Thursday, March 6, 2008

Faith propaganda: "Forgiveness has God on its side"

"People who believe in God or a new-age spiritual force are less likely to hold a grudge, a study of Australians has found.
A survey of almost 500 people has confirmed what many always suspected - faith helps believers forgive where secular people continue to hold onto their blame."


"The results showed that it doesn't matter what you believe in, but if you believe in something, have faith in something, it means you're more likely to forgive," said researcher Adam Fox, who led the study overseen by professor of psychology Trang Thomas.
"That indicates that there's something in the system of thought connected to spirituality that helps people to accept others and their actions."
The researchers were unable to compare individual religions due to "ethical considerations", but said there was only "slight differences" between each."
The Age, Australia, February 12, 2008
Now, this isn't surprising at all when you see what kind of moral dilemmas the participants were presented with. (Scroll down to Transgression Narrative Test of Forgiveness (TNTF))
The five moral dilemmas were "secular" dilemmas, that is, dilemmas were people from all sorts of backgrounds would feel pretty much the same, like being betrayed. And apparently, the religious were able to forgive the transgressions better than their secular counterparts. Bummer.
But if they're going to measure whether or not religious people are more forgiving overall, then why not ask about moral dilemmas with a religious touch too?

Say, dilemmas like this:
6. "Your daughter leaves your family to live with an Atheist with a pierced nose. They do not marry."
7. "You ask your son if he won't marry soon, and he avoids the question. The next day, you see him kissing a male friend in the park."
8. "After countless episodes of violence, a Danish cartoonist decides to measure your tolerance by mocking something you hold very dear. He draws the Prophet Muhammed with a bomb."
9. "Being an Orthodox Jew, you have a servant to take care of things on the Sabbath, since you're too holy to even make yourself dinner. However, on this particular Sabbath, the servant does not show up, so you can't eat until the Sabbath is over."
10. "Are you still mad about the Jews who killed Jesus 2000 years ago?"
11. "You're tricked into drinking alcohol, and get rather tipsy and are tricked into eating pork or non-kosher food as well."
OK, I could go on forever. But the point is: what is being betrayed by someone compared to breaking a religious taboo? A taboo that for an Atheist is not even worth considering? Atheists have preferences as anyone else, and we don't necessarily believe in forgiveness at any cost. But the taboos are few and far between, and that means that there's very little chance that you offend an Atheist . Atheists have less toes that can be stepped on, and if you do step on an Atheist's toes, you don't simultaneously step on God's toes thereby damning you both to Hell.

Now, I could be forgiving, thinking that it's the reporter who didn't get it right(it happens all the time), but notice that they couldn't compare individual religions because of "ethical considerations". But they could use a survey to lie about how forgiving religious people are compared to infidels?
It has to be said, that this survey's goal seems to have been to learn about various religious groups, while the secular group was merely a control group. But I guess once the results were in showing how unforgiving the secular group were, they were too good not to be published, despite not being true.

Whom should I contact if I have any questions?
Please contact Professor Trang Thomas in the first instance on -. If your require support for any issue that may have resulted from your participation, you may approach any one of the following contacts below that can assist you in finding a support service appropriate to addressing your needs:

* Islamic Council of Victoria: Rowan Gould (Chief Executive Officer), -
* Kollel Menachem Lubavitch: Rabbi Groner (Rabbi), -
* Swanston Street Church of Christ: Alan Baker (Associate Pastor), -
* City Life Church: Ask for ‘Pastor on duty', -
* Crossway Baptist Church: Ask for ‘Pastor on duty', -
[* Surprise, no Godless infidel on duty]

Yours sincerely

Adam Fox B. App. Sci. Hon. (Psychology)
Trang Thomas Professor of Psychology


bbk said...

Additional concerns:

They mixed some vaguely undefined "new age" group into the non-believer group.

They did not say how big their atheist sample actually was. Was it just 5-6 people? Their sample size is small enough as it is - if they were to get enough atheists and still have a representative population sample, they would need more people.

They did not account for the propensity of theists to lie. They could be both less forgiving and bigger liars.

Anonymous said...

My last comment wasn't published here?

Anonymous said...

The artical reported by The Age got the title mixed up. Its not, "Forgiveness has God on its side", its, "Forgiveness has 'Belief' on its side".

If you read the published study it supports that forgiveness is linked to 'belief', and moreover, that it doesn't matter what you believe in, as long as you believe in something, anything, then you are more likely to forgive.

Atheism is also a belief.

Hence, this article supports both belief in Atheism and religion. Interestingly, these findings remained regardless of what 'type' of religion you are affiliated with, or not affiliated with. That was the whole message conveyed by the study.

In answer to the last post, the study did use a lie detector scale. What's more is that it used a lie measure that is very scientifically valid and reliable to factor in the likelihood of participants reporting in order to look good, or to be socially accepted. Furthermore, the number of participants in the secular study group was reported. 98 participants to be precise, which is well above the standard number of participants reported in scientifically validated studies (normally 50).

The bottom line: read from the source, not just what you hear in the press. And more, this study supports both Atheism and religion!

Unknown said...

Do you have a link to the report?