God made me do it.
March 3, 2007 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Increased violence linked to scriptures. University of Michigan psychologist Brad Bushman and his colleagues suggest that scriptural violence sanctioned by God can increase aggression, especially in believers.
posted by Brian B. (93 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
"especially in believers". Ya think?
posted by autodidact at 12:50 PM on March 3, 2007


In other news: water is wet.
posted by basicchannel at 12:54 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now, I'm as anti-religious as the next guy (especially if that next guy is Denis Diderot), but true believers in any cause are capable of doing pretty much anything. When was the last time you heard the term zealot as anything but pejorative?
posted by John of Michigan at 12:54 PM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sooo, what conclusion(s) am I to derive from this lil' nugget of data? That religion is bad? That God doesn't exist? That people shouldn't read the Bible because (according to your link) it does more harm than good?

Or are we just to revel in the irony of it all.
posted by dropkick at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2007


Although Vrije students were less likely to be influenced by the source of the material, they blasted more aggressively when the passage that they read included the sanctioning of the violence by God.

So reading violent things makes you slightly more agressive in the short term. This says absolutely nothing about religiosity and violence. Meh. Bad science reporting.
posted by phrontist at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2007


Kill them all. Let Bohandas sort it out.

Yakatizma is approaching Tokyo! Run for your lives!
posted by ZachsMind at 1:04 PM on March 3, 2007


"what conclusions am I to derive...?

1. Human beings is stoopid.
2. refer to number one.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:05 PM on March 3, 2007


It's interesting to me that it has an affect on nonbelievers at all.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:07 PM on March 3, 2007


"Kill in the name of your god! Destroy that which your god created! In His Name! He wants you to! What are you waiting for!??"

As if any diety would create something solely so that YOU can muss it up. It's the ultimate in both hypocrisy and arrogance. If we're here for any reason, it's to preserve and protect what God made, and our response to such responsibility is the invention of the SUV. We bite.

If there was a god in space who actually gave a crap what happens on this planet, s/he/it would strike us all with a bolt of lightning, but that's just too much effort for such pitifully small creatures. A waste of energy, better used anywhere but this pale blue dot. If there's a god who ever gave a crap about anything happening on this spinning rock, he has long since changed the channel. Probably to some kinda space wrestling happening near Betelguese.

I'm ashamed to be on the same planet with these people.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:15 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


> Increased violence linked to scriptures

and video games.
posted by jfuller at 1:18 PM on March 3, 2007


...as published in the journal "Duh"
posted by mrnutty at 1:19 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


ZachsMind: Haven't you read Revelations? Trust me, the bolt of lightning is coming... and then some.
posted by dropkick at 1:28 PM on March 3, 2007


Sorry to derail, but Revelations is about Rome's persecution of the Jews and early Christians.

And I'm a Christian.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:34 PM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Metafilter + Religion = Usually terrible, inane and terribly inane conversation.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:34 PM on March 3, 2007


Did I miss the lack of a control in this experiment? Was there somewhere just a room full of regular non-Dutch, non-Mormon folks honking away on fire alarms? I'd like to think so, and I'd rather read about that.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:34 PM on March 3, 2007


To get back on the rail, ZachsMind, what do you make of the fact that the invocation of God had an affect not only on "these people," but also on the cool atheists like you?
posted by roll truck roll at 1:35 PM on March 3, 2007


It could easily be an indictment of anything written that's violent, like Aesop's Fables.
posted by toma at 1:39 PM on March 3, 2007


Brigham Young University where 99% of students report believing in God and the Bible....

Actually, I found this nugget the most interesting. I'd like details on the lives of the one percent.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:41 PM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Have I read Revelations? ROTFLMAO!!!! I went to a methodist university. They made me read the whole damned New Testament.

Yeah I read it. John was talking about the fall of Rome. Which BURNED. Nero was fiddling while it burned. John wasn't thinking the world he knew would survive his lifetime. He wasn't predicting what would happen two thousand years after he was dead. Why would John give a shit about what would happen two thousand years after he was dead?

The thousand years of peace he predicted is what we now know as the Dark Ages, when the Roman Catholic Church ruled with an iron fist and pagans were put in their place. It was heaven on Earth for a select few Christians.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but your little strike of lightning happened a long time ago. Any god worth His salt has bigger fish to fry now than this planet and these creatures.

WE ARE A FAILED EXPERIMENT.

The Book of Revelations already happened. The End Of The World came and went not with a bang but a whisper in high school text books. None of us were here to enjoy it.

