Theism: neither a child of intuition nor rationality

London, Nov 12 (IANS) Do you believe in God? You will be surprised to know that theism can neither be linked to intuition nor defined as a source of rational thinking.

New research says that religion is a nurture-based process and develops because of socio-cultural processes, including upbringing and education.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has challenged the age-old notion that being a religious believer is determined by how much individuals rely on intuitive or analytical thinking and noted that it was premature to explain the belief in divinity to be intuitive or natural.

“We don’t think people are ‘born believers’ in the same way we inevitably learn a language at an early age. The available sociological and historical data show that what we believe in is mainly based on social and educational factors and not on cognitive styles, such as intuitive or analytical thinking,” said Miguel Farias, Professor at the Oxford University.

“Religious belief is most likely rooted in culture rather than in some primitive gut intuition.”

The researchers included pilgrims to experiment over a brain stimulation experiment. They asked pilgrims about the strength of their beliefs and the length of time spent on the pilgrimage and assessed their levels of intuitive thinking with a probability task, whereby the participants had to decide between a logical and a ‘gut feeling’ choice.

The results found no link between intuitive and analytical thinking, cognitive inhibition – an ability to suppress unwanted thoughts and actions or supernatural beliefs.

Instead, other factors such as upbringing and socio-cultural processes are more likely to play a greater role in religious beliefs, the researchers said.

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