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Average Joe's Corner

Does Autism Preclude Belief in God?

By Joe Aguirre - September 23, 2011
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Hugh Ross addressed that question on a recent Science News Flash podcast. Researchers surveyed the discussions of 192 people who posted on an autism website and determined that people with “mild” forms of autism are more likely to be atheists. A “preference for logical beliefs”—a common autistic spectrum behavior—seems to be one reason why some autistic individuals prefer atheism, according to the University of Boston study .

As a high-functioning autistic himself, Hugh couldn’t wait to do this podcast. In fact, so high-functioning is he, that he passed along about six papers to me simultaneously (hey, I’m just an Average Joe!) before we hopped down to the studio to record the podcast. (I skimmed everything and highlighted quickly.)

I’ll let you listen to the podcast, but obviously Hugh doesn’t fit the mold. He had a lot to say about this study and another one as well on intuition vs. reflection, in which researchers concluded that intuitive thinkers were one-and-a-half times more likely to report they were convinced of God’s existence than were the reflective thinkers.

Hugh takes a positive approach to science and sees this “challenging data” as an opportunity for the church to step up and change its reputation—whether it’s deserved or not. The church should be a place for all people—including those who use their rational, logical minds—to feel perfectly at home. Could it be that in a quest for relevance, the church has blunted the force of a powerful, forever relevant message of the gospel? And that this message ought to be communicated in passionate eloquence that speaks to all hearers, whether intuitive, reflective, autistic, or otherwise?

Your thoughts?


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