New study confirms what Doug and I have said for a while

by Skip

From the NYT (huh? really?)that religion provides an "internal governor" on one’s behavior

If I’m serious about keeping my New Year’s resolutions in 2009, should I add another one? Should the to-do list include, “Start going to church”?

This is an awkward question for a heathen to contemplate, but I felt obliged to raise it with Michael McCullough after reading his report in the upcoming issue of the Psychological Bulletin. He and a fellow psychologist at the University of Miami, Brian Willoughby, have reviewed eight decades of research and concluded that religious belief and piety promote self-control

…“We simply asked if there was good evidence that people who are more religious have more self-control,” Dr. McCullough. “For a long time it wasn’t cool for social scientists to study religion, but some researchers were quietly chugging along for decades. When you add it all up, it turns out there are remarkably consistent findings that religiosity correlates with higher self-control.”

Think about it – with more internal control, more self-control, then less external control (e.g., laws) are needed.  If people control themselves from an internal sense of morality, knowing good from bad and right from wrong, less is needed from society.  

Both Doug and me posit that as we have become a more secular society (along with the fact that politicians seem to want to justify their existence by passing new laws),  that sense of right and wrong that used to keep most of us on the straight and narrow seems to disappear.  Thus, in order to to maintain an ordered society, control must be established external – which eventually leads to a larger, more intrusive government.

It’s also good for you as well:

His professional interest arose from a desire to understand why religion evolved and why it seems to help so many people. Researchers around the world have repeatedly found that devoutly religious people tend to do better in school, live longer, have more satisfying marriages and be generally happier.

(H/T: The Speculist)

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