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Nature: Religious concepts promote cooperation

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Contrary to what people like the ubiquitous Dawkins and Hitchens have so foolishly said (and which obtuseness has been argued against so convincingly by many on these boards) it now seems that some good things DO actually come from religion.

Of course, sane, rational people know this already but now the esteemed Scientific journal Nature has weighed in with a report on some interesting research.

Quote:
A belief in God may have promoted the evolution of cooperative behaviour, say Canadian psychologists. They found that priming people with religious concepts makes them more generous — regardless of whether they declare themselves to be believers.

Notions of civic responsibility also promote cooperation, suggesting that religion might encourage altruism by invoking an omniscient judge of behaviour.

"One idea that we seriously considered was that God, to those who believe, is a supernatural policing agent," says psychologist Azim Shariff of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. "We started to wonder whether civic [responsibilities] and religion operated all that differently within the unconscious mind."

To investigate how belief in supernatural agents might influence cooperation, Shariff and his colleague Ara Norenzayan used a word game to stealthily introduce religious concepts to their subjects.

Participants had to unscramble five-word sentences, dropping an extraneous word from each to create a grammatical four-word sentence. For example, "felt she eradicate spirit the" would become "she felt the spirit," and "dessert divine was fork the" could become "the dessert was divine." A control group unscrambled sentences made up of non-spiritual words.

After this exercise, the participants played an economic decision-making game. Each player was given $10 to share with an anonymous recipient.

Participants primed with religious concepts gave their partner an average of $4.22, compared with only $1.84 in the control group. But those who declared themselves religious before the study were no more generous than non-believers.

I think there are some fascinating possible ramifications of this study - particularly in the last test where the 'established' believers showed no advantage over the non-believers but the primed group did.

Clearly the response of Hitchens will be entirely predictable - and it is actually important to pre-empt this and see exactly where he is coming from (for those who don't know).

He will argue that generosity is NOT a positive for society necessarily and that it is purely a religious (ie enforced or constructed) concept and that society could perfectly function without it had things developed differently. After some random foaming he will probably babble incoherently about the Ik tribe.

But this is because he is an extreme right-wing Straussian and his views should be appraised in the light of that noxious creed. I'd like to see similar tests with 'atheistic' words introduced into the groups and see what that tells us.

Any thoughts?
What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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post #2 of 24
Thanks to religion, Sunday morning crime has never been a problem. See, another good thing that came from religion.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

Thanks to religion, Sunday morning crime has never been a problem. See, another good thing that came from religion.

Exactly - and what about illicit sex?

Everyone knows the 'forbidden fruit' is so much sweeter...no fun coveting your neighbour's ass if it's all ok is there?
What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
And Fundie bashing - both the religious and anti-religous varieties.....I've had hours of fun with that so that's another good thing isn't it?
What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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post #5 of 24
A copy of this (PDF) can be found (both are prepress);

http://www.psych.ubc.ca/%7Eazim/shar...anrevision.pdf
http://www.psych.ubc.ca/~anlab/image...ychScience.pdf

Quote:
[CENTER]Abstract[/CENTER]

We present two studies aimed at resolving experimentally whether religion increases prosocial behavior in the anonymous dictator game. Participants allocated more money to anonymous strangers when God concepts were implicitly activated compared to neutral or no concepts. This effect was at least as large as when concepts associated with secular moral institutions were primed. Self-reported religiosity as a trait measure did not seem to be associated with prosocial behavior. We discuss different possible mechanisms that may underlie this effect, focusing on the hypotheses that the religious prime had an ideomotor effect on generosity, or that it activated a felt presence of supernatural watchers. We then discuss implications for theories positing religion as a facilitator of the emergence of early large scale societies of cooperators.

IMHO, the "General Discussion" section is highly speculative, it makes you wonder which came first doG or cooperative behaviors? Doesn't even discuss the similarity of the results between the secular and religious primes!

Do we know more now than we did, 1 or 10 or 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 or 1,000,000 years ago?

