People’s Belief In A Punitive, All-Knowing God Made Them Good To Others

Posted: Feb 11 2016, 1:37pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Religious worshippers
Photo credit: Getty Images

A study published in the journal Nature reveals that religiosity helps people to be good to others, especially when they know there is an all-seeing, all-knowing god who punishes people for being bad to others, especially to those of their own faith and religion.

The researchers found that religion builds and expands society by making people good to others, especially if there is fear of punishment from the gods for not being good – a report in Discovery shows.

“People may trust in, cooperate with and interact fairly within wider social circles, partly because they believe that knowing gods will punish them if they do not,” the study’s authors wrote.

The researchers further showed that the more the gods have powers to monitor people and punish them for their inadequacies, the more people are willing to go outside of themselves to please others, thereby promoting social values.

To establish the veracity of this finding, the researchers studied 591 people from various sections of Brazil, Mauritius, Siberia, Tanzania, Fiji and Vanuatu. These people practiced Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, ancestor worship and other traditional religions.

“Ultimately we’ve all got very similar constitutions; we behave a certain way when we feel like we’re being watched and if there’s a threat of a punisher around, that alters our behavior,” said lead author Benjamin Purzycki, post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Human Evolution, Cognition and Culture at the University of British Columbia.

Purzycki added that the gods we worship seem to tap into our psychological predispositions in order to steer us in a particular manner and to influence our sociality. He also noted that people respond to the threat of punishment than any promise of reward, meaning that the fear of punishment would override the desire to gain something by dishonesty.

The researchers also discovered that in a situation where an individual has several children, he is less inclined to be favorable to people from geographically distant places regardless of the fact that they may be within the same religion. But regardless, religiosity was found by the researchers to promote trust and fairness to people from other climes when they also worship your own god.

“In addition to some forms of religious rituals and non-religious norms and institutions, such as courts, markets and police, the present results point to the role that commitment to knowledgeable, moralistic and punitive gods plays in solidifying the social bonds that create broader imagined communities,” the researchers wrote.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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