Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Atheists put less value on love than believers: study

"A new Canadian survey has found that believers are more likely than atheists to place a higher value on love, patience and friendship, in findings the researcher says could be a warning that Canadians need a religious basis to retain civility in society.

The survey of 1,600 Canadian adults, led by University of Lethbridge professor Reginald Bibby, gave a list of 12 values - from honesty to family life to politeness to generosity - and asked the participants if they found each "very important." In each case, theists ranked the values as more important than atheists."

____________________

I don't have a problem with the data. I have a problem with the interpretation of the data. Further research is required to determine which of the competing explanations of the current data set best fit future data.


I tend to prefer this explanation that was given at the end of the article, but only further research will tell us if this explanation accurately describes why this study got the results they did:


"Religion tends to be very polarizing, so religious people always feel very passionately about those values. They always feel 'very strongly.' Religion always does this black-and-white thing. An atheist is a lot more temperate, a bit more hesitant. An atheist might be more nuanced in his or her thinking."

A poster named Phoenix put forward another possible explanation:

"If you asked various groups how much they value the family, the mormon numbers would be through the roof. That just means it's a catch phrase in their religion, not that they actually value the family more than others and certainly not that they practice it more."

1 comment:

C. L. Hanson said...

Re: "If you asked various groups how much they value the family, the mormon numbers would be through the roof. That just means it's a catch phrase in their religion, not that they actually value the family more than others and certainly not that they practice it more."

That's a very good point. That Julie Beck talk at the latest conference which got so much flack -- all of the controversial aspects were justified by invoking the importance of valuing motherhood/family/children. I argue that her recipe doesn't value children at all, quite the opposite. But I doubt such a survey would pick up on the nuance...