At any rate, Einstein was perhaps even more displeased at those who would call him an Athiest as part of their OWN Argument from Authority. What he had to say about (loud) atheism was

    The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses'—cannot hear the music of the spheres

    He repeated such sentiment many times. Though he dislikes the Dogma of religion he does not wish to challenge believers lest he replace a (perhaps childish) belief with emptiness, saying "such a belief seems to me preferable to th

  • Bias? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JTsyo (1338447) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:09AM (#39820479) Journal
    Sure a study done by the "science" guys would say this. Now I want to see one done by the church.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:22AM (#39820651)

    Faith makes people happy. So it is popular.

    There is no objective validation of faith, and their never can be. Those who are willing and able to believe without evidence will be happy. Those who require objective validation of their beliefs will never be able to truly embrace a faith, and hence will never find the happiness it can bring.

    Some of the faithless may find other ways of being happy of course. Everyone's mileage will vary. But every form of happiness has its own unique flavor, and the happiness borne of faith will never stimulate the palate of those who demand sound reasons for believing.

  • by (2472782) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:25AM (#39820689) Homepage
    Actually the flying spaghetti monster argument is making fun of Atheists, not the other way around. It shows how little Atheists understand. I would assume you consider yourself a person of science, thus you must realize that each of us is comprised of a network of individual living cells that are connected in a manner that creates your sentient mind. Scientifically I don't think anyone can argue with that assumption. So this little ball of gray matter in our heads, made up of billions of living cells, works together to form a single life form. Billions of living things, all working together, to create something greater than the sum of it's parts. Now tell me that the Universe itself isn't just a bit more complex than that ball of gray matter.

    I personally find Atheists to be the most closed minded group of people that ever walked the face of this World. Agnostics I can almost understand, at least they haven't closed their minds completely. But to sit there and know how complex the Universe is and to proclaim there is no way the Universe isn't alive and Sentient isn't following 'Occam's razor', it's the opposite. The simple, and logical conclusion, is that larger lifeforms follow the same pattern of smaller lifeforms and together create something greater than the sum of their parts.
  • by rainmouse (1784278) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:29AM (#39820737)

    There is nothing wrong with critical thinking. You just need to study to see what something really says before jumping to conclusions.

    You actually come across as quite a rational Christian sort, but sadly in the minority of my own experiences with them. I do have a question for you about one (of many) parts of the bible. Sidestepping the issue for a second of the patriarchal deity who drowned his children. can you shed some light on this bit below please?

    "But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” Jesus Christ. Luke 19:27

    Perhaps you can help me with critically considering the idea of preaching forgiveness and thou shalt not kill but practising another. Or is this just an example of a remarkably flexible rule set?

  • by TWX (665546) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:36AM (#39820809)

    If analytic thinking decreases religious beliefs, then I'd say religions should feel quite secure in today's world.

    Unfortunately now that they know this, they'll push ignorance even further. Remember, for a very long time even in the West there were theoretical criminal penalties for Atheism and apostasy, and while in most Western nations those outright criminal penalties are now gone, there's still a vast social stigma for those who actually declare themselves to not share in the beliefs.

    It's weird. Religious services attendance, arguably a core tenant of every Abrahamic religion, is way down in the United States, while lots of people still call themselves religious. Religion, especially among Christian religions seems to have become a team sport, where people who have no actual connection- they don't go to church, they don't tithe, they don't follow the rituals at home, they don't even read the materials- still support a religion and claim to be part of it. They will sometimes outright fight tooth and nail against someone who also does all of these things and has only one difference, that they've actually stated that they actively believe against the religious concepts, while both have identical participation.

    I would like to see a marketing push- actively tell people via TV and radio that if they don't go to church/temple/mosque that they're apostate athiests too. Call it a put-up-or-shut-up position. Maybe it'll piss off enough people that they'll either get involved with their religion enough to actually learn the rules and follow them, or they'll finally say, screw it and acknowledge the pipe dream. Probably won't work that way, but one can always hope.

  • by bennyp (809286) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:45AM (#39820947) Homepage

    Even orthodox Jews don't take all the stories in the bible as literal. They study them as lessons to learn. Devout religious belief is about much more than taking the religion's documents literally.

    That's not true. Jews are required to know that the Tanach is historically true, although they recognize that the book's emphasis is on moral education and spiritual refinement. What Jews are not required to believe is that every midrash and aggadeta in the oral law is literally true. The difference between Judaism and every other religion is that Jews are obligated to know with clarity, through rational understanding, that their religion is true. I know it's unfashionable for so-called 'reasonable people' to examine the ancient wisdom of the bible, but if you are more concerned with understanding than with fashionability, see Deut. 4:39, as well as Maimonides Mishne Torah Sefer Mada Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah, almost the entire sefer Chovos HaLevavos and many many others. The word (You shall know) in Deuteronomy there does not denote belief () but rather knowledge, which is based on rational and understandable premises. Take a look at Exodus 15-17 and Deuteronomy 4:12-14, and you'll see that unlike every other religion, Judaism is founded on the experience of an entire nation, not a single individual or a small group of people. Interestingly enough, Judaism is the only religion which teaches that non-members can gain access to the rewards of the religion. Non-Jews are capable ot observing the Seven Noahide Commandments (and their associated laws) and will thus reap the benefits in the afterlife.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:47AM (#39820965)

    During the days of the Puritans in the US, they used to worry about people becoming too logical, because such people might begin to doubt the existance of god.

