Professor Jean Decety, a neuroscientist from the University of Chicago, studied over 1000 children from around the world and published a paper in the journal Current Biology, which found that children from religious households are actually less generous than kids from a secular background.
While most people think of religion as making people more generous, it appears that this one study contradicts this common belief. So to get to the core of this study, it’s only fitting to ask the creator of the universe what He thinks, so we offer you an interview with God.
Me: As the main object of worship in all the world’s religions (except for those druids who seem to worship trees, but are indirectly worshipping you after all), what do you make of this latest study that shows people are less generous if they’re religious?
God: Well first of all, you have to realize that studying people is an inexact science so it’s hard to draw general conclusions from a sample of 1000 kids. But to answer your question, the problem with religion is that it allows people to interpret it any way they wish to justify their own lifestyle choices anyway. Generous, caring people use the Bible to justify continuing to be caring and generous towards others, while selfish people find ways to use the Bible to justify being selfish to others. Just look at all the religious extremists currently controlling the Republican Party and you can see what happens when selfish people use religion as an excuse to hide their own obnoxious behavior.
Me: So you’re saying religious people aren’t necessarily more or less generous than secular people?
God: That’s right. Remember, I gave people free will and look what a mess they make of it. Historically, people have used the Bible and religion to justify slavery, war, torture, and racism. That’s not a fault of religion so much as it’s a fault of people who hide behind religious righteousness so they can appear saintly while continuing to perform horrible, selfish deeds. Again, just look at the right-wing religious extremists in the GOP and tell me if those people aren’t looking out for their own selfish interests at the expense of anyone they consider to be outside their groups.
Me: Do you think religion brings people closer together or divides them apart?
God: Again it boils down to free will. For some people, religion provides rules to guide people into generous and loving behavior. For others, religion provides equally strong rules for hurting others, discriminating against others, and oppressing others all in the name of religious freedom. I didn’t give people the right to make others miserable, but that’s what happens when you give people free will. Just look how free will turned out in Satan and you can pretty much see how it works with right-wing extremists in the GOP as well.
Me: Why do you think right-wing religious extremists overwhelmingly support the GOP?
God: Most likely because the GOP actually listens to them and caters to their whims, no matter how small they might really be compared to the rest of the party. Yet because religious extremists are the most vocal, they tend to exert more influence than the larger majority that stays silent.
Me: Do you see any hope in people overcoming the negative aspects of religion and only embracing the positive aspects?
God: Don’t make me laugh! You really think people will actually read the Bible and follow rules like loving thy neighbor when they can simply focus on other parts of scripture to justify their own horrible behavior? That’s a good one. You see, far too many people use religion as a way to separate and divide themselves from others. When you join a particular religion, it gives you an identity and anyone outside of your religion is obvious an outsider, unworthy of the same benefits you deserve for choosing to join a particular religious group. Just look at how most people want to get to heaven. That’s a selfish thought right there. If they were truly religious, they would want to sacrifice their own lives so someone else could get into heaven, but most religious people don’t think like that. They want to get into heaven for selfish reasons masked as religious doctrine so they can avoid seeing how they’re really selfish and self-centered. If all those selfish people really got into heaven, it would actually look more like hell.
Me: So what would you say to all those people who blame other religions for atrocities while avoiding mentioning the atrocities of their own faith?
God: Those people make me laugh because they embrace the worst aspects of human behavior while disguising them as religious beliefs. Strip away religion from these people and you simply have maniacal psychopaths no different than Charles Manson or Jack the Ripper. The only difference is that serial killers at least acknowledge they’re hurting others.
Me: if you could recreate the world all over again, how would you do things differently?
God: Well I’d probably put a disclaimer in the Bible explaining that you can’t take the word of God literally because it’s all your interpretation anyway. But most religious people wouldn’t want to read something like that, so that seems like a waste of paper. I suppose I’d like to tell religious extremists that they really don’t know what they’re talking about, but if these people won’t listen to reason and logic, what are the chances they’d listen to someone like me, who they claim to worship and love while ignoring everything I tell them anyway?
Me: It’s certainly been interesting talking to the creator of the universe, knowing that He feels just as frustrated dealing with humanity as everyone else.
God: Thank you, and let me say that even I still can’t figure out a way to bring peace to the Middle East. You can’t wait for God to fix things on this planet. People have to learn to do it themselves, but then again, that’s something else most people don’t want to hear, even if it comes from God Himself.
Me: Thank you God for agreeing to this interview. I hope people will one day get a chance to listen to you for a change.
God: I wish they’d listen to Me too, but if they did, they’d have to actually change their behavior rather than find ways to justify it, so you know that’s never going to happen.