Believing Is Not Loving

This chart will come as a shock to those taking for granted that religion has a causal positive association with moral behaviours.

Religion - GenerosityA paper(1) just published in Current Biology shows that, quite the contrary, children from non-religious households are more altruistic with an anonymous beneficiary than children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions—Christianity and Islam. This negative relation between religion and altruism changes across age, with those children with longer experience of religion in the household exhibiting the greatest negative relations.

Furthermore, religiosity affects children’s punitive tendencies when evaluating interpersonal harm. Research indicates that religiousness is directly related to increased intolerance for punitive attitudes toward interpersonal offenses, including the probability of supporting harsh penalties. Within Christianity, fundamentalists tend to be more punitive and advocate for harsher corrections than non-fundamentalists.



(1) Decety, Jean, Jason M. Cowell, Kang Lee, Randa Mahasneh, Susan Malcolm-Smith, Bilge Selcuk, and Xinyue Zhou. “The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World.” Current Biology (In press) November 2015. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.056.


  1. Good Lord 🙂
    But then, if believing is not loving, then it is not believing; it is the old evil of one thinking oneself better than others for some reason.

  2. How is generosity measured ?
    Is it along the lines of the widows mite or the rich man? Is it related to time? A man may be generous with money and miserly with time.
    To whom is the generosity shown his family , his friends , or strangers .
    The scientific measurement of such a quality is surely impossible.
    Who would qualify as religious people wear and lay claim to all manner of labels.
    What are the figures on the vertical axis ?
    All over the world we have learned minds engaging in nebulous research. They would do better to look for new antibiotics.

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