Ergo, if belief in (s)doG leads to cooperative behavior, and cooperative behavior leads to war, than doG is EVIL!

Do animals dream? Did humans have near death experiences prior to religious beliefs?

What nurtured this and what is it's nature?

Evolution!

I rest my case.
Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
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Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
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post #6 of 24
So I guess that this study shows that religion has a positive effect, but only while you are at church (and shortly afterwards on Sunday, until the primed pump effect wears off).

Which jives with other studies that I have heard of, where very little statistical difference in moral behavior is found between groups of religious and non-religious people (cheating on spouse, cheating on tests, cheating on taxes, etc).
45 2a3 300b 211 845 833
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45 2a3 300b 211 845 833
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post #7 of 24
This is why religious people should confine themselves to churches until they ...

Well, they should wait there. Food/water will come if you pray hard enough...
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"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
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post #8 of 24

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Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #9 of 24
Holy crap, hardeeharhar, that's a whole shitpile of crazy you just linked to.

segovius:

Quote:
Contrary to what people like the ubiquitous Dawkins and Hitchens have so foolishly said (and which obtuseness has been argued against so convincingly by many on these boards) it now seems that some good things DO actually come from religion.

Perhaps in the same sense that good things come from machines. We create our religions to reflect what we want and think is best, they are tools for focusing group energy and group energy is powerful.
proud resident of a failed state
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post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hagee is a sick psychopath and my views on his brand of Fundie BS are (I hope) well known but where I get confused is when people call this religion.

Which religious teacher is he following? Which one taught him to hate? I don't think it was Jesus....

Of course he would say it was but that only makes him a liar and he can't have got that from Jesus either.

In short: this is not religion - it is politics.

Groverat:

Quote:
Perhaps in the same sense that good things come from machines. We create our religions to reflect what we want and think is best, they are tools for focusing group energy and group energy is powerful.

This is very true. Perhaps this may even be the ONLY sense but it still happens. This is the basis of ALL human endeavour actually, from magic to science; focus of energy.

It's funny you mention machines. I would argue that most people - and certainly people like Hagee and his crew - are in a very real sense, just machines. That is the problem, the gullibility and programmable nature of the mechanism of believers as opposed to what they are programmed with.

In the example above - imo - it is Hagee who is 'evil' (and who is programming his sheep to be the same) as opposed to 'religion' per se. Religion is just the tool he uses.
What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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post #11 of 24
... also known as Lakewood Church, with a seating capacity of 16,000, formally the Houston Rockets' Compaq Center. Renovation costs (including 30 year lease) were;

[CENTER]
Quote:
Project Details
> Total project cost: $95 million
> Construction cost: $75 million
> Total seating capacity: 16,000
> Total man-hours expended: 1.4 million
> Number of contractors and consultants: 50
> Length of low-voltage cable used: 57 miles
> Amount of air cooled in completed building: More than 1 million cu ft per minute
> Amount of carpet placed: 50,000 sq yd
> New and existing lighting fixtures in facility: 7,000
> Number of doors in facility: 1,000
> Number of new toilets installed: 296





[/CENTER]

Now we did a study of their flock, asking the following question;

We will give you $10K, and it is real USD, you have two choices, give all the money to Starvin' Marvin (and many other starving Africans), or give all the money to your church to offset church building and maintenance costs.

The only contingencies are; 1) That if you give the $10K to Starvin' Marvin, et. al. you will be obligated to give the church that same $10K from your own pocket, 2) Secular humanists volunteers (who pay their own costs) will distribute the money for food, clothing, shelter, and educate the Africans, and 3) You will never be able to proselytize (in any form) to said Africans.

This is a variation on the "Dictator Game" but renamed the "Build and Maintain your Megachurch or Help the Poor Africans Game."

N = 200,000 church goers/viewers, sigma = 0, all 200,000 gave the $10K to their church!

See how belief in doG makes like minded fundamentalist cooperate, WITH EACH OTHER!
Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
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Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
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post #12 of 24
Dan Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon is instructive reading on this topic.
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post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by franksargent View Post

See how belief in doG makes like minded fundamentalist cooperate, WITH EACH OTHER!

