Does Believing in God Make You Dumb?
A study links life-changing religious experiences, like being born again, with atrophy in the hippocampus.
The article, “Religious factors and hippocampal atrophy in late life,” by Amy Owen and colleagues at Duke University represents an important advance in our growing understanding of the relationship between the brain and religion. The study showed greater atrophy in the hippocampus in individuals who identify with specific religious groups as well as those with no religious affiliation. It is a surprising result, given that many prior studies have shown religion to have potentially beneficial effects on brain function, anxiety, and depression.
I guess religion could have that potential benefit for people who fear death (ie, not dying and pain, but the concept of an after-life and all that may entail). xx tal
I guess for proof all we need to do is point to this currant batch of Governing Body members and we can rest our case.
In this study, Owen et al. used MRI to measure the volume of the hippocampus, a central structure of the limbic system that is involved in emotion as well as in memory formation. They evaluated the MRIs of 268 men and women aged 58 and over, who were originally recruited for the NeuroCognitive Outcomes of Depression in the Elderly study, but who also answered several questions regarding their religious beliefs and affiliation. The study by Owen et al. is unique in that it focuses specifically on religious individuals compared to non-religious individuals. This study also broke down these individuals into those who are born again or who have had life-changing religious experiences.
The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again.
The authors offer the hypothesis that the greater hippocampal atrophy in selected religious groups might be related to stress. They argue that some individuals in the religious minority, or those who struggle with their beliefs, experience higher levels of stress. This causes a release of stress hormones that are known to depress the volume of the hippocampus over time. This might also explain the fact that both non-religious as well as some religious individuals have smaller hippocampal volumes.
This is an interesting hypothesis. Many studies have shown positive effects of religion and spirituality on mental health, but there are also plenty of examples of negative impacts. There is evidence that members of religious groups who are persecuted or in the minority might have markedly greater stress and anxiety as they try to navigate their own society. Other times, a person might perceive God to be punishing them and therefore have significant stress in the face of their religious struggle. Others experience religious struggle because of conflicting ideas with their religious tradition or their family. Even very positive, life-changing experiences might be difficult to incorporate into the individual’s prevailing religious belief system and this can also lead to stress and anxiety. Perceived religious transgressions can cause emotional and psychological anguish. This “religious” and “spiritual pain” can be difficult to distinguish from pure physical pain. And all of these phenomena can have potentially negative effects on the brain.
As an adult does believing in a real living Santa Klaus or the Esther Bunny indicate your a sandwich short of a picnic? Just saying.........
It just seems sometimes that God is as ''fictional'' as the above.
Believing in God does not make you dumb , as can be shown by history .Many scientific , medical ,industrial , innovative , achievements have been made over the Centuries by men and women who have had belief in the Bible.
Believing in charlatans , self delusional people who claim to be God`s only spokesperson for God ,false prophets ,cults , etc.
,Believing in these types , can certainly lead you down the path , whereby you become dumb by suspending reason and critical thinking and blindly accepting what they say as "truth"
I do not trust one study - give me more! Research, and you will see, that individual scientists can be bought - by Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and for egotistical means.
Tesla vs. Edison ........ anyone? Corruption is a fact of life in every profession, including science and academia.
We must use our critical skills, and also see that as life changes, so does science. We must stretch our minds, and realize that possibilities are endless! Let us not be so arrogant to *believe* that current knowledge is the only *correct* knowledge. Only a short time ago, doctors did not know about viruses, string theory was laughed out of the scientific community in the 1950s and 60s, and etc.
Open your mind. : ))
We have to qualify a few things that it appears some of us ex-JWs have yet to shake off.
For years the Watchtower has taught us that "belief" in God and doctrines is what is important. Many of us who are atheist have come to assume that thus is the mindset of all religious people, namely that they "believe" in God.
But we have to let go of this Watchtower-ism as well. Not all religious people "believe" because, unlike the lie of the uneducated and very ignorant Watchtower, some religions find "belief" far from efficacious.
In Judaism, "belief" in God and doctrines is irrelevant and unnecessary. The mantra "God is dead" was actually invented by some Jews who survived the Holocaust. Many of these same Jews are still religious, however.
Catholic and Protestant critical theology teaches that the Fundamentalist call to "faith" is actually a warping of the New Testament teaching. The Greek words for "faith" and "belief" are actually one and the same, and they are better rendered "faithfulness (or faithful action)" and "give trust." The idea of having a "mental acknowledgment" that there is a God, scholars teach, is not a New Testament idea. The only reference to it is James 2:19 where the author states that mere "belief" in God makes a person no better than the demons.
But I do have to insist that those that reduce the idea of "God" to a mere mental acknowledgment do tend to act ignorant of some of the most credible realities such as evolution, climate change, etc. I assume it is this same attitude that makes them likewise ignore the above critical scholarship in exchange for mere "belief," so perhaps in this vein the answer to the OPs question leans not too little toward the affirmative. But in light of the above, especially since the Watchtower-ism of universal belief among the religious is not genuine, it cannot be said of all who embrace a religious conviction.
Not believing or accepting human ignorance is a detrimental folly in itself.