Religious People are Less Smart, More Empathetic Says Study

First Posted: Apr 02, 2016 05:20 AM EDT

A recent study revealed that religious people - and those who believe in god and the supernatural - are less critical and more in tune with empathy than their non-religious counterparts.

According to a group of scientists from the Case Western Reserve University and Babson University, there is a clear demarcation between the parts of the brain utilized for religious belief and critical thinking. The study found that people who are more empathetic have are less capable of critical thinking.

The report also revealed a link between spirituality and empathy, and inferred that people with a higher inclination towards religious beliefs to be more moral and understanding. Spiritual thinkers, for example, have a higher tendency to engage in religious practices, prayers and meditation. On the other hand, the research implies that people who tend focus on analytic reasoning based on science actually compromise their ability to cultivate a different type of thinking.

"When there's a question of faith, from the analytic point of view, it may seem absurd," said Tony Jack, a philosophy professor at Case Western Reserve who led the research. "But, from what we understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking to help us achieve greater social and emotional insight."

The researchers stressed that being religious or empathetic doesn't translate to not believing in science. They noted that some of the most accomplished scientists have had a strong religious inclination.

The study suggests that those who can create a fine balance between science and religious thinking tend to be more successful in coming up with scientific innovations. Furthermore, the researchers claim that difference between science and faith lies in people's minds and that it is more progressive when the two sides can work together without conflict. 

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