Wow, what a non-surprise! Religious believers consider that God favors whatever moral positions they do. Egocentricity rules.
Such is the finding of research conducted at the University of Chicago.
The researchers noted that people often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God’s standards. “The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing,” they conclude. “This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”
Well, this seems obvious.
It's difficult to see how the situation could be otherwise given that (1) there is no demonstrable evidence that God exists, and (2) supposedly holy books and people neither agree about what God favors, nor provide guidance on many contemporary ethical issues.
Even if someone is a devout fundamentalist Christian, believing the Bible is the inerrant word of God, how do they decide whether embryonic stem cell research gets a "good" or "bad" from the Big Man Upstairs?
Solution: God is made in our own moral image.
God may have created man in his image, but it seems we return the favour. Believers subconsciously endow God with their own beliefs on controversial issues.
"Intuiting God's beliefs on important issues may not produce an independent guide, but may instead serve as an echo chamber to validate and justify one's own beliefs," writes a team led by Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Yesterday our local newspaper reported that Oleksandr and Lyudmila Kozlov were found guilty of abusing three of their children with wires, cords, belts, and sticks, leaving bruises that lasted up to a week.
The story shows how religious zealots (the Kozlovs go to an evangelical Baptist church) can justify their own criminality by believing it is what God wants.
The couple relied on their faith throughout the four-day trial and represented themselves, citing God as their attorney.
...Lyudmila Kozlova read a Bible as Deputy District Attorney Nicole Theobald delivered the prosecution's closing argument Friday evening and asked the jury to find the defendants guilty on all counts.
...In their closing arguments, the Kozlovs cited their religion as the reason for their actions. They each took the stand to testify in their own defense.
...They read several Bible verses to the jury, and Kozlova compared their situation to that of Daniel in the Bible.
"He wasn't afraid of the king's decree" to worship only the king and not God, earning persecution and risking death, Kozlova said.
"Our law is the Bible which is above all law," she said. The Kozlovs punished their children according Scripture, they said.
"If we were not fulfilling this, we would have answered before God," Kozlova said.
Religious bullshit like this -- justifying child abuse in the name of God -- is another reason why New Age beliefs are much preferred to fundamentalism, even if both lack supportive evidence.
I don't recall ever hearing a believer in astrology say, "My chart said that I had to whip my child with a belt."
But when my wife was a psychotherapist in private practice, she'd regularly encounter Christian families where spousal and child abuse was considered to be divinely sanctioned since the husband was third in the line of command over his family after God and Jesus.
As the research shows, religion makes enlarged human egos even bigger. People go from saying "I believe X" to "God believes X and so do I."
Problem is, the God speaking to them is them.
This is why I left religion idiots like those drove me crazy
Posted by: Ben | December 06, 2009 at 09:50 PM
I can echo Laurel's experience. I used to be a child abuse investigator and it would make your hair stand on end to hear some of the lame religious excuses people utilized to rationalize their behavior!
One case involved a fundamentalist preacher who was sexually abusing (a nice way to say that he was raping) his step-daughters. Oh, but Jesus said it was all okay...
Posted by: The Rambling Taoist | December 07, 2009 at 12:28 AM