The Echoes of the Mind (101) Religion & Cognition

Religion & Cognition

Religious belief acts as a mental swaddle: offering the comfort of certitude in an often-uncertain world. Religion provides a sure moral compass, however errant its holder may be. Threats of damnation aside, religion is a conceptual sunshine that keeps one out of the shadow of doubt.

Emotional resonance helps religious people to feel more certain. The more moral correctness they see in something, the more it affirms their thinking. In contrast, moral concerns make nonreligious people feel less certain. ~ American psychologist Anthony Jack

Retaining one’s religion may require shunning facts to the contrary if they cannot be somehow twisted and slotted into the belief system. Religiosity is antithetical to open-minded analytic reasoning. The more dogmatic someone is, the less likely that person is to consider alternative perspectives. Beyond base cunning, religion is stultifying.

Religious individuals may cling to certain beliefs, especially those which seem at odds with analytic reasoning, because those beliefs resonate with their moral sentiments. ~ American psychologist Jared Friedman

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While religiousness is characterized by devotion to a specific tradition, set of principles, or code of conduct, spirituality is associated with the direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we’re all connected. ~ Canadian psychologist Jacob Hirsh

Whereas religious people tend to have more pro-social intentions, spiritual people feel more connected to others. There is a distinction between wanting to be part of a group and feeling a universality in the human condition. These divergent senses have a political cast.

There’s great overlap between religious beliefs and political orientations. Religious individuals tend to be more conservative and spiritual people tend to be more liberal. ~ Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson

Fear is the fuel that powers a person to believe. As such, it is unsurprising that religiousness and conservatism are hand-in-glove. By contrast, spiritual people and liberals alike think that people must have the freedom to take their own path. Whereas conformity is a positive value to conservatives and religious believers, it is incidental in adjudging others to liberals and the spiritually inclined.