April 3, 2007

In God We Trust

How do people react when they think that God is on their side and when they believe that God condones violence?

A recent study held at both a religious and secular institution found some unsettling results. Both believers and nonbelievers are more likely to act violently when they believe that God is on their side and that God condones violence. Bushman, the main researcher says,
"Even among nonbelievers, if God says it's OK to retaliate, they are more aggressive. And that's the worry here. When God sanctions aggression, when God says it's OK to retaliate, people use that as justification for their own violent and aggressive behavior.
What I find most interesting about this study, is that unlike Sam Harris, Bushman has a personal, as well as professional interest in the research because he believes in God and reads the Bible almost daily. So, its important to reflect on Bushman's final words from the article:
"What worries me is when people use God as a justification for their violence. There are scriptures that say you should not take God's name in vain. This is the most extreme version of taking God's name in vain,"
I don't think most American Christian believe this, we don't get what it means to use God's name in vain. As a matter of fact, the conclusion of the article tells the situation and belief of most Christians I know.

Yet his own research shows that whether people consider
themselves believers or not, they are more likely to be aggressive,
perhaps even willing to start a war, if they think God is on their side.

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