Thursday, May 17, 2012

Being good for goodness' sake, and the public (mis)trust of atheists

Epiphenom is well worth a read if you want to know why some people believe in gods, and what the psychological and social consequences of those beliefs are.

Taking a break from lesson planning, I saw Tom's latest post. It's been shown that "...atheists in North America are disliked because they are distrusted, and that untrustworthy people are often assumed to be atheists."

A follow up study by the team that made the above discoveries has now found that the distrust religious people have of atheists can be eased by subtly persuading them that the police are effective in stopping crime.

People claim to be trustworthy if they think they're being watched, and probably assume the same of other people. Us atheist types, of course, feel entirely unwatched by supernatural entities, and so are assumed to be untrustworthy.

This new evidence seems to back up that line of thinking, as it suggests that if religious people feel there's an effective secular agent that can do the watching, it can keep us heathens in check.

This is a shame - wouldn't it be nice if people could assume people are trustworthy for the sake of it, and not because they fear the punishment if they're not?

Despite the lawlessness following police strikes, I think the majority of people are good for goodness' sake though (I do hope there isn't evidence out there that proves my suspicions wrong) - this video quite clearly shows that most Christian's morality, for example, is actually separate from the Bible (and also lets us reminisce about the West Wing, what a great show), even if there's quite a lot of catching up to do in some quarters:

One day, wouldn't it be nice if people naturally assumed that people are good for goodness' sake too though?

1 comment:

  1. There's a great book by Robert AJ Gagnon called "The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics" . I realize that you don't believe in the Bible, but you used the arguments from the West Wing clip as many even in Christian circles try to: as if to say that the Bible condemning homosexual acts is no different than where it condemns shellfish because as "unclean" or "dirty".

    Gagnon argues, I believe successfully, that where the Bible condemns homosexuality it does so because it is a violation of nature, not simply because it is viewed as "unclean" as the other things the President cites in this episode. In other words, there's a difference between the ceremonial laws and the moral law. The moral law does not change.


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