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Religion increases self-control

Perspicuo

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Does Belief in God Cause More Self Control? | Through the Wormhole



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Keith&Co.

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Huh.
I thought it was going to be about how far they got through the test before they told the researchers to fuck off and die.

i don't think religion in itself increases self-control.
But the knowledge that people around you are watching your every word, that's a big impact. That's how i stopped swearing in the Navy. For a couple of months, anyway. Knowing that if i spoke certain words, people would make me put a quarter in the jar.

In a setting of religious peers, you draw attention if you laugh at the wrong jokes, if you use the wrong words, if you say certain politicians have a point, if you suggest gays have rights or that evolution is science... The constant reinforcement of being slapped down for saying 'fuck' or 'Ellen DeGeneres' or 'birth control' has a big effect.

I didn't notice this experiment screening believers vs. atheists. But that's largely unimportant. I think it's the expectations of the people around us, or our anticipation of their expectations, that's got the impact.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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These psych experiments are not like something you do with hamsters. That's because many people in these experiments know it's an experimental setting and so their behavior is affected. They're looking for the camera or the plant. But it does demonstrate the obedience=survival angle when it comes to religion.

Now lets serve vinegar and orange juice in place of wine in Church on Sundays along with crushed dried beetles instead of bread and see how it all goes down.
 

Perspicuo

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Now lets serve vinegar and orange juice in place of wine in Church on Sundays along with crushed dried beetles instead of bread and see how it all goes down.

Who are you, Ozzy Osbourne?? :D
 

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I suggest that the belief that you need a supernatural judge to be watching for self-control increases self control. Religious culture produces religious dependence.

If you're not conscientious and self-aware enough to control yourself without believing someone's watching, then I guess you need to be tricked into believing someone (besides you) is watching so you won't behave like a mongrel.

Isn't that what theistic religions teach from a very young age? "God is watching," kind of thing? And that they'll be punished by this omniscient judge for not behaving? What else would you expect a culture deep in religious belief to produce? What if they were taught that they themselves are their own "higher power" and taught that they can indeed depend on themselves to be good if they are willing to self reflect and question?

If you're not stupid and unaware, you might realize that YOU are watching what you do and can possibly make conscientious choices without having to be manipulated into it.
:joy:
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I suggest that the belief that you need a supernatural judge to be watching for self-control increases self control. Religious culture produces religious dependence.

If you're not conscientious and self-aware enough to control yourself without believing someone's watching, then I guess you need to be tricked into believing someone (besides you) is watching so you won't behave like a mongrel.

Isn't that what theistic religions teach from a very young age? "God is watching," kind of thing? And that they'll be punished by this omniscient judge for not behaving? What else would you expect a culture deep in religious belief to produce? What if they were taught that they themselves are their own "higher power" and taught that they can indeed depend on themselves to be good if they are willing to self reflect and question?

If you're not stupid and unaware, you might realize that YOU are watching what you do and can possibly make conscientious choices without having to be manipulated into it.
:joy:
It's the Princess Alice effect. Too lazy to google it.

I remember this iconic portrait of the Jesus guy when I was growing up which was captioned, "The unseen host at every meal, The silent listener to every conversation." Creepy shit!
 

Perspicuo

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That's probably why psychoanalysis moved away from guesstimating supposed drives to positing (and working through) "object relations", i.e. the people from your partly-remembered, partly-imagined past you carry with you and "controlling" your behavior.
 

rousseau

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If the reason you are controlling yourself is external, then you are not really controlling yourself, the external entity is.
 

Perspicuo

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If the reason you are controlling yourself is external, then you are not really controlling yourself, the external entity is.

Unless the "external" reason is internalized. In fact, "External locus of control" is an internal state of the subject, and impinges upon the person's behavior. In similar fashion, your internalized mother, God, "fatherland", etc, all imagined figments (even if some have a degree of real memories associated with them, such as mother), contribute with decision making.
 

rousseau

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If the reason you are controlling yourself is external, then you are not really controlling yourself, the external entity is.

