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Analytic Thinking Can Decrease Religious Belief

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the can-of-worms dept.

Science 1258

Freshly Exhumed writes "A new University of British Columbia study finds that analytic thinking can decrease religious belief, even in devout believers. The study, which will appear in tomorrow's issue of Science (abstract), finds that thinking analytically increases disbelief among believers and skeptics alike, shedding important new light on the psychology of religious belief."

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Whoever is responsible for this article (5, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819359)

will burn in hell.

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (5, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819369)

Now that's what I call a loving god!

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819467)

Is THAT what you call someone who grabs the world by the throat and holds it's head in a bucket of water for 40 days and 40 nights?

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819399)

Well, there's definitely going to be some flaming going on.

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (2)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819543)

[citation needed]

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819549)

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

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819681)

I doubt it.

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (1)

rush,overlord,rush! (1995452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819717)

will b0rn in hell.

Re:Whoever is responsible for this article (5, Funny)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819721)

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

really? (3, Funny)

SoulNibbler (2194576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819365)

Well Duh.

Re:really? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819673)

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

Not just analytic... (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819367)


Not analytic thinking, just thinking should work

Re:Not just analytic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819411)

Same thing, for meaningful definitions of "thinking".

Re:Not just analytic... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819617)

So I guess Newton and Einstein (and many other scientists) were idiots since they believed in a God. You, of course, must be smarter.

Re:Not just analytic... (3, Insightful)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819719)

Oh, give it a break. That's one of the weakest arguments out there. Yes, Newton and Einstein were smart guys - smart guys can still be wrong.

Re:Not just analytic... (3, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not just analytic... (4, Insightful)

Keyslapper (852034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819763)

Let's be clear, it's not just "thinking" that started religion, it's uninformed, ignorant thinking that started religion in the first place, and willfully arrogant, uninformed, ignorant thinking that kept it going for so long.

Logical and analytical thinking is putting an end to religion, and it's about bloody (literally) time.

And no, it is not a gift to be simple, it's just being simple. If you want to be the town idiot, you go right ahead, but anybody trying to learn from the town idiot is just trying to be another town idiot.

Not trying to draw the flamers, just posting my view.

Re:Not just analytic... (3, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819733)

Of course, if you really think about it, here's some fun logic:
1. An article says that if people analyze written articles and books, they won't believe them.
2. Ergo, If I analyze the this article, I won't believe it.
3. If I believe the article, I didn't analyze it. (contrapositive)
4. But if I didn't analyze it, it might not be complete BS, so I shouldn't believe the article.
5. Conclusion: Don't believe anything you read, including this analysis.

Re:Not just analytic... (2)

IICV (652597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819767)

Not really - after all, a lot of thought was put into things like the Summa Theologica [wikipedia.org] and other apologetics [wikipedia.org] ; it's not particularly rigorous or analytical thought, but there sure was a lot of it.

Right, so (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819375)

I guess it works on global warmers then.

Re:Right, so (2)

alci63 (1856480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819413)

I guess it works on global warmers then.

See you back in 20 years :-)

Re:Right, so (4, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819433)

I guess it works on global warmers then.

Well, if it works as suggested then it will cause those who believe in global warming purely because someone told them it was happening to go and look at the evidence and decide for themselves, in which case they'll keep their opinion intact but will have come to it by a more scientific approach. Win-win.

Surely just any thinking at all would do it (2, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819383)

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

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (4, Insightful)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819429)

Although I'd agree with you, I think it's necessary to point out that these aren't the normative beliefs of Christianity. As those assertions go, they're over-represented among Christians in the U.S., so it skews our sample set; but that doesn't mean that it's the definitive rebuttal of Christian belief.

Just sayin'...

Might be time to update the bible then ... (2)

evanh (627108) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819593)

Throw out all the junk science for a starters. Not much need for keeping a meticulous record of things that have long been proven wrong.

Presuambly what was included was one group of theories at the time but science has moved on, or, more accurately, science has been invented since the bible was written.

Re:Might be time to update the bible then ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819649)

Updated Bible.

"Don't be a dick!" - God

You might as well say... (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819735)

You might as well say that we should throw out the junk science from Harry Potter. Neither collection of stories represents a science textbook, the only difference is that large numbers of people think that the bible is an accurate record of the history of the world, whereas nobody above the age of five thinks that Harry Potter is real.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (4, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (2)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819509)

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

Religious people have a very flexible way of redefining terms that allows anything to be true.