So what's going on now? At best it's a rerun. At worst, it's sick twisted bastards looking at the book of revelations and similar texts and thinking of them as a blueprint for how they're to get their god's attention and incite The First, Second, or Third Coming (depending on your personal count).

It's like there are humans on this planet trying to build a buick with bicycle instructions. Only they're throwing nuclear warheads into the mix. And it's scaring the shit out of me.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:41 PM on March 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


Metafilter + Religion = Usually terrible, inane and terribly inane conversation.

That's ReligionFilter, you unclean heathen.
posted by dw at 1:44 PM on March 3, 2007


For insight on non-Mormon activities please reference SLC Punk.
posted by HyperBlue at 1:45 PM on March 3, 2007


Roll Truck Roll: "but also on the cool atheists like you?"

Bzzt! Wrong again! If I were an aetheist, I wouldn't feel compelled at all to type a sentence to this thread.

I believe in a God. I just don't believe He believes in us any longer. He may have at one time. We let Him down.

He's still waiting for us to grow up out of our Terrible Two Temper Tantrums. And he's grown impatient.

It's a big universe, and He's got better things to do than pay any attention to whether or not we notice Mother Mary's face on a tortilla. You understand what I'm sayin'?

There IS a God.

Make no mistake.

He's gone fishin'.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:46 PM on March 3, 2007


Zachsmind your single-minded interpretation of Revelations resembles that of most believers. Ever hear of literary license, symbolism, or theme? As many here could argue more eloquently than I: Great books are often more than the sum of their letters.
posted by HyperBlue at 1:51 PM on March 3, 2007


This study lost me at the part where it considered populations of students from the USA and Amsterdam equivalent. Clearly religious belief is the only significant variable in this equation.

Of course, this is ameliorated somewhat by the careful establishment of baseline aggression prior to the application of the behavior modifier being studied... oops, nope, didn't do that.

As expected, the Brigham Young students were more aggressive (i.e. louder) with their blasts if they had been told...

I'm sure the preconception of outcome wasn't unconsciously, nonverbally communicated to the participants in any way as they were provided with instructions on "blasting" their cohorts.

I wonder what the population sizes were? Ah, why report something like that, it surely isn't of much significance.
posted by nanojath at 1:57 PM on March 3, 2007


It's "The Book of Revelation", people, not "Revelations". Jeez.
posted by interrobang at 2:00 PM on March 3, 2007


Bzzt! Wrong again!

Okay, I'm out.

I really don't know what I said here that pissed you off. Aside from the "cool atheists like you" joke, I was agreeing with you.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:00 PM on March 3, 2007


The authors set out to examine this interaction by conducting experiments with undergraduates at two religiously contrasting universities: Brigham Young University where 99% of students report believing in God and the Bible and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam where just 50% report believing in God and 27% believe in the bible.

LOL. USA and The Netherlands, Provo and Amsterdam? Apples and oranges baby. Apples and Dutch weed even.

I think the authors just wanted a reason to spend time in Amsterdam and I cannot blame them (it's a good place to see God), but to pretend that this is a sober analysis is just bollocks.
posted by three blind mice at 2:01 PM on March 3, 2007


The great battle of Armageddon has already happened? The two prophets with command over the elements, smiting the earth with plagues and turning the waters into blood has already transpired? Wow! And I only slept in till 8:30 this morning!
posted by dropkick at 2:04 PM on March 3, 2007


God wants us to keep evolving until we look like the gray aliens who are kidnapping me and teaching me new methods of multidimensional perception.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:07 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Past that, even. Infinity bound. The New Testament is woefully flawed, mistranslated, omitted, and just plain adulterated.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:07 PM on March 3, 2007


Zachsmind, good point, but maybe he was always gone, and we never let him down. That would mean that everyone who thinks God is running the show down here is worshipping an idol. That would mean that when people say God sent this or that human disaster, they were just being hateful. That would mean that God is really not the jealous sort after all, which makes sense considering there would be nothing for a supreme being to be jealous of. Perhaps this God will be angry at these so-called religious people and commend the atheists who didn't fall for their bad faith. What will God do with the idolators then? Maybe he will put some of them out of their misery. [sigh]
posted by Brian B. at 2:07 PM on March 3, 2007


HyperBlue writes "Ever hear of literary license, symbolism, or theme?"

