People capable of unconsciously learning complex patterns have stronger belief in a god 


Why and how the human brain develops religious beliefs may stem from our ability to learn, a new study reveals.

Researchers found individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns in the environment believe there is a god who creates order and intervenes in an otherwise chaotic universe.

The study used a cognitive test to measure implicit pattern learning, which showed a sequence of dots appeared and disappeared on a computer screen.

Participants were told to push a button when a dot appeared, but some learned the distinct patter and were able to predict when it would appear – and sometimes before.

The data showed those who noted they had faith in a higher power performed better overall during the experiment. 

The team says the results suggest that children with this ability are likely to increase their faith as they grow-up – even if they are in a nonreligious household.  

Researches found individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns in the environment believe there is a god who creates order and intervene in an otherwise chaotic universe. The study used cognitive test to measure implicit pattern learning

The belief of ‘why’ and ‘how’ an individual believes in a higher power has been the holy grail of scientists for centuries.

Modern-day technology has probed the human brain with the hopes of answering these questions.

Previous studies found regions associated with feelings and intentions become activated when the person’s ponders about religion.

Other experts suggest humans are born to believe in a higher power for a better chance of survival.

When a dot appeared, they pushed a button and the dots would move faster as the test carried on. The team observed some participants subconsciously learned the patterns of the dots and pushed the button for the next dot before it appeared

When a dot appeared, they pushed a button and the dots would move faster as the test carried on. The team observed some participants subconsciously learned the patterns of the dots and pushed the button for the next dot before it appeared

But researchers at Georgetown University believed it comes down to learning abilities.

Adam Green, the study’s senior investigator, said: ‘Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions.’

‘This is not a study about whether God exists, this is a study about why and how brains come to believe in gods.

‘Our hypothesis is that people whose brains are good at subconsciously discerning patterns in their environment may ascribe those patterns to the hand of a higher power.’

The team investigated the concept of implicit learning, which is learning complex information in an incidental manner.

The study used a cognitive test that measures the ability, which asked participants to watch as sequence of dots appear and disappear on a computer screen.

When a dot appeared, they pushed a button and the dots would move faster as the test carried on.

The team observed some participants subconsciously learned the patterns of the dots and pushed the button for the next dot before it appeared.

The team conducted the studies with two different groups – a predominately Christian group in the US and a Muslim group in Afghanistan

The team conducted the studies with two different groups – a predominately Christian group in the US and a Muslim group in Afghanistan

Co-author Zachery Warren said: 'The most interesting aspect of this study, for me, and also for the Afghan research team, was seeing patterns in cognitive processes and beliefs replicated across these two cultures'

Co-author Zachery Warren said: ‘The most interesting aspect of this study, for me, and also for the Afghan research team, was seeing patterns in cognitive processes and beliefs replicated across these two cultures’

However, even the best implicit learners did not know that the dots formed patterns, showing that the learning was happening at an unconscious level.

The team conducted the studies with two different groups – a predominately Christian group in the US and a Muslim group in Afghanistan.

Co-author Zachery Warren said: ‘The most interesting aspect of this study, for me, and also for the Afghan research team, was seeing patterns in cognitive processes and beliefs replicated across these two cultures.’

‘Afghans and Americans may be more alike than different, at least in certain cognitive processes involved in religious belief and making meaning of the world around us. Irrespective of one’s faith, the findings suggest exciting insights into the nature of belief.’

‘A brain that is more predisposed to implicit pattern learning may be more inclined to believe in a god no matter where in the world that brain happens to find itself, or in which religious context,’ Green adds, but notes further investigation is necessary.

‘Optimistically,’ Green concludes, ‘this evidence might provide some neuro-cognitive common ground at a basic human level between believers of disparate faiths.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk