Why Do You Believe … Or Not?

Just came across a rather provocative article on LiveScience.com entitled,  “What Drives Religious Belief? It’s Not Intuition”

Couple of interesting quotes:

“We know from twin studies that, at least in the American population, genes tend to have a greater influence than (shared) environment on whether someone becomes religious as an adult,”

“… people’s spirituality or religiousness likely develops based on their upbringing, culture and education”

” … atheists are generally smarter than religious people, according to studies done in the United States.”

” … analytical thinking may inhibit supernatural beliefs.”

There are several “linked” articles throughout the page which you may also want to read. There is also a link to the actual study. Interesting stuff.

NOTE: When I visited the site, it took awhile for it to “settle down” — apparently because there are several ads on the page. But it’s worth the wait.


126 thoughts on “Why Do You Believe … Or Not?

    • As I understood it, it’s “genes” insofar as it’s part of a family over several generations. IOW, it’s not the “natural state”, but rather imposed as a result of years of “family practice.” Suggest you read some of the referenced articles for more clarification.

      Liked by 2 people

      • This, from one of the linked articles: Some scientists see religion as more of an adaptation — a trait that stuck around because the people who possessed it were better able to survive and pass on their genes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • A way to test the gene theory is to looking to families that have adopted and see how long or deeply the adopted child accepts and follows a religion. I think that environment plays a much larger part of a person’s being religious or in any religion. The funny thing was I went to a SDA church boarding school. Most of the students were not real believers. We did have a few , but the majority did not believe. Now I wonder how many of them later in adulthood became steadfast believers or how many left the church. Hugs

          Liked by 1 person

        • Scottie, if you read the article, you’ll note there’s disagreement among those who study the topic. But what I got from this particular study was that religion is not “intuitive,” that is, it’s not a “natural” part of humans but rather a result of upbringing and cultural surroundings. The “gene” part, at least to me, simply meant that religion has been an embedded part of a “family” over the years to the point it is “inherited.”

          But even so, with a little bit of thought and study (which many deconverts attest to), it’s easily discarded.

          Liked by 4 people

      • People are following some etiquettes,Tradition,wisdom,rules belief,faith named as religion.Religion was just founded by one or more people,depending on the situations at that time or there was good or bad motive behind this.But you will say that any religion can be seen from genes its totally wrong as all humans have DNA and in that there is no Sign of Religion.So Saying that religion is something in our genes is completely wrong.As we look in example below:
        Suppose now you are following Chriatianity but some after some days you accept some other religion like Islam,Hinduism,etc.So you will find any changes at DNA level?The answer is No.But you will find major changes in your thinking as you acquire some new knowledge,traditions,belief,etc.So following and believing in any religion is completely in your hand not in your genes.As major Changes are considered at microlevel like Dna,spirituality can do.But not religion as there is vast difference between religion and spirituality.

        Liked by 2 people

    • What? You don’t think that traits like gullibility are inheritable? We still don’t know a great deal about what is inheritable and what genes actually do (for some yes, others … haven’t got a clue). Apparently genes work in concert with one another and rarely alone so it is more complicated that we first thought.

      Liked by 2 people

    • According to the paper I think they were just trying to say that environment alone can’t predict religiosity. Any sibling difference can of course be characterized in this way. Of course much of the research I believe suggests that the non-shared environment plays a bigger role in explaining differences between siblings.

      My colleague who is a geneticist does say that mathematical ability is genetic. Or rather an aptitude for logical and critical thinking. Which is maybe more what they are getting at here. That being said we also know that genetic predispositions can be eroded by environment. If there is no way for these genetic predispositions to be expressed that will not develop.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. My parents taught me to behave, to eat, to dress, to play, to go to school and do my homework. I have been a good pupil because all these tasks seemed right to me. They did not teach me religion but they read to me and let me read The Bible Tales, and I went to Sunday School. – And that was the subject I proved to be a bad pupil in, religion. I didn’t like those tales – as I never liked fairy tales (reason why I didn’t even open books like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings).

