Punitive gods stop cheaters, compassionate gods encourage them
An interesting conclusion that should generate interesting rebuttals.
Would it be going too far, for example, to think that there would have been less pedophiles in the Catholic church, if there was less forgiveness preached?
In this new study, they sat students down to what they thought was a warm-up task on basic numeracy (adding up a bunch of numbers - simple but tedious). Unfortunately, the computer programme had a glitch that showed the answer after a few seconds. The students were asked to be honest and press the space bar to make the answer go away - without looking at it.
Of course, this was no glitch. In fact, they were interested in whether (and how often) the students did the honest thing and pressed the space bar.
It turned out that there was no difference in honesty between atheists and the religious. However, there was a big difference among the religious.
Those who believed in a stern, punishing god were less likely to cheat - while those who believe compassionate, forgiving god were actually more likely to cheat! On average, the two cancelled out - which is why the religious as a whole were no different from atheists.
So does that mean that encouraging belief in punishing gods will reduce cheating. Well, it’s not quite that simple.