Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Hmm …

 Are Religious People More Moral Because They Fear God's Punishment? | RealClearScience.

The attempt to uncover this reason has led a small number of psychologists to focus on two intertwining ideas, the "supernatural monitoring hypothesis" and the "supernatural punishment hypothesis". Taken together, the notions suggest that religious people behave more prosocially because they feel they are being watched by divine entities and that their actions will be punished or rewarded by those entities. 
It is unclear to me from the examples how they arrived at these categories and whether these categories were cited by the subjects as characteristic of their religious outlook. The most plausible to me  was the Canadian one, in which 'participants who viewed God as "forgiving" and "gentle" were more likely to cheat on a math test than subjects who viewed God as "vengeful" and "terrifying".' If you view God as an indulgent parent, you might be inclined to give yourself moral breaks from time to time. I don't happen to know any person of faith whose focus is on judgment and punishment. Judgment is a given, but forgiveness seems the default mode. I try to do God's will because I figure it is in my best interest, as the way I can make the most  of being.

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