07 November 2010

God, Country

Miller-McCune | Tom Jacobs | The Psychological Seesaw of God and Country
New research suggests that when faith in government decreases, belief in an all-powerful deity rises.

The relationship between God and government is tricky terrain. Religious belief and allegiance to the state can coexist comfortably, or even overlap entirely (as in Iran). But in many instances across history, the two have been rivals, even antagonists.

And why not? Newly published research suggests they serve the same psychological function.

A sense of political stability provides comforting reassurance that our world is orderly and controlled. So does belief in an all-powerful deity. This puts the two in a seesaw relationship: When one goes up, the other goes down.

That’s the contention of a group of researchers led by Duke University psychologist Aaron Kay. Writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, they provide evidence of this dynamic and suggest it can be found in Eastern as well as Western cultures.
I could go with my standard "Though ours is a godless age, it is the very opposite of irreligious..." but I'm going to mix it up and go with some Chesterton: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing — they believe in anything."

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