At an instinctual level, trained scientists find theism intuitive
A 2013 study indicates that even trained scientists instinctively tend to find purpose in nature, having “teleological tendencies.”
- ScienceDaily: “…even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose... when scientists are required to think under time pressure, an underlying tendency to find purpose in nature is revealed. ...the human mind has a robust default preference for purpose-based explanation that persists from early in development. … the researchers asked a group of physical scientists from top-ranked American universities to judge explanations such as 'Trees produce oxygen so that animals can breathe' or 'The Earth has an ozone layer in order to protect it from UV light' under speeded conditions so they had little time to reflect on their answers.” [Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find (08/12): Online].
- Kelemen D, Rottman J, Seston R.: “…prior research provides reasons to suspect that this explanatory form may represent a default explanatory preference. …In Study 2, we explored this further and found that the teleological tendencies of professional scientists did not differ from those of humanities scholars.” [“Professional physical scientists display tenacious teleological tendencies: Purpose-based reasoning as a cognitive default.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 142(4) (2013): 1074-83.]
Most all atheists find theism intuitive at some base level
For example, a 2013 study indicates that daring God causes atheists stress/sweat.
- Marjaana Lindemana, Bethany Heywood, Tapani Riekkia Tommi Makkonena: “We examined whether atheists exhibit evidence of emotional arousal when they dare God to cause harm to themselves and their intimates. In Study 1, the participants (16 atheists, 13 religious individuals) read aloud 36 statements of three different types: God, offensive, and neutral. In Study 2 (N = 19 atheists), ten new stimulus statements were included in which atheists wished for negative events to occur. The atheists did not think the God statements were as unpleasant as the religious participants did in their verbal reports. However, the skin conductance level showed that asking God to do awful things was equally stressful to atheists as it was to religious people and that atheists were more affected by God statements than by wish or offensive statements. The results imply that atheists' attitudes towards God are ambivalent in that their explicit beliefs conflict with their affective response.” [“Atheists become emotionally aroused when daring God to do terrible things.” International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 24(2) (2013): 124-132.]
The “The Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project” results indicate that humans cross-culturally, from childhood, find theism/theistic-design intuitively compelling
People with a more intuitive thinking style tend to have a stronger presupposition in favor of theism.
Note: By “intuitive,” the following researchers mean “judgments made with little effort based on automatic processes.”
- Amitai Shenhav, David Rand, Joshua Greene: “Some have argued that belief in God is intuitive, a natural (by-)product of the human mind given its cognitive structure and social context. If this is true, the extent to which one believes in God may be influenced by one's more general tendency to rely on intuition versus reflection. Three studies support this hypothesis, linking intuitive cognitive style to belief in God.”
- Study 1 showed that individual differences in cognitive style predict belief in God. Participants completed the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT; Frederick, 2005), which employs math problems that, although easily solvable, have intuitively compelling incorrect answers. Participants who gave more intuitive answers on the CRT reported stronger belief in God. This effect was not mediated by education level, income, political orientation, or other demographic variables.
- Study 2 showed that the correlation between CRT scores and belief in God also holds when cognitive ability (IQ) and aspects of personality were controlled. Moreover, both studies demonstrated that intuitive CRT responses predicted the degree to which individuals reported having strengthened their belief in God since childhood, but not their familial religiosity during childhood, suggesting a causal relationship between cognitive style and change in belief over time.
- Study 3 revealed such a causal relationship over the short term: Experimentally inducing a mindset that favors intuition over reflection increases self-reported belief in God.” [“Divine intuition: Cognitive Style Influences Belief in God”, J Exp Psychol Gen. 141(3) (2012): 423-8.]
There are many people in the world who lack belief in God or gods.
But, so what? Couldn't it simply be that…
Some people assert that they don't find theism intuitive.
But, so what? Couldn't it simply be that…