Unless the "external" reason is internalized. In fact, "External locus of control" is an internal state of the subject, and impinges upon the person's behavior. In similar fashion, your internalized mother, God, "fatherland", etc, all imagined figments (even if some have a degree of real memories associated with them, such as mother), contribute with decision making.

True. I just hate to say "this Christian is acting morally because he decided to". I'd rather say "this Christian is acting morally because his imaginary friend is threatening him with eternal suffering".
 

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Unless the "external" reason is internalized. In fact, "External locus of control" is an internal state of the subject, and impinges upon the person's behavior. In similar fashion, your internalized mother, God, "fatherland", etc, all imagined figments (even if some have a degree of real memories associated with them, such as mother), contribute with decision making.

True. I just hate to say "this Christian is acting morally because he decided to". I'd rather say "this Christian is acting morally because his imaginary friend is threatening him with eternal suffering".

When I get up most mornings and review my day, murder, rape, robbery, etc are not on my list of things to do, even though all are quite within my power and ability. I share this experience with most of the citizens I know.

If I say "This atheist is acting morally because the state of Louisiana will hunt him down and fill his veins with a toxic chemical, if he doesn't," is this person any better than the Christian, or for that matter, any different?
 

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If the reason you are controlling yourself is external, then you are not really controlling yourself, the external entity is.

If the reason is external, the control is still internal.
My oldest son had an annoying habit.
I told him to stop, he said, "I can't! It's beyond my control!"
I told him i'd punch him in the balls next time he did it.

Turns out, it was under his control.
Internal control mastered the habit. Even if the motivation for that self-control was an external threat.
 

rousseau

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True. I just hate to say "this Christian is acting morally because he decided to". I'd rather say "this Christian is acting morally because his imaginary friend is threatening him with eternal suffering".

When I get up most mornings and review my day, murder, rape, robbery, etc are not on my list of things to do, even though all are quite within my power and ability. I share this experience with most of the citizens I know.

If I say "This atheist is acting morally because the state of Louisiana will hunt him down and fill his veins with a toxic chemical, if he doesn't," is this person any better than the Christian, or for that matter, any different?

Nope.

The person who is acting morally because it's the right thing to do is better than the person who is acting morally because they have to.
 
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rousseau

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If the reason you are controlling yourself is external, then you are not really controlling yourself, the external entity is.

If the reason is external, the control is still internal.
My oldest son had an annoying habit.
I told him to stop, he said, "I can't! It's beyond my control!"
I told him i'd punch him in the balls next time he did it.

Turns out, it was under his control.
Internal control mastered the habit. Even if the motivation for that self-control was an external threat.

The idea of control brings us to a whole weird debate of whether the external world is controlling the things we do, or whether we are.

In the case you mention your kid getting punched in the balls was something that he absolutely had to avoid, so the external pressure made him stop what he was doing, but if he could have lived with the consequences he might not have stopped... that doesn't demonstrate that he didn't have control, just that nothing controlled his behavior.

I'd think people who are truly demonstrating self control are doing so even when they don't particularly need to.
 

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When I get up most mornings and review my day, murder, rape, robbery, etc are not on my list of things to do, even though all are quite within my power and ability. I share this experience with most of the citizens I know.

If I say "This atheist is acting morally because the state of Louisiana will hunt him down and fill his veins with a toxic chemical, if he doesn't," is this person any better than the Christian, or for that matter, any different?

Nope.

The person who is acting morally because it's the right thing to do is better than the person who is acting morally because they have to.

Why does this better person think it is right to act morally?
 

rousseau

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If the reason you are controlling yourself is external, then you are not really controlling yourself, the external entity is.

God would have to be real for your explanation to be meaningful.

Well the concept of a Christian God does arise from a real entity in the real word: the Christian church. So in that sense it's a 'real' thing, even if that thing is a weird delusional meme.
 

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Why does this better person think it is right to act morally?

You'd have to ask them.

I asked you because you created two theoretical people who exhibit the same behavior, but judge one to be better than the other. I thought you would have some insight into the non-believer, since you pretty well had the Christian pegged.
 

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In the case you mention your kid getting punched in the balls was something that he absolutely had to avoid, so the external pressure made him stop what he was doing, but if he could have lived with the consequences he might not have stopped...
But the question of whether he 'could have lived with the consequences' is one he answered internally.
And took control of his own behavior.
I'd think people who are truly demonstrating self control are doing so even when they don't particularly need to.
What an odd definition.
 

rousseau

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You'd have to ask them.

I asked you because you created two theoretical people who exhibit the same behavior, but judge one to be better than the other. I thought you would have some insight into the non-believer, since you pretty well had the Christian pegged.

I'm not sure I understand your meaning. I agreed with you that the theoretical atheist who only acts morally because of laws isn't isn't any better than the theoretical Christian who only acts morally because of religion. I then extended the idea, and said that, rather the case is that people who act morally because they want to are better (or I guess, more moral) than people who are only moral because of an external thing.

So the 'better' person in my case isn't an atheist, it's just a person who's not a dick. Why they act morally? Probably because they understand what suffering is.
 

rousseau

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But the question of whether he 'could have lived with the consequences' is one he answered internally.
And took control of his own behavior.
I'd think people who are truly demonstrating self control are doing so even when they don't particularly need to.
What an odd definition.

Maybe you're right.

I think the conversation could get a lot weirder, but I'll just leave it at that.
 

Bronzeage

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I asked you because you created two theoretical people who exhibit the same behavior, but judge one to be better than the other. I thought you would have some insight into the non-believer, since you pretty well had the Christian pegged.

I'm not sure I understand your meaning. I agreed with you that the theoretical atheist who only acts morally because of laws isn't isn't any better than the theoretical Christian who only acts morally because of religion. I then extended the idea, and said that, rather the case is that people who act morally because they want to are better (or I guess, more moral) than people who are only moral because of an external thing.

So the 'better' person in my case isn't an atheist, it's just a person who's not a dick. Why they act morally? Probably because they understand what suffering is.

There is some confusion.

In an earlier post, you said,

The person who is acting morally because it's the right thing to do is better than the person who is acting morally because they have to.

How do we judge the hierarchy of goodness and relate it to an understanding of suffering as motive.

For example, the Christian may have taken that brotherhood thing to heart and firmly believe he/she is truly related to all other humans. This means any injury done to any person is the same as done to a biological brother or sister. They would have an acute awareness of the consequences of all actions, and thus work diligently to not harm others.

The person who is not a dick, maybe just a very timid person who fears retribution and thus is very careful not to offend anyone.

So, in the case of the Christian, true love for people is the motivation, while in the non-dickish person, they are motivated by fear of injury.

Is it possible to find one better than the other?
 

rousseau

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I'm not sure I understand your meaning. I agreed with you that the theoretical atheist who only acts morally because of laws isn't isn't any better than the theoretical Christian who only acts morally because of religion. I then extended the idea, and said that, rather the case is that people who act morally because they want to are better (or I guess, more moral) than people who are only moral because of an external thing.

So the 'better' person in my case isn't an atheist, it's just a person who's not a dick. Why they act morally? Probably because they understand what suffering is.

There is some confusion.

In an earlier post, you said,

The person who is acting morally because it's the right thing to do is better than the person who is acting morally because they have to.

How do we judge the hierarchy of goodness and relate it to an understanding of suffering as motive.

For example, the Christian may have taken that brotherhood thing to heart and firmly believe he/she is truly related to all other humans. This means any injury done to any person is the same as done to a biological brother or sister. They would have an acute awareness of the consequences of all actions, and thus work diligently to not harm others.

The person who is not a dick, maybe just a very timid person who fears retribution and thus is very careful not to offend anyone.

So, in the case of the Christian, true love for people is the motivation, while in the non-dickish person, they are motivated by fear of injury.

Is it possible to find one better than the other?

The moral difference between two people is what they would do in any given situation assuming no repercussion. Put any ideological party on a sidewalk where they find a wallet full of cash, what they do with the wallet determines their moral character.

Going back to the original point I was making in response to "Christians having more self control" ... well of course they have more self control, they have a creator threatening them with suffering. That means that those Christians without a moral conscience will tend to act morally anyway, at the same time as Christians that do have a moral conscience. Acting morally because of potential repercussions does not make you a 'good' person, it just means you're too afraid to be a bad person.
 

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The moral difference between two people is what they would do in any given situation assuming no repercussion.
How can you possibly divorce moral actions from repercussions? The repercussions are the whole point of morality.
If there's no repercussion for standing up for what's right then everyone would do it...or not, but it'd be meaningless.

If i turn the wallet in, i don't have free money. That's a repercussion.


I think you might better consider 'assuming no witnesses.'
 

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The person who is acting morally because it's the right thing to do is better than the person who is acting morally because they have to.



The moral difference between two people is what they would do in any given situation assuming no repercussion. Put any ideological party on a sidewalk where they find a wallet full of cash, what they do with the wallet determines their moral character.

Going back to the original point I was making in response to "Christians having more self control" ... well of course they have more self control, they have a creator threatening them with suffering. That means that those Christians without a moral conscience will tend to act morally anyway, at the same time as Christians that do have a moral conscience. Acting morally because of potential repercussions does not make you a 'good' person, it just means you're too afraid to be a bad person.

What is a moral conscience?

How do you arrive at the conclusion Christians have more self control because they fear a creator's wrath? Why isn't it because of love for their fellow man?

Does anyone on this planet who acts in socially acceptable ways not have some threat of retribution hanging over them, if they fail to do so?

Is there really a boundary between, "This is wrong because it will cause me harm," and "This is wrong because it will cause harm to someone else"? Is there some spectrum, with self harm and harm to others at each end?
 

rousseau

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How do you arrive at the conclusion Christians have more self control because they fear a creator's wrath? Why isn't it because of love for their fellow man?

I didn't. I arrived at the conclusion that both types you mention exist.

Does anyone on this planet who acts in socially acceptable ways not have some threat of retribution hanging over them, if they fail to do so?

Yes.

Is there really a boundary between, "This is wrong because it will cause me harm," and "This is wrong because it will cause harm to someone else"? Is there some spectrum, with self harm and harm to others at each end?

Yes there is a boundary, but I don't know about the spectrum. The difference is that in the first case if you remove the harm, the morality disappears. The result is the same, though, which would be the purpose of Christianity and law, to make immoral fuckers behave.
 

rousseau

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The moral difference between two people is what they would do in any given situation assuming no repercussion.
How can you possibly divorce moral actions from repercussions? The repercussions are the whole point of morality.
If there's no repercussion for standing up for what's right then everyone would do it...or not, but it'd be meaningless.

If i turn the wallet in, i don't have free money. That's a repercussion.

I think you might better consider 'assuming no witnesses.'

Let's just replace 'repercussion' with 'negative repercussion' then.
 

Bronzeage

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I didn't. I arrived at the conclusion that both types you mention exist.

Does anyone on this planet who acts in socially acceptable ways not have some threat of retribution hanging over them, if they fail to do so?

Yes.

Is there really a boundary between, "This is wrong because it will cause me harm," and "This is wrong because it will cause harm to someone else"? Is there some spectrum, with self harm and harm to others at each end?

Yes there is a boundary, but I don't know about the spectrum. The difference is that in the first case if you remove the harm, the morality disappears. The result is the same, though, which would be the purpose of Christianity and law, to make immoral fuckers behave.

The purpose of all morals are to make moral fuckers behave. Who is it on this planet who does not have the threat of retribution for their actions?

Morality is the threat. Without it, there is no morality. It would be like saying, "bring me a glass of water without the glass."
 

rousseau

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I didn't. I arrived at the conclusion that both types you mention exist.



Yes.

Is there really a boundary between, "This is wrong because it will cause me harm," and "This is wrong because it will cause harm to someone else"? Is there some spectrum, with self harm and harm to others at each end?

Yes there is a boundary, but I don't know about the spectrum. The difference is that in the first case if you remove the harm, the morality disappears. The result is the same, though, which would be the purpose of Christianity and law, to make immoral fuckers behave.

The purpose of all morals are to make moral fuckers behave. Who is it on this planet who does not have the threat of retribution for their actions?

Morality is the threat. Without it, there is no morality. It would be like saying, "bring me a glass of water without the glass."

For the record, I don't think we've disagreed about anything during this conversation.

I'd say moral codes and moral laws exist to make people behave, but following moral law is different from being a moral person. In the absence of threatening moral code or law, when you're faced with an important decision with moral implications, where does the guidance spring from? You have to base your decision on some form of reasoning: if your internal logic works toward the end of reducing suffering, you're a moral person. In reality I could break into someone's house and profit a lot of money without being caught, the reason I don't isn't because of the fear of retribution, it's because it's a dick thing to do and I wouldn't want to cause people unnecessary suffering.
 

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So the 'better' person in my case isn't an atheist, it's just a person who's not a dick. Why they act morally? Probably because they understand what suffering is.

I act morally because I don't see any long-term advantage in acting immorally. And because I am prosperous and healthy enough to be able to give some weight to my long-term advantage, rather than having to scrabble for short-term survival. Affluence is a great moraliser.
 

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I didn't. I arrived at the conclusion that both types you mention exist.



Yes.

Is there really a boundary between, "This is wrong because it will cause me harm," and "This is wrong because it will cause harm to someone else"? Is there some spectrum, with self harm and harm to others at each end?

Yes there is a boundary, but I don't know about the spectrum. The difference is that in the first case if you remove the harm, the morality disappears. The result is the same, though, which would be the purpose of Christianity and law, to make immoral fuckers behave.

The purpose of all morals are to make moral fuckers behave. Who is it on this planet who does not have the threat of retribution for their actions?

Morality is the threat. Without it, there is no morality. It would be like saying, "bring me a glass of water without the glass."

For the record, I don't think we've disagreed about anything during this conversation.

I'd say moral codes and moral laws exist to make people behave, but following moral law is different from being a moral person. In the absence of threatening moral code or law, when you're faced with an important decision with moral implications, where does the guidance spring from? You have to base your decision on some form of reasoning: if your internal logic works toward the end of reducing suffering, you're a moral person. In reality I could break into someone's house and profit a lot of money without being caught, the reason I don't isn't because of the fear of retribution, it's because it's a dick thing to do and I wouldn't want to cause people unnecessary suffering.

In your case, the burden of your conscience for harming someone else is threat enough to keep you in line. Try as we might, we can't feel other people's pain and suffering, only imagine how it would feel to us.
 

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Religion increases religious control, not self control. The notion of self control implies a rationality that results in the achievement of discipline, continuity, and actions in line with the individual's preferences. Some stumble onto a religion that seems to somehow match their preferences only to discover over time...it was just a few of their preferences that was the basis of their accepting the religion.

There has been a lot of talk about the threat of morality. That in itself is based on the notion of an absolute morality where violations bring consequences in the form of punishment. That type of thinking leads to fear of being wrong, hence fear of taking chances and considering actions for oneself. If you can't prove something is "moral" (and you can't) then you can accept somebody's idea of morality and blindly live in fear of that....not a very good idea and also very destructive of the autonomy necessary for self discipline.

Critical thinking is not taught by Religion.:thinking:
 

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Religion increases religious control, not self control. The notion of self control implies a rationality that results in the achievement of discipline, continuity, and actions in line with the individual's preferences. Some stumble onto a religion that seems to somehow match their preferences only to discover over time...it was just a few of their preferences that was the basis of their accepting the religion.

There has been a lot of talk about the threat of morality. That in itself is based on the notion of an absolute morality where violations bring consequences in the form of punishment. That type of thinking leads to fear of being wrong, hence fear of taking chances and considering actions for oneself. If you can't prove something is "moral" (and you can't) then you can accept somebody's idea of morality and blindly live in fear of that....not a very good idea and also very destructive of the autonomy necessary for self discipline.

Critical thinking is not taught by Religion.:thinking:

According to wikipedia, there are 41,000 Christian denominations. If we can safely assume there once was only one, then at least 40,999 different people had some kind of critical thought.
 
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