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Welcome to The Secular Gospel According to Jess! In this blog you’ll find everything from cartoons that make me laugh, to quotes that inspire me, to stories of my own personal experience when it comes to dealing with religion and pretty much everything in between. The title of my blog is intended to be ironic, as one doesn’t often hear the word, “gospel”, associated with secularism, but my intent is to preach, for lack of a better word, what I think gospel should really be about: love, rationalism, fairness, equality, human rights, science and truth. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Secular subway?

I live in New York, and I have to applaud the MTA for this disclaimer on one of the ads that I'd seen posted in the subway,

Can a 3 question math quiz determine whether or not you believe in God?

According to this article, "People who are more disposed to analytical thinking, the hypothesis goes, are less inclined to believe in a deity.

In 2012, in the journal Science, social psychologists Will M. Gervais and Ara Norenzayan published the results of five studies suggesting this might be the case."

I don't necessarily agree with the study, because I believe there are many complex factors that affect whether a person gets the correct answer that aren't necessarily dependent on how religious a person is. One of these factors is surely access to education, though it's certainly not a foolproof way to determine someone's religiosity. I'm atheist and college educated, but at first, the answers seemed obvious to me, too. Yet, I knew instinctively that the easy answer was the wrong one. Why was it that I second guessed myself?

Was it because I've been studying for the GRE Exam and expect test makers to try to trick me with deceptively easy questions? (On an honest note, math has never been my strong suit.) Or, was it just because all my years of formal schooling taught me to think about things in more complex ways? Or was it, simply, because as an atheist, I'm just "more disposed to analytical thinking", and my education had little to do with my ability to understand how to answer the questions. In other words, does being atheist make you smarter, or does being smart make you more likely to be atheist?

To make matters even more confusing, I have several friends who are significantly better educated than me who still insist that they believe in God, so, illogical as it may seem (and it does to me, too), I don't think one's level on education is always a good indicator of whether one is religious.

Nevertheless, the results are interesting. Take the quiz and see how you stack up! :)