New University of Otago research suggests that when non-religious people think about their own death they become more consciously skeptical about religion, but unconsciously grow more receptive to religious belief. [emphasis mine]

Death Anxiety Increases Atheists' Unconscious Belief in God

While death-priming made religious participants more certain about the reality of religious entities, non-religious participants showed less confidence in their disbelief,"...


Tags: fear of death

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The techniques used to study unconscious beliefs include measuring the speed with which participants can affirm or deny the existence of God and other religious entities....

"These findings may help solve part of the puzzle of why religion is such a persistent and pervasive feature of society. Fear of death is a near-universal human experience and religious beliefs are suspected to play an important psychological role in warding off this anxiety."


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