Creating God in One’s Own Image

From Scienceblogs.com:

For many religious people, the popular question “What would Jesus do?” is essentially the same as “What would I do?” That’s the message from an intriguing and controversial new study by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago. Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.

Psychological studies have found that people are always a tad egocentric when considering other people’s mindsets. They use their own beliefs as a starting point, which colours their final conclusions. Epley found that the same process happens, and then some, when people try and divine the mind of God. Their opinions on God’s attitudes on important social issues closely mirror their own beliefs. If their own attitudes change, so do their perceptions of what God thinks. They even use the same parts of their brain when considering God’s will and their own opinions.

Religion provides a moral compass for many people around the world, colouring their views on everything from martyrdom to abortion to homosexuality. But Epley’s research calls the worth of this counsel into question, for it suggests that inferring the will of God sets the moral compass to whatever direction we ourselves are facing. He says, “Intuiting God’s beliefs on important issues may not produce an independent guide, but may instead serve as an echo chamber to validate and justify one’s own beliefs.

[Read more at Scienceblogs.com]

, , ,

  • florenceharidan

    I buy into this research. I journey with many people on their spiritual path and each of us creates our version of what God is based on our needs and experiences.

    In Rev. Scotty McClennan's (Chaplain at Duke, and the Doonsbury priest inspiration), Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning. the topic of personal spiritual evolution is examined and he shows how our lives shape what we seek from a spiritual path as well as a religious community.

    What is Enlightenment/the magazine, featured a story about the trend of religions of one. It too shows how we piece together a belief system, a spiritual path, based on experiences, wisdom from others, etc. it illustrates too, how it has had an affect on communities. While it is a better personal path to fulfillment, the social connections that come from shared belief systems are broken down.

    We strive to connect with people on deep levels that are based on beliefs and values. Being able to express these values in common ways creates bonds and connection that are deeply rooted. In Daniel Goldman's book. Social Intelligence he states, it is these conversations that build new neuro pathways in the brain. It is because we are changing physically in those moments, via new pathways, we are linked in new ways to that person.

    Fascinating topic, I shall do more research into Epley's work. Thank you!!

  • Anonymous

    If God did not exist, would it be necessary for man to create him?

  • tonyviner

    If God did not exist, would it be necessary for man to create him?

  • Anonymous

    In other news, water is wet and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west…

    This is why I always find it more useful to ask “What would Gandhi do?” or my personal favorite: “What would Wonder Woman do?”

  • quartz99

    In other news, water is wet and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west…

    This is why I always find it more useful to ask “What would Gandhi do?” or my personal favorite: “What would Wonder Woman do?”

21
More in Psychology, Religion, Society
Why Ireland Is Running Out of Priests

Bryan Coll reports for Time: Wanted: Clean-living young people for a long career (women need not apply). Responsibilities: Varied. Spiritual guidance, visiting the sick, public relations, marriages (own marriage not...

Close