Our research shows there is an inverse relationship between belief and reasoning ability. This means 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.
Inverse Function of Belief And Reason
With a subject like this, you need to define terms. So, we’ll start by explaining an inverse function, 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 task 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 think rationally. Rational thinking, common sense, and reasoning ability are synonymous with cognitive ability (1). This is the capacity to engage in common sense thinking. 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 7 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 key factors. Your intelligence is also something that affects this ability. Intelligence is something that we can also measure with “some degree” of accuracy with the Intelligence Quotient Test. However, even highly intelligent people can have diminished reasoning skills.
A factor that overrides everything 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
Unmasking the Inverse function of Belief
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 buy into the propaganda, and so they can promote outlandish ideas or actions. This effectively overcomes critical thinking. 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.
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.
This helps us and the participant understand their expectations and boundaries. The survey uses a “Likert” scale. This is the type of scale that is most common 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. This greatly affects the ability to learn new processes.
The memorization of dogma and the misuse of logic deter learning. Their scores on the seven primary cognitive abilities were lower than those with no religious beliefs. And, they had superstitions that prevented them from considering some concepts.
Those with strong beliefs were more likely to lose emotional equilibrium. They had problems considering ideas outside their narrow paradigm. This is a sign of cognitive dissonance. Nearly 20% of those with firmly held beliefs fail to complete the survey. This shows their inability to consider ideas that conflict with their beliefs.
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 thinking rationally would reveal the inconsistencies in thought and values. Without a doubt, the inability to learn directly correlates with firmly held religious beliefs.
However, you don’t need a survey to determine the effects of religious extremist thinking. We can see the effects 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. 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 extraordinary 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. This is because these systems have 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 vulnerability to an extremist ideology. Your identity and emotions are critical. 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, then that is also a good sign.
- If you’ve been told, 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 important.
- 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 the 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 has an adverse effect on 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 basic critical thinking toolkit. This series includes logical reasoning, logical axioms, and spotting logical fallacy. These can reduce or eliminate the adverse effects of religious extremism. Conduct your own research. Use sources from outside the paradigm you research.
Extremist religious belief and your basic cognitive abilities are at odds with one another. The inverse function of faith and belief to rational thinking is scary. Moderates who hold on to their beliefs only encourage others who may be more susceptible to extremist ideology.
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(1) Cognitive ability, Gottfredson, 1997, Wikipedia
(2) 7 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