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Analytic Thinking Can Decrease Religious Belief

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  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:47AM (#39819359)

    will burn in hell.

    • Now that's what I call a loving god!

    • by MoogMan (442253)

      [citation needed]

    • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:02AM (#39819549)

      It was probably one of them fancy college boys with their books and such.

    • by Hillgiant (916436) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:15AM (#39819721)

      The more I think about it, the less sense the parent comment makes.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:22AM (#39819801) Homepage Journal

      Actually the article seemed rational and logical to me, and I'm a Christian. This paragraph especially:

      The findings, Gervais says, are based on a longstanding human psychology model of two distinct, but related cognitive systems to process information: an âoeintuitiveâ system that relies on mental shortcuts to yield fast and efficient responses, and a more âoeanalyticâ system that yields more deliberate, reasoned responses.

      âoeOur study builds on previous research that links religious beliefs to âintuitiveâ(TM) thinking,â says study co-author and Associate Prof. Ara Norenzayan, UBC Dept. of Psychology. âoeOur findings suggest that activating the âanalyticâ(TM) cognitive system in the brain can undermine the âintuitiveâ(TM) support for religious belief, at least temporarily.â

      Anaylitic thinking isn't needed to tell your mother from your sister. They should study to see if athiests are lacking an intuitive thinking. As it notes, both kinds of thinking are useful.

      I'm not going to bother cleaning up the UTF errors, I wish /. coders would fix that.

    • by asylumx (881307) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:35AM (#39819983)
      If analytic thinking decreases religious beliefs, then I'd say religions should feel quite secure in today's world.
      • 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.

  • really? (Score:3, Funny)

    by SoulNibbler (2194576) on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:47AM (#39819365)
    Well Duh.
    • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:11AM (#39819673) Journal

      Duh is right. Considering that belief is the opposite of thinking, they would have to be negatively correlated.

      • Re:really? (Score:4, Funny)

        by SecurityGuy (217807) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:39AM (#39820057)

        God as my witness, I've known this all along.

      • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thedonger (1317951) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:57AM (#39820311)

        Duh is right. Considering that belief is the opposite of thinking, they would have to be negatively correlated.

        Just to play the fictitious Devil's Advocate: You must therefore understand everything about every currently accepted theory, as you seem to have no need to believe anything.

        We all have beliefs; some are just a little (or a lot) less plausible than others.

        • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jiteo (964572) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:09AM (#39820483)
          There's a different between trust and faith. I trust scientists because I can go over their data and validate their conclusions. I could even (theoretically) perform the same experiments to see if I get the same data. Believing the Bible or my priest or my religious grandma requires blind faith, because there is no data to analyse, and there are no experiments to repeat.
      • Re:really? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by teslar (706653) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:07AM (#39820435)

        belief is the opposite of thinking,

        Eh? That makes about as much sense as saying the view from my office is the opposite of a banana.

        Belief is the acceptance of something as true (sometimes even though there is no evidence for it). In general, I'd say that a lot of thinking underlies a belief since it has to make sense to those holding it. Of course, to some people, anything that some guy in a big hat (or some ancient book) says seems to make sense without further evaluation, but those are the exception rather than the rule.

        The opposite of thinking is what the guys who modded you insightful were doing.

      • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:07AM (#39820439)

        Unfortunately that is not correct. Analytic thinking is geared towards determining whether something is true or not, and belief is simply "holding a premise to be true" (thanks wikipedia for the concise definitions!). That is, belief flows from critical thinking.

        Lets examine this real fast: You (I am assuming) do not believe that religions have any merit. Presumably, you have some reasons or rationale for why you arrived at that conclusion. That is, you have a belief, because you had at some point (I hope) done some critical thinking, and your chain of reasoning resulted in a belief.

        Likewise, I have religious views. I have belief in certain things. I, too, have reasons for my faith, and have several reasons for why I hold them to be true.

        I suppose you may disagree with the definition of belief, but I think that that is a good one and if you disagree it would be easiest if you simply clarified your definitions.

    • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bondsbw (888959) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:26AM (#39819849)

      My non-scientific guess is that analytic thinking can decrease belief in anything you haven't analyzed. This doesn't just apply to religion. The same goes for politics, football teams, favorite programming languages, global warming, etc.

      As for religion, I'd bet the majority/vast majority really just believe whatever makes their parents or spouse or whoever happy, or whatever makes life easier. No wonder they drop it whenever they discover something that mildly contradicts their barely conceived ideas.

      I personally consider the possibility of God in light of discoveries related to quantum physics, relativity, evolution, math and statistics... I don't consider these to contradict the existence of God (since they strictly do not), but to explain how little we still know and to understand the tools God could use to work with.

      • by Barsteward (969998) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:01AM (#39820369)
        "understand the tools God could use to work with" - you mean tools like Ted Haggard, Jerry Fulwell, Sarah Plain et al...?
      • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:06AM (#39820421) Journal

        I personally consider the possibility of God in light of discoveries related to quantum physics, relativity, evolution, math and statistics... I don't consider these to contradict the existence of God (since they strictly do not), but to explain how little we still know and to understand the tools God could use to work with.

        But, God is omnipotent right? He doesn't need tools.

        See how just a little thought about physics causes you to reject one of the most fundamental claims about God, his omnipotence.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:47AM (#39819367) Homepage Journal

    Not analytic thinking, just thinking should work
  • by SigmundFloyd (994648) on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:54AM (#39819435)

    A new study finds that intelligence can decrease stupidity! Maybe the two teams could join forces.

  • by na1led (1030470) on Friday April 27, 2012 @08:57AM (#39819469)
    Some of us are just Brain Washed into believing in things that don't make any sense. To me, it's more of a mental disorder.
  • 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 Rostin (691447) on Friday April 27, 2012 @09:00AM (#39819507)

    This hints at the key problem, which is (or ought to be) as much a quandary for religion itself as for scientific studies of it. Almost all of the questions in Gervais and Norenzayan's study related to religion as a literalist folk tradition — an aspect of lifestyle. This is how it manifests in most cultures, but that barely touches on religion as articulated by its leading intellectuals: for Christianity, say, philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Immanuel Kant and George Berkeley. The idea that the beliefs of those individuals would have vanished had they been more analytical is, if nothing else, amusing. Gervais and Norenzayan’s findings should help to combat religion as an indolent obstacle to better explanations of the natural world. But it can’t really engage with the rich tradition of religious thought.

  • 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 DigitalSorceress (156609) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:07AM (#39820453)

    Imagine that: if your brain starts working, you stop worrying about the the fictional man in the sky.

    Color me amazed.

    Everyone knows it's turtles all the way down.

  • 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 hey! (33014) on Friday April 27, 2012 @10:42AM (#39820903) Homepage Journal

    would decrease belief in the methodology used in this study. Did anybody *read* the linked press release from UBC?

  • 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 [wikipedia.org]. Here Kali (representing Language and intellect) awakes and Shiva (the God-sense) sleeps.

"Pull the wool over your own eyes!" -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

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