A new study published in Science Magazine concludes
analytical thought reduces religious beliefs. The study showed
participants intuitively attractive questions for which the
intuitive answer is wrong. The participants were then asked about
their religious beliefs. The result showed that those that indicated
stronger religious beliefs were more likely to give the more
intuitive answers. They were then given stimuli that encouraged
either analytical or intuitive thought. They were then retested on
religious beliefs and those encouraged intuitive thought expressed
increased strength in religious beliefs while those encouraged
either analytical thought expressed less. The conclusion was that
concludes analytical thought reduces religious beliefs. However
there are a number of problems with these studies.
The first problem is that the questions on religious beliefs were
vague general questions. Some religious beliefs are more intuitive
while others are more analytical. For example new age is almost
entirely intuitive being based largely on practices like meditation.
On the other hand Christianity is more analytical in that it is
based on historical events such as the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus. There is no consideration in these studies of
such differences and the specifics of what participants believed and
The second problem is that there is no correlation of individuals
given between the different methods. This is important because such
a correlation should show who is more likely to be affected. For
example it could show that more analytical people are less affected
by the stimuli than more intuitive people or the exact opposite. The
point is that no such correlation is given so there is no way to
know how individual responses correlate across each method.
While these studies are interesting they are way too broad and lack
consideration of factors that could have affected the results.