New Study Claims Children Raised Without Religious Indoctrination show More Empathy and Kindess

by fulltimestudent 12 Replies latest jw friends

  • fulltimestudent

    There is a controversial claim in this article, quite different to what christians usually claim. It interested me, as I often wondered how as jws we could claim to be loving and kind (and certainly some were) yet, be quite callous about those who rejected our message.. You can find this story on this research at:

    If interested read it for yourself. The study found that children raised in non-religious households are kinder and more altruistic than those raised with religion. The study looked at 1170 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years in six countries (Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, USA, and South Africa) and examined “the religiousness of their household, and parent-reported child empathy and sensitivity to justice."

    The study was conducted at the University of Chicago and published in the academic journal, 'Current Biology.'

    Before your fully accept the findings however, you may like to read some criticism of the research. Its a good example of the so-called 'scientific method' in operation. There will likely be more studies and we will see what the final findings demonstrate.

    I thought about both articles, and attempted to draw my own conclusion, which was that teaching kindness, love etc is fine. But, the problem likely arises because christians want to add a rider i.e. divine punishment. if you do not worship their mythical divinity then you will A. Be tortured forever in hell, B. Die and never get a resurrection. C. God will kill you at Armageddon. Faced with these modifers, who can blame kids for becoming less loving and less kind, at least to some.

  • Crazyguy2

    I would totally agree with this study!

  • cofty

    The criticisms of the methodology are valid.

    Another factor to consider is that there is a strong genetic component for religiosity. Children in religious households are likely to have inherited those genes which may also account for their 'sensitivity to justice'.

    In other words it's not the child-rearing and religious indoctrination that affects the child's personality but their genetic inheritance.

    On the other hand, teaching children that the world divides into 'them and us' does not contribute positively to their social development.

  • Humphry

    Take Samson the Bible hero and therefore worthy of Imitation Judges 15:4-,8:

    "So Samson went and caught 300 foxes. Then he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put one torch between each pair of tails. 5 Then he set fire to the torches and sent the foxes out into the fields of standing grain of the Phi·lisʹtines. He set on fire everything from sheaf to standing grain, as well as the vineyards and the olive groves. 6 The Phi·lisʹtines asked: “Who did this?” They were told: “It was Samson, the son-in-law of the Timʹnite, because he took his wife and gave her to his groomsman.”c At that the Phi·lisʹtines went up and burned her and her father with fire.d 7 Then Samson said to them: “If this is how you act, I will not quit until I take revenge on you.”e 8 Then he struck them down one after the other* with a great slaughter, after which he went down and stayed in a cave* of the crag Eʹtam.

    It us and them all the way in the Bible with Jehovah the jealous god killing people on a whim. Is it any wonder why those that approve of all the killings in the bible by Jehovah, his angels, and his heroic worshippers that they would likewise have less empathy?

  • cofty

    It has not been my experience that Christians lack empathy.

    The Evangelical ones have a strange compartmentalisation where they tend to be very kind in practice while believing the objects of their benevolence are bound for Hellfire.

  • slimboyfat

    The question of the thread is extremely complicated, relying on definitions of religion, empathy and kindness which must be difficult to tie down. Not to mention that indoctrination is a pejorative from the start. That’s before you even get to methdology, reliability, replicability and so on.

    Studies such as these are next to worthless it seems to me, being pieces of rhetoric rather than genuine contributions to knowledge. But then I consider most contributions to knowledge suspect on some level. From that perspective at least one could say that the flaws of this particular piece at least have the virtue of being readily apparent. More sophisticated kinds of evidence are often proferred but are not less faulty if one has the ability and care to take them apart. What can we really know about ourselves and the world when it comes down to it? On a practical level we take much for granted, and it is only reasonable to do so. But fundamentally, how many things do we really know for certain? Not a lot. So I think it’s incautious to make general statements on such sweeping issues as whether children of religious parents are more empathetic.

  • Humphry

    A free thinker or one raised without religious indoctrination should be more in touch with himself,, such a person from my estimation should generally be freer to show more empathy than one raised with a us and them, or black and white indoctrinated world view.

    Borderline Personality Disorder should also be higher among those with Black and White thinking.

  • blondie

    In many ways, if an organization is a do as a say not as I do type of group, no one is modeling how to be empathetic and kind. If you never see anyone doing these things, how would you know what to do, and if you are being told that showing fellow feeling (WT this Sunday) is not necessary, then what? The person themselves may have never experience these themselves in that organization.

    I managed to stay empathetic and kind but then the poor souls that never got it, leaned on me too much and wore me out.

    But I did experience these things from non-jws so I knew what empathy and kindness really were and how to show it to others.

  • ThinkerBelle
    Genetic makeup, environment, and culture all play a role in how empathetic someone is. To say atheists are more so than religious zealots is far fetched in my eyes without considering other factors. I have known plenty of believers and non believers who had tyrant children that were self absorbed and those from both that are altruistic.
  • Vidiot

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