This is where the language of atheism becomes a bit more frightening. Give up their myths and embrace the truth. The world would be so much better if only people would give up their beliefs and take up my belief. Sounds a bit like the very religions being criticized because I am sure each of them would argue the world as being a better place if only people would believe. The simple truth is that neither one of us knows the Truth of the matter. Stating that people should give up their belief for the Truth is disingenuous and insulting because you don’t know the truth either.
...except it's not "belief" so much as "I'll be with the evidence." And therein lies the difference. Any atheist I can think of would believe in any god you care to name, if you could provide some real evidence to support it. Religions tend not to place this emphasis on accepting the world as it actually is.
As for religiosity affecting critical thinking, once more the historical evidence does not support the conclusion. Critical thinking does prevent extremism and bring people back from a more “fire and brimstones” approach, but does not dissuade people from their faith. A study showing the effects of invoking analytical thought showed that there was a decrease in the religious nature of respondents to questions afterward, but there was not a loss of faith. Many nations that would be considered religious also produce top scientists and conduct cutting edge research in a vast array of fields. From India, Europe and the United States there are a great many critical thinkers and researchers. The United States is less religious than it has been in the past and quite honestly is now considered less innovative than at any time in its past.Are you certain this doesn't happen?
I notice that the study you mention doesn't look at applying critical thinking to religion
. Perhaps that's the key. Whatever the reason, there are a lot
of recovering theists in the atheist community, and a lot of their stories sound very similar.
Currently the number of Americans believing in creationism is at 30% as of 2011. This number is down from the poll taken in 2009 where 39% of Americans believed creationism. Of course another poll done in 2012 puts the number at 46%, while stating that the number is down 6%. As someone that studied social science and statistics, this shows more a difference in methodology of the survey and not a reflection in the respondents to be honest. The belief in evolution of Americans has remained steady at around 50%. Problem that many statisticians have with this survey is that Christians, especially Catholics, are known for answering written questions as if the Pope were behind them and in the exit interview maintaining a completely different mindset. (Very frustrating for research). Considering the wide variance in numbers, I think this still holds to be true.
All right, I should've verified the numbers; I'll concede the point here. That said, young-earth creationism is still a recent phenomenon, which still speaks of running further
from the evidence. For that matter, it's well-established in the literature of psychology that the immediate response when confronted with evidence that contradicts a deeply-held belief is to double down, not accept the correction. This is an instinct that has to be fought against constantly, and I don't see many churches even making the attempt.
Vanity also shows the problem with forcing dogmatic thinking on the religious. People enjoy fighting with the straw man of the religious, wanting to fight the literalist and the extremist. Problem is that few people are the straw man. To have someone that is non-religious tell someone that is religious that they must believe in this book because all religious people do is a gross generalization and inaccurate. Similar to saying that all Americans must be war mongers because that is how Americans just are.
I'm not saying every theist is an extremist or a literalist. I'm saying that there are theistic circles where this behaviour is accepted, encouraged, and in some cases even required. I do hold that every theist is thinking dogmatically at some level - how else does one come to the conclusion that a single, extremely narrow view must be the correct one in the absence (and sometimes even in the face) of evidence to support it?
As for comparing Harry Potter to religious texts….I will abstain. Sorry if I refuse to insult the culture of other people by having their religious texts and writings brought down to a children’s novel.
I used it because it was the example to hand. Would it help if I said "Tolkien" instead? I submit that his writing is better, on a literary-criticism level, than most religious texts. Why should they get special status when his works don't?