You see 'the world was created in 6 days' as a false statement.

They see 'the world was created in 6 days' and redefine 'day' to mean any amount of time. They add a god who creates a historical record going back to the big bang for no particular reason and such a statement is true to them. They can justify anything.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819755)

You seem to latch on to the common issue - "six days?!".

Why do people have issue with that, but not the fact that the Bible glosses over the physics in "And God said, let there be light"...?

Why would any deity explain in minute detail his workings? Does the Bible have to be explicit on the details?

Its like picking a hole in the "Smokey The Bear" educational cartoons, but instead of critiquing the safety points, you take issue with how real the bear is.

I'm not saying the Bible is 100% perfect for todays society, but take a look at the history of the law statute books in any nation and see how many laws applicable 200 years ago are no longer on the statute books (or at least not prosecuted), but also that many laws set then are still taken as the basis of modern day life.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (4, Insightful)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819553)

If you're right, perhaps you could persuade the people who disagree with you by talking to them and using reason. But if you start the discussion by insulting them or the number of brain cells they have, do you really expect to get anywhere?

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819609)

If you're right, perhaps you could persuade the people who disagree with you by talking to them and using reason.

I'm having a little trouble coming up with any anecdotes that support that notion.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819703)

"If you could reason with religious people there would be no religious people" - a fictional doctor on TV.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819559)

The world was built in a garage in Cupertino.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (2)

luke923 (778953) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819727)

Ironic, since their first product was priced at $666. Can anyone say, "Apropos"?

Universe in a few minutes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819595)

Just a thought, but is it any less likely that the world was created in 6 days than an entire universe being created in just a few minutes (adding on a little bit of time for significant expansion)?

Re:Universe in a few minutes? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819687)

Just a thought, but is it any less likely that the world was created in 6 days than an entire universe being created in just a few minutes (adding on a little bit of time for significant expansion)?

"likely" hasn't got anything to do with it. The proper question is, what do the facts support.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819605)

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.

Re:Surely just any thinking at all would do it (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819611)

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

Try explaining that to Larry Wall.

Well, maybe he buy into all of that crap, but it seems he does subscribe to a good deal of it.

Awesome Jedi Mind Trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819391)

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

Re:Awesome Jedi Mind Trick (2, Insightful)

pikine (771084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819661)

These people who think they're wise and learned are actually pretty ignorant and close-minded. Even worse, they want others to be just like them, or to respect their position so they can keep enjoying the prestige. When Jesus came to challenge the Pharisees (who are the teachers and law-keepers among the Jews) about their inconsistent moral standard, the Pharisees hung Jesus on the cross through the hands of Pontius Pilate.

Never let a blind person lead another blind, lest both of them fall into a pit.

If you're against Christian teaching and you think you're an analytic thinker, I challenge you find out what's wrong about the content of the bible and find an convincing argument why people who believe in Christ are doing it in vein. If you want to show that the bible is made up, or its text is corrupt, I'm going to put you through scientific method process and axiomatic logic reasoning to establish your case.

Re:Awesome Jedi Mind Trick (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819725)

71 And then the Romans laid hands on Jesus to lead him away. 72 But Peter said unto them, "This is not the Jew you are looking for." 73 And then the centurion said unto them, "This is not the Jew we are looking for."

shedding new light? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819409)

This isn't shedding new light. This is confirming the obvious.

Re:shedding new light? (0)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819565)

You are only saying that because you have been thinking analytically all along.

This could well be shredding light for a few religious people.

So when I squint or look at sculpture... (1, Interesting)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819491)

So when I squint or look at sculpture...
I think more, and when I think more, I disbelieve more?

I don't think that qualifies as analytical.

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819503)

Somehow I doubt that's what it's saying...
But aside from that, how can you "hate" something which you don't believe exists?

That's something believers have to get through their thick skulls. When you don't believe something exists, you can't have any feelings toward it.
Their believers, on the other hand, we can have strong negative feelings toward, depending on what actions they take because of their beliefs.

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#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

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819743)

This. I've always thought religion was a wonderful thing until you get people involved with it. There are plenty of small churches who do wonderful things for both their parishioners and the community, but you never hear about those churches. You only hear of the giant mega churches constantly asking for money and influencing politics for their own gain by spewing hatred for all those who don't follow in their footsteps. Those are the stains that have plagued religions since their inception.

I'm currently very anti organized religion, but feel I have to get past what I see on the news and realize the vast majority of churches are good, just not attention whores.

