Our research shows there is an inverse relationship between belief and reasoning ability. The more you rely on belief, the less you can use reason and rational thinking processes. Scary, isn’t it. Find out how you can minimize the effects of this condition.
To understand this relationship, we need to look at the effects of faith and belief on our thinking. We don’t think of these as tools, but they are powerful elements that can override common sense and logic. Let’s look at how it works.
The Relationship of Faith and Reason
With a subject like this, you need to define terms. So, we’ll start by explaining what an inverse function is and how it relates to reasoning, faith, and belief. Then we will overview our research by unmasking or revealing the relationship between “belief and reason.”
What is An Inverse Function?
An inverse function is a relationship between two variables. As one increases, the other decreases. So, they respond in opposition to one another; as variable A increases, variable B decreases at roughly the same rate in opposite directions. If variable B increases, variable A decreases. Here are some examples to help you understand this principle.
- If more people are working on the task, it will probably take less time to complete the job. If there are fewer people, the job will take longer.
- Traveling at a faster rate of speed will decrease the time it will take your destination. At a slower pace, it will take longer to get there.
- In the proper operation of a see-saw, as one side goes up, the other side goes down. Balance scales and elevator counter-weights operate the same way.
What is Reasoning?
To reason is to use logic and common sense; it is synonymous with essential cognitive ability (1). “Reasoning” is engaging the analytical capability of the mind to render accurate results. It involves problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, complex idea comprehension, and learning from experience. Rational thinking and logical reasoning are good skills to have.
There are seven tests online tests (2) you can access to measure your reasoning and cognitive skills. Mental health professions use similar tools. Some common factors affect your ability to apply these cognitive abilities.
Your general mental health is one of the critical factors. Your intelligence can affect this ability to some extent, but it is not a deterrent to brainwashing.
Intelligence is something that we can also measure with “some degree” of accuracy with the Intelligence Quotient Test. However, even people who consider themselves highly intelligent are not immune to these mind control techniques.
The main factor in this equation is our worldview. Our worldview is the filter through which we experience reality. It colors everything placing judgments, bias, and prejudice on our perception.
What are Faith and Belief?
Belief is faith and trust in things where there is no proof. Believing in something for which there is no proof is a slippery slope. The more you accept unproven ideas, the more susceptible you become. Organized religion is the champion of groupthink manipulation tactics. They program beliefs about reality based on mythology and superstition.
The more rigid and extreme religious beliefs, the less one uses critical thinking skills. The mind shuts off the ability to consider ideas beyond the boundaries, restrictions, and paradigm. So, as the level of extreme religious beliefs increases, the ability to think critically decreases.
“Religious people claim that it’s just the fundamentalists of each religion that cause problems. But, there’s got to be something wrong with the religion itself if those who strictly adhere to its most fundamental principles are violent bigots and sexists.” — David G. Mcafee
The Inverse Function of Belief And Reason
This inverse relationship between belief and reasoning is a significant finding. It doesn’t matter how healthy your mind is. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are. Religious beliefs overcome our ability to reason and use common sense. This condition is one of the primary functions we find in the most popular religions. Belief in mythology is the basis for the Semitic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Here’s what happens. The more you expose yourself to groupthink manipulation, the more susceptible you become. You believe more and more of the propaganda, and so those in charge of the programming can promote outlandish ideas or actions. Belief in mythology and superstition effectively overcomes critical thinking. And this is why religious extremism is the primary tool for propaganda.
When you buy into extremist ideology, you are the most vulnerable. You are open to the power of suggestion and the most susceptible to accepting extreme prejudicial thoughts, ideas, and values. You fail to recognize illogical arguments and so accept illogical conclusions. Thus, you can think and behave in ways you wouldn’t usually contemplate. The inverse function of belief and faith creates blinders programming people to commit acts of violence.
Thankfully, this condition is not terminal. We can reduce its effectiveness. The more one uses critical thinking skills, the less extreme the individual’s religious beliefs. And conversely, the greater is your ability to consider new ideas and new ways of thinking.
We discovered the relationship when determining the learning readiness of participants. We use a survey to determine if someone is ready to learn. The survey is a set of questions that explores the boundaries of thinking. We know people can only see what their minds will accept or expect.
