CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 November 2017

Print Version    Email to Friend
Some trust in atheists but most don’t

LEXINGTON (SE): The results of a study indicate that people are far more suspicious of atheists than they are of people who have an adherence to one of the major religions of the world.
 
The survey discovered that people are much more inclined to suspect an atheist of immorality than a religious follower. This was found to be true even among people who are professed atheists.
 
In an article published in Nature Human Behaviour, the team that conducted the study says that the results “show that across the world, religious belief is intuitively viewed as a necessary safeguard against the temptations of grossly immoral conduct.”
 
The article says that it also reveals that “atheists are broadly perceived as potentially morally depraved and dangerous.”
 
More than 3,000 people in 13 countries were surveyed, ranging from what is considered very secular nations like China and the Netherlands, to those with high numbers of religious believers, such as India.
 
The study included that countries with predominantly Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or non-religious populations are perceived as more likely to behave in a moral manner.
 
Participants were given a description of a fictional man who tortured animals as a child, then grows up to become a teacher who murders and mutilates five homeless people.
 
Half were asked how likely it was that the killer was religious and the other half how likely he was an atheist. The findings show participants were about twice as likely to assume the killer was an atheist.
 
“It is striking that even atheists appear to hold the same intuitive anti-atheist bias,” the study’s coauthor, Will Gervais, a psychology professor at the University of Kentucky, said.
 
“I suspect that this stems from the prevalence of deeply entrenched pro-religious norms. Even in places that are currently quite overtly secular, people still seem to intuitively hold on to the belief that religion is a moral safeguard,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.
 
Distrust of atheists was “very strong in the most highly religious states like the US, United Arab Emirates and India,” Gervais said, adding that this figure was lower in more secular countries.
 
While some may place their trust in atheists, it seems most do not.

More from this section