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Author Topic: Are Religious People More Moral?  (Read 948 times)

RandallS

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Are Religious People More Moral?
« on: December 12, 2017, 01:55:32 pm »
Quote
Survey data show that Americans are less trusting of atheists than of any other social group. For most politicians, going to church is often the best way to garner votes, and coming out as an unbeliever could well be political suicide. After all, there are no open atheists in the U.S. Congress. The only known religiously unaffiliated representative describes herself as “none” but still denies being an atheist.

So where does such extreme prejudice come from? And what is the actual evidence on the relationship between religion and morality?

Read the entire article
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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2017, 04:52:35 pm »
Read the entire article

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2017, 11:04:05 am »


I am reminded of Fred Clark's argument that any headline that poses a question is likely to be correctly answered "No".
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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2017, 08:46:37 am »
So where does such extreme prejudice come from? And what is the actual evidence on the relationship between religion and morality?

I honestly believe that many people think Atheists are less moral because they believe their religion is right...and that anyone (Atheist or follower of another faith) is going to be less moral because they are not commanded to follow the same moral rules.  I feel like many think that at least people of other religions have some rules to follow, which makes them more moral than Atheists (but less moral than the person making the judgement)

The kind of sad thing is that these types of thought are based on the concept that people won't do the right thing on their own.  In extreme cases some people think that people won't know what IS the right thing if religion didn't tell them (which is a horribly sociopathic point of view...)  I think that some of it comes back to how many religious people 'cheat' on their religious rules, and that makes them feel like if they aren't following the rules, how could someone who doesn't even have rules make the right choices.

One of my favorite little fables is where the religious master tells the student when in doubt they should think like an Atheist...and do good because it is good, not because God says they will get punished if they don't.

I believe that people's moral compass is different than their religious viewpoint.  Moral people will be moral no matter what their religion.  And amoral people will tend to do amoral things...especially when no one is watching or when they think they can get away with it.

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MeadowRae

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2017, 09:20:13 am »
I honestly believe that many people think Atheists are less moral because they believe their religion is right...and that anyone (Atheist or follower of another faith) is going to be less moral because they are not commanded to follow the same moral rules.  I feel like many think that at least people of other religions have some rules to follow, which makes them more moral than Atheists (but less moral than the person making the judgement)

The kind of sad thing is that these types of thought are based on the concept that people won't do the right thing on their own.  In extreme cases some people think that people won't know what IS the right thing if religion didn't tell them (which is a horribly sociopathic point of view...)  I think that some of it comes back to how many religious people 'cheat' on their religious rules, and that makes them feel like if they aren't following the rules, how could someone who doesn't even have rules make the right choices.

One of my favorite little fables is where the religious master tells the student when in doubt they should think like an Atheist...and do good because it is good, not because God says they will get punished if they don't.

I believe that people's moral compass is different than their religious viewpoint.  Moral people will be moral no matter what their religion.  And amoral people will tend to do amoral things...especially when no one is watching or when they think they can get away with it.

This is a really, really good point. It explains the religious people I was brought up with well. I think some of it, too, is that if people believe that non-believers are going to be punished (in this world or the next) they must deserve the punishment. I.e., if my god is going to send this person to hell, there's no way this person can be good, right? If so, I would have to question the holiness/righteousness of my god, and that is something that is usually not allowed in fundamentalism.

On morality, I think that morals and ethics are two different animals. Morals, to me, mean rules we are intended to follow, regardless of a situation. Ethics is making the most right choice, the one that harms the least, regardless of the action. For example, murder is wrong, but defending yourself by killing another isn't in most cases. Stealing is generally wrong, but stealing bread to feed your child is less so. Many religions are steeped in morals, but ethics seem to fade with this greater focus on morals.
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CoyoteFeathers

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2017, 11:33:00 am »
I honestly believe that many people think Atheists are less moral because they believe their religion is right...and that anyone (Atheist or follower of another faith) is going to be less moral because they are not commanded to follow the same moral rules.  I feel like many think that at least people of other religions have some rules to follow, which makes them more moral than Atheists (but less moral than the person making the judgement)

The kind of sad thing is that these types of thought are based on the concept that people won't do the right thing on their own.  In extreme cases some people think that people won't know what IS the right thing if religion didn't tell them (which is a horribly sociopathic point of view...)  I think that some of it comes back to how many religious people 'cheat' on their religious rules, and that makes them feel like if they aren't following the rules, how could someone who doesn't even have rules make the right choices.