I'm pretty sure he has, as he's saying that Revelations is about the fall of Rome, and not about actual plagues of locusts, beasts with multiple backs, dragons in deserts, and the like.
posted by Bugbread at 2:10 PM on March 3, 2007


Is this where Ann Coulter calls god a faggot?
posted by maxwelton at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2007


Why are the religious seemingly more likely to support war? Do any of you remember the Land Letter? Man, is it ugly.
posted by toma at 2:12 PM on March 3, 2007


Zachsmind: A friend was telling me about an experience that happened to him many years ago. A coworker of his was a devout Christian, who had raised the ire of some other nonbelieving coworkers around him. The day after there had been a terrible plane crash which took the lives of several hundred people, one of the nonbelievers slapped down the newspaper with the grim headline and asked angrily, "where was your God yesterday?"

The Christian replied: "God doesn't make airplanes. People like you do"

The fact of the matter is, God gave us our free agency to do what we will, and He would never intervene to stop us from the power of choice and the associated consequences.
posted by dropkick at 2:22 PM on March 3, 2007


The fact of the matter is, God gave us our free agency to do what we will, and He would never intervene to stop us from the power of choice and the associated consequences.

"Fact", LOL
posted by mrnutty at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2007


Eh, would be a better idea to read the original article before blasting it. Crap science reporting doesn't necessarily mean crap science.

To me, this experiment seems like a variation upon the classic Milgram and Bandura experiments. Some authority figure (whitecoat or adult, respectively) somehow sanctions some form of Being A Dick To Others, so people Act Like Dicks To Others. In this case, the authority figure is god / the bible.

Whether or not the bible is a good authority figure is separate from the experiment.

Obligatory lolxians and loldutch-multiple-vowels. And yes, Revelation.

on preview: dropkick - that's not a "fact" of any matter. It's a belief of the matter.
posted by CKmtl at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


mrnutty and CKmtl: It's a fact to me.
posted by dropkick at 2:30 PM on March 3, 2007


Hm.
posted by maxwelton at 2:30 PM on March 3, 2007


maxwelton: Niiice. Thanks for the chuckle.
posted by dropkick at 2:33 PM on March 3, 2007


This thread needs a Godwin to pull it out of the nosedive.
posted by RockCorpse at 2:34 PM on March 3, 2007


You know who else believed in god? The Nazis
posted by mrnutty at 2:36 PM on March 3, 2007


You know who else believed in god? The Nazis

DUN! DUN! DUNNNN!!
posted by dropkick at 2:44 PM on March 3, 2007


Okay so I know I said I wasn't saying anything else, and I'm still fairly sure that this discussion has been pretty sufficiently mucked up that nothing very useful can come of it. But I want to say something to you, dropkick, before the pile-on.

I think religious beliefs are an important thing, an extremely important thing, for all kinds of reasons. But they are beliefs. One of the coolest gifts God's given us is the ability to see things from multiple perspectives, to use both our minds and our emotions. When you insist that the things you believe are facts, you're discrediting your own faith. You're not really believing in anything anymore.

Let go of the fake scientists your religion keeps propping up. It's much better without them.

posted by roll truck roll at 2:45 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


roll truck roll: The word "Belief" is a watered-down sissy word used in conjunction with other sissy words like "marigold", "lolipop" and "meadow".

I know God lives. End of story.
posted by dropkick at 2:53 PM on March 3, 2007


I tried. kthxbye.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:53 PM on March 3, 2007


roll truck roll: Don't let the door hit ya where the dog bit ya.
posted by dropkick at 2:55 PM on March 3, 2007


Hold on, I feex:

The fact of the matter is, many Christians profess that God gave us our free agency to do what we will, and He would never intervene to stop us from the power of choice and the associated consequences.
posted by mkb at 2:56 PM on March 3, 2007


mkb: Wow. You made everything better. Let's all hold hands.
posted by dropkick at 2:58 PM on March 3, 2007


Amazing. 40+ posts and how many are about the actual articale? Isn't there some other forum for religious discussion?

