…why is it that the most corrupt countries are also the most religious? An earlier post describes evidence that religious beliefs can affect honesty. Implanting subliminal religious messages, and making people feel like they are being watched by supernatural entity, both can act to make people behave more honestly.
But there is a lot more to religion than this, of course. And advocates of religion would have us believe that more religion equals a better, more honest society. This is a claim that can be tested – by looking at country differences in religious fervour and corruption.
I’ve often heard the argument that Christians are happier than non-Christians. I’m not sure how that is quantified — I was happy as a Christian, but I’m just as happy now. Perhaps I was a little happier at the beginning of my Christian journey, but that’s normal when you get into something new that you enjoy. I get a little happier when I sit down to a good book or to a good meal, too.
Only if they think Sky Big Brother is watching
In his new movie Religulous, comedian Bill Maher makes wicked fun of the religiously credulous. But it turns out that the folks who believe in talking snakes and seventy-two virgins per martyr may be on to something. As whacky as some dogmas are, religions do appear to encourage generosity and honesty. At least that is the claim made in a fascinating review article, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Prosociality” (subscription required) published in the current issue of Science.
It’s a wonder that these people know how to tie their own shoes. I was sent a link to Perry Marshall’s Intelligent Evolution Quick Guide, and it is certainly a fine example of the kind of reasoning that allows creationism to thrive.
I think I need to start checking out these Barely Political folks. Enjoy!