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Unconscious Learning Fosters Belief in God, Study Finds

“Belief in a god or gods who intervene in the world to create order is a core element of global religions,” Adam Green, an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University, said in a news release. “This is not a study about whether God exists, this is a study about why and how brains come to believe in gods,” said Green, who also serves as the director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition. “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.” For the study, researchers used cognitive tests to measure the prevalence of the ability known as implicit pattern learning among religious communities in the United States and Afghanistan.

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