Your first time here? Welcome, I'm glad you've dropped in.... David Soul (aka Bricoleur)

Paul Bloom writes in Slate Magazine

“Many Americans doubt the morality of atheists. According to a 2007 Gallup poll,1a majority of Americans say that they would not vote for an otherwise qualified atheist as president, meaning a nonbeliever would have a harder time getting elected than a Muslim, a homosexual, or a Jew. Many would go further and agree with conservative commentator Laura Schlessinger that morality requires a belief in God—otherwise, all we have is our selfish desires. In The Ten Commandments,2 she approvingly quotes Dostoyevsky: “Where there is no God, all is permitted.” The opposing view, held by a small minority of secularists, such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, is that belief in God makes us worse. As Hitchens puts it, “Religion poisons everything.”3

Bloom notes the research of psychologists Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff, who conducted several experiments that lean pro-Schlessinger, and goes on to compare it to some results of his own work.

Although, without reading the actual research work its hard to state categorically, I suspect from the comments of Bloom that the researchers “control” was as faulty as it could be. I leap to this question as, in other readings I have made, tests have shown similar results when non-religious (ie secular moral terms) were use as the “primer”…

More interesting, to me, than tests in the lab are real world cases: here Bloom cites the work of Phil Zuckerman4 which looks at the societies of the Danes and the Swedes. As a whole, they don’t go to church or even pray in the privacy of their own homes; they don’t believe in God, heaven or hell. But, they’re nice to one another, have a strong commitment to social equality, and they have much lower rates of murder and rape one another significantly less frequently than American society.

Two quotes from Bloom come very close to my own feelings on the primacy of Religion vs other factors:

“The first step to solving this conundrum is to unpack the different components of religion.”

“The positive effect of religion in the real world, to my mind, is tied to this last, community component—rather than a belief in constant surveillance by a higher power. Humans are social beings, and we are happier, and better, when connected to others. ” Paul Bloom

  1. AOL: Americans will vote for anyone but an atheist []

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Tags: control, cybernetics, feeling, Privacy, religion, system 2

This entry was posted on Monday, November 10th, 2008 at 4:13 pm and is filed under Books (other), cybernetics, Odds & Sods. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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