    (Almost?) all my cousins and others of my age accepted those beliefs. I hope I will get my theory across that it is a matter of INDIVIDUAL mindsets, neuron circuits, that are not willing to question improbable situations. Or maybe afraid to reject them. My parents and other people of my age and older agreed without much comment; it is my (grand)children who cannot understand how I can live without awe for God. Likewise, either do they understand that my awe for life is precisely based on the absence of a Supreme Being.

    Have a nice Sunday!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My theological opinions leave much to be desired. When it comes to why we need a religion or supreme being, I’ll leave that to other’s conjecture. I think I do have some understanding as to why so many people, particularly younger people, no longer attend a church. When a church or religion is advocating ideas which we reject, why go? Social justice issues are adversely affecting religion, churches and the fabric of our society. I guess I’ll stay ignorant, it’s easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The genes affect many aspects of the human experience. As you said, Nan, there is still some disagreement on this subject. If it turns out that genes are 100% responsible for the existence of ‘religion’, that doesn’t render religion invalid.

    Colorblindness is determined by the genes. We wouldn’t say someone who sees color is delusional.


    • It’s likely true that social and educational factors play major roles in a person’s religious beliefs, but core cognitive dispositions may also play a part, Cofnas said.

      Primarily, culture, Branyan.
      One of the reasons Christianity (or any religion for that matter) never spontaneously manifested globally.

      Liked by 2 people

            • We go back to the initial comment.
              Religion is primarily cultural.
              Humans assign agency to things.
              Christianity, like all other religions is simply a man-made construct to originally explain many of the things we did not/do not understand.
              Indoctrination is the method of carrying it forward.
              You are a Christian because you are indoctrinated and the cultural ties in your environment are probably quite strong and you have not the strength to relinquish the control it has over you.; although you will deny this is the case even in the face of evidence.

              And this is why you stay indoctrinated.

              Liked by 3 people

            • Ark, from my understanding of the article(s), it’s not the “strength” that’s involved in relinquishment, but rather analytical thinking. From the actual study: … the strength of supernatural belief may be predicted by how much individuals rely on intuitive versus analytic thinking.

              From comments on one of your recent posts related to de-conversion, this seems to hold true.

              Liked by 2 people

            • Probably. But this doesn’t preclude the fact that individuals leave the faith all the time — generally because they have considered their beliefs/the bible from an analytical standpoint. Even when they’re solidly in the midst of a religious family/community.

              Liked by 3 people

            • Oh you can be assured people like Mel and Branyan (and others) are able to think this way — they (and most believers) simply choose not to. It’s much more comfortable to “go with the flow.”

              From personal experience, I cam say it’s not easy to “think outside the box” when it comes to one’s faith. As I wrote in my book, “Every step I took towards spiritual freedom was excruciating.” Leaving “the faith” is not easy. The indoctrination goes deep. But as the referenced study reveals, once rational and analytical thinking takes over, things change.

              Liked by 3 people

            • Based on the stories revealed by you and others on my recent post there seems no way to enlighten the likes of Mel or Branyan, that you all came to the point of no return under your own steam.
              Unless you can think of a method to help Mel or JB take that first step?

              Liked by 1 person

            • Nope. It must come from within. Circumstances of life (like those mentioned by numerous de-converts) may start the process, but from there, it’s up to the individual. Probably the biggest obstacle to overcome is the “comfort” the believer finds in the faith community. Overcoming that can be very painful … but as many have testified, well worth it.

              Liked by 3 people

            • Well, as you yourself have said … there are always “lurkers.” A blog owner (like Mel) may be unmovable, but who knows what’s in the minds of his visitors? Plus, your posts (as well as mine) related to various perspectives of Christianity always seem to attract a following so I would venture to say our efforts are not for naught. 🙂

              Liked by 5 people

      • “We know from twin studies that, at least in the American population, genes tend to have a greater influence than (shared) environment on whether someone becomes religious…”

        Did I misinterpret this?


        • It also says this — as I noted in my original post: ” … people’s spirituality or religiousness likely develops based on their upbringing, culture and education.”