I still believe in a God though. A neat saying I've latched onto is, "religions are looking at the same thing through different windows." I believe the stories in the bible are just that, stories to make a point.

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (1)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819601)

From the fine article:

Researchers used problem-solving tasks and subtle experimental priming – including showing participants Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker or asking participants to complete questionnaires in hard-to-read fonts – to successfully produce “analytic” thinking.

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819541)

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...

Typical..., don't understand the statement and then twist it around. Thinking about nothing more than the bible, is not what they are talking about...

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819597)

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

No, you just learn to believe in things for different reasons.

Re:So when I squint or look at sculpture... (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819615)

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...

Worst argument ever!

Having bad eyesight != Analytical thinking.
Appreciating art != Analytical thinking.
Questioning believe != Hating any given god.

In other news... (5, Funny)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819435)

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

many engineers are religious (2)

hypethetica (739528) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819437)

I work with a staggering number of engineers who are very religious and it has always boggled my mind. How can anyone with an analytical mind possibly accept things like Noah's ark?

Re:many engineers are religious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819465)

Doublethink.

Re:many engineers are religious (1)

kbdd (823155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819501)

Not sure where you work, or what kind of engineers you work with, but in about 40 years in engineering, that definitely has not been my observation.

Re:many engineers are religious (3, Interesting)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:many engineers are religious (5, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819533)

Easy. Accept that the accounts in religious texts were written by people and subject to their scope of knowledge. If there was a group of people 6000 years ago who had only covered an area of a few hundred square miles in their lives, and that few hundred square miles flooded, they would write that the world flooded. Believing that the entire Earth did not flood in no way invalidates the text.

Re:many engineers are religious (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819547)

I think it's generally caused by indoctrination when they're very young, and it's very hard to break. I think societal pressure also adds to it a lot, but that's been decreasing.

Re:many engineers are religious (2)

Shawnwick (2622509) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819589)

I am one of those engineers that you speak of. To sum it up briefly, I believe that the Old Testament is mostly filled with stories (kind of tall tales) while the important things about how to live your life the way God intended are in the New Testament. I know that frustrates people that will say I am picking and choosing what I want to believe in, but honestly that is the only way as an engineer you can look at religion analytically and still believe.

Re:many engineers are religious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819621)

Interestingly terrorists as a group are enriched for engineers, explanations for this suggest that this might be caused by either
  - training based on thinking in absolutes and right/wrong dichotomies, there is a Right way of making something and you do that....
  - training which teaches you to assume the world works on simple laws (and then application of that idea to morals)
  - training that teaches to take the written principals and apply them rather than questioning there sources
ect
All of these tendencies would(if true) make a book that lays down simple rules and explanations for all that messy uncertain stuff, that scientists thrive on, attractive as well as making it seem correct. No one has however actually managed to prove what the cause really is, or even if it is a cause or a selection effect

Re:many engineers are religious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819639)

It sounds like you need a new workplace.

Separating belief and science (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819663)

Some people are mature enough to recognize that beliefs that make them feel good about the world may not be an accurate description of reality. They can compartmentalize their religious and scientific views, not allowing one to interfere with the other. This is fine, as far as I am concerned -- as long as nobody is trying to inject religion into science (or worse, engineering), people can hold whatever beliefs they wish and practice whatever religion they want.

Re:many engineers are religious (2)

boley1 (2001576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819711)

I work with a staggering number of engineers who are very religious and it has always boggled my mind. How can anyone with an analytical mind possibly accept things like Noah's ark?

Actually, if you can get past the presupposition that it can't possibly be true, Noah's ark is an interesting study in engineering. I'm not sure if this is representative or not, but the link below is to an essay by one "believing" engineer. One of many that Google turns up. NOAH'S FLOOD: Examination of scripture from the standpoint of an engineer [rationallink.org]

Gosh, what a surprise! (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819439)

NOT! That said, it depends on the depth of your imagination. If the universe is essentially a simulation, the creators of the simulation would fit many of the parameters of a god, from our point of view. Even without that, there have to be plenty of other sentients in the universe that have been around a lot longer than us, perhaps even a few that survived the destruction and creation of the universe. These too, would fall pretty far in to god territory.

Of course, this is just the christian biased, deity-oriented "god" stuff. More abstract religious concepts like Atman, the ain sof, the tao and nirvana probably were never included in the study.

