A new study has debunked the notion that religious people are ‘born believers.’
Researchers from the universities of Coventry and Oxford conducted the study, which included a test, mathematical puzzles, and brain stimulation exercises, Science Daily reports.
The study found that there was no link between intuitive or analytical thinking and supernatural beliefs. Instead, it showed that social, cultural and educational factors have the most influence on a person’s religious beliefs.
Academics from Coventry University’s Centre for Advances in Behavioral Science and neuroscientists and philosophers at Oxford University conducted the study. The first test was given to pilgrims taking part in Camino de Santiago, one of the largest pilgrimage routes in the world.
The researchers interviewed the pilgrims and asked about the strengths of their beliefs and the length of time they spent on the journey. Then, the subjects were given a probability task to determine their levels of intuitive thinking. They were asked to select between a logical choice and a ‘gut feeling’ choice.
The results suggested no link between religious belief and intuition or rational thinking.
The pilgrims were then given a set of mathematical puzzles and in the last part of the study, a brain stimulation exercise. The results established the findings of the first round of tests.
This study challenges a common misconception that religious people are more intuitive and people who think analytically have little or no faith.
“What drives our belief in gods — intuition or reason; heart or head?” asked lead author Miguel Farias. “There has been a long debate on this matter, but our studies have challenged the theory that being a religious believer is determined by how much individuals rely on intuitive or analytical thinking.”
Published in Scientific Reports, the study concluded that culture, and not intuition, is the greatest factor in a person’s religious beliefs.