          In my estimation, the study was not necessarily to deny the role of genes, but rather to demonstrate this thinking can be disputed because there are other things involved related to humans and religiosity.

          But of course, as with all things related to religion, nit-picking seems to always be part of the battle.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I would agree that religion is the result of both intuitive and analytical thinking.

            Culture and education (or indoctrination if you prefer) is a factor in the formation of all beliefs (including atheism).

            Analytical thinking is, contrary to popular opinion here, part of the process I used to arrive at my faith.


  4. The geographical concentration of religions shows that they are taught, not innate. Also, there are so many, that real choice is not an option as no one has the time to study a few hundred of them in detail to figure out which is best. When I was growing up, there were two kinds of mayonnaise available for purchase. Now there are dozens. How many people just buy the brand they have always bought? (I still favor the brand/style my parents bought.) There is not any real choice in the matter of religion. The whole purpose of a religion is to get people to obey (Islam means submit; the Jewish Original Sin was a failure to obey). Such a system would fall apart if the religion didn’t include some form of religious instruction of the young.

    Is anyone familiar with a religion that does not recommend instructing children? (In our culture, we label kids as Catholic children, or Baptist children, etc.)

    Liked by 5 people

  5. According to the article, the studies in question found that there was NO link between intuitive thinking and religious belief nor a link between analytical thinking and supernatural belief suppression. I suspect individual religiosity is a combination of genes and environment, religion in the larger human population has genetic origins, and adherence to a particular religion is cultural.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I did not reach the same conclusion as you. In any case, here’s a quote from the actual study:

      The very idea that belief is natural is historically rooted in an attempt by early modern scientists to find God in nature. Although the scientific methods we used have changed, some of the ideas keep coming back in different guises. Our studies here suggest that it is probably about time psychologists reconsider their understanding of belief as ‘natural’ or ‘intuitive’, and instead focus on cultural and social learning factors that give rise to supernatural ideas. Religious belief may be rooted in our society and culture (a sociocultural ‘meme’), rather than in some primitive gut intuition.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My response was a broad response drawing on ALL my background knowledge of the topic, not just referencing this particular study. Basically, there is more than one study that has been done to answer this question. For example, this study found no link between intuitive thinking and analytical thinking to religiosity, yet how many people here–including yourself–have stated that there is a link between the two. On the other hand, other studies have found such a link.

        In terms of genetics, twin studies have found a link between genetics and religiosity (link.)

        “Moreover, a study in 1990 found that genetics account for 50 percent of the religiosity among the population — in other words, both identical twins raised apart were more likely to be religious or to be not religious, compared with unrelated individuals.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • CR, there are “studies” to confirm or deny just about any theory. I simply found this one rather interesting since so many (like yourself) tend to believe religiosity comes from genetics. Whether the individuals who conducted the study are correct or not remains to be seen. No doubt someone else may at some point (if they haven’t already) contradict this perspective.

          I posted this study because it tends to validate my own thinking … that analytical thinking can divert one’s religious tendencies. And I feel this way because of the many testimonies (as well as my own) given by those who have “left the faith.”

          Liked by 1 person

          • For starters, I wish to clarify I am NOT claiming religiosity comes ONLY from genetics. After all, in the first post of this thread I wrote, “I suspect individual religiosity is a combination of genes and environment (emphasis mine).” So I’m not quite sure where you got that idea from.

            My position is that it is likely a combination of BOTH.

            If that is your thinking, unfortunately this study does NOT validate it. The study consisted of three mini-studies. All of which found no link between intuitive thinking and supernatural belief, nor any link between analytical thinking and suppression of supernatural belief. I think you might need to re-read it again.

            In the third study, in particular, they tried to use brain stimulation to activate parts of the brain associated with analytical reasoning and self-control of impulses, but found no results, which you can read for yourself directly from the study here (go down to the bottom where the general discussion begins and read the third paragraph down).

            Liked by 2 people

      • I should add that by intuitive the study is talking about the Dual-Processing Theory as outlined by psychologists such as
        Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.

