Research has been done looking at creationists' understanding of evolution, finding that they score considerably lower in understanding than non-creationists (Evans, 2001; McKeachie, Lin, & Strayer, 2002). This is just one example of empirical evidence to my claim—theoretically, the claim makes sense since people favor heuristics and simplicity. The Big Bang theory is incredibly complex whereas "God did it" is much more simple to comprehend. Seeing "Jesus" in bed is easily understood as Jesus actually appearing—unless one understands how common hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations are.
Another good example of this is agency detection, and how our brains are "wired" to detect agency even where agency does not exist. A thorough understanding of this concept provides a naturalistic reason for why we might "sense" ghosts, gods, and spirits. For instance, the wind can create a "sound" at a frequency that is inaudible to humans, but able to be felt. This feeling is often believed to be a supernatural presence. If we have the knowledge of "infrasound" (experimentally confirmed—see the work of Richard Lord at National Physical Laboratory), then we are far less likely to form a belief based on the supernatural. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of similar explanations in social and cognitive psychology that makes anything supernatural very difficult to believe.
Evans, E. M. (2001). Cognitive and Contextual Factors in the Emergence of Diverse Belief Systems: Creation versus Evolution. Cognitive Psychology, 42(3), 217–266. doi:10.1006/cogp.2001.0749
McKeachie, W. J., Lin, Y.-G., & Strayer, J. (2002). Creationist vs. Evolutionary Beliefs: Effects on Learning Biology. American Biology Teacher, 64(3), 189–92.
Bo Bennett, PhD
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