According to Harvard researchers, critical thinking and religion are kind of mutually exclusive! As stated in the article “How Critical Thinkers Lose Their Faith In God”, religious belief has more to do with how much we rely in intuitive thinking vs. analytical thinking. Remember George Bush and that whole thing where he “had a gut feeling” that Putin was a great guy? That he “looked into Putin’s soul” and realized that here, right here, was a sterling example of humanity, despite the number of people Putin probably tortured and put to death while running the KGB? PERFECT example of intuitive thinking. Problem with intuitive thinking is that it is so often DEAD WRONG.
Plus – the human mind can be manipulated into thinking more intuitively, or manipulated into thinking more analytically. So, remember those church meetings where the preacher declares that Jesus is in the building, and everybody starts freaking out and falling on the floor and squirming, or closing their eyes and looking all soulful? These people are thinking intuitively, and it may have more to do with the suggestion of the ringleader – er, I mean religious leader – than any actual Jesus-y materialization. Conversely, those smart Harvard guys found that if you primed people to think analytically, they became less religious. Even something as simple as preparing a questionnaire in a hard-to-read font vs. an easy-to-read font had an effect on how much a believer a person was. The easy font made it easy to just let those minds stride down the same avenues they had traversed a thousand times, like driving to work and recalling not thing one about the trip. A difficult font made people pay more attention to what they were reading, and actually think about their answers to the questions. Uh-oh. You know what THAT means. People started engaging in what the banking industry, the agricultural industry, and Wall Street abso-LUTE-ly do NOT want them doing – analytical thinking! The researchers found that those who completed the survey printed in a difficult font EXPRESSED LESS BELIEF than those who took the same survey with an easily-read font.
Yow! And here’s the kicker. The study may help explain why the vast majority of Americans tend to believe in God. BECAUSE IT IS EASIER! Intuitive thinking relies on shortcuts and rules of thumb, what your parents told you to do, and basically believing every blessed thing they spout off at Fox Fake News. Easy-peasy! No thinking required!
However, ANALYTIC thinking is way harder – it requires more effort and is slower. Plus, analytical thinkers have to overcome a great obstacle: putting what they already believe on hold. And that is WORK!
America is the land of the easy fix: throw money at the problem, ignore the problem, deny the problem. Do ANYTHING to avoid facing the problem so we don’t have to THINK about it and DO something about it. Heaven help us if we have to interrupt an evening of TV to realize that we have put more citizens in prison that any other country on earth. Or, that we invade other people’s countries for nobody knows what reason. Or, that a huge majority of American citizenry is hanging out with an invisible buddy named God and making decisions based on this kind of questionable friendship.
So now, both the foregoing and the study by the Harvard guys will be summarily dismissed by many, because they will have a “gut” reaction to it, and instead of using the response as an opportunity to question, they will use it to consign the argument to the dustbin of history.
You go, America! Yer so awesome you don’t have to think!