Atheist? Agnostic? You Just Might be Autistic

Frankly, that would explain rather a lot.

Historically the study of religious belief was as far from the purview of cognitive science as any topic in human behavior could be. This has changed over the last decade as cognitive science has come to be the field where it is legitimate to combine in a single research program disparate disciplines, even when they are outside the traditional cognitive science area of computer modeling of information processing tasks. Recently, the “cognitive science of religion” has emerged as a research program in which religion is understood as a product of cognitive aspects of the mind, such as an exaggeration of the normal human ability to infer agency, impose patterns on noise, and infer others mental states (Guthrie, 1993; Barrett, 2004). We suggest that individual differences in cognitive styles is an important predictor of human belief systems, including religious belief. An extreme type of cognitive style is high functioning autism. The 2 studies reported here found that individuals with HFA have a higher rate than neurotypicals of endorsing atheism and agnosticism. HFA individuals thus resemble another group of high-systemizers (scientists), who also reject religious belief at a relatively high rate.

So Stuart opines

Let me clarify: this research does not indicate that most atheists are high functioning autistics; but that a large proportion of high functioning autistics are atheists.

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One thought on “Atheist? Agnostic? You Just Might be Autistic

  1. Steve Allison 19 Sep 2011 at 7:56 pm

    This was mentioned by Joe Carter ‘s Evangelical Outpost several years ago. He writes for First Things now, I believe. A year or so ago I googled the topic again but didn’t learn much. There may be something to it and I’d like to learn more.


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