(Article first published as Study Suggests Analytical Thinking Hazardous to Your Faith in God on Technorati)
The results of a study published a few days ago in the journal Science suggest that people who think analytically tend to have less religious faith than those who don’t think that way. Based on the study, faith in God is more of an intellectual process than we first thought. So are we to regard analytical thinking as a liability to our efforts to have strong faith in God?
As part of the study, students were subjected to several exercises during which one group engaged its analytical skills more than the other group did. Those who went with more of a gut feeling tended to score higher on the religious belief scale, according to the study results.
I am not sure how to reconcile the study with the reality of how we get faith in God. First of all, faith in God is not as simple as these tests suggest. The Bible says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). To get a better understanding of what this verse means, one must know that this verse belongs to a discourse that addresses the preaching of the gospel. In that tenth chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul the apostle explains that an objective of preaching is to proclaim the Word of God so others can hear about Jesus, and in turn believe on Him. Accordingly, active faith in God and in Christ comes about by hearing the witness of Scriptures proclaimed through preaching and by studying the Bible.
Moreover, faith in God is not a unilateral action, but it involves the work of the Holy Spirit in our heart: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” Jesus says (John 6:44).
I hereby admit that I know churchgoers whose minds are like mental strongholds. They can give you a thousand and one reasons why they feel justified being skeptics. But the Bible has one term for all who fail to exercise genuine faith in God. It is called unbelief, and it is with no regard to whether or not the person is an analytical thinker.
Speaking from my own experience, being an engineer, from day one I have critically read the Bible. Being analytical is a way of life for me. My being an analytical reader, however, did not make it a struggle for me to become a person with strong religious convictions concerning God. This speaks to the mystery of the process of acquiring true faith.
So is analytical thinking hazardous to your faith in God? I say absolutely not. And I strongly reject the idea that to have strong faith in God, one must be mindless or not use his or her brain.
Copyright © 2012 by Frank King. All rights reserved.