One of my favorite little fables is where the religious master tells the student when in doubt they should think like an Atheist...and do good because it is good, not because God says they will get punished if they don't.

I believe that people's moral compass is different than their religious viewpoint.  Moral people will be moral no matter what their religion.  And amoral people will tend to do amoral things...especially when no one is watching or when they think they can get away with it.

All good points! I'd also say that in religions with an Adversarial figure, it's also very easy to say, "Devil made me do it!" and simply confess your sins, pray for forgiveness, and move on with your life with few consequences (unless society imposes them on you). In a faith or lack thereof without that sort of figure, you have no one but yourself to blame for any immoral action, so you have to keep yourself accountable.

Then there's using religious views to justify actions that most other people would find immoral, such as the case with religious extremists like ISIS and (to a lesser extreme) Westboro Baptist Church. To them, they're each doing their God's work, but to the rest of us they're using it to manipulate, scare, and hurt others.

I personally believe that humans have an innate moral compass regardless of what religion they follow or don't follow, though religion/irreligion and nurture will condition them as to how they use that compass.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 11:36:06 am by CoyoteFeathers »

Darkhawk

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2017, 01:53:50 pm »
All good points! I'd also say that in religions with an Adversarial figure, it's also very easy to say, "Devil made me do it!" and simply confess your sins, pray for forgiveness, and move on with your life with few consequences (unless society imposes them on you).

Well, I mean that depends on what "an Adversarial figure" actually means, doesn't it?  Because that's still a very Christian/(maybe Islamic?) model of what adversarial Powers are about, from what I can see.

I've got in my library a book that includes a Christianized but not-Christian Slavic myth in which "God" and "the Devil" are creating the world, and there's a whole bunch of stuff going on there but the long and short of it is that the Adversary figure keeps trying to put one over on God and it keeps not working.  (Like, there's a bit of the myth that's Satanail going "I'm gonna pick him up and chuck him off the edge of the world while he's sleeping!" and the continent grows larger and larger every way he walks, and only stops doing so when he puts God down.  Therefore: Eurasia.)

An adversary is not necessarily invested in the idea of sin at all, let alone the personal actions of others, and a lot of adversaries are either tricksters or morally ambiguous (or both).  Set in the Egyptian mythos is punished for murder and usurpation, and is simultaneously exalted as one of the few forces strong enough to stand against annihilation.  Loki's mythology ranges from "I fuck with you and cause trouble and you get awesome shit when we resolve the mess" to "I fuck with you and cause trouble and also destroy the universe" depending on emphasis and reading.  A lot of cultures have struggles against entities referred to in English as demons (lengthy footnote elided), some of whom have ties to or represent things like sickness, famine, and so on, which don't care about concepts of sin; they strike where they can.  Embodiments of conflict, struggle, testing, turmoil, and difficulty do not come pre-installed with mindbending woo that is capable of puppeting others.

The concept of struggle against hostile forces, some of which may be spiritualised or conceived of as an Adversary figure, doesn't mean "the devil made me do it" actually makes sense in all of them.  If I put my Werewolf Theology hat on (I need to do more werewolf theology, argh), the choice to become one of the devil's sorcerors is far from automatic; the neutral case is the default.  Most people just get on with their lives, after all.
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Owl

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2017, 03:08:38 pm »
Most people just get on with their lives, after all.
Exactly


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CoyoteFeathers

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2017, 03:15:50 pm »
Well, I mean that depends on what "an Adversarial figure" actually means, doesn't it?  Because that's still a very Christian/(maybe Islamic?) model of what adversarial Powers are about, from what I can see.

While I definitely agree with everything you've said in your post, I was talking about a more Christian approach- the Enemy," "Satan," "the Devil," evil as much of Christianity sees it (or as I was raised to anyway). I definitely should have clarified, sorry.

