Religion, Altruism and You
The journal Current Biology recently published a study showing Religious children to be less generous and empathetic than their non-religious peers. In an utterly fascinating, if not completely expected, addition the religious parents from the sample children were much more likely to consider their children to be very empathetic to the plights of others.
OregonLive.com explains how the study worked:
Researchers asked kids to play a game which required them to decide how many stickers to share with an anonymous peer from the same school and similar ethnic group.
In their report, the researchers noted it was important for the anonymous stranger to be similar to the child so that other biases didn’t get in the way.
Researchers also measured how children perceived interpersonal harm and what degree of punishment they thought was appropriate. Religious children judged others’ actions as meaner and more deserving of punishment than kids in secular homes.
The study concluded that in this way religious children tend to come across as more judgmental, while also being less altruistic.
Nearly 1,200 children from the U.S., Canada, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa and China participated. Most of the kids came from Christian, Muslim or non-religious households, with a small number from Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and agnostic homes. Their ages ranged from 5 to 12.
The United States is 80-something percent ‘religious’ in some way. That number is, thankfully, falling. Reading a study like this one makes me think of two things.
- Here is more evidence that secular morality is more balanced, more altruistic and more empathetic than religiously dictated morality. This is more proof that we can be good, or maybe even better, without gods and scary stories of infinite torture for finite crimes.
- With more evidence like this showing up each year, I find it increasingly unsurprising that religious nations are so violent, war torn, and unable to coexist with other human beings. Maybe its time we started calling a spade a spade?
Be sure to CLICK HERE to get the source journal. Please, don’t my word for it, read the study and evaluate it for yourself.