Cheating God

Anyone engaged in education long enough will eventually encounter cheating in one form or another. Social psychologists have suggested that whether one believes in God or not has little bearing on moral behavior. A recent report in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion demonstrates that belief in God does not effect cheating by undergraduates. Among those that believe in God, however, those that believe in an angry, punishing God cheat less than those who believe in a loving, forgiving God. An explanation of the study may be found at Medicalexpress.com.

Someone's watching you

Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” it seems, is the bane of cheaters. The Great Awakening chased along the heels of a wrathful deity baying “believe or else!” Those believing in a nicer God are more apt to take liberties. The interesting corollary of this finding is that it does not divide believers along denominational lines but rather along personal outlooks on God’s kindliness. Nobel pagans and fearful believers share a strong moral center.

An informative follow-up would be a study to determine how many believe in a loving versus a wrathful God. From such data we might be able to extrapolate who is more likely to cheat on taxes, spouses, or any other big-ticket items in the economy of our society. Given the number of high profile spouse-cheatings among televangelists and Christian politicians, one thing seems clear: belief in a friendly God willing to look the other way is in no danger of extinction any time soon. Oh, and please keep your eyes on your own paper.

1 thought on “Cheating God

  1. Tom Reese over at Epiphenomon did a superb review of this article (as he does all religious research) and, agreeing with him:

    Much more interesting is the likelihood that people change adapt their concept of god to suit the society in which they find themselves.

    Gods don’t exist, we make them. And we make them well — to serve both our environment and our temperaments. Theses gods are either cloaked in theology, philosophy or intuitions — to give them the feel of substantiality.

    Suggestion: Humiliate a cheater publicly and kick them out of the program and cheaters will reduce. I have seen it work. The problem is some teachers are afraid of a pursuant fight and the students see that. Kindness is much easier than fairness at times — ironically.

    Like

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