The first paper is titled 'Believers' estimates of God's beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people's beliefs'. It found through a series of 7 studies and surveys that people believe that god has the same beliefs that they have. Here is what they concluded:
The researchers noted that people often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God's standards. "The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing," they conclude. "This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing."
Isn't that convenient? It certainly explains how god can hate all the same people they hate, and basically agree with them about everything. It's like knowing your dad will let you do whatever you want because he thinks just like you. It's a license to act any way you like, with your god's blessing.
Also, are you sure people set their compass according to god's standards? Maybe instead they set god's compass to theirs. That would be interesting to find out, although I don't know how you'd do it.
The second paper is titled 'Socioeconomic Status and Beliefs about God's Influence in Everyday Life.' It used data from two recent national surveys of Americans to examine people's beliefs about god's involvement and influence in their lives. Here are some of the findings:
Overall, most people believe that God is highly influential in the events and outcomes in their lives. Specifically:
- 82 per cent say they depend on God for help and guidance in making decisions;
- 71 per cent believe that when good or bad things happen, these occurrences are simply part of God's plan for them;
- 61 per cent believe that God has determined the direction and course of their lives;
- 32 per cent agree with the statement: "There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God's hands."
- Overall, people who have more education and higher income are less likely to report beliefs in divine intervention.
- However, among the well-educated and higher earners, those who are more involved in religious rituals share similar levels of beliefs about divine intervention as their less-educated and less financially well-off peers.
According to Schieman: "Many of us might assume that people of higher social class standing tend to reject beliefs about divine intervention. However, my findings indicate that while this is true among those less committed to religious life, it is not the case for people who are more committed to religious participation and rituals."
82% depend on god to help them make decisions! That is incredibly disturbing to me. It's one thing to ask your friend for advice in helping you decide something important. That person is REAL. It's another thing to ask an invisible fantasy man for help. But according to the previous study, you're just doing whatever you like because god thinks like you. Right?
Doesn't this get a person off the hook, decrease their need for personal responsibility, if they can just say it's all god's doing? And isn't it all incredibly delusional? Religious people who think god is personally involved in their daily lives must be the most adept people at cherry-picking information. They are great at seeing only the hits where chance makes it look like the sky daddy is helping them, and ignoring the millions of misses where their furtive pleas to god go unanswered.
So here is a video which might give you a bit of hope.
The internet: where religions come to die (almost 11 minutes). Some of it is exceedingly creepy and depressing, but it has a happy ending. :)