In a study published yesterday in the journal Science, researchers from Canada’s University of British Columbia posit that people who believe in God are not analytical thinkers.
That’s 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 Rodin’s 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.
“There’s 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 didn’t 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.