Study Shows Our Minds Are Tuned to Believe

“It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods,” according to a new report appearing in the journal New Scientist.1 A group of scientists undertook the task of studying the “science” of religion, which they suggested “probably evolved for survival.” Or did it?

The researchers studied cognition patterns in children to test their capacity for belief in the supernatural. According to anthropologist Justin Barrett from the University of Oxford, children “have a strong natural receptivity to believing in gods because of the way their minds work.” Paul Bloom, a Yale University psychologist, noted that humans of an early age have an “innate assumption that mind and matter are distinct.”1 This assumption provides some of the basic framework for mankind to be able to consider the divine.

They also found that people possess a sense that “primes us to see purpose and design everywhere.” This tendency, also required for religion, is supposedly an “over-attribution of cause and effect.” And the researchers also discovered that “education and experience teach us to override…the default setting of the human brain.”1

Studies of both children and adults, near and far, atheists and theists, led the researchers to conclude that “religion is an inescapable artefact of the wiring in our brain.”1 Psychologist Pascal Boyer concluded that “disbelief requires effort,” for a man must willfully reprogram these innate assumptions if he intends to disbelieve in God. But this sounds like something the apostle Peter knew long ago: “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old.”2

There is thus strong empirical evidence that human brains were “finely tuned” to believe in the supernatural, with confirmation that extra labor and “education” is required to override that basic programming. Since humans were made for God’s good pleasure,3 these observations are exactly consistent with the creation message of the Bible. It seems clear now that only willing, purposeful ignorance would cause people to not believe.

References

  1. Brooks, M. 2009. Born believers: How your brain creates God. New Scientist. 2694: 30-33.
  2. 2 Peter 3:5.
  3. Revelation 4:11.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

Article posted on February 18, 2009.

The Latest
NEWS
Giving Day Today!
Hello, Friends. North Texas Giving Day is finally here! Will you partner with us? Your generosity will help ICR proclaim the truth and accuracy...

TESTIMONIALS
Answers to Build Your Faith
Hello, I’m Bill West, ICR’s System Administrator. Thirteen years ago, a man dedicated to God’s Word shared the gospel with me, and...

NEWS
Newly-Discovered Brain Cell
Someone said the three-pound human brain is the most complex and least-understood biological structure in the known universe. Scientific research regarding...

TESTIMONIALS
Biblical Creation for Everyone
Hello, my name is Rebecca Barber. I work here at ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics, and I recently finished a project detailing the history...

NEWS
WWII Plane Found Frozen in Greenland Ice
A team has located a World War II P-38 Lightning fighter plane beneath more than 300 feet of ice in Greenland. They first found hints of the plane’s...