Baylor study on God belief
Posted: 19 September 2006 01:36 AM   [ Ignore ]
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http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-god17sep17,0,6224772.story?coll=la-opinion-leftrail

This is taken from a post on infidels.org:

http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=180076

From the study, people tend to believe in very different kinds of gods:


  Type A: Authoritarian God: Individuals who believe in the Authoritarian God tend to
  think that God is highly involved in their daily lives and world affairs. They tend to
  believe that God helps them in their decision-making and is also responsible for global
  events such as economic upturns or tsunamis. They also tend to feel that God is quite
  angry and is capable of meting out punishment to those who are unfaithful or ungodly.

  Type B: Benevolent God: Like believers in the Authoritarian God, believers in a
  Benevolent God tend to think that God is very active in our daily lives. But these
  individuals are less likely to believe that God is angry and acts in wrathful ways.
  Instead, the Benevolent God is mainly a force of positive influence in the world and is
  less willing to condemn or punish individuals.

  Type C: Critical God: Believers in a Critical God feel that God really does not interact
  with the world. Nevertheless, God still observes the world and views the current state of
  the world unfavorably. These individuals feel that Gods displeasure will be felt in
  another life and that divine justice may not be of this world.

  Type D: Distant God: Believers in a Distant God think that God is not active in the world
  and not especially angry either. These individuals tend towards thinking about God as a
  cosmic force which set the laws of nature in motion. As such, God does not do things
  in the world and does not hold clear opinions about our activities or world events.

  Atheists: Atheists are certain that God does not exist. Nevertheless, atheists may still hold
  very strong perspectives concerning the morality of human behavior and ideals of social
  order but have no place for the supernatural in their larger worldview.

But as the LA Times article pointed out, atheists could be called faithless or Type F. And the Distant God seems like a Deist sort of God.

The kinds of gods differ in their amount of activity and anger:

A: Active, Angry
B: Active, Not Angry
C: Not Active, Angry
D: Not Active, Not Angry
F: (Not Applicable)

The number of believers in each kind of god are:

A: 31.4%
B: 23%
C: 16%
D: 24.4%
F: 5.2%

There are lots of interesting demographic differences in preferences:

Men: D, F
Women: A, B

Blacks: 53% A, no F’s found

Lower educations and incomes: A, B
Higher educations and incomes: D, F

East: C
South: A
Midwest: B
West: D

Believers in A and B tend to attend church and pray more; believers in C do not

Catholics, Mainline Protestants: D

Evangelical, Black Protestants: A

Jews: D, with 8% F

Unaffiliated: over 40% F

Believers in God’s maleness: A

Abortion attitudes differ by god type; here is how many think that abortion is always wrong:

Overall: 12.2%
A: 23.4%
B: 16.7%
C: 4.6%
D: 1.5%

There were similar trends for several other issues, like abortion under various circumstances, gay marriage, nonmarital sex, divorce, porn, and school prayer.

Though with the death penalty, the order was A, C, B, D and not A, B, C, D, and likewise for funding "faith-based" organizations.

As to what makes people good, there was not much difference in "actively seek social and economic justice" and "take care of the sick and needy", though there was a strong A B C D slope in "convert others to your religious faith" (21.5%, 11.7%, 3.7%, 0.3%).

There was also an A B C D slope in belief that the Iraq War is justified, belief that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 kamikaze hijackings, support of greater governmental authority in the "War on Terror", and trust of President Bush. In all of these, A had was much more supportive than D

And there is a similar such slope in belief that God favors the US in international affairs, .and belief that God favors one political party. It was mostly Republicans who did that (8.6%) as opposed to Independents (0.9%) and Democrats (0.4%).


The study also went into detail about paranormal beliefs, finding that large fractions of Americans believed in them.

Atlantis-like civilizations: 41.2%
Alternative medicine: 74.5%
Telekinesis: 28.2%
Psychics: 12.8%
Astrology: 12.3%
Talking to the dead: 19.9%
Haunted houses: 37.2%
Dreams being prophetic: 52.0%
UFO’s as alien spaceships: 24.6%
Monsters like Bigfoot and Nessie: 17.9%

Easterners tend to be the most willing to believe in paranormal phenomena, Southerners the least. Women are more likely to be paranormal believers than men.

There were similar numbers for those who reported experiencing or using paranormal phenomena.

This was, however; inversely correlated with church attendance; evangelicals were the least likely to believe in paranormal phenomena, and believers in "other" religions, religions other than Xianity or Judaism, the most.

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Posted: 19 September 2006 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Re: Baylor study on God belief

Interesting data, rationalrevolution. Thanks for posting it. I found the correlation between religion and paranormal beliefs intriguing:

[quote author=“rationalrevolution”]Easterners tend to be the most willing to believe in paranormal phenomena, Southerners the least. Women are more likely to be paranormal believers than men.

There were similar numbers for those who reported experiencing or using paranormal phenomena.

This was, however; inversely correlated with church attendance; evangelicals were the least likely to believe in paranormal phenomena, and believers in “other” religions, religions other than Xianity or Judaism, the most.

(We should also remember that Easterners believe in an inactive god while Southerners believe in an active god).

This all seems to confirm the notion that beliefs in paranormal phenomena tend to substitute for ol’ time religion. In other words, if you already have strong evangelical religious beliefs, beliefs in an active god who intervenes in peoples’ lives, that basically takes the place of the paranormal—all those odd phenomena become aspects of god.

Whereas for more secularist people, people who have either rejected mainstream religion or believe in an inactive (more ‘deist’) god, there is a potential vacuum in their spiritual lives that can be filled by paranormal beliefs.

This also, I might add, gives credence to the notion that there is a biological propensity to this sort of paranormal thinking—there’s something biological that creates the propensity for having such a ‘spiritual vacuum’. What could be the origin of such thinking? It seems we have overactive agent-detection devices in our brains. We tend to view the world as agent-infused or agent-directed, even parts of it that are not otherwise animate. So if that agent isn’t the god of the Bible, it ends up being some other sort of paranormal force or forces.

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Posted: 19 September 2006 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I disagree with the “biological propensity” argument. This is a study performed in the US only, and the US has a culture that promotes and supports spiritual beliefs. If you were to compare this to Northern Europe for example, the numbers would be much different.

This has a lot to do with specifical cultural factors.

Of course there is a “propensity” for X, or else it wouldn’t exist at all, but I think its like saying that people have a propensity for smoking cigarettes.

There is no specific biological urge for cigarettes, but if people are brought up around them, and told from their youth that they are okay, then you will see a high rate of smoking and those people will become physically addicted. Its the same with religion.

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Posted: 19 September 2006 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well, remember that ‘propensity’ is only a statistical average, with some sort of causal basis. It is not the claim that this is somehow either necessary or ubiquitous. And although northern Europe isn’t nearly as religious as the US, I wonder as to how much northern Europeans follow new age or paranormal thinking. It seems one does find such patterns in the rest of Europe.

Clearly, as you say, cultural factors make the difference. But as of yet there is no culture that lacks religious or paranormal belief.

We may be hopeful for the future, and for better sorts of education, but it is very much an uphill task.

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Posted: 20 September 2006 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Interesting.  Less schooling equals more religious. Humm I wonder why.

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