Re:Gosh, what a surprise! (3, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819511)

But God and Religion are two different things. God could be interpreted many different ways, religion is a specific belief in ideas, most of which are obsolete non-sense, based on our understanding today.

Re:Gosh, what a surprise! (3, Insightful)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819571)

I think we should all go watch the south park episode about Mormons:

Gary: [to Stan] Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life. and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that.

The One Commandment (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819455)

"God Needs Booze"... bring on the Lordweiser.

The first world is too easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819459)

... that you can get by, or even thrive, without significant analytical thought (I specifically exclude sociopathic ends; there it seems there is plenty of it going on there).

Confused by summary (1, Insightful)

krouic (460022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819463)

Does it increase disbelief or decrease belief ?

Conditional Thinking (2, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Epiphany (1)

funkelectric (931604) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819479)

My personal epiphany was the observation that religion and place of birth are highly correlated. It seemed fairly arbitrary at the age of 10 and still does. It has not made me into an atheist though. People from many walks of life are on a righteous road.

Re:Epiphany (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819577)

My personal epiphany was the observation that religion and place of birth are highly correlated.

Yeah, the social nature of religion is glaringly obvious.

For some reason the whole world hasn't abandoned all the false religions for the one true religion, whichever one that is.

It takes incredible arrogance - or incredible lack of thought - to believe that you just happened to be born where the right gods were worshipped the right way.

Credulity and religious belief (2, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

sounds to me like (4, Informative)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819567)

you just described every teabagger and right wing nut-job out there.

Re:Credulity and religious belief (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819579)

It doesn't really explain why so many radicals and extremists are engineers though (other than they may be targeted because of their skills).

Re:Credulity and religious belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819665)

Oh Man. I predict troll mods for you. Slashdot doesn't like the truth.

Shush. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819679)

That evacuation [wikimedia.org] never happened, and we do not talk about it.

I am not surprised (1)

kbdd (823155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819493)

I have found that engineers tend to be less devout than the average population, which would support that post, since most engineers are trained to and routinely have to exercise analytical thinking every day.

Two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819497)

Confirmation bias [wikipedia.org] .

Since no one will read TFA.. (5, Informative)

Rostin (691447) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Scientists, meet Bacon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819521)

"It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity."
Sir Francis Bacon

In summary, a little analytical thinking brings about a disbelief in religion by bringing doubt against the many things it asks one to blindly believe (ie faith). But after taking analytical thought to its extreme it becomes clear that each logical chain of thinking reaches the same end, and that in each of these ends there lies a central theme that is the foundation of all religions.

So basically religion is a lot like an orange. First you have the skin (beliefs which make it tangible)... then the sweet, sweet innards (the truths around which is was built)...

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819537)

Vatican announces the lost 11th commandment, thou shall not think.

Test Your Analytic Thinking. (2)

boley1 (2001576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819563)

"The researchers’ general approach was to test volunteers — in some cases, Canadian undergraduates, in others, as the paper explains, a “nationwide (though nonrepresentative) sample of American adults recruited online”. Both sets of volunteers constitute only a limited sample, as Gervais and Norenzayan acknowledge." So, how many flaws in the study can you find in this one sentence?

Re:Test Your Analytic Thinking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819685)

people will latch on to anything that supports their hatred of God or religion, regardless of the facts.

Obligatory Homer Simpson Quote (1)

headqtrs (467875) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819581)

As Homer would say: D'oh!

Bad news for theology departments? (4, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Religion VS Theism? (2)

Myu (823582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819625)

An obvious point of clarification is needed in the way this has been reported. "Religious Belief", as has been posited, is belief with respect to the existence of supernatural entities. But isn't Religion about collective belief, rather than supernatural belief? I would have thought "Theistic Belief" would have been a more appropriate target for the authors to address.

Actually Rational Though can increase Faith (0)

Droog57 (2516452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819631)

IMHO, the more I learn about Particle Physics and Cosmology, the more I believe in Intelligent Design. Read Martin Rees "Just Six Numbers", there is a credible Physicist presenting straight information. I have no problem mixing Religion and Science. Bio-ethics is my problem issue, but again IMHO, those come down to moral issues, informed by my faith, not hard science.

Devout believers can be devoutly wrong (1, Troll)

jaydge (720092) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819641)

A "devout" believer - one who holds to and lives by their beliefs very strongly - can be very devout and yet not have a firm understanding of why the things they believe are true.