Anyhoo, it really, REALLY looks like the designers of this experiment fucked up in their methodology. One random group of students at an ultra-religious Christian (sort of) college and another random group in a secular college in an entirely different country. Hello? Where's the control group? Where's the factoring out of cultural variance? Where's the. . .actually, is there anything more to this experiment than a bunch of psychologists collectively going "LOL XTIANS"?
posted by Ndwright at 3:00 PM on March 3, 2007


I don't think you can seriously expect a true believer to deny that his beliefs are factual, and this need not be a problem in interacting with others. The ecumenical spirit is informed by getting along in spite of the fact that you think the people you are relating to are fatally wrong (inthis world and the next), not by reframing your beliefs as "only true for you". I know that God does not live, but that wouldn't stop me having a discussion with dropkick about the role of private institutions in lifting people out of poverty say.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:01 PM on March 3, 2007


This thread makes me want to blast someone.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:01 PM on March 3, 2007


I think that violent behavior can be linked to scriptures. It seems obvious that if a higher power has given you permission to do something which, under normal circumstances you wouldn't do, your belief can absolve any guilt you may have. Your God told you it was ok.

This just seems like an easy conclusion to make based on what we know of human psychology.

But I would be very interested to see an experiment that proved or countered this concept. And it could just be bad science reporting in the linked article, but it doesn't look like this study is the one that is going to bring us closer to an answer.
posted by quin at 3:15 PM on March 3, 2007


The New Testament is woefully flawed, mistranslated, omitted, and just plain adulterated.

Interesting statement, given your posting history. Probably a huge derail, but I suspect it has to do with differences between the Quran and the New Testament, no?
posted by empath at 3:24 PM on March 3, 2007


I wold say that the scriptures contributed to my not beating the hell out of some guy speaking loudly on his cell phone this morning at our campus library, in the heavily labeled "quiet zone."

Most believers don't do 90 percent of what they think god is telling them to do, and violence is a lot of work in the long run, especially if there's a good game on cable.
posted by craniac at 3:38 PM on March 3, 2007


empath: I lived in an Orthodox Christian monastery when I accepted/converted to Islam. Every heard of the Nicean council?
posted by Burhanistan at 3:39 PM on March 3, 2007


Okay... not going to touch this thread with a 10' pole after this. There must be some Godwin-like case for the use of theological absolutes, perhaps "God win"?

But, say god created everything in the natural world... why are marigolds and meadows, which he supposedly created, 'sissy' things unfit to be used in conjuction with anything of real import? I'll ignore the lollipop crack, since those are purely the work of humanity's sinful hands. Delicious, sinful handiwork though.

posted by CKmtl at 3:40 PM on March 3, 2007


"Brigham Young University where 99% of students report believing in God and the Bible...."

Actually, I found this nugget the most interesting. I'd like details on the lives of the one percent.


I'd be surprised if it is even 1%, really. And that fraction of a percent who are unbelievers will probably be out of there soon.

The reason is, there is a required yearly interview process in which each and every BYU student meets with his/her "bishop"[PDF file]. The interview process is designed to filter out that 1% insofar as possible. Note for instance this, from the interview form: "The First Presidency requests that bishops not recommend students . . . who would undermine the faith of other BYU students."
posted by flug at 3:45 PM on March 3, 2007


When I first glanced at this post, I thought it read "Increased violence linked to sphincters."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:50 PM on March 3, 2007


Hello? Where's the control group? Where's the factoring out of cultural variance?

No, you see, a control has to be drawn from the same group as the study group. You can't take students from Hampshire or Reed and compare them to BYU any more than some Dutch university, because the culture's completely different from BYU at those places too. The point of a control is that they're the same people, only run through a version of the experiment missing the element under study to see how that element changes things. In this study, the study element is the Bible and the control group is the people who weren't told that the quote was from the Bible. Thus, upon tabulating the data, we can see that +Bible = more aggression, -Bible = less aggression.
posted by boaz at 3:55 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


You are all on notice, infidels!

That is all.

Enjoy your Saturday night, everyone!
posted by psmealey at 3:56 PM on March 3, 2007


The fact of the matter is

That was sheer comedy. What's the punchline? "The Aristocrats"?

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

And so - some devout Christians wonder why atheists and agnostics grow frustrated with them to point of accusing ignorance.

Because it is ignorance - a fundamental lack of basic logic or language skills, for starters. It's also hubristic.

FACT: I believe Jesus Christ exists

FICTION: Jesus Christ Exists

FACT: I believe very strongly that Jesus Christ exists and that He saved me from a terrible car crash.

FICTION: Jesus Christ exists, I know, because he protected me in that terrible car crash.

FACT: I prayed that the Bears would win the Superbowl, and they did and it reaffirmed my faith in God.

FICTION: OMG WOO THE BEARS TOTALLY WON THE SUPERBOWL BECAUSE I PRAYED FOR THEM AND GOD RULES! GO BEARS! GO BEARS! GO BEARS!
posted by loquacious at 4:04 PM on March 3, 2007


Fact: Wank week is cancelled.