        “According to the dual-processing theory expounded in the book, we have two ways of mentally processing the world which he calls System 1 and System 2. System 1 is associated with intuition. It is fast and at times unconscious. It deals with thoughts, impressions, and judgements that occur automatically. It is responsible for noticing simple relations such as a person being taller than another, recognizing that 17 X 24 is a multiplication problem, or navigating from your upstairs bathroom down to your kitchen. The key characteristic is that you don’t need to deliberately think about any of these things. If I see a green shirt or the symbol 4 my brain will register the concept green and four whether I want it to or not. Meanwhile, System 2 is deliberate and slow. It is often associated with rationality, self-control, attention, careful decision-making, and effortful mental activities. It is capable of following rules (such as learning the rules of a new board game you haven’t played before), able to compare advanced characteristics between objects (such as making a list of the pros and cons of a new political policy in comparison to an old one), and allows us to make deliberate choices (such as choosing to eat a healthy salad instead of a donut).”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So as not to repeat myself repeatedly 😉 , this article and your post Nan go nicely with my December 2016 blog-post “Mind and Matter” which delves into this topic via Dr. Ted Kaptchuk (Harvard Medical School), Dr. Karin Jensen (Karolinska Institutet), and Dr. Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford University)… touching upon the Placebo-effect, the neurological effects of “performing” in groups, peer-assimulation and peer-pressure toward questioning and/or analytical thinking and testing ideologies and belief systems.

    This is a nice addition I’m saving for future use as well. Thank you Nan! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I hadn’t heard of the gene thing before. I’ll click through and read about that. Clearly, it’s not the *only* deciding factor. Neither is environment. There has to be something else.

    I’m a lifelong atheist, raised by an unbelieving mother (short detour with religious stepfather). But now my mother’s religious even though the stepfather is gone. And here I am still an atheist.

    Another anecdote from an online “friend”: he was raised religious by his genetic family of fundamentalists — many of them preachers, missionaries, etc. He eventually found his way out of it and is now an atheist too. (I will send him the link to this entry.)

    My point: Like many things in life — health, weight, interests, talent, etc. — I think it’s clear that a variety of factors play into it. Upbringing, level of exposure to other beliefs, quality of schooling (and whether it was public/private/religious), exposure to media that discusses the topic, experiences in life, and so on.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I’m the “online friend” (thanks for the link, A.C.!)

      Yes, I was raised by fundamentalist Pentecostals. Multiple aunts/uncles were/are preachers, missionaries, song leaders, church administrators, etc.. My grandmother preached too, though not regularly. My Dad was a deacon, elder, usher. Both parents were Sunday School teachers. Even I went to Bible college in order to preach.

      So at least in my case, it wasn’t upbringing — my siblings still believe, for example. But genes could still play into it, Anderson. My siblings and I don’t all have the same eye color, hair color, body structure, etc. Each of us got different genes from our parents for all kinds of things. So I wouldn’t discount the gene theory, since we don’t pass on all our genes to our kids — just some of them, joined up with the genes of our spouses.

      EXAMPLE: My Dad has blue eyes and my Mom has brown/hazel eyes. Of their four children, three of us got blue eyes, and one got brown/hazel.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Interesting!

    I find the conclusions that intelligence and intuition are unrelated and that its far more likely to be upbringing and genetic bias to be very convincing.

    The religious won’t like it, but hey they’re going to say that aren’t they, they have to!

    Looking forward to more studies on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Purely laughable nan………….that atheists are ‘smarter’ than people of faith………….’according to studies.’

    Perhaps you never heard of that great astronomer Job, or that master botanist, sage, architect, and developer Solomon, or that conservationist Joseph,or that physician Luke, or that historian Stephen, or that scholar Saul then Paul, or that statesman Gamaliel, or that master carpenter Noah, or the brass artisans, or the seamstresses whose cloth work were second to none, need I go on? Smarter? In what reality?

    I know farmers who are chemists, biologists, builders, men who make tools, men who repair things that others would throw away, men who know the animal world and work fields who would clean the clock of any atheist with knowledge regarding their own land……things the atheist is clueless as to the very dirt he walks on

    Thus with this one comment, I have laid bare your premise, and every comment here by the godless has been publickly shredded to oblivion.

