Religion Makes Children More Selfish…

2015-11-07_09-24-59History backs-up the scientific evidence that secular people are more moral, as reviewed by Israeli psychologist Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi. Most white supporters of the US Civil Rights Movement were non-religious, for example, while the apartheid regime in South Africa was led by devout Christians and opposed by atheists.

But the view that non-religious individuals are morally dubious is deeply embedded in American society. Atheists and agnostics are considered less trustworthy, even immoral, which explains why people who don’t believe in God are unlikely to be elected to high political office, such as President of the United States….

”It’s sometimes claimed that secular families are dysfunctional and rudderless because they lack the security of religion. But sociologist Vern Bengston, who has run California’s Longitudinal Study of Generations since 1971, says this isn’t true: “Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents …

The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterised by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

“Morality and religion are two separate things: religion has been made by humans and morality is part of our biology,” says Jean Decety.

Source: Religion Makes Children More Selfish, Say Scientists – Forbes

In some ways the above poll surprised me but in others it didn’t. I would think that people who religiously (pun intended) attend weekly places of worship would be kinder and more generous than those who don’t.  After all, Christians are exposed to the Gospel messages that often talk about the poor and the downtrodden. Shouldn’t this then become the foundations for their lives?  This poll is about children but I kind of think that children learn most of these types of things from their parents.

I am going to try to rationalize why religious children might be less altruistic than secular kids.  Most religions  embrace the belief that they are the only ones who have really figured out the true nature of God.  Everyone else is wrong to one degree or another.  We are holy &  they not so much. The logic goes like this:

“It is our job to get all those who believe things different from us to admit that they are wrong and our version is right. Then if they publicly proclaim that fact they can officially join us. Until that happens they are to be viewed with suspicion and maybe even distrust. Once they are part of our clan then they are worthy of our empathy and generosity. Real friendship/caring can only be fully established if you are part of us; if you leave us that friendship will quickly evaporate”

With that mentality the children maybe inadvertently learn of the us/them divide in most churches. My personal theology says God cares equally about all of us. He doesn’t restrict his love to religious alliances.  I found it interesting that Most white supporters of the US Civil Rights Movement were non-religious.  Another interesting point is that Muslims are the least friendly and meanest of the three groups.

I will close here by narrowing my brush:

Does my rationalization above apply to all those who claim membership to religions?  ABSOLUTELY NOT… but I think it is a pretty good description of too many of them…

4 thoughts on “Religion Makes Children More Selfish…

  • Incredibly interesting conclusions”The study included 1,170 children between ages 5 and 12, from six countries—Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and the United States” involving sticker sharing and perception of harm to another child.
    The child who did not share as many of their 10 stickers with a classmate (- Forbes says 30- to start with) were considered selfish (the range between sharing and non sharing was approximately .4 stickers difference between all children). The children who did not react to a videos bump or push to another child were considered less judgmental coming to the conclusion of less mean.
    This study was started as a study in cultural upbringing of children.

    It all proves– you can make stats prove anything!

    I think the Jewish population and Quakers would disagree that white civil rights workers were non religious. I ‘d love to see that study….

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  • Yeah, I kind of think the study overstated the results too but I can imagine that the basic result has some level of validity even if the sampling was more diverse than you would like it to be. I am not one to throw out a study or deem it invalid simply because I don’t agree with it. You are painting with too broad a brush with he civil rights workers. The study didn’t say there were no religious based workers, only that the majority were non-religious. I guess I will have to investigate that some.

    Question everything….

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  • I watched my children give up scholorships, delay college, sell beloved cars and leave their families for their beliefs. I don’t want to say for their religion because thats not why, religion is the vehicle…what they bleieve in is what is important. We are basically selfish people, God teaches us a better way…we can choose to be selfish or not. Abortion is selfish, immorality is selfish…but the best part? we are all huge sinners and all of us can improve.

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