Did you know you have two minds? Over the past decade, psychologists and cognitive scientists have been slowly building a consensus around this idea. They talk about it in different ways. Some say we have a rational mind and an intuitive mind. Others argue (and I think they’re right) that both minds are rational, so it’s better to say “reflective” and intuitive. Regardless of what you call them, the theory is becoming more and more persuasive. It’s established enough to earn the psychologist Daniel Kahneman a Nobel Prize in economics! He, by the way, just called them System 1 and 2- not super creative. If this is how our mind is organized, where do religious beliefs, or religious experiences, fit in?
I began the series on religious statistics by asking the question: is religion disappearing? Okay, I didn’t ask it that explicitly, but it’s the question at the heart of secularization. And the question keeps intriguing me because it’s so difficult to answer. In America alone there are increasing numbers of religiously unaffiliated, but among those ranks, religion is still described as important to their daily lives. How do we explain that? Worldwide, the picture becomes even more complex.
One of the most difficult things to figure out is why most industrial nations show a decline in religious affiliation, but worldwide the number of people holding strong religious beliefs is at an all time high. How do we juggle these seemingly opposed trends? Continue reading