    So you may want to mildly apologize for such a myopic quote that ‘atheists are smarter than people of faith.’


    • Oh CS! You add such levity to my posts! Please be sure and read the response I posted on your blog where you referenced the quote — that was in the article — so you could show your readers how smart you (as a believer) are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And did you miss the place where I said SPECIFICALLY that you HIGHLIGHTED ‘a person saying……………………….’

        Try to pay attention to detail, and scripture will become much more clear. 😉


        • No, I didn’t miss that. Yet I noticed in your usual wordy remarks that they were directed at me, e.g., “Purely laughable nan …:; “Perhaps you never heard …”; ” I have laid bare your premise …”; “So you may want to …”

          As usual, the laughable one here is you, my dearest colorstorm.


          • It’s called being polite. Your post. Your link, Of course I addressed you, as well as all your commenters.

            The ruling on the field stands. It’s quite dopey to think atheists have the drop on believers; and my initial comment is enough proof.

            But if you do not care or agree, ‘frankly my dear…………………………’ 😉


    • The study Nan references doesn’t say that.

      Which is weird, because in jumping to the intelligence argument, you’ve demonstrated your intellectual inferiority by not understanding the full discussion in the source material.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Obviously nan agrees with the superior mind of the atheist………and the warped irrelevance of the believers mind.

        Need I refer you to your own comments? or her? or the thousands of friends who all agree……

        Case closed. My point is made and stands.


          • Are you deaf dumb and blind limes?

            Read this quote:

            ” … atheists are generally smarter than religious people, according to studies done in the United States.”

            The quote SHE highlighted. Are you that dense?


        • @Colorstorm

          Studies like this are always interesting, but tricky to interpret. As I understand the correlation is significant, but relatively small, but holds up over lots and lots of study. Think about the education proportion statistics in the US to see why these issues are tricky.

          These two points can be true simultaneously:

          *A much higher proportion of atheists attend earn an advanced degree compared to the proportion of Christians.

          *More Christians have advanced degrees than Atheists.

          The reason for this is that there are more Christians total to begin with.


          • ‘Studies’ CR have a limited value I think. Heck, a man could put together a ‘study’ to support any view he wants. All the ‘study’ means is he took the time to collate the info.

            Heck I remember reading (according to studies) that there is a huge percentage of ‘bible scholars’ who are atheists.

            There you go, another useless study. 😉


            • … a man could put together a ‘study’ to support any view he wants.

              And that’s exactly what “man” did a few thousands years ago.


            • Yeah ok nan. Have you or any of your friends put together a collection of books over a few thousand years that have not only withstood time, but multiplied in delighting the hearts of men, all with a consistent and cohesive message?

              You have argued the point and lost. Nice work. Your arguments get weaker and weaker every time nan, and I have no more use than a basement full of cleaned clocks of atheists.


            • It’s the word ‘peer.’

              When OJ Simpson was tried, it was said it was by a ‘jury of his peers.’ It was not. His peers would have been his zillion dollar a year comrades from various sports.

              So ‘peer’ really never impresses, at least not me. How many ‘peer’ studies ‘proved’ Moses never lived?

              Pure garbage. Hope that helped.


            • I know Cr, tkx, but there is still enough suspicion to go around. I have a friend in academia whose ‘peers’ reject the idea of life apart from intelligence, but they simply cannot tolerate the alternative: in the beginning God………..

              They all admit the shortcomings of science which are leveled in any lab; and see nothing but an orderly science…………still…….they resist.


            • Well, there would have to be proof from the scientific method to accept such a thing in science. The orderliness of nature could be evidence for a divine being, but then there are all those pesky defects like the way our throats function that can sometimes lead to choking. So the orderliness could just be natural laws of nature that just are. Or the orderliness may not be so orderly in the first place.