Two points:

1) The fundieism you decry - and I 100% agree with you there - is essentially a US phenomenon.

You will not, for example, find the factors it consists of (a symbiotic relationship with the extrem right-wing, rabid support for Israel, mega-chruches, US business models of churches etc) in European Christianity - or even Euro fundie Xianity.

Therefore you are doing yourself and any rational assessor of the situation a diservice to press this example into use as a universal.

It is equivalent to claiming the KKK is the archetypal example of worldwide right-politics. Not even just US right-wing politics but worldwide throughout history.

2) Surely the mechanism you describe applies to ALL entities. You could say the same for Republicans or Democrats for example.

What you are describing is a human constant - you cannot therefore pare it down to one group.
What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
Reply
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by segovius View Post

Two points:

1) The fundieism you decry - and I 100% agree with you there - is essentially a US phenomenon.

You will not, for example, find the factors it consists of (a symbiotic relationship with the extrem right-wing, rabid support for Israel, mega-chruches, US business models of churches etc) in European Christianity - or even Euro fundie Xianity.

Therefore you are doing yourself and any rational assessor of the situation a diservice to press this example into use as a universal.

It is equivalent to claiming the KKK is the archetypal example of worldwide right-politics. Not even just US right-wing politics but worldwide throughout history.

2) Surely the mechanism you describe applies to ALL entities. You could say the same for Republicans or Democrats for example.

What you are describing is a human constant - you cannot therefore pare it down to one group.

1) and 2) I wasn't applying it as a universal, it would be applied to various forms of (extreme) fundamentalists. and to those groups of poor people who don't get just compensation for the natural resources on their lands (the work they perform or using those profits to raise their standards of living). Either the western capitalists profits immensely, or the totalitarians in those countries profit even more immensely.

These things border on cultural closeted racism. Countless wars fought over cultural differences or forced subjugation, over natural resources or access to said resources.

IMHO, I'd rather deal with things we do know, rather than with things we will never know.

EDIT - And those three images I posted, the first looks like a bland convention center, the second looks like a rock concert, and the third looks like a capitalistic businessman. Capitalistic religiosity. \
Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
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Every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale. NOT!
Reply
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by franksargent View Post

1) and 2) I wasn't applying it as a universal, it would be applied to various forms of (extreme) fundamentalists. and to those groups of poor people who don't get just compensation for the natural resources on their lands (the work they perform or using those profits to raise their standards of living). Either the western capitalists profits immensely, or the totalitarians in those countries profit even more immensely.

These things border on cultural closeted racism. Countless wars fought over cultural differences or forced subjugation, over natural resources or access to said resources.

IMHO, I'd rather deal with things we do know, rather than with things we will never know.

EDIT - And those three images I posted, the first looks like a bland convention center, the second looks like a rock concert, and the third looks like a capitalistic businessman. Capitalistic religiosity. \

Well then I agree with all your points. My only disagreement would be if it were to be universally applied.

In fact we can go further....we can argue that one of these two points applies:

1) That the phenomena as evinced by the photos - ie business, capitalism, fundieism, right-wing politicism - are not religious at all.

or

2) That they are religious and are exactly what religions are BUT that the putative founders of religions (ie Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha etc) were in no way religious, did not intend to be and were in fact anti-religious.

Personally I think one could argue either and it doesn't matter which stance you take (I have a fondness for #2 but could go either way) but my sole argument in all these threads is that you cannot have both which is essentially what most people are trying to do.

What would Jesus think of Hagee and Mega-Churches as far as we can discern from his recorded statements?

What would Muhammad think of Islamism as far as we can discern from his recorded statements?
What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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What is Faith? When your good deed pleases you and your evil deed grieves you, you are a believer. What is Sin? When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up - Prophet Muhammad
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post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by franksargent View Post




All that money and they didn't realisise that of the 13 blue sky lights, the one in the centre needed to be yellow.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
All that money and they didn't realisise that of the 13 blue sky lights, the one in the centre needed to be yellow.