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2017, 06:17:42 pm »
Well, I mean that depends on what "an Adversarial figure" actually means, doesn't it?  Because that's still a very Christian/(maybe Islamic?) model of what adversarial Powers are about, from what I can see.

The general Islamic consensus is that Iblis (the Adversary figure) and his shaitan buddies can't make you do anything--they can whisper and trick and mislead humans, but can't make them do anything. And Iblis isn't that powerful a figure, and is more tragic than anything. So, yeah, it's a Christian model, and maybe a Manichean one, and maaaaaaybe a Zoroastrian one depending on your interpretation of Ahriman.
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Emma Eldritch

Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2017, 10:57:52 pm »
The more godly a person says he is, the least likely I am to believe him. Blame it on my raisin'

I watch a lot of true crime shit, and the very second an announcer says something like, "he was active in his church," you know there's a dead body in a barrel or something under his porch. So it's not just you.

ehbowen

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2017, 01:15:30 pm »
I watch a lot of true crime shit, and the very second an announcer says something like, "he was active in his church," you know there's a dead body in a barrel or something under his porch. So it's not just you.
I don't doubt this one bit, but if your sample is restricted to "religious people featured on a true crime show" your conclusions are likely to be a bit biased, dont'cha think?

People like Brother Roy, and his wife Betty, and Brian, and Julie, and Diana are not likely to ever make an appearance on Unsolved Mysteries. Me, On The Other Hand...well, I can't be so sure....


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RandallS

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2017, 05:59:15 pm »
I don't doubt this one bit, but if your sample is restricted to "religious people featured on a true crime show" your conclusions are likely to be a bit biased, dont'cha think?

True. Even if you sample is just "people featured in a true crime show" any conclusion is likely to be of very limited value when applied to the general population.
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Emma Eldritch

Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2017, 01:49:47 am »
I don't doubt this one bit, but if your sample is restricted to "religious people featured on a true crime show" your conclusions are likely to be a bit biased, dont'cha think?

Yes, but I was joking. I decided not to bother with the many examples of shitty hypocritical fundies I've met because, fuck it. Who needs more of that, you know?

Quote
People like Brother Roy, and his wife Betty, and Brian, and Julie, and Diana are not likely to ever make an appearance on Unsolved Mysteries. Me, On The Other Hand...well, I can't be so sure....

Never give up the dream, dude. I believe in you. One day Robert Stack will introduce you. ...I guess in the afterlife since he's dead, but that would truly make a great episode.

ehbowen

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Re: Are Religious People More Moral?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2017, 07:04:40 am »
Yes, but I was joking.

You misunderstand my personality. I'm a great straight man. I grew up watching Adam West [RIP] portray Batman...encounter the most outlandish people and situations, and respond to them with absolute seriousness. I take a cue from that.

Not that I'm joking about what I do or what I expect in the religious/spiritual sense. I mean what I say, and I've said what I meant. But some of the little details...well, they may be a bit tongue-in-cheek. Like the bit about opening up the first time travel agency. I expect to get there some day, but it's not exactly my personal priority.

So, when you see a deadpan response to something which was clearly intended as humorous...it may simply be my little way of keeping the joke going.

I decided not to bother with the many examples of shitty hypocritical fundies I've met because, fuck it. Who needs more of that, you know?

Oh, they're out there. I'm sure of it. I've just been blessed beyond measure to have been directed all my life to churches where they weren't, or at least where they hid in the shadows.

When you're mining gold you may have to process a ton of raw ore in order to obtain a single troy ounce of pure gold. But you don't fuss over the dross...you look for the gold!

Never give up the dream, dude. I believe in you. One day Robert Stack will introduce you. ...I guess in the afterlife since he's dead, but that would truly make a great episode.

Thanks for the encouragement. I still don't know if my Girlfriend plans to make a big splash, or to come as inconspicuously as she did in the past. It's her dream, too, so I want to be flexible enough to not stand in the way of making it come true. But if anyone asks my opinion, I'd prefer to start small and grow. At a pace which can be sustained, long-term. Without ever having to take another step back.

Time will tell.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

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