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Participants who viewed The Thinker reported weaker religious beliefs on a subsequent survey.


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However, Gervais and Norenzayan wondered if showing people artwork might have made the connection between thinking and religion too obvious. In their next two studies, they created a task that more subtly primed analytic thinking. Participants received sets of five randomly arranged words e. Some of their participants were given scrambled sentences containing words associated with analytic thinking e.

155 thoughts on “Are religious people really less smart, on average, than atheists?”

After unscrambling the sentences, participants filled out a survey about their religious beliefs. In both studies, this subtle reminder of analytic thinking caused participants to express less belief in God and religion. Analytic thinking reduced religious belief regardless of how religious people were to begin with.

In a final study, Gervais and Norenzayan used an even more subtle way of activating analytic thinking: by having participants fill out a survey measuring their religious beliefs that was printed in either clear font or font that was difficult to read.

Prior research has shown that difficult-to-read font promotes analytic thinking by forcing participants to slow down and think more carefully about the meaning of what they are reading. The researchers found that participants who filled out a survey that was printed in unclear font expressed less belief as compared to those who filled out the same survey in the clear font. These studies demonstrate yet another way in which our thinking tendencies, many of which may be innate, have contributed to religious faith. It may also help explain why the vast majority of Americans tend to believe in God.

Since System 2 thinking requires a lot of effort , the majority of us tend to rely on our System 1 thinking processes when possible. Evidence suggests that the majority of us are more prone to believing than being skeptical. According to a poll by Gallup, 3 out of every 4 Americans hold at least one belief in the paranormal. The most popular of these beliefs are extrasensory perception ESP , haunted houses, and ghosts.

In addition, the results help explain why some of us are more prone to believe that others. Previous research has found that people differ in their tendency to see intentions and causes in the world. These differences in thinking styles could help explain why some of us are more likely to become believers. Why and how might analytic thinking reduce religious belief? Although more research is needed to answer this question, Gervais and Norenzayan speculate on a few possibilities.

For example, analytic thinking may inhibit our natural intuition to believe in supernatural agents that influence the world. Alternatively, analytic thinking may simply cause us to override our intuition to believe and pay less attention to it. Gervais and Norenzayan point out that analytic thinking is just one reason out of many why people may or may not hold religious beliefs. To preach the gospel! To live as Christ lived. People hated Him and He is the very Person of Love. Any one following Jesus, He said come out from among them.

Expose the unfruitful works of darkness, not partake in them. As a matter of fact Jesus said contrary. We are to love people and even love our enemies, but we are never called to be in any relationship with someone who rejects Christ, ever. That is completely unbiblical. We can serve then and love them, but not fellowship with them.


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  • Christians spend so much time bickering and arguing over the existence of their God that they have absolutely no time to address the very real issues that plague the human race. They are so self absorbed in building that stairway to heaven for themselves that they ignore the suffering around them. They are despicable in the regards that they have nothing positive at all to offer the human race in terms of reality. Followers of Christ were the ones to lead the charge to end institutionalized slavery in England and the U.

    We work to relieve suffering out of obedience to God and to pass on the hope that Christ gives, but food and shelter without the message of the gospel would be an empty gift. Extraterresterrails placed humans on this planet. Jesus was an extraterresterial and from afar advanced civilization than ours from afar off distant Galaxy and from another dimension which is why he was able to do all those miracles.

    God is love! People who are not acquainted with the Spirit will not understand its work in people who living by the Spirit. Christ was incensed by evil.

    Publications — Justin Meggitt

    To me every day is a somewhat different challenge and the Spirit leads. I hope I never deny God to people, but I refuse to give much to nonbelievers if they are inclined to pretend they know anything about this life and if they criticize from the outside. Send money. Some ten to quote the Bible and take it literally and use it to justify their own intentions. This has made me struggle with my faith. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ.

    The Bible is a good guide book. What is written in it may be as accurate as can be. So accuracy as to what was exactly said may not be accurate. And humans wrote the Bible, chose what was to be included and what was not, some were even destroyed.

    Did one ever think why it could not account for 20 years of such an important persons life too? This is not at all a put down of the Bible nor the faith…I am trying to search for answers so that I can understand and deepen my faith further. I am not saying too that I do not judge people.


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    • Uh okay…whatever you say. Thou shalt not kill for example. The reply i get — you are so stupid. Oh well…unfortunately, it is difficult to talk to people who do not want to keep an open mind…but how i deal with it is try to the plant a seed in their minds…that in order to deepen your faith, you have to question…. It boggles the mind.

      Jesus Religion: A Critical Examination of Christian Insanity Louis Charles

      Some of the greatest apologeticists were once atheists or agnostics who kept asking questions until they were convinced. The Old Testament was written over a period of several centuries, and of course the creation story was written a long time afterward, along with the account of Abraham and the other patriarchs, by Moses it is believed. Overall the writings that are now believed to be divinely inspired are consistent in theme and theology, although others outside the canon are useful as historical references.

      The ancient texts that have been unearthed by archaeologists have confirmed that the writings have been for the most part unaltered between the time they were written and today, with the exception of minor changes in spelling and grammar.

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      As for the specific accounts you mentioned…God told Abraham to kill Isaac before the 10 Commandments were given centuries later in Exodus, although after the Flood He did give Noah a warning about men who killed other men. So apparently as God is God He can make exceptions depending on His purposes. God Himself is the standard, not rules and laws which are simply reflections of His character.

      If Abraham had killed Isaac he would simply have been obeying God, not committing murder. Neither was killing the Egyptians in the Red Sea murder as they were trying to kill the Israelites, nor the inhabitants of Canaan as God was punishing them for sacrificing their babies and for other abominations. Find a group of people you can learn with and from, and keep reading and studying. Best wishes! I fail and sin daily. Stop judging others who sin different than you. If you cannot help them water, food, clothing , then do not hurt them—pray for them, keep it moving.

      My friends range the entire spectrum, from dedicated Catholics to agnostics, gays, drug-addicts, hookers. Who am I to judge anyone?

      They accepted me and never made fun of me nor rejected me for being a proud Catholic-Christian. I did notice that some of my fellow Catholic-Christians that are judgmental end up making the rest of the majority look bad. Catholic-Christians are lovely, loving people who resemble Christ. We embrace our daily shortcomings, failures, tendency to sin, but we also have tools to combat and counter these vices.

      Are religious people really less smart, on average, than atheists?

      I do trust Catholic-Christians a bit more than a nonbeliever. I do not use church to shame others, I am not better than anyone. I admit, I need church to heal from my mistakes, an escape from this evil, cruel world, and to remind myself of my one, true purpose and mission in my Life. It was never between you and them anyway. The quote from the book of John seems to be a favorite of many, Christian and non-Christian alike. It seems that this is the balance we must strike as Christians.

      I grew up in a Catholic household, and still hold a lot of those traditions dear to my heart, as it brings great comfort when I am feeling lost.

      Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus by Michael B. Curry

      Now going to the present, I am a rather conservation person, living a lifestyle that is sinful I am gay with a monogamous partner. I attend church and pray, etc. Here is my problem. I have a Self Professed Christian friend at work who is very close to me, who tells me much about her life. So I wrote her a letter telling her how I feel about her not caring about me in addition to how the toxicity is becoming overwhelming that I only see darkness within.

      I am distancing myself. Her reply is what I am having trouble processing. We are all sinners in need of a savior.