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Atheists are more respectful of believers than vice versa

Atheists are more respectful of believers than vice versa

October 28, 2020

Rousseau said that there are several types of religion, among which is a "private" and individual version of the belief in the transcendent and the divine, and another that is of a collective nature, based on public rituals and shared dogmas and symbols. In practice, said this philosopher, the first variant is undesirable, because it does not act to make societies be united.

Time has passed and with it societies too; Now, unlike three centuries ago, we must satisfy a need that did not exist before. This new need is to create an inclusive culture in which no one is left on the sidelines for issues related to their beliefs or absence of them. And, while the history of religions is full of violent conflicts between confessions, the relationship they have with atheism has not been much better .


Today, in fact, a study shows that in a world where freedom of thought and belief is increasingly defended, atheism continues to be stigmatized.

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The respect of atheists by believers is not reciprocated

A team of researchers at the University of Ohio has shown that atheists are more respectful of believers than vice versa, something to which they offer several explanations.

The team of researchers, led by Colleen Cowgill, used a game based on economics to find out how each one's personal beliefs influence the way we identify with the rest or on the contrary if we distance ourselves from them. Specifically, we wanted to see if the fact of being a believer or atheist makes us act giving high priority to those who share these beliefs or if this priority tends not to exist.


For this, a simple exercise known as the game of the dictator was chosen, in which a person must decide if he wants to share his money, and what amount must yield. In this way, couples are created in which one person is an atheist and the other is a believer, and a domain role is assigned to one of them to decide if they want to distribute a quantity of money.

The result showed that, knowing the beliefs of each one, the Christians distributed more money to the rest of the Christians than to the atheists, while the atheists did not give favorable treatment to any of the collectives, giving on average the same amount to believers and non-believers . This ceased to occur at the time when each person's religious beliefs, or the absence of them, ceased to be revealed.

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The stigma could be behind that

Colleen and her team propose an explanation to explain why atheists tend to be kinder to believers than they receive in return from believers, at least according to this study. What could be behind this phenomenon is a compensation strategy on the part of atheists, to avoid receiving the negative consequences related to prejudice and stigma about atheism in general.


And it is necessary to bear in mind that for a long time religion and morality have been practically synonymous: the ethics arose from the belief in a higher order that tells us what we should do. The absence of belief in the divine, according to this logic, is a threat, because there is nothing that guarantees us that an atheist will not commit the most atrocious acts if we think that the only thing that prevents us from behaving badly is our union with one or several gods.

On the other hand, even today there is still little contact with atheism (today there is no country in which the majority of the population is atheist), so it is reasonable that those who do not believe in any religion should receive an unfavorable treatment if it offers the slightest chance to be seen as the enemy.

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Full integration has not yet been achieved

This study shows that more private beliefs are still something that divides society, to the point where a simple label is able to make us treat ourselves in a different way . Tender to give a privileged treatment to one who is more like oneself is still a way to create an unnecessary division without there being a real reason for conflict.

Thus, atheists, being aware of the stereotypes that still persist, do their best to "compensate" the rest, since they start from a disadvantaged situation. In this sense, it would still be necessary to carry out investigations similar to these to see if Something similar happens with religious minorities in countries where there is a high degree of fanaticism.


Atheism 2.0 | Alain de Botton (October 2020).


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