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Pygoscelis
01-02-2007, 03:18 PM
The thread on End Times got me thinking about Religion and Authoritarianism.

I remember back when I was doing my undergrad (psych) we did some studies on the psychology of religion and one strong correlation we found was between Religiouslity and Authoritarianism.

This was mostly amongst a liberal christian population, with some fundamentalist christians, Jews, atheists and agnostics in the pool as well. No other groups were significantly represented (One Hindu, five Buddhists if I recall correctly and a hand ful of muslims in a subject pool of over a thousand).

We did surveys. These consistently showed the less religious to have less mainstream ideas and opinions. They wre more likely to support legal marijuana, or gun ownership (this was in Canada where most oppose it) or capital punishment (also majority opposed).

We also did various experiments to get this data, including the famous Asch experiment (show a bunch of lines, one obviously being longer, tell them the shorter one is longe, will they accept it? Will they believe it? The more religiously minded were more likely to) and the classic torturer experiment (where an authority figure tells you to punish somebody for wrongly answering questions, by giving them electrical shocks. The more religiously minded went further before refusing)

It seems to make sense to me that less religious people would be more likely to be social rogues. Less likely to be led by others and more likely to sacrifice social acceptance for their own personal convictions.

It also seems to make sense that religious folk would be authoritarian followers, as God is imagined to be the greatest authority. And it shows in the contempt that theists show atheists for not submitting to their God (for not submitting to authority as they see it).

Is this just obvious or are their other explanations? Thoughts?
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Woodrow
01-02-2007, 03:34 PM
The field of social psychology is still in it's infancy. Although there are correlations being discovered. The causations are still far from being found or verified. Sadly, no body can identify any unbiased population so for experimentation, at the moment it does not seem likely any blind studies can be done.

There is a reverse possibility for the results of the expeiments you mention. It could also be that a person who is more aware of authority is likely to accept religion. There is a correlation between religion and Authority. However, no testing has shown any causation.

So now we get into the problem as to what is the causation of authoratative acceptance. A religious person will simply answer, "A desire to Love and serve God(swt)"
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Pygoscelis
01-02-2007, 08:22 PM
Yes I agree completely. There is no known causation.

It could be that religious people obey God and God tells them to obey their leaders and their culture, so they appear authoritarian.

It could be that authoritarians are attracted to religion because religion is a structured authoritative system. One ruler (God) who you are to obey and who tells you how to behave etc.
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Keltoi
01-03-2007, 06:29 AM
There is another psych experiment I remember where students were put in charge of other students in a mock prison situation. Eventually many of the prison "guards" began to abuse their power over the "prisoners." I know this experiment doesn't have anything to do with religion on the surface, but I believe it is useful in understanding the power of suggestion. I'm a Christian, and proud of it, but I also understand the dangers involved with theocratic ideologies. If one is repeatedly taught that they are superior to someone else, or special in some way, that person will usually play the part assigned to them. The same with religion. If a believer is told by a powerful religious figure that God commands this or that, many are likely to believe it, and act accordingly. Religion has alot of power over people, and many times this power is misused by man for their own ends.
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duskiness
01-03-2007, 09:06 AM
Originally Posted by Pygoscelis
We did surveys. These consistently showed the less religious to have less mainstream ideas and opinions. They wre more likely to support legal marijuana, or gun ownership (this was in Canada where most oppose it) or capital punishment (also majority opposed).
hymm..what about becoming Muslim in Western society? Isn't that counted as as having "less mainstream ideas"? Or even being a Christians in liberal and secular Western Europe - it often means going the other way
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Eric H
01-03-2007, 09:59 AM
Greetings and peace be with you Pygoscelis;

Throughout the Gospels Jesus challenges the way people in power use authority to lord it over others. The disciples recognise that Jesus is very special; yet Jesus uses his own authority over the disciples to wash their feet.

John 13
12 When Jesus had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

On the Thursday before Easter we remember the washing of feet and we do this at our church. I can only say that to have your feet washed by someone you don’t know that well and to get down on your knees to wash the feet of some one else offers a profound experience.

I look at Jesus and how he used the power that his authority gave him; how do we follow in his footsteps?

In the spirit of seeking peace on Earth

Eric
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rav
01-03-2007, 02:19 PM
hymm..what about becoming Muslim in Western society? Isn't that counted as as having "less mainstream ideas"? Or even being a Christians in liberal and secular Western Europe - it often means going the other way
No, because Muslims still hold many of the same ideas that other "people of the book" hold.
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Woodrow
01-03-2007, 02:26 PM
Originally Posted by rav
No, because Muslims still hold many of the same ideas that other "people of the book" hold.
I agree with that Rav. Being a revert my self , I don't feel that reverting is a leaving of Christianity, but as a fulfillment of it and becoming what Isa(swt) was really teaching. (Although I had left Christianity nearly 40 years before reverting to Islam)
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