Obey God — Kill!

Researchers compared levels of aggression (measured in a test where participants get to blast each other with loud noises) between students at Brigham Young University (99% True Believers) and Vrije University in Amsterdam (50% God-Wallopers). They also compared aggression after reading a quotation that enjoined them to “take arms against their brothers and chasten them before the LORD”. The results: getting God’s permission increases levels of aggression.

The research sheds light on the possible origins of violent religious fundamentalism and falls in line with theories proposed by scholars of religious terrorism, who hypothesize that exposure to violent scriptures may induce extremists to engage in aggressive actions. “To the extent religious extremists engage in prