A new study finds that analytical thinking (as opposed to intuitive thinking) apparently threatens religious belief. The following is an excerpt from the original article.
Many people with religious convictions feel that their faith is rock solid. But a new study finds that prompting people to engage in analytical thinking can cause their religious beliefs to waver, if only a little. Researchers say the findings have potentially significant implications for understanding the cognitive underpinnings of religion.
Psychologists often carve thinking into two broad categories: intuitive thinking, which is fast and effortless (instantly knowing whether someone is angry or sad from the look on her face, for example); and analytic thinking, which is slower and more deliberate (and used for solving math problems and other tricky tasks). Both kinds of thinking have their strengths and weaknesses, and they often seem to interfere with one another. "Recently there's been an emerging consensus among [researchers] … that a lot of religious beliefs are grounded in intuitive processes," says Will Gervais, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in Canada and a co-author of the new study, published today in Science.
Reader Comment: Dr. Raymond Obomsawin (also an AD speaker)
Arguably the greatest scientific mind of the last four centuries was Sir Isaac Newton (physicist, mathematician, astronomer). He had an estimated IQ of 190 (Einstein's IQ was 160). When a number of Europe’s most prominent mathematicians were challenged to solve an extremely intractable problem, and each had failed in their individual efforts to do so over a six month period, Newton was subsequently handed the same problem at lunch-time, and successfully solved it before bed-time.
Newton affirmed that "...The main business of natural philosophy is to argue from phenomena without feigning hypotheses, and to deduce causes from effects, till we come to the very first Cause...and that's why we study science. Whence is it that nature does nothing in vain; and whence arises all that order and beauty which we see in the world?… Was the eye contrived without skill in optics, and the ear without knowledge of sounds?... In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence. It is the perfection of God's works that they are all done with the greatest simplicity. He is the God of order and not of confusion.”
A modern brilliantly executed treatise (translated from German into English) entitled In the Beginning was Information confirms the total rationality of Newton’s conclusion.
The real reason why so many today have a "disbelief" in an intelligent universal Creator is that as people we believe what we want to believe (whether highly educated or not), even if our belief may be totally irrational. For after all, a belief in the Creator requires submission to His governing physical, social and moral laws, and an inescapable recognition of a future judgment in which every human being will be called into account for the life lived here upon earth.
Reader Comment: Leroy Moore
The evidence of their experiments is just what I would expect. While intuition has its vital role in life and should not be despised, it is important that faith not be placed in it. It is a divine gift for uniting many things unconsciously so as to give a sense of direction. But that direction should be tested—not discarded. To most people, religion is more intuitive than analytical. As a result, most people are not adequately convinced by evidence. But this by no means indicates that analysis is contrary to faith, It merely means that analysis forces one to think more carefully and thus to lose confidence in intuitive authority—which should be the result. Authority is located in God's Word, not in intuition, which is molded by one’s individual experience in relation to society and developing circumstances in our own lives. This is a false basis for authority which should be exposed.
Thus, what they have shown is that most people do not examine the basis for faith and are thus left largely to dogmatic, intuitive thinking, which analysis is bound to expose. With too many this would simply weaken rather than strengthen their faith because they place their faith in their intuition rather than in God's Word. Newton is an example of the opposite result to those who accept the authority of God's Word. To such, analysis strengthens faith.