The Sun's actual colour is this

fff3ea
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post #18 of 24
It is interesting that the panels look like water. It fits with the ancient egyptian cosmology that put water above the atmostphere and below the (flat) earth.
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post #19 of 24
Certain kinds of religion promote self-deprecation and love, which in turn promote altruism.

The notion of survival of the fittest and a lack of a meaningful purpose to human life and therefore a live for today attitude promote selfishness.

I find it quite ironic how people only take notice of religion like this when a science magazine points it out when it's fairly obvious to see in daily life.

Nonetheless, organised religion is not the only way this is achievable, it's just that it seems people who have no intention of living religious lives tend to have no intention of living within certain moral boundaries either because they have no-one to answer to but themselves and the law.

Perhaps we will always require religion so that people always have a moral guide by which to judge their actions.

I'd prefer an alternative though after continually seeing pictures and movies like those linked above. That guy in the huge hall looks like the kind of person who'd be selling a time-share in the after-life. Organised religion is so easily turned into a business venture these days.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Certain kinds of religion promote self-deprecation and love, which in turn promote altruism.

The notion of survival of the fittest and a lack of a meaningful purpose to human life and therefore a live for today attitude promote selfishness.

I find it quite ironic how people only take notice of religion like this when a science magazine points it out when it's fairly obvious to see in daily life.

Nonetheless, organised religion is not the only way this is achievable, it's just that it seems people who have no intention of living religious lives tend to have no intention of living within certain moral boundaries either because they have no-one to answer to but themselves and the law.

Perhaps we will always require religion so that people always have a moral guide by which to judge their actions.

I'd prefer an alternative though after continually seeing pictures and movies like those linked above. That guy in the huge hall looks like the kind of person who'd be selling a time-share in the after-life. Organised religion is so easily turned into a business venture these days.

I have one response: Enlightened Self-Interest

Once people understand this in practical and philosophical terms, it is much easier to get along with others in our families, society, with other religions and other nations around the world.

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post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

The notion of survival of the fittest and a lack of a meaningful purpose to human life and therefore a live for today attitude promote selfishness.

That is certainly one limited way to view an ethics based upon evolution. But who actually has such an ethical perspective? And why is it not possible for survival of the fittest to make someone decide to do what is best for his species, ie humanity?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin

Perhaps we will always require religion so that people always have a moral guide by which to judge their actions.

As if people without religion have no moral guide? There are non-religious ethical doctrines.

NO religion could have created a ethical doctrine on using biotech on other species for our use. Religious morality is limited and at this point incredibly stagnant in the face of contradictory facts -- why is it still morally wrong to eat pork for Jews and Muslims?

Just like atheism doesn't automatically make you a rational person, being religious doesn't automatically make you an ethical one.
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post #22 of 24
Marvin:

Quote:
The notion of survival of the fittest and a lack of a meaningful purpose to human life and therefore a live for today attitude promote selfishness.

That is not how we work. That is a childish and ignorant view of human psychology and motivation. One needn't even know anything about evolutionary psychology to know this is completely false, because there is millenia of evidence of actual human behavior to contradict it.

An ignorance of psychology certainly doesn't help.

Quote:
Perhaps we will always require religion so that people always have a moral guide by which to judge their actions.

Religions are very poor moral guides, as evidenced by the tremendous difference between what we consider modern and enlightened moral values and traditional religious values.
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post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by groverat View Post

Religions are very poor moral guides, as evidenced by the tremendous difference between what we consider modern and enlightened moral values and traditional religious values.

Become Utilitarian and Huminist! No but seriously I agree; make your own values and morals, don't have some TV preacher give them to you.
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post #24 of 24
Mr. God does not like people cooperating:
Tower_of_Babel

Indeed the bible is full of calls to inflict pain and suffering on other because of their questionable "morals".

NO religious concepts do not promote cooperation. Religious concepts promote prejudice, ridicule and perversion.
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