Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

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Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by skfarblum on Sun May 06, 2012 10:51 am

Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

A series of three new studies indicates that less religious people, agnostics and atheists are more likely to be generous to those in need while driven by compassion than highly religious individuals. The works call into question widespread assumptions about the link between religion and compassion.

Researchers from the University of California in Berkeley (UCB) found that people in the latter category are less likely to be driven by compassion when they are generous. Social scientists at the university say that compassion is unrelated to generosity in this group.

On the other hand, people in the first category are very likely to give to the poor, or help others out simply because they are compassionate. In other words, their actions come from a genuine interest for helping others out, not because their religion calls for this behavior.


Details of the three studies appear in the latest online issue of the esteemed journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. The researchers say that acts of generosity and charity may not be driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, as some studies had suggested.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” UCB social psychologist Robb Willer says. He was a coauthor of the new paper.

“The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns,” the expert goes on to say.

For the purpose of this investigation, compassion was defined as the emotion that individuals feel when they see others suffering, an emotion based on which they act to help the latter, regardless of personal cost or risk, and without expecting rewards. Religious people expect a reward in the afterlife.

This is one of the main critiques associated with the stance organized religion takes on helping others. Believers are encouraged to be generous with those in need by being told that this will help them after death.

Atheists, agnostics and less-religious people help others due to a genuine sense of compassion, without expecting the get into the good graces of God for their effort. They are also not guided by a moral obligation instilled in them by religious leaders, churches and doctrines, but rather by their impulses.

The study results can be interpreted as providing additional evidence that morality, good conduct, compassion and generosity, among other behaviors, do not stem from religion, as many religious and spiritual leaders would have people believe. Rather, they stem from our human nature.

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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by KatyKing on Sun May 06, 2012 2:22 pm

Some of the nastiest petty minded jobsworths it has been my misfortune to meet over the years have been professional-christian religious types. Pastors and such. Often waving placards of protest complete with Bible quotes condemning attenders to 'Hell' outside meetings for mediumship in public venues. On the other hand in Spiritualist churches it is tangible from the moment one walks in that the vast majority are lovely people. Apart from no more than half a dozen self important beribboned, medallioned and in one totally sad case; dog collared 'ministers' [Mrs K. calls 'em "miseryguts"] and those sorry few were all national level SNU wonks, I've yet to meet a less than delightful Spiritualist. Maybe that has something to do with the overall optimism of our philosophy.
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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by Quiet on Sun May 06, 2012 2:57 pm

skfarblum wrote:
Atheists, agnostics and less-religious people help others due to a genuine sense of compassion, without expecting the get into the good graces of God for their effort. They are also not guided by a moral obligation instilled in them by religious leaders, churches and doctrines, but rather by their impulses.



I think it is hard to generalise from my own knowledge but I believe this is true for humanists because they are motivated by a sense that this is all there is and that our attention and effort is best placed in helping our fellow human beings.

I don't know whether atheism is part of humanism but I know some humanists who are more agnostic that atheist.

I do know some religious people who are very compassionate too.

I think we have to remember that there are often two parts to organised religion: the organised, political church and the spiritual church. Some of the kindest people I know are part of the spiritual side of their church.

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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by skfarblum on Sun May 06, 2012 3:05 pm

An optimistic philosophy,whether of a group or an individual
seems to me to be important.Perhaps also a belief that is inclusive
and not exclusive.
Faith,hope,love and above all a sense of humour.
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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by Quiet on Sun May 06, 2012 3:50 pm

skfarblum wrote:An optimistic philosophy,whether of a group or an individual
seems to me to be important.Perhaps also a belief that is inclusive
and not exclusive.
Faith,hope,love and above all a sense of humour.

Yes Smile

In the light of ongoing allegations of years of covering sexual abuse in the Catholic Church here I have to work at being kind to the organised Catholic Church.

A police investigation has uncovered 40 suicides of young people who were sexually abused by priests and brothers over a 30 year period. These young people were mainly boys, though some girls also suffered grievously.

This news was so shocking that a few weeks ago the State Government announced a parliamentary enquiry but they have not funded it sufficiently which makes one wonder about their intent.

The Church hierarchy in Victoria has so much to answer for.

I would hate to be Catholic at this time. How they can continue to believe in their Church is almost beyond imagination.

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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by Quiet on Sun May 06, 2012 4:36 pm

Quiet wrote:
skfarblum wrote:An optimistic philosophy,whether of a group or an individual
seems to me to be important.Perhaps also a belief that is inclusive
and not exclusive.
Faith,hope,love and above all a sense of humour.

Yes Smile

In the light of ongoing allegations of years of covering sexual abuse in the Catholic Church here I have to work at being kind to the organised Catholic Church.

A police investigation has uncovered 40 suicides of young people who were sexually abused by priests and brothers over a 30 year period. These young people were mainly boys, though some girls also suffered grievously.

This news was so shocking that a few weeks ago the State Government announced a parliamentary enquiry but they have not funded it sufficiently which makes one wonder about their intent.

The Church hierarchy in Victoria has so much to answer for.

I would hate to be Catholic at this time. How they can continue to believe in their Church is almost beyond imagination.

I realise that my reply was almost counter to optimism and positivity Smile

These things happen in this world but at the same time, one can develop a sense of balance and proceed with hope.

All is in hand, however- we learn that in many philosophies. Smile


Last edited by Quiet on Sun May 06, 2012 7:35 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by Left Behind on Sun May 06, 2012 4:50 pm

I wonder which group, though, engages in more organized charitable efforts: religious or non-religious?

Personally, if I needed help, I'd be more concerned with getting it than I would with why the giver is giving it. Laughing

Jim

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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by skfarblum on Sun May 06, 2012 5:01 pm

Dear Quiet,
Your sentiments come from a good heart.It is never
easy to handle things that affect us deeply.
Lets hope something positive does arise from this.
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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by skfarblum on Sun May 06, 2012 5:04 pm

Very true Jim
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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by Quiet on Sun May 06, 2012 8:19 pm

skfarblum wrote:Dear Quiet,
Your sentiments come from a good heart.It is never
easy to handle things that affect us deeply.
Lets hope something positive does arise from this.

The Church itself will change. There are very few people entering the priesthood and the religious life now. The Church is bringing in priests from Third World countries to minister to the flock Smile.

Ultimately the Rome hierarchy may be forced to look at its structure and practice but that won't happen in my life time.

Better still, the Church will not be able to cover up so much. There are many secular bodies which can help now.

Still, greater change needs to happen in the broader Church. That is well beyond my sphere of control and influence so I rarely think about it now.

I do like to think of all the good things that came from my Catholic background and of the good and kind people I know who are still in the Church.

Quiet


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Re: Religious People Are Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Post by KatyKing on Sun May 06, 2012 8:52 pm

Te Pope has just given a big donation to the ordinariate in UK. Fast track into RC priesthood for Anglican vicars. They'll take married ones too but if single chap must remain so. The spikey high Anglicans are signing up.
Clerical celibacy in RCs is a bit of a myth the uniate and Maronite priests are RC and they have always been free to marry. It's only the western riters that are supposed to be celibate.
Jim LB is right though if I was starving I'd be glad of RC bread and soup.
We have a Trappist monastery in Leicestershire Mount St Bernard. Nice guys peaceful atmosphere, lovely gardens. Might be out there theologically but there has to be worse lifestyles for a confirmed bachelor.
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