  10. Note to Readers and Followers:

    Due to colorstorm’s humorous remarks, I wanted to include another link related to the study I referenced in my post. Please visit this page to read a study that discusses the intelligence of atheists more definitively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Nan. I got the bat & ball question correct which shocked me as I stink at math. I was wondering something off topic if you don’t mind. Do you think ColorStorm could be a POE? It just seems it / they must be as they/ it are so over the top all the time. Just wondering. hugs


      • POE? Not familiar with the term … but a quick Google turned up the phrase, “Is this guy serious? He’s got to be a poe” … which apparently means “A person who writes a parody of a Fundamentalist that is mistaken for the real thing.”

        If this is what you meant … then I would tend to say no. I think the poor guy is serious.

        Now if you had added a “t” to the end, I’m sure he would revel in the description. He does so love to spout his descriptive poetic language as he harangues non-believers.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hey scott-

      Would a woman’s marriage to her canary be recognized by the state without the birds consent, and without a certificate?

      Since atheists are smarter than believers, be careful how you answer. You do provide a laff a minute with your empty insults. So have fun with this one as you enjoy thoughts on marriage.


      • ColorStorm that you took my question to Nan and my response of expressing a caring emotion towards you as a laugh shows me what type of person & Christian you really are. As to your question You know as well as I it makes no sense, but speaking of consent, did Mary have consent when god forced the holy spirit on her and force impregnated her with a child. That is saying if the whole myth was true. Hugs.


        • Hi scott

          No myth. More reliable than the Astros winning the World Series. More provable than the wetness of water.

          And the words spoken to her: ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God, are words of truth and promise that have outlived Shakespeare, Ronin, Plato, and all dead dunces, thus proving yet again, that no atheist has ever won a single argument against God or scripture.

          Now as to the exaggerated brain of the atheist……………..maybe inflated is the better word.


          • Where does she get to say NO? Please Colorstorm stop trying so hard to stand on a large box and pound your chest. Your attitude comes off as a parody when you go off on untenable tangents. Frankly I have no patience for it. We know that the bible is part myth. We also know the bible borrowed from other religions / faiths that were in vogue before the times of the bible. Stop the insults and discuss the questions in a civilized and non contentious manner or I simply have better things to do than pretend you can offer a decent insult. Besides ColorStorm, I have been insulted far deeper by people far better than you.

            Now again where was the party where god asks if it is OK for him to shove a baby on a young girl, a barely teen girl. Where is her answer oh yes I would love you to give me a baby at my tender age of barely having entered womanhood? in what you sent to me you did not show consent from her, so I guess god raped her? Hugs


            • So the idea of ‘finding favour with God………………’ escapes you? It appears the simple narrative is revolting to you as well.

              Perhaps you should find other suitable ‘myths’ to enjoy, for scripture is a jewel to good hearts; go find a batman comic book to gripe about.


            • Finding favor with god …the sentence is written to show that God favored her. Not anything else. Not even that she favored god. She may have hated his entire idea and been an atheist. The sentence would still be able to read

              ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God

              ColorStorm you are trying to show something that is just not written there because the idea of females having rights in that time did not exist. It would be a long time before females would have the right to say no. But a deity should have known to respect a young girl and not try to Roy Moore her. Hugs


            • OK, I am surprised at your restraint. You are showing more progress at having normal discussions in forums like this. I salute you for that.
              However you still have not answered the consent question. Do you agree in the story god never asked permission or for consent but just chose to impregnate a young teen regardless of her will? Hugs


            • Please explain Nan. I read the sentence as god find her favourable. In the useage of that type phrase in the bible it shows god is pleased with the person. Not that the person was pleased with god. Hugs


            • Well yes I was unfair to Roy Moore as he is not accused of impregnating a 14 yr old. But the fact is God did in that story and my comparison is that both never got consent of the girls in either case. That said if you think my comparison is that far off I defer to your better education. Hugs


            • Ah I understand. It was the fact that consent is currently so much in the news that caused me to think of the entire subject. Moore was the name that came to mind, but I could have used Franken or Packwood or any of the hollywood ones now accused of taking liberties with out consent. I agree that the situations are not identical between the two , Moore and the Christian God. I apologise for my poor choice of words and not being able to make my point clear without giving offence. Hugs


Take Some Time To Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.