The inverse relationship of faith and reason is a disturbing but predictable finding. The more you rely on belief, the less you use 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 elements that can override common sense and logic. Let’s look at how it works.
What is An Inverse Function?
With a subject like this, you need to define terms. So, we’ll explain an inverse function or relationship and how it relates to reasoning, faith, and belief. Then we will overview our research by unmasking or revealing the relationship of faith and reason. (1)
An inverse function is a relationship between two variables. As one increases, the other decreases. The variables respond in opposition to one another; as variable “A” increases, variable “B” decreases. If variable “B” increases, variable “A” decreases. Here are some examples to help you understand this principle.
- If more people work on the task, it will probably take less time to complete. 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.
We find this same inverse function happens with people. We’ll explain how we discovered this inverse relationship in a moment. Let’s look at the elements of this equation between faith and reason.
What is Reasoning?
To reason is thinking with common sense and logic. It is an essential cognitive ability for survival (2). “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 several online tests (3) to access to measure your reasoning and cognitive skills. Mental health professions use similar tools to assess their clients.
Your general mental health is one of the critical factors which affects thinking. Your intelligence can affect this ability, but it is not a deterrent to brainwashing.
Intelligence Quotient Test measures intelligence with a fair degree of accuracy. However, even people who consider themselves highly intelligent are not immune to mind control techniques used in propaganda and religious indoctrination. The main factor in this equation is the filter of our worldview, which colors everything with a pre-assigned set of judgments, biases, and prejudice.
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.
“Faith is the absence of reason. It is the suppression of any evidence that contradicts the articles of faith.” — Guru Tua
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 paradigms. So, as the level of extreme religious beliefs increases, the ability to think critically decreases.
The Inverse Relationship of Faith and Reason
The relationship between faith, 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 faith and beliefs overcome our ability to reason and use common sense. This condition is one of the primary functions in the most popular religions.
Here’s what happens. The more you expose yourself to groupthink manipulation, the more susceptible you become. You believe more and more in 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 therefore religious extremism is the primary tool for propaganda.
Not coincidentally, faith and belief in mythology are the basis of the Semitic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Their control in the cultural narrative depends on the inverse relationship of faith and reason. They use this distortion to grow and maintain their customer base.
“You are a human being before any label, handicap, disease, or disorder. You are entitled to dignity. This is the human race’s one religion that unites us, yet it is our hatred and lack of tolerance that distorts our faith to a place of justification. This justification will always be in the oppressor’s benefit.” — Shannon L. Alder
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 would not 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 you use critical thinking skills, the less likely you will adopt extreme 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 combination of survey tools 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, 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 clearly shows an inverse relationship of faith and reason. The greater their confidence in religious views, the less likely they are to consider new ideas. They have a tendency to reject anything that doesn’t fit with their current worldview. It dramatically affects the ability to learn new processes. It also affects the learning environment for others in the group.
Clearly, the memorization of dogma and the misuse of logic deter learning. People with strong religious beliefs score lower on the primary cognitive abilities. It was evident that mythology and superstitions 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 cannot complete the survey because of this distress, which shows 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 reasoning 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 on the number of boundaries and restrictions. It’s important to understand that not all religions program you to control your thoughts and values.
Look at the systems which have the fewest boundaries. Many forms of Paganism have few constraints. Taoism is another philosophy with very few limits on what you can believe.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are religions with rigid and archaic standards that dictate what you can think and do. The systems of the Abrahamic tree, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, are systems based on ancient biases and prejudices and have the largest number of constraints on freethinking. The level of control these mythologies have depends on your level of indoctrination. In some cultures, one must show some level of adherence. Otherwise, you will be subject to punishment, including public execution—freethinking is prohibited.
How To Test Your Vulnerability
It’s easy to test your readiness to learn and vulnerability to an extremist ideology. Negative emotions and physical pain show exposure to harmful programming. You can tell your emotional involvement by your reaction to this discussion. You can determine the level at 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.
- A significant sign is a belief that specific ideas and resources (books) are off-limits.
- 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 processes 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 your beliefs, the less likely you will be to accept 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 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 tools for spotting logical fallacies. 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. 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 to be more susceptible to extremist ideology.
If you have questions about the information presented, please use the contact button to reach us.
(1) Inverse Function: https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/free-cognitive-tests/
(2) Causes and Consequences of Cognitive Functioning Across the Life Course: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3289095/
(3) Seven online tests to measure cognitive abilities: https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/free-cognitive-tests/