June 18, 2012

Autism-God Study Suggests Disorder Makes Belief In Deity Less Likely

Autism God
New autism study suggests that belief in god is less common among people with autism. On average, older individuals have a stronger belief in God than younger age groups.
By: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Published on LiveScience | Full story: HuffPost

People who have more traits of autism are less likely to believe in God that those that do not have such traits, according to new research that suggests that belief is boosted by the ability to see into the minds of others.

This ability, often called theory of mind, or mentalizing, is diminished in people with autism spectrum disorders, a cluster of conditions marked by communication and social difficulties. Because people's beliefs in God are often marked by feelings of having a personal relationship with the deity, prayer and worship may require a sense of what God could be thinking, researchers report Wednesday (May 30) in the journal PLoS ONE.

"Believers intuitively treat gods as intentional agents with mental states who enter into social relationships with humans, using supernatural powers to assuage existential concerns, respond to human desires and monitor their social behavior," the scientists wrote.

Getting personal with God

Brain imaging studies have shown that when people think about God or pray, it activates areas in the brain crucial for theory of mind. Likewise, as children grow and get better at imagining other people's thoughts... READ MORE >>

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