Atheism and analytic thinking
Liberal Studies Department
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies
Arts and Humanities
Recent atheistic attempts to explain religion away have relied on work in the cognitive science of religion. Unbelief, however, has not received nearly so much attention. One common claim is that atheism is the result of careful, reflective, evidence-sensitive, analytic thinking, while theism is based on hasty, sloppy, evidence-insensitive, intuitive thinking. A recent study, Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief by Will M. Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, published in the prestigious journal, Science, makes just such a claim. I critically analyze Gervais and Norenzayans study that suggests that atheism is associated with analytic thinking whereas religious believers are more likely intuitive thinkers. I argue that, like religious belief, there are many cognitive and cultural paths to atheism and that the study's claim that analytic thinking promotes religious disbelief is, at this point, unfounded.
Cognitive science of religion, philosophy and theology
Clark, Kelly, "Atheism and analytic thinking" (2014). Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants. 951.