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Video: A Scientific Defense of Spiritual & Religious Faith


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Here's some results regarding atheist and spiritual/religious bRaiNzz.

Short version of what the data says (in this one, single study):

  • "The more analytical you are, the less you believe in God."
  • "The more empathetic you are, the more you believe in God."

His theory, then, is that religion/spirituality promotes empathy. 

Of course, my big question is this: are we looking at the chicken or the egg here?

Could it be that the more empathetic people are drawn more to religion/spirituality? For what it's worth, I don't think it has to be either/or, but rather hast the potential for a self-reinforcing loop. 

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On 2/11/2021 at 12:19 AM, irreverance said:

Of course, my big question is this: are we looking at the chicken or the egg here?

Could it be that the more empathetic people are drawn more to religion/spirituality? For what it's worth, I don't think it has to be either/or, but rather hast the potential for a self-reinforcing loop. 

Hard to say I think.  One glaring omission in the empathy stakes I have with Christianity (and I recognize it is not all Christianity, but it is a lot of it), is the lack of empathy these types have toward their fellow human beings and loved ones who they think it is quite okay for them to suffer an eternal, never-ending torment, simply because they didn't believe the 'right' things in this lifetime.  That seems to blow empathy out of the water in my view, but then again, I haven't conducted any studies to demonstrate it.  But maybe it is possible to hold a high-degree of empathy but to let it be overruled by other dominant emotions, such as whatever emotions their religion provides them with?

I think the potential is there both for religion to attract empathetic-leaning people as well as to create empathetic-minded people who are raised in religious communities.  But I would be interested to see if similar studies show other types of community also contributing to building empathy.  I wonder if it is 'community' in general morseo than religion that encourages and attracts empathetic minds, its just that religion has been the majority community to date, so to speak?

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Perhaps because I grew up in an extremely multicultural environment, I refuse to see "God" and "religion" in such simplistic, monolithic terms. God and religion mean such wildly different things to different people. 

How one relates to God and religion will depend heavily on what the norms of their upbringing were. 

If one is raised in a community where the norm is to be involved in a highly regressive, repressive, anti science Christian Church, then absolutely, it will take superior critical, independent thinking to reject that. And ABSOLUTELY there will be a huge correlation between analytical scientific thinking and a rejection of religion. 

However, if one is raised in an upper class Muslim community where it's expected that you excel in a STEM career, then pursuing science and maintaining faith is just normal.

As for empathy, it's the same concept. If it's the norm to participate in religion in your community, then there should be no correlation between being religious and being empathetic, because it's just what normal people do. 

However, where I'm from, it's normal for folks of my cultural background to be atheist or agnostic, so it's also normal for the deeply empathetic to not be religious. Just as it's normal for them not to be particularly analytical. 

You can't examine religion on a large scale and draw social conclusions while ignoring social constructs. 

Religion is as much a social construct as it is a spiritual constructs and many of us would argue that it's far, far moreso a social construct. Hence why patterns of religion follow geographic patterns more than anything else. 

Why does someone "believe in God"? Probably because the people they grew up with told them to. Why does someone believe in a particular God? Probably because they were born somewhere in particular. 

It's rare that people switch religions, or become religious after being atheist/agnostic. It's not rare to reject a religion though, if their society permits it. 

Why does someone *not* believe in God? Well, that depends. Are they rejecting God or were they taught from the beginning not to believe? Because those will have two wildly different underlying motivators. 

I can absolutely believe that in one particular study that that finding makes sense. But I think it means very little in terms of making generalizations about the human experience of believing in God. 

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For another spin on the complexity of the issue - I have many relatives in Norway, consistently ranks high on the  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report

They're virtually all atheist. Churchgoing in all the Nordic countries is very low. A couple of generations ago, they were all Christian.

I do think, though, that as societies they've somehow managed to absorb the best of the Christian teaching, like creating decent social support structures, minimizing inequality, focusing on what's best for everyone, whilst rejecting the worst. Particularly the kind of fundamentalist stupidity and bigotry that has been increasing in some of the more Christian societies over the last couple of generations.   

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5 hours ago, John Hunt said:

For another spin on the complexity of the issue - I have many relatives in Norway, consistently ranks high on the  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report

They're virtually all atheist. Churchgoing in all the Nordic countries is very low. A couple of generations ago, they were all Christian.

I do think, though, that as societies they've somehow managed to absorb the best of the Christian teaching, like creating decent social support structures, minimizing inequality, focusing on what's best for everyone, whilst rejecting the worst. Particularly the kind of fundamentalist stupidity and bigotry that has been increasing in some of the more Christian societies over the last couple of generations.   

Ehhh...Nordic people in Nordic countries might be on average happy, but they're also pretty well known for their racism and insular sense of culture. So I'm not convinced by this argument. 

Also, there are Christian societies all over the world. I mean, there's a reason so many clergy in North America are starting to come from South America. It's the fastest growing religion in China. There are tons of Christians in Africa, and do you know where the fastest rate of growth of Christians is in the entire world?? Iran. 

So I'm not convinced that Christianity around the world has become more racist over the past few generations. If anything, Christianity has become a lot less white. 

My family is from a Scandinavian country, and I have a lot of pride for what they do right, but I also know a number of middle Eastern folks who grew up in North America, who have moved to Norway, Denmark, and Sweden and quickly wanted to come back home because they felt unwelcome there compared to North America. Which is saying a lot. 

So I can't subscribe to a concept that atheism makes Norwegians less bigoted than the rest of the world. They're really, really great at taking care of their *own* people. 

My own Scandinavian extended relatives sometimes say things about Muslim immigrants that make my ears ring. 

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Wouldn't argue with the gist of that, I think people are pretty much the same everywhere, agree they can be/are racist and insular. But I do think they're better at "taking care of their own." Their societies work better for the people in them.

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5 hours ago, John Hunt said:

Wouldn't argue with the gist of that, I think people are pretty much the same everywhere, agree they can be/are racist and insular. But I do think they're better at "taking care of their own." Their societies work better for the people in them.

I will never disagree with that. As I said, I'm quite fond of my people on many fronts. 

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