The pay wall stopped me reading the BC article, but I have long believed this: intuitively !
When I hear people praise the spiritual character of religious followers, I wonder what that means exactly. I come back to the conclusion that it means the ability to believe what they have been told about their God without without doubts, questions, or evidence. This seems to my jaded mind as being synonomous with superstition and gullibility, but these are regarded as being highly ignoble qualities, even by the religious.
In line with the BC thesis, I think that some people are more prepared to trust their intuition and feelings than others, and it seems obvious to me that scientific training would tend to erode their ability to do that. So much of what we learn in science is counter intuitive.
Here are a few gross generalisations that prove nothing, but give pause for thought.
When the devout trusted their intuition, the heavens revolved around an Earth which was at the centre of the universe. They intuitively allowed this to become a foundation religious belief. Ove the last 300 years, the telescope and scientific method have totally destroyed this belief in even the most ardent God followers. I think that many conservative American Christians would still believe this nonsense intuitively because it is supported by the Bible, if that position had not been made totally impossible by astronomy and space exploration.
We are moving rapidly towards the same impossibility of belief in the creation story of Genesis. Eventually science and education (analytical thinking) in general will demonstrate that quite possibly nothing in the Bible is literally true. After that, perhaps spiritual people will be able to use their analytical thinking powers to understand that this really does not matter because that old book does not have to be central to their beliefs about their God.
The experiments they did were a little more specific than the kinds of things you’re talking about — they’re not talking about differences between individuals, but differences within them.
In other words, they’re not (directly) saying “people who think analytically are less religious”. In these experiments, they go through a phase called “priming”, in which they trigger people to use their analytical abilities, under the assumption that they’re now more likely to still be active when asked about their religious beliefs. The control group performs tasks that are superficially similar to the “priming” tasks, but require far less analytical effort.
They used a number of different priming strategies — for example, in one case, they gave the subjects written instructions. For the control group, the instructions were in an easy-to-read font, while the experimental group had a difficult-to-read font — they had to think harder to interpret them, triggering their analytical abilities.
What they found is that the primed group were less likely to agree with religious statements.
It’s not entirely clear what conclusions we draw from that — it says that people are less likely to believe when they’re thinking, but that’s hard to generalize faithfully.
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