Back in the fall of 2008, I spoke at the MIT Brain Science Center in Boston. One of the people at that talk was Catherine Caldwell Harris, a psychology professor at BU. She asked an interesting question:
Why do you think Asperger people tend to be atheists?
First of all, I had no idea whether or not her premise was even true. Did Asperger people tend to be atheists? I turned the question back to her, and she told me about studies she’d done; exploring the religious views of a large number of people on the spectrum. Within the sample, she had interviewed the majority tended to have what she saw as atheist views.
Since that time, I have conducted a sort of informal poll in the course of my travels, and I have to say my numbers look similar to hers. But I don’t claim to understand the why of it. . .
After discussing that peculiar observation some more, we both wondered if the people’s views were truly atheist, or really “anti-organized-church.” The more I listened to Catherine, the more I felt it was the latter case. I thought Asperger people might shy away from organized churches because their dogma ran against our logical grain.
But I recently saw another study postulating the same thing – that people on the autism spectrum are less religious than the general population – but for a totally different reason – a diminished theory of mind.
Are you on the spectrum and religious? Are you an atheist? Are you spiritual, but not part of a church? Or are you a solid church going believer?