Fiction: I will not wank during that week.
posted by maxwelton at 4:15 PM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


*kicks a christian*
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:28 PM on March 3, 2007


Fact: Every week is Wank Week.
Fiction: Racoons.
posted by cmonkey at 4:32 PM on March 3, 2007


Roll truck roll is a christian, and he is one of the smarter and wittier mefites around. That should prove something. Personally I find close minded atheists extremely tiresome. The types to love an echo chamber like mefi. A little learning is a dangerous thing and all that. And of course Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot et al are always convienently left out of the equation.

On the other hand, if you dropped a bible from a great height, you could conceivably kill a squirrel, so... maybe it's not all good.
posted by vronsky at 4:37 PM on March 3, 2007


Where is Jack Thompson? Won't someone think of the children?
posted by adipocere at 4:42 PM on March 3, 2007


Fiction: Racoons.

Whaaa?

every now and again, I really miss the img tag.
posted by quin at 4:45 PM on March 3, 2007


And of course Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot et al are always convienently left out of the equation.

Most atheist/Christian debates rarely fail to mention them as a reason to believe in God in order to prevent genocide, conveniently leaving out their own Christian colonialism and its genocide.
posted by Brian B. at 5:04 PM on March 3, 2007


Given what we know about obedience to authority (Milgram, etc.), the hypothesis of this study isn't very far fetched. That said, the methodology used here is garbage, and the whole setup and conclusion reeks of confirmation bias.

Of course, my personal opinion on the matter is that anyone who would take the Bible as the word of the ultimate moral authority could easily be led to commit violent acts. After all, we are talking about a book that explictly commands one to murder homosexuals, adultresses, disobedient children and people who work on Saturday. On top of that, we also have all those instances where God commands the faithful to commit genocide.

According to the 4th (3rd if Catholic or Lutheran) Commandment, I should be stoned to death because I am at work right now. Unfortunately, I am currently escaping the punishment I so richly deserve because activist judges refuse to recognize the Decalogue as the font of all law and morality.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:15 PM on March 3, 2007


As we all know, nearly all religiously-motivated lethal violence in the world is committed by Christians.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:44 PM on March 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know, some MetaFilter discussions of religion start well, go well and end well. This... this did not Wendell. Too many people with chips on their shoulders.
posted by Richard Daly at 5:52 PM on March 3, 2007


"The world is not a 'prison-house', but a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell 'God' with the wrong blocks."

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
posted by exlotuseater at 6:29 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The world is not a 'prison-house', but a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell 'God' with the wrong blocks."

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
posted by exlotuseater at 6:54 PM on March 3, 2007


(I don't know why that went through twice)
posted by exlotuseater at 7:32 PM on March 3, 2007


As we all know, nearly all religiously-motivated lethal violence in the world is committed by Christians Abrahamic monotheists.

Fixed that for ya.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:56 PM on March 3, 2007


Most atheist/Christian debates rarely fail to mention them as a reason to believe in God in order to prevent genocide, conveniently leaving out their own Christian colonialism and its genocide.

What debates have you been party to? I have never heard anyone argue that believing in God prevents genocide, but I've heard it argued plenty of times that not believing in God will, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Belief in anything taken too far is dangerous.
posted by dw at 8:56 PM on March 3, 2007


I would say look at Sweden, the most irreligious country in the world, as an example of what can happen when a sociey does away with religion. However, I say look at Sweden, and behold that atheistic societies are just as collectivist, even moreso than many religious ones. Athiests have no moral qualms about the pursuit of power. At least a religious fundamentalist has the ability to change.

Communism (withering away of the state) is a perfect example of atheists over-compensating.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:57 PM on March 3, 2007


The origins of communism in Western practice is a religious one, beginning with the Acts of the Apostles and the Essenes.
posted by Brian B. at 9:40 PM on March 3, 2007


I would say look at Sweden, I would say look at Sweden, the most irreligious country in the world, as an example of what can happen when a sociey does away with religion.

Yes, Gnostic Novelist, please look at Sweden, my home for the past decade (and hopefully for the rest of my life.) Maybe even read something about her history. Until about 1997, the Lutheran Church was the STATE SPONSORED RELIGION, supported by taxes, its bishops, pastors, etc, employees of the Swedish state.

Despite this (or as I believe because of it) the Swedish people are basically agnostic. No one bothers with Christianity for they are too busy acting like Christians.

