Windsor Humanist Society

April 29, 2012

To Keep the Faith, Don’t Get Analytical

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 10:32 am

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.


1 Comment »

  1. I have often made presentations to a generic audience … usually students! In presenting Humanist philosophy to them, I say “I don’t want you to accept my beliefs. I just want you to question received knowledge … knowledge that is delivered to you as a package without opportunities for discussion or dissent.” Often, when I put that idea forward, I see smiles on the faces of some of the students or listeners. In fact, it is the first time they ever heard about critical thinking … scratching below the surface of received knowledge.

    Comment by Gail McCabe — December 5, 2013 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

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