The Bible and Society

How God’s Word is True

Bible Beliefs Prevents Superstition

Posted by Mats on 27/01/2010

The Wall Street Journal: “Look Who’s Irrational Now”

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway takes a look at stereotype made popular by the media: Christians are irrational, superstitious people, through and through. But does the evidence back that up?

Hemingway starts with a claim by notorious rabble-rouser Bill Maher, who snuck into our under-construction Creation Museum last year while filming for his anti-religion film Religulous.

“You can’t be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you’re drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god,” Hemingway quotes Maher as saying earlier this year.

Last week, however, Baylor University released a comprehensive study, “What Americans Really Believe,” that challenges the idea that religious people are more irrational or superstitious than those who reject religion. In fact, the poll—conducted by the Gallup Organization for Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion—revealed that “Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology,” and indicates that irreligious and those from mainline Protestant denominations are “much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.”

The poll produced an index of belief. On average, 31 percent of those who never attend a house of worship expressed “strong belief” in occult and the paranormal, compared to only 8 percent of those who go to church more than once a week.

Hemingway also uses the new poll as ammunition against detractors of U.S. vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, whose connection to creationism has drawn significant criticism (see Is She Really a Creationist? and News to Note, September 13, 2008 item #8). According to Hemingway, 36 percent of survey respondents belonging to the United Church of Christ (Barack Obama’s former denomination) believed in the paranormal, versus only 14 percent of those in the Assemblies of God (Sarah Palin’s former denomination).

Hemingway, who also cites a 1983 book and 1980 study in support of the recent conclusion, concludes with a quote by Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton: “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can’t see things as they are.”

As such scholars as Rodney Stark (in For the Glory of God) have concluded, belief in the Creator God is a requisite foundation for belief for in a logical, orderly, understandable universe. Without that basis, why should atheists think the universe can be scientifically understood?

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4 Responses to “Bible Beliefs Prevents Superstition”

  1. jasonseneca said

    What are we supposed to infer from this, exactly? I haven’t read the study (and thus cannot comment on the methodology), but I can’t imagine that anyone would be terribly surprised at these results. Fundamentalism, in any form, is exclusive by nature, as it requires the rejection of any concept that does not square with dogma. Of course evangelicals reject paranormal beliefs (that don’t happen to be a part of their belief system already, mind you). I simply have trouble believing that this is the result of heightened rationalism rather than blanket rejection of heretical concepts.

    In short, Bible beliefs prevent superstition in much the same way that quadriplegia prevents tennis elbow.

  2. Mats said

    What are we supposed to infer from this, exactly?

    Only what it says: the stronger the Bible beliefs, the less likely one is to believe in superstition.

    Fundamentalism, in any form, is exclusive by nature, as it requires the rejection of any concept that does not square with dogma.

    Just like Truth.

    Of course evangelicals reject paranormal beliefs (that don’t happen to be a part of their belief system already, mind you).

    And why is that?

    I simply have trouble believing that this is the result of heightened rationalism rather than blanket rejection of heretical concepts.

    Either way, the beneficial outcome is the same: Biblee beliefs prevent irrational superstitious beliefs.

    In short, Bible beliefs prevent superstition in much the same way that quadriplegia prevents tennis elbow.

    You don’t know that it is in the “same way”. Actually, that would be a valid analogy if you could sustain the belief that Bible belief in an impairment (sp?) just like quadriplegia is. Seeing that Bible beliefs breed good behaviour, the analogy fails right at the onset.

  3. Michael Vozniak said

    This study is complete BS. The researchers were obviously biased as hell, and besides, Christians tend to not believe in things like ghosts and palm-reading because they believe that it is SINFUL to believe in such things.

  4. Michael Vozniak said

    Just saying, that in order to have a rational mind, one has to WILLINGLY CHOOSE to not believe in things that are considered unreal, like the paranormal or the occult. Christians, however, are forced to not believe in the occult or paranormal because these people are threatened by hellfire and damnation. Where is the rationality when people are frightened, forced, and in some cases, tortured into believing certain things and not believing in others?

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