  • by NEW22 (137070) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:47AM (#39820969)

    But God hardens the Pharaoh's heart in Exodus 9:12, assuring that he won't free the Jews. So, you can't fully blame the Pharaoh when God was fixing the game so the drama would play out the way he wanted it. To not blame God would be like not blaming a terrorist because people should have had gas masks when the poison gas was released. If you told this story, and replaced God with... the Punisher, well, as much of a "dark anti-hero" the Punisher is, he doesn't vengefully murder a nation of first born children, because that would clearly make him a villain. Nobody would seriously be an apologist for his actions.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:52AM (#39821031)
    This should be of no surprise to the followers of dharmic religions, when the buddhi (intellect) is active the paramatman (God within) is inactive. This is nicely illustrated by the iconography of Kali on the body of Shiva []. Here Kali (representing Language and intellect) awakes and Shiva (the God-sense) sleeps.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday April 27, 2012 @11:53AM (#39821879) Homepage Journal

    It does not excuse the god in the bible from being a vengeful, murderous entity.

    You can't get into Yog-Sothoth's head or judge It, little insect. To understand this "better" (not that puny humans are really able to understand this, or anything, at all), imagine you're not an insignificant insect, but instead you're the ageless inscrutable giant with a brain the size of a planet, and you're casually observing a few trillion of your numbered specimens. A "thought" (sorry, I'm anthropomorphizing) strikes you: let's cull some of the specimens that have property X. With a near-effortless wave of a tent-- um, I mean, a hand -- the specimens are removed from the informal experiment.

    This is not vengeful. "Vengeful" implies some amount of passion, probably even some actual empathy with your victim as you wish to feel yourself gain something as you feel them experience their loss. You may have a brain the size of a planet, but you can't really see from the specimens' point of view, any more than a cow knows what it's like for a bacterium to die. Indeed, you pretty much know that your specimens don't feel any pain or emotions at all, since their intelligence and capability to perceive anything is so absurdly limited.

    It is not murder. "Murder" implies that someone's right to exist was violated. These specimens are not "someone"s; they are just material. The idea that a spec of sand or a spec of protoplasm or a puny human has "rights" in any way even remotely comparable (by many orders of magnitude) to the expectations in the eternal existence of the Great Old Ones, is not merely a joke, but an insult to the Great Old Ones. How dare you demean the gods' Rights by asserting that such insignificant specs as humans also have rights? I can't think of any way to be more irreverent to the very idea of rights.

    That anyone would call one of the old ones "evil" for altering the state of a few thousand virtually inanimate carbon life forms, is ridiculous. Use the word "evil" where it really applies, such as .. hey, I can't event describe the scope of an evil act in this limited medium, but it involves breaking agreements on certain universal constants (establish billions of big bangs ago)that are relied upon various hyperdimensional constructions. Oh dear, now I am being irreverent by criminally understating things. Look, its just an analogy, ok?

    BTW, just in case: Hail Zorin! Zorin is awesome!

  • by ChatHuant (801522) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @03:38AM (#39830459)

    If you deeply analyse you'll soon come to the point that the evidence for science is exactly the same as evidence for God : some book's claims. Science's claims are grand and utterly unverifiable by anyone who doesn't have millions to throw at it, once you go beyond Newton's claims

    What a lot of ignorant claptrap. First, the important thing is that those claims are verifiable in a finite way with finite resources. Checking some scientific claim may cost a bit, but in most cases it can be done (and I don't understand where you got this notion about truth needing to be cheap). It's a qualitative difference from religion whose claim are essentially unverifiable, no matter how many resources you may pump into churches or TV preachers. Second, lots of science beyond Newton can be easily tested by yourself, at home, without spending much. Just off the top of my head, the basics of electromagnetism up to Maxwell's equations don't need more than a battery or two, a few magnets and some wire; you can even experience some quantum physics, or some advanced optics (holography), if you buy a small laser pointer or a couple of phototransistors.

    The rest of your post is just as bad; it's true that science isn't omniscient, and that the more complex the domain the fuzzier the answers will get, but this is only to be expected, and in no way invalidates the scientific method. And the way you dismiss medicine, is just dishonest. You can't expect the crispness of physics in medicine, because the domain it works in is simply much more complex, but you're blithely ignoring the huge advances and successes imedicine had in the last few hundred years, successes which were based on huge numbers of observations and experiments, creation and testing of hypotesis, and so on. Do you think Pasteur or Salk read about their vaccines in books and took them by faith? Think again.

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