Friday, January 10, 2014

Is There a Creationist Personality?

It often seems as if those of us who accept scientific explanations for natural phenomena and those who like the idea of Jesus riding a dinosaur inhabit completely different realities. A new study may have identified a personality trait that can help to identify those who subscribe to creationist beliefs. A new study conducted by Andrew Village, head of the theology and religious studies program at York St. John University in the United Kingdom, subjected 663 religious individuals to Myers-Briggs personality tests and a questionnaire on their beliefs regarding the Genesis creation story. In analyzing the data, one particularly strong correlation emerged.

Village's survey-takers were recruited in churches and thus were quite religious, with 93 percent reporting they attended church weekly and 90 percent saying they prayed daily. The survey of this group's creationist beliefs and personality traits revealed that the more people preferred "sensing" over intuitive information-gathering, the more likely they were to believe that Genesis should be interpreted literally.

This finding makes sense, Village said. If someone believes the Bible is the word of God, and that the Bible is true, it follows logically that Genesis is true. "When people think, 'Oh, creationists are unthinking people,' they're not," Village said. "They're just using a different system."

Intuitive people are more willing to speculate and less likely to take things at face value, Village reported Dec. 23 in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. More indirectly, "thinkers," or people who prefer logical decision-making, are more likely than feelers to believe in creationism, Village found. This was explained by the fact that thinkers tend to gravitate toward more conservative religious traditions, however.

I'm an intuitive myself, and I will say that when I was Christian I was never a young-earth creationist. I did believe that God created the world and so forth, but I wasn't caught up in minutia like whether or not a "day" had to be exactly 24 hours before the existence of a Sun and Moon. Sensers do tend to be more detail-oriented, so perhaps that explains this aspect of the findings. I'm also a thinker, and I will say that one of the reasons I'm no longer Christian is that I finally found myself unwilling to accept the bits and pieces of it that I liked and leave the rest. I suppose that makes my outlook more conservative, except that how it worked out in practice is that now I'm a Thelemite. It seems strange that logical decision-making would lead a person to believe in young-earth creationism when there's so much evidence against it, but I suppose as with everything else in life your logic can only be as good as your premises.

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