Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Godless Wednesday: Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief

I came across an interesting article in Science magazine published earlier this year which claims that there is a link between godlessness and critical thinking. In "Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief,"  two researchers from the University of British Columbia (Blame Canada!) make the argument that there is a positive correlation between increased analytic thinking and increased disbelief in religion.

The abstract of the paper is:
Scientific interest in the cognitive underpinnings of religious belief has grown in recent years. However, to date, little experimental research has focused on the cognitive processes that may promote religious disbelief. The present studies apply a dual-process model of cognitive processing to this problem, testing the hypothesis that analytic processing promotes religious disbelief. Individual differences in the tendency to analytically override initially flawed intuitions in reasoning were associated with increased religious disbelief. Four additional experiments provided evidence of causation, as subtle manipulations known to trigger analytic processing also encouraged religious disbelief. Combined, these studies indicate that analytic processing is one factor (presumably among several) that promotes religious disbelief. Although these findings do not speak directly to conversations about the inherent rationality, value, or truth of religious beliefs, they illuminate one cognitive factor that may influence such discussions.
Science magazine is one of the most prestigious places to publish scientific articles in the world (the other is Nature, of course), so I think it is great that this research is being done and hopefully publicized widely.

I wonder if the converse is true, i.e. the less analytic thinking one exhibits, the more religious belief is prevalent? From my own experience this appears to be true.

What do y'all think?

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