Sweden is not collectivist (where did you get that idea?), but she is compassionate. The Swedish welfare state has strong support amongst the population - not because of any relgious or "collectivist" ideas, but out of a basic sense of decency that we are all our brother's keepers. That is not an exclusively "religious" idea, my friend.

Athiests have no moral qualms about the pursuit of power.

Pursuit of power? Atheists over-compensating? Do you imagine that this is a communist dictatorship? Or some Soviet hold-out? You could not be more wrong. This country is freer and more democratic - and more christian - than the country of my birth - this is why I choose to live here and raise my daughter here. Atheist that I am.
posted by three blind mice at 11:08 PM on March 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


I propose an experiment where we compare the violence-inducing tendencies of Biblical scripture to that of Metafilter threads.

NYAAAA SMASH
posted by furiousthought at 11:13 PM on March 3, 2007


Athiests have no moral qualms about the pursuit of power.

Disbelieving in God has nothing to do with pursuing power, or even being a communist. On the contrary, there is something about worshipping a central power, and being a communist, in most belief systems.
posted by Brian B. at 12:22 AM on March 4, 2007


Not believing in God has nothing to do with morals, in fact.
posted by moonbiter at 2:05 AM on March 4, 2007


I know there is a diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in my back yard. End of story.

(and I don't even have a back yard - just FAITH, baby!)
posted by bashos_frog at 8:36 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not believing in God has nothing to do with morals, in fact.

It does for me. Only a non-believer can be capable of the full range of moral decision. Typically, a believer holds that humans are naturally evil and must learn to fear an arbitrary source of religious judgment in order to consider themselves moral. These admit they can be never be moral without second-guessing their judgment to please a master (by first being a coward). Furthermore, it is always a subjective choice to accept it or not, so their morality is really just a self-defined hypocrisy for everyone else to live by.

What debates have you been party to? I have never heard anyone argue that believing in God prevents genocide, but I've heard it argued plenty of times that not believing in God will, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Typically they swirl around Hitler's "atheism" and then the debate moves onto the communist dictators, some arguing the fallacy that not believing in God therefore causes social chaos and destruction. The definition of true believer is always avoided, because the fact remains that a social dogma (often carried out by superstitious peasants) is what murders people in those situations, not a non-belief in one. If it was atheism killing people, then the victims wouldn't have included atheists.
posted by Brian B. at 9:17 AM on March 4, 2007


Only a non-believer can be capable of the full range of moral decision.

I think you misread my intent. I was saying that morality and atheism are unrelated -- one is not dependent on the other. However, I'm not sure I agree with this bit. As far as I can tell, there is nothing inherently limiting in belief that inhibits the "full range of moral decision." Certainly many beliefs limit your choices, but this is not to say that all possible beliefs in all possible magical beings are limiting in that way.

In any event, I was reacting to the same thing you were in the the quote:

Athiests have no moral qualms about the pursuit of power.

This is ridiculous, because one's morality does not hang on belief or non-belief in supernatural gods. I see this claim a lot, and to me it says more about the morality of the person making the claim than anything else (i.e., If it wasn't for his fear of divine punishment, he'd be an immoral bastage).
posted by moonbiter at 10:42 AM on March 4, 2007


Brian B. "...a believer holds that humans are naturally evil and must learn to fear an arbitrary source of religious judgment in order to consider themselves moral."

lol. "A raccoon requires ten pounds of raw starfish a day to keep from exploding, this is why we must build fences to keep the raccoons away from our tidal pools."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:20 AM on March 4, 2007




Baby Balrog, it seems that you've made the case for agnosticism.
posted by Brian B. at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2007


Baby Balrog, cancel that. Your link shows that the population percentage of genocide is far greater under Christians. Even if we confuse atheists for communists, it looks like dogma and personality cults killed everyone, and God takes up the slack with natural disasters.
posted by Brian B. at 11:49 AM on March 4, 2007


It's ok for Atheists to blame Christians for the mass murders committed under the banner of God when in truth it was a product of personality cults and our darker natural proclivities.

It's not ok for Christians to blame Atheists for the mass murders committed under the banner of Progress when in truth it was a product of personality cults and our darker natural proclivities.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Baby Balrog, that is correct. It was never okay to blame atheists for communist activities.
posted by Brian B. at 2:19 PM on March 4, 2007


At least a religious fundamentalist has the ability to change.

That has got to be the funniest damn thing I've read all week.
posted by lifeless at 3:57 AM on March 5, 2007


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