Skip to comments.‘Scientific’ Study Says People of Faith Are Stupid
Posted on 04/28/2012 8:52:00 AM PDT by CHRISTIAN DIARIST
In a study published yesterday in the journal Science, researchers from Canadas University of British Columbia posit that people who believe in God are not analytical thinkers.
Thats a disingenuous way of saying people of faith are stupid.
Religious belief is intuitive, explained Ara Norenzayan, co-author of the study, and analytical thinking can undermine intuitive thinking. So when people are encouraged to think analytically, it can block intuitive thinking.
In other words, when religious people analyze their beliefs, they become less devout. They go from stupid to smart, like Norenzayan and fellow co-author Will Gervais.
So how did the researchers test their hypothesis?
They recruited 650 or so Canucks and Yanks to participate in their study. They showed some participants images of artwork that supposedly encouraged analytical thinking like Rodins statue, The Thinker. Other participants were shown images that did not encourage such thinking.
After viewing the images, researchers measured participants religious beliefs through a series of questions. The participants who viewed the images promoting analytical thinking were more likely to experience a decrease in religious belief, the researchers claimed.
And that supposedly included devout believers.
Theres much more instability to religious belief than we recognize, said Norenzayan. Apparently so, if a person of faith can look at a few pictures and suddenly lose his or her religion.
As it turns out, there was less to the miraculous de-conversions than the researchers claimed in their study.
Their experiment didnt really turn devout believers into total atheists, Norenzayan fessed up. Yet, he maintained, if people routinely thought analytically, like scientific researchers do, there would be fewer people of faith.
The study by Norenzayan and Gervais is nothing more than junk science.
It is an insult to people of faith who are well-educated; who arrived at their religious beliefs by analytical thinking.
And it reflects poorly on the judgment of editors at the journal Science.
I was in a church meeting this a.m. It was a conflict resolution workshop actually. I would say that the average education in the room was somewhere between 1.5 and 2 degrees. Just my observation. Oh, mrs. jimfree is an elder in this church and holds a PhD along with her MS and BS. She didn’t attend and tilt the average higher.
Is it just me or is this either a joke or a dopey study design? I do some of my best analysis listening to Rush Limbaugh, watching the Three Stooges, or playing the soundtrack of A Mighty Wind. The statue thing sounds like something I would write for an April 1 article.
"Canucks and Yanks?" Nuff said and asked.
>”...only comes from the Holy Spirit...”<
I think that’s the key to what’s religious about your response. Mere analysis isn’t religious, though religion of course has to reason out many intermediate steps. My own view is that an analysis of the natural world itself reveals patterns, but a pattern isn’t necessarily worthy of worship. Clearly evil is deeply ingrained into nature itself (if you consider extreme cruelty and exploitation of one creature by another to be evil, and I do — and allowing human beings, innocent as well as guilty, to suffer horrifically throughout history and everywhere people have ever been). Along with the good there’s a mixture of evil that could just as well be the result of a malevolent deity (a Devil) as of a benevolent one (the God most believers worship)
In my opinion only experience — actual experience of something supernatural — can justify religion. By “experience” I mean what some persons believe happens during prayer and at other times in their lives, a mystical transcendence of their ordinary being. That experience gives them hope of a kind of salvation that rises about the natural world, and doesn’t depend on the ordinary analysis of cause and effect.
What they are experiencing may be an illusion, a mere emotion not really indicative of truth beyond the feeling itself. Skeptics can dismiss it as having no implications. They can’t really argue with it, though. You either have it and believe, or don’t have it and don’t.
Or Newton. It is said that when he was about 7 and living on his grandparents farm, would spend time just waiting the patterns formed by the light shafts in the barn. As he got older, and began to learn math, he began to work out theories about light and all this ended in his revolutionaries theories about light. Richard Feynman began tinkering with things as a lad, and became an inveterate problem solver. As he grew older, he often developed his own math to solve problems, and as an adult scientists, he note dhow some very, very brilliant physicists were dependent on formulae and because of this had a hard time getting at the heart of problems. The true scientist seesthing differently from the mere thinker.”
I agree with your writing but I must point out that the “religious” stuff like the Holy Spirit which gives a Christian the power to testify about Jesus Christ occurs after one weighs the evidence and comes to a conclusion.
Personal experience confirms what we know to be true but it should never direct what we know. Our knowledge about Christ and His Life and God is from the testimony contained in the scriptures. This testimony includes numerous prophecies from men who preceded Jesus Christ by hundreds of years, it includes specific names of people who followed Jesus, people who wanted him dead and people who had no particular interest.
The minimal level of evidence for a Hebrew was a requirement that no less than three people testify and they cannot included the person themselves. The scriptures were written in part to persuade Hebrews who would require such minimal level of evidence. The scriptures adhere to this and other methods of providing evidence while they tell the story.
