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Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Philosophy and God » Does Poor Understanding of Physical World Predict Religious and Paranormal Beliefs?

Does Poor Understanding of Physical World Predict Religious and Paranormal Beliefs?

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Does Poor Understanding of Physical World Predict Religious and Paranormal Beliefs? 1

http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t2487-does-poor-understanding-of-physical-world-predict-religious-and-paranormal-beliefs

Summary: Although supernatural beliefs often paint a peculiar picture about the physical world, the possibility that the beliefs might be based on inadequate understanding of the non-social world has not received research attention. In this study (N =258), we therefore examined how physical-world skills and knowledge predict religious and paranormal beliefs. The results showed that supernatural beliefs correlated with all variables that were included, namely, with low systemizing, poor intuitive physics skills, poor mechanical ability, poor mental rotation, low school grades in mathematics and physics, poor common knowledge about physical and biological phenomena, intuitive and analytical thinking styles, and in particular, with assigning mentality to non-mental phenomena. Regression analyses indicated that the strongest predictors of the beliefs were overall physical capability (a factor representing most physical skills, interests, and knowledge) and intuitive thinking style.

The possibility that supernatural (paranormal or religious) beliefs might be based on inadequate understanding of the physical world has received only little attention. While some researchers have brought up that supernatural beliefs may build on inadequate knowledge of the non-human world, empirical evidence is scarce. Rather, attempts to explain the beliefs have so far focused mostly on the domain-general processes of analytical and intuitive thinking and on such domain-specific reasoning as mentalizing and related biases. Evidence for supernatural believers’ high reliance on intuition, and especially for low analytical thinking, is robust

Findings about mentalizing are fewer, but they indirectly indicate that believers’ physical understanding might be impaired, as discussed next. Earlier studies have shown that people assign intentionality to natural phenomena and human characteristics to God and other supernatural agents, sometimes also to particular inanimate targets such as volcanoes or fairies . Moreover, paranormal and religious believers have been shown to take such statements as ‘Earth wants water’ or ‘Force knows its direction’ as more literally true than skeptics, who interpret the statements more metaphorically;. These studies have addressed only specific mental attributes (e.g., anger, beliefs, and intentions) and only a few, occasional targets (e.g., God and Earth). The results nevertheless imply the possibility that supernatural believers have doubts as to what are the distinctions mental and physical overall because random events, volcanoes, or earth cannot have mental attributes like purpose or beliefs. For these reasons, and because superordinate concepts (e.g., ‘mental’) can be more fundamental, and learned even earlier than their subordinate, more concrete concepts, we wanted here to ask the participants more directly and more comprehensively if they think that basic physical processes and inanimate objects are mental phenomena, akin to thoughts or human beings.

I rarely see pantheists defending that inanimate matter is divine or acts as such. So not a very central or important point, really. The majority of theists do not think so. 

Another potential indication of believers’ poor understanding of the physical world is a tendency for low systemizing. In the Empathizing–Systemizing theory, people who are poor at physical cognition are called low systemizers because they have poor abilities and low interests in such things as map-reading, mathematics, intuitive physics, or technical and motor systems.

Cognition is "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses

In other words, theists are so because they are stupid , or less intelligent.... just expressed more sciency or academical. 

We know only one study where intuitive physical skills and supernatural beliefs have been addressed: found that belief in God was negatively correlated with scores obtained from the Intuitive Physics Test. In addition, two studies have examined the relationship between systemizing and supernatural beliefs but both assessed systemizing only with a self-report questionnaire.  However, another study suggests that low systemizing may be common among supernatural believers.   The most consistent difference between believers and skeptics was that all believer subgroups were average or lower in systemizing, whereas all skeptic subgroups were average or higher in systemizing. Finally, one hint in the same direction is scientific education. Supernatural believers are more often students of humanities and social science than science students, and they have more evolutionary misconceptions than skeptics.

So, because evolution is true, God does not exist.... 

The more the participants believed in religious or other paranormal phenomena, the lower their intuitive physics skills, mechanical and mental rotation abilities, school grades in mathematics and physics, and knowledge about physical and biological phenomena were; the less they reported interests and skills in systemizing; and the more they regarded inanimate targets as mental phenomena.


1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.sci-hub.cc/doi/10.1002/acp.3248/pdf

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