The defects of believers

I try to make it a habit of reading several websites that have no love for religion in general or Christianity in particular. They love scientific studies because you know science is good, religion is bad. They really love studies that take a shot at religion. As Alex Fradera explains,

The number of people who claim to have “No religious belief” is fast-growing in America and Europe, but the number expressing religious belief is growing faster. What’s more, the irreligious category includes fans of astrology, tarot reading or the paranormal. The tenacity of supernatural belief has prompted scientists to try understand its basis, and so far their answers have mostly implied a defect in believers: the religious have a bias in their visual attention; people with supernatural belief fall for bullshit statements. Now, in a study in Applied Cognitive Psychology, comes the suggestion that believers struggle to understand the physical world.

It’s not pretty. Believers struggle with scientific concepts, are gullible and are inherently biased in their attention. Defective humans! Of course!

This latest study (conducted in Finland) asked “participants to report their religious beliefs – that “there exists an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God” – as well as beliefs in paranormal phenomena like telepathy and precognition. Then they completed a series of online tests and questionnaires tapping their demographics and psychological traits.”

Believers, shock horror, came out worse. Now the headlines all tend to focus on belief as if it was religion that caused it or that religion somehow preys on people too stupid to think otherwise. But they need to be careful who you mock.

Consistent with past research, Lindeman and Svedholm-Häkkinen found that believers were more likely to be women, intuitive thinkers, and less likely to think analytically.

Unsurprisingly in these progressive sites the focus is on religion as the culprit but notice an unfortunate contributing factor: gender! Not so many headlines in these places about the gullibility of women, or their lower ability to ‘think analytically’ are there?

Even in this critique of the research Alex Fradera makes no comment about this. It is a very awkward truth: women are more likely to believe in God than men. Women are more likely to visit their astrologer, look at their tarot cards, read their horoscopes and go to church, synagogue or temple. Therefore if religion is really such a bad thing then it is being propped up all over the world by women. The poor gullible things.

 As Stephen Carter notes:

Even as the U.S. and Europe see the growth of atheism and agnosticism, religious faith in general and Christianity in particular continue to explode in parts of the world that aren’t as white. That’s why the Vatican, for example, sees developing nations as the future of the church. And around the globe, the people most likely to be Christians are women of color.

He follows up with this anecdote which is not as uncommon as you think.

A few years ago, a well-known progressive commentator mused to his large Twitter following that sometimes he wishes all the Christians would just disappear. I would like to believe he was simply too uninformed to realize that he was wishing for a whiter world.

Not only a whiter world, but a more male one and that is not a very progressive idea at all.

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