Cognitive experiential self-theory recognizes two cognitive styles that humans use as modes of everyday thinking – experiential thinking and rational thinking – which appear to be products of two functional systems in the brain. These cognitive styles are diagnosable in writing samples of authors who cite evidence in support of a position. Here, I report an analysis of writing samples of opponents in a momentous ancient controversy. Christian authors of the first five centuries disagreed as to whether the stories in the Pentateuch were literal, accurate records of history that could be interpreted allegorically (the literocredist camp) or included non-historical stories that were allegory only (the allophorist camp). Cognitive analysis of their evidence citations reveals a predominance of experiential thinking in literocredists and rational thinking in allophorists in reference to this question. This finding augments those of previous studies that implicate the experiential thinking system as the source of today’s biblical literocredism, and shows that the connection between experiential thinking and literocredism is millennia-old. This study also reveals that the allophorist position was dominant among Christian writers in the first three centuries and that the literocredist position did not rise into prominence until the fourth century, suggesting a major cognitive shift among theologians in that century. These findings elucidate the psychology of a prominent ancient controversy but also are relevant to current science education, because the literocredist mindset continues today as anti-evolution bias. The role of cognitive style in such bias has profound implications for classroom strategies for conceptual change.