Here is new research that suggests that the more we think more analytically, and less intuitively, the less likely we are to believe in a god.  I agree with that; I have said for many years that the best way to promote atheism and discourage religion is the careful and rigorous promotion of logic, reason and critical thinking in the public schools, and use a system of learning (such as the Socratic Method) that requires their use, all the way through public school, so they become habitual and second-nature.

-Scott B.

Analytical thinking erodes belief in God

Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein famously did not believe in a supernatural God, and neither do some scientists today. It now appears there may be a good reason for this: thinking analytically dims supernatural beliefs, apparently by opposing the intuitive thought processes that underpin them.

The vast majority of people believe in a supernatural god or gods, says social psychologist Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of atheists and agnostics who do not. While scientists have begun to study the psychology of belief, we know little about what causes disbelief.

Humans use two separate cognitive systems for processing information: one that is fast, emotional and intuitive, and another that is slower and more analytical.

The first system innately imputes purpose, personality or mental states to objects, leading to supernatural beliefs. People who rely more on intuitive thinking are more likely to be believers, while the more analytical are less likely. This doesn't necessarily mean analytical thinking causes disbelief, but activating analytical thinking can override the intuitive system – and vice versa. Norenzayan used this to test the causal relationship.

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Except people with "faith" don't even attempt to think

I recently came across an article on a pop science site (so take it for what it's worth) that said that up to 40% of a person's critical thinking ability might be do to genetics.  So that's an interesting statement you made.  How do we address those that accept information that fits their preconceived beliefs, but totally discount dis-confirming information?  Obviously it can be done, western society came out of the medieval period.  But, living in the US today, the task does seem daunting.

Hey, I don't remember posing for that picture.
Hey, I don't remember posing for that picture.

Cool, thanks for the article Scott!

Analytical thinkers are more difficult to indoctrinate and less likely to jump to conclusions because, by the nature of their analytical thought, they question more. Therefore, processing people to be more analytical would reduce their propensity to accept by faith and, in this, reduce their propensity to believe in a god. However, it is important to remember that analytical thought is only as valid as the definitions and axioms it is founded in. Accordingly, intuitiveness in the form of requiring that the beginning definitions and axioms be self-evident has its place. For example, the self-evident proposition that nothing all good could want to be worshiped would be a valid axiom and could be used to present the Biblical god concept as self-contradictory. On the other hand, the non-self-evident proposition that we cannot know the mind of a perfect being would leave the Biblical god concept completely in tact. Resultantly, intuition in the form of self-evidentness must be satisfied in the definitions and axioms at the beginning of analytical thinking in order to be confident that the process of analytical thinking leads us to truth. 

Agree.  If we teach people to think analytically outside of the conflictual context of Religious beliefs, people are less likely to feel threatened as well.  It appears that often when I am criticizing a relgious stance, people feel that I am attacking their "group" their "loved ones" rather than attacking the text or the world view/

 

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