START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
900,633 people care about Education

Autism and Belief in God

  • 2 of 2

Baron-Cohen’s work is often referred to but in practice, both autistics and parents of autistic children (myself included) have questioned the notion that those on the autism spectrum are “mindblind” and unable to conceptualize the mental states of others. My own son being minimally verbal, I can’t know for sure what he thinks but he is extremely attuned to people’s emotions; he picks up on these not only from their words but from all kind of non-verbal cues, including body language and tone of voice: He can “read” mental states and others on the spectrum, and other parents of autistics, have been wary of the “mindblindness” theory too.

There are also some aspects of religion, or of some religions, that could be reasons some autistic individuals are drawn to them, a phenomenon I’ve thought about as both my husband Jim and I teach at Jesuit institutions of higher learning; my husband indeed teachers in a theology department and I teach ancient Greek and Latin. A number of my students want to learn these languages because they are, indeed, deeply religious and want to be able to read the New Testament in the original koine Greek or to read medieval philosophers (such as Thomas Aquinas or Abelard) in the Latin they wrote in.

Anecdotally, some of my (male) students who are very religious, with strong stances about Church doctrine, the Trinity and abortion, display more than a few tendencies of Asperger’s Syndrome. The rituals of Roman Catholicism and of the Orthodox Church cohere, perhaps, with to a certain need for order and routine. In addition, the study of Latin in particular has much that might appeal to someone on the spectrum as Latin grammar is systematic and orderly. Latin, the language of the Catholic Mass for hundreds of years, remains the language used by the Vatican.

Many families we have known have made great efforts to provide religious instruction for their children, in part from a wish to involve a child with difficulties with social interactions in a community more likely, it is hoped, to be accepting and compassionate.

Is defining religious belief in terms of mentalizing too limiting, in studying a potentially huge topic?


Related Care2 Coverage

Getting Sensible About Sensory Processing Disorder

You Canít Bleach Autism Out of a Child

Is It Time To Start Taxing Churches?



  • 2 of 2

Read more: , , , , , ,

Photo by schmuela

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
5:14AM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

I am Autistic. I go to church every Sunday. I think one day I would like to be the pastor at my church.

9:31PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

Haha wow second load of trash Ive read on care2 come on care2, no the lack of believing in fairy tails is NOT due to "mentalblind" I swear man idk how people come up with this stuff, NOT believing this trash shows intelligence, independence and leadership, NOT ignorance, relieve on others to make them feel good & being a follower, you wanna ague that let me ask you one question what is there was no god, no crunch to feel better about death, point in case, there are MANY MANY things in this this is just one exp

6:42AM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

Thank you Alison V!
green stars to you....this is exactly what i was wondering...
uuuhhh ....why not ASK autistic people? Do we think the autistic are incapable of telling the truth?

6:37AM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

I'd like to give my opinion here. I'm an adult autistic woman who can verbalize for myself quite competently. I am an atheist. Not because of any so called "mind-blindness", I'm fully aware that other people also think and feel. No, I'm an atheist simply because, as an autistic, I am entirely logical in my thought processes. And the idea of a god to me is just a silly concept, one that is on a par with the tooth fairy and Santa Claus - a nice fairy tale for children, but not one that should be confused with observed reality. Also, I do wish so-called "experts" like Baren-Cohen would stop putting their words in my mouth. I can speak for myself quite adequately. If you want to know why so many Autistics are atheists, just ASK us.

10:54PM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

the article could have been written in lay-man terms to make it more interesting

4:47PM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

It's not a deficit to not blindly believe in whatever higher being someone throws at us.

I wish the so-called scientists would stop doing such studies and instead try to understand the autistic community better. There are as many religious people, btw, among us than in the neurotypical community. Just that there are less Christians, as it seems. And that's not a deficit.

4:47PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Complicated issue.

3:40PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

With all due respect to anyone with Autism i feel they have their own thoughts and beliefs, are happy provided they are in a happy environment, are loved and i think they know when they are loved but i know absolutely nothing about Autism but what i see on tv. If that is proof of anything i might just even be a little bit correct but what do i know?

3:06PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

9:07AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

thanks for posting.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

Lab animal torturer:…


meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.