I’ve bookmarked dozens of topics, some of them a little obscure, and I think it is time to introduce you to some oddities.
Scientists studying religion earnestly
There are many scientists – biologists, anthropologists, neuroscientists, etc – who study religion and how it works out in individuals and societies, without making any assumptions about whether God exists or not. Here are some of their findings:
- Religious households are more likely to save money, plan for the future, at least in the Netherlands.
- Spirituality may reduce the desire to conspicuously consume because it appears to reduce the allure of materialism – in those tested at least.
- Bolivian mothers who believe that God wants all children to live are 15 times more likely to parent a well-nourished child.
Criminality and religion
- Prisoners who attend religious services have fewer disciplinary problems, though self-control may be as important as religion in this.
- But criminals may use religion to justify their crimes – it seems to help some distort the truth about their crimes and/or believe God will forgive them.
Religious, spiritual and atheist personalities
- Religious people are more agreeable and conscientious but less likely to be open and engage with the outside world. Spiritual people tend to be the opposite.
- On average, religion seems to encourage a personal outlook that suppresses creativity and innovation in favor of social and emotional stability.
- On the other hand, atheists are likely to be highly individualistic, systematic thinkers, with a penchant for pragmatism – but therefore have lesser social support networks.
- The religious may fare better when the going gets tough, because religious people are more likely to have strong self control in stressful situations – though whether religion causes self control, or vice versa, isn’t so clear.
The dark side of religion?
- Religious belief, across a wide range of religions, is correlated with more sexist attitudes, so that strong believers are more likely to have gender inequitable beliefs. Non-believers fared only marginally better, with stronger unbelief also correlated with more sexist attitudes.
- Religion tends to build social capital (“the community bonds that underlie civic life”), which is normally a good thing. But it appears strong social capital helped the early spread of Nazism in Germany via strong grass roots friendships.
All of these are properly conducted scientific studies (as far as I can tell). But they often can only apply to the particular subgroup being studied, and it is always possible to find studies that give a different result.
But wait, there’s more!
This is only a small selection of loosely grouped studies. I’ll try to outline a few more over the coming months. I hope you found something of interest, or amusing.