The readiness to learn assessment helps us and the participant understand their expectations and boundaries. The survey uses a “Likert” scale, which is the most common type for surveys. It has a range of answers, ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
We have been using and refining this survey since the late 1980s. We analyzed data from over 1000 participants. The data shows an inverse function of belief and reasoning ability. The greater their religious views, the less likely they are to consider new ideas. They reject anything that doesn’t fit with their current worldview. It dramatically affects the ability to learn new processes.
The memorization of dogma and the misuse of logic deter learning. People with strong religious beliefs score lower on the seven primary cognitive abilities. It was evident that mythology and superstitions beliefs prevent them from considering some concepts.
Those with inflexible religious beliefs were more likely to lose emotional equilibrium. They had problems considering ideas outside their narrow paradigm and complained of painful physical symptoms from headaches to stomach aches. These symptoms are a sign of cognitive dissonance. Nearly 20% of those with firmly held beliefs fail to complete the survey because of this distress. It is a clear indication of their inability to consider ideas that challenge their worldview.
It’s not if someone has religious beliefs that are the problem. It’s what bias and prejudice are part of the belief system. And, it also depends upon the level of indoctrination one receives. Our data concludes that religious extremism prevents people from thinking and reason for themselves. It sets up boundaries. That’s because reasoning would reveal inconsistencies in thought and values. Without a doubt, the inability to learn directly correlates with firmly held religious beliefs. It means belief and reason are the opposite ends of a continuum of clear thinking.
However, you don’t need a survey to determine the effects of religious extremist thinking. We can see the impact of this thinking worldwide in almost every culture dominated by Western theology.
Not All Religions Are The Same
Thankfully, not all religions are the same. You can group religions on a continuum depending upon the number of boundaries and restrictions. It’s important to understand that not all religions program you to control your thoughts and values.
For example, Taoism and Paganism have the fewest constraints over freethinking. You are free to explore and develop your path. Whereas the extremist sects of Christianity and Islam have the most significant boundaries. Thus, the most restrictions and limitations on independent thought. It all depends on how emotionally invested you are in their sell propositions. It isn’t easy to be a Freethinker because negative programming has such vast social reach and integration. In some cultures, one must demonstrate some level of adherence. Otherwise, you will be subject to punishment up to and including public execution.
How To Test Your Vulnerability
It’s easy to test your readiness to learn and vulnerability to an extremist ideology. When negative emotions and physical pain are triggered, it indicates exposure to harmful programming. You can tell your emotional involvement by your reaction to this discussion. You can determine the level to which the inverse function of belief affects your life.
- If you react with anger to this discussion, then that’s a good sign you are susceptible.
- Do ideas that contradict your beliefs cause you physical discomfort? If so, it’s also a good sign.
- If you believe there are specific ideas, resources (books) that are off-limits, that is a sign.
- Frequent exposure to groupthink manipulation makes you vulnerable to the chosen one mentality. Belonging to an exclusive club makes you feel special.
- And, if this is the case, chances are groupthink manipulation dictates your thoughts, beliefs, and values.
As religious beliefs become more inflexible, your ability to use reason diminishes. You will be less likely to explore other ideas or process which conflict with your current boundaries. Religions are control mechanisms. They program people to reject anything that threatens religion.
Reversing the Effects of Belief
Thankfully, this condition is reversible. But, it requires some work on your part. The results will be worth it. Think about it. You might even become a “Freethinker.” The first step is acknowledging that an inflexible worldview adversely affects rational thinking and common sense. The more extreme your beliefs, the less likely you will be to accepting anything that isn’t a part of the quality check of your perception.
You can increase your cognitive ability by confronting your beliefs—the fewer limitations and restrictions on thinking, the greater your ability to reason. The more you research and study ideas outside your paradigm, the more you will appreciate the freedom of thought.
So, here’s the antidote to the effects of religion. Begin studying critical thinking. Here are some links to our essential “critical thinking toolkit.” This series includes logical reasoning, the truth-seekers axioms, and spotting logical fallacy. These can reduce or eliminate the harmful effects of religious extremism. Conduct independent research using sources from outside the worldview you are investigating.
Our research shows that extremist religious beliefs and reasoning are at odds with one another. Fact is, belief and reason are opposites. The inverse function of faith and belief to rational thinking is scary. Moderates who hold on to their beliefs encourage others who may be more susceptible to extremist ideology.
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(1) Cognitive ability, Gottfredson, 1997, Wikipedia
(2) Seven online tests to measure cognitive abilities, at bigthink.com/matt-davis/7-free-cognitive-tests-to-flex-your-mental-muscle
(3) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia