Daily Archives: 2012-03-17 16:58:46 UTC

People who pray are nice

Praying mantis

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In 2002 results of research into the relationship between personality and spirituality were published in Pastoral Psychology.

If you’re one of those arm-chair anti-religionists who speculates that people who pray the most probably have some psychological malfunction and are expressing a need to communicate with an imaginary friend given their inability to relate to the real world, then the research findings are against you.

If you have rejected western religious traditions and think you are a much nicer person than the average for having found value in the regular practice of Eastern meditation instead, then again the science is against you. But what do you care for quantifiable observations of this crass material world!

The findings were that those who pray the most (in the conventional or traditional sense of the word) are jolly good types who fit in well with wider social expectations. Plato would be happy. Wasn’t he the one who said a strong dose of conventional religious belief and fear was a necessary thing to keep the masses well-behaved and in line?

To be specific, the researchers conclude (using the Eysenck personality model) that those who pray the most are at the low end of the “psychoticism” dimension of personality and are thus most likely to be found to be

empathic, unselfish, altruistic, warm, peaceful and generally more pleasant, although possibly less socially decisive individuals. read more »

Leap of Faith or Failure of Reason?

English: Jump from Nevis Bungee Platform near ...

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Accommodating the unaccommodatable

I was taken aback when I saw that the pingback on my previous post, Miracles and Historical Method, was from the Doctor of Whoville. Since we know McGrath doesn’t read Vridar, somebody must have told him about it.

I kid. We love the good doctor. Salt of the earth and all that. So what’s happening over on the Matrix? Sure, he’s peddling his latest book, but the subtitle is “What Does History Have to Do with Faith?” so I guess the pingback is legit. In yesterday’s post, Demolishing and Reconstructing the Burial of Jesus (and Christianity Itself), McG asks: “What, in short, should Christianity look like in the aftermath of historical study?”

This subject marginally interests me. I’m curious about religions and what people believe, but the ways in which people accommodate ancient superstition with modern reality makes me uncomfortable. Not that there’s anything wrong with accommodation, it’s just that the part of my life where I tried to salvage the good parts of Christianity in light of — well, in light of reality — is over. The mental gymnastics involved just weren’t worth the effort. It felt too much like keeping two sets of ledgers: one set of books with cooked numbers that add up to God and another set that actually make sense.

Honk if you’re a skeptic

The paragraph that linked to my post reads as follows: read more »