Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Psychology: Hard times make you gullible about religion?

Here's a classic in New Scientist-style codswallop about spirituality:
WHILE many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.

This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.
You can guess where the article goes from there.*

Anyway, the reality is that in hard times, some believe more and others less. It depends on how the individual chooses to interpret hard times: Forced awareness of opportunity? Character discipline? Testing? Punishment? Mere accident? Proof no one "Out There" cares?

All these attitudes and many others are quite possible. Which attitudes dominate? ... that depends on temperament and culture.

*I notice New Scientist is still using Michelangelo's graphic of God bringing Adam to life ... they don't update much, do they?


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