Are science and religion in conflict? The huge number of scientists in any field that hold religious beliefs seems to deny this fact, but many thinkers believe that reason and science will progressively substitute religion. Now researchers from the University of British Columbia, in Canada, assure in a paper that ‘analytic thinking promotes religious disbelief’. The debate is on.
The researchers, Ana Norenzayan and Will M. Gervais, made a series of experiments to test the effect of analytical thinking on religious beliefs, finding that generally these are more associated to intuitive thinking. People who tend to think analytically showed less strong religious beliefs, if any.
‘One explanation for belief is that it is based on a number of intuitions we have about the world around us,’ said Norenzayan. ‘People don’t necessarily come to belief because they reason into it. Intuition helps us.’
The authors, however, acknowledge the broad scope of the issue. ‘We are not saying that analytical thinking turns people against religion. … There are lots of things going on,’ said Norenzayan. ‘Our findings do not suggest one form of thinking is better than the other either. We don’t believe that. Both are important and both have costs and benefits.’
Gervais, W., & Norenzayan, A. (2012). Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief Science, 336 (6080), 493-496 DOI: 10.1126/science.1215647