For example, I'm a Christian, and many Christian people I know (the vast majority, actually) have not spent significant time studying systematic theology (everything the Bible teaches on particular common topics) and analytically considering the evidence for and against what they believe. So when they are questioned, often I find that they reconsider things they once believed by "blind faith" - belief without a good reason or evidence to believe. Hopefully, their new conclusions are guided by sound analytical thinking and not the same blind faith.

This process is healthy for them, because it gets them to abandon bad ideas or false religious doctrines, and it helps them to back up with a firm foundation good ideas and those religious principles that are true. For example, "love your neighbor as yourself" is universally understood to be a true religious principle - in that it goes well with you if you consider other people and look out for their interests as much as you would your own. That's not one that's going to be disproven by analytical thought, but many questionable beliefs will.

Re:Devout believers can be devoutly wrong (1)

robably (1044462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819705)

For example, "love your neighbor as yourself" is universally understood to be a true religious principle - in that it goes well with you if you consider other people and look out for their interests as much as you would your own.

No, that's a good moral principle. All the religious parts of religion are bollocks.

A good exception to this would be (-1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819651)

Albert Einstein, who had a deep belief in god.
"God would not play dice with the universe!"

Re:A good exception to this would be (1)

Jetra (2622687) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819769)

Actually, there's evidence that our universe is fairly laid out, so the fact that "God does not play dice with the universe" holds some truth.

Tautological? (1)

thomas8166 (1244688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819723)

Isn't religion in essence a belief in something that relies on irrationality to exist, at least in people's minds? If that's so, than it would seem to be tautological that "analytic thinking can decrease religious belief."

I've heard it expressed differently... (2)

Truedat (2545458) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819737)

...that too much analytical thinking can blunt the imagination. If we were a planet of Spock-like logicians, I'm sure there would be an improvement to the human race by some metric, but count me out. I personally know "creative" people: religious types, artsy types etc who color my world in different ways than my IT friends.

Maybe we could all do with a little more analytical thinking, including the slashdot readership, but lets not go too far. Some of my favorite people in history have been lacking in that department, whether it be cocaine snorting musicians, diva movie stars or fearless sports stars.

More Potent Than Science: Philosophy (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819747)

In college, as part of the engineering degree program there has to be some credits in art/history/etc. I picked up a philosophy track which required an introduction to logic and rehtoric. I don't want to imply these classes ruined anything but it definitely opened my mind to multiple ideas. When you are asking fundemental questions of reality (Why aesthetics important? What defines good? Why is humanity valuable? etc) and find that although religion does have some answers but not all and are encouraged to keep looking and discussing it instead of being quiet and accept "the truth" then that erroded their fundementals.

People forget that you don't need a science to be encouraged about critical thinking.

Nothing new here (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819749)

Thinking and experimenting are two disjoint processes.
Analytical thinking reduces the experiential feedback, as you can see in schizophrenic personalities.
If you start meditating without object (that means concentrating your attention on the present and letting your thoughts pass), you'll increase your awareness of your surroundings and decrease the flow of thoughts. You'll experience and enjoy the reality more (even when the reality is tough) and spend less time thinking.

Analytical thinking is not correlated to intelligence, and believing is not correlated to dumbness.

Real belief is not taught, it's lived. If it cannot be experienced, it's useless.

On The Flip Side (1)

stkpogo (799773) | more than 2 years ago | (#39819757)

Analytic Thinking Can Increase Religious Beliefs.

All depends on what you Believe in and what you Think.

so what (please read to end) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39819759)

please read to the end. this is a nuanced post.

I bet analytic thinking also decreases your ability to recall exactly which hue of blue you saw a couple of minutes ago, if you had to choose among several close ones.

religion has nothing to do with analytical thinking, just like recalling a color doesn't. does that mean color-recall is of benefit to no one? No. Does it mean religion is of benefit to no one? No.

For one thing, let me lay upon you the fact that religion is what directly led to mass literacy and civilization as we know it. The question isn't whether we should have religious beliefs that have nothing to do with science or analysis -- it's "what should those beliefs be." Democracy, equality and freedom of speech and conscience are some great beliefs to hold, for example. Analytic thinking won't lead you to hold any belief. (Almost by definition, but surely in practice).

The worst war criminals America has produced in the past decades since World War 2
(e.g.
https://www.google.com/search?q=american+war+criminals+kissinger
and you can find loads more)

were great scientific and analytical thinkers. So was Stalin. They just didn't hold the right beliefs.

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