The Templeton Foundation needs to quit funding scientific research of religion. It seems like they’re shooting themselves in the foot at every turn. First they proved that prayer doesn’t work. Now they’ve proven that the more radically religious believers — evangelicals, born-agains, and the like have smaller brains than the rest of us. They literally have less gray matter to work with.
Admittedly, it’s difficult not to chuckle about this. For many non-believers, it’s almost too good to be true. Has science really proven that the radically religious are dumber than the rest of us?
Well… maybe, and maybe not. Causation is a real booger in studies like this, and it’s unclear whether the decreased brain size is a result of being religious, the cause of it, or some sort of peripheral effect. It’s also unclear whether it translates to an effective decrease in mental capacity or problem solving ability.
But the correlation is definitely intriguing, and it certain feels correct for any of us who have literally beaten our heads against walls trying to explain basic logic to evangelicals.
Intriguingly, it also suggests something that might perturb the most hard-line atheists. Perhaps there really is a difference between moderate theists and extremists. Protestants and Catholics — defined as religious people who professed no “personal experience” with a deity — did not show a marked decrease in brain size.
We will be eagerly awaiting the replication study…