If you check Acts you will see that after the crucifixion the 100 or so disciples were afraid and confused until they were convinced about who Jesus was when they met the risen Christ. The risen Christ proclaimed who he was and how he fulfilled the scriptures. They stayed in Jerusalem where the greatest danger was because they were told to wait. If they did not believe Christ rose from the dead, those men would have went home where they were safe. Recall that Peter was so terrified that he would not acknowledge he even knew Jesus and wanted to return to his old life.
Peter and the other 100 or so disciples did not leave because they were told to wait. They kept a low profile until the Holy Spirit came and empowered them. Peter was transformed from a fearful fisherman to an unabashed evangelical who preached the word to thousands during that hour the Holy Spirit came.
The progression for Peter was 1. Selected by Jesus, 2. Taught by Jesus, 3. Understanding about Jesus, 4. Denial , 5. Acceptance, 6. Transformed by the Holy Spirit. This is the general path for myself and for most Christians. The denial part is because when we learn what Jesus wants we learn that there is a high cost to ourselves to follow Him and we don’t yet know how the power of the Holy Spirit will transform us.
Your analysis risks the misunderstanding that the process is preceded by personal experience. If that were true us Christians would be going to card readers one week, having our hand read the next week and keeping our horoscopes up to date. These things would as you point out result in the same level of evidence because we would rationalize that these things were working.
The further problem with using personal experience is that it denies the teaching of the bible. The bible demonstrates over and over again that wisdom often is contrary to human reasoning and that culture often leads to error. The bible also demonstrates that humans do not want to know God, our nature is to be led by the God fad of the day. Further, the bible warns that the human heart is corrupt and it cannot be trusted to arrive at truth.
Yes, personal experience does confirm Christ in our lives but it should never be trusted as the basis for placing our faith.
Most Christians are brought up as Christians, and become one in name before they’re old enough to reason effectively. (This goes for the way persons of other religions acquire their religious beliefs too, of course.) Later they may began to question some things. If they have a strong commitment to their religion, though, they’ll tend to put those questions aside (or, in some cases, accept answers that they’d never even consider if they weren’t already committed).
If you’re satisfied with the Biblical “evidence”, judging it as if it were a legal argument, then fine. I have no desire to argue the details with persons who are satisfied with their faith (as long as their beliefs don’t seriously harm me or others). My own view, though, is that the Bible is full of contradictions from beginning to end, not just contradictions of fact but contradictions of doctrine and morality. There are good things in it, but also plenty of evil (judged by the principle of the Golden Rule).
You mention Acts. It happens that just within the last week I’ve been reading an interlinear Latin-English version to refresh my knowledge of Latin (I read Mark right before that). As much as the Bible has influenced my own outlook on the world, I can’t help being disgusted by some of the stuff I’m encountering. For instance — to mention something appropriate for this site — the communism. Though the Golden Rule applies well to ongoing societies, much of the New Testament morality seems designed for a world soon to end (not just the communism but the pacifism too).
I have no problem with Christians or others voluntarily joining together into communes (monasteries or convents, or sharing possessions as evangelists). As long as it doesn’t harm others, that’s none of my business. It won’t work on a compulsory societal scale, though, as the loss of millions of lives has shown. Also I believe it’s harmful to promote the idea that being willing to give up all your possessions is a fitting standard for measuring a person’s goodness (and I say this as a person who’s not at all rich).
I wonder about your reaction to the events described in Acts 4:34 and continuing into the next chapter: “...For as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the price of the things they sold, And laid it down before the feet of the apostles. And distribution was made to every one, according as he had need.” [A classic statement of idealized communism, and even idealized, it seems unfair to me. It doesn’t take into account merit or effort, and there’s no good way to judge “need” beyond the subsistence level.]
It goes on to tell about a man and his wife who sold their land, but tried to mislead the apostles about how much they received. They were contributing a great deal, but because they didn’t contribute all, and lied about it, they were both struck dead. Disgusting. Yes, they lied. Yes, they weren’t totally unselfish. But to kill people for something like that is the sort of thing I mean when I speak of parts of the Bible being evil. That kind of story doesn’t intimidate me. It makes me not want to give a shekel.
7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Man in house: “Why surely...”
Benny (as Bonny) “I assure you I have a slight cold”
Woman in house: “the best scientific brain says that whiskey can not cure the common cold”
Benny (as Bonny) “Nor can the world's best scientific brain, now move your a__ . (to the man) Your daughter”.
“Take the 9-11 terrorists, for instance (from the point of view of probably everybody here). If I recall correctly, these werent illiterate peasants taken from some remote village somewhere. “
The 911 terrorist were well educated in other fields but how stupid does one have to be to believe that if you kill in the name of Aller that one will attain 72 virgins? This goes beyond brainwashing. These men were sold a bill of goods, lock stock and barrel. They really wanted those virgins and would kill to get them.
sometimes in order to find a breakthrough, a hypothesis requires a leap of faith.
(or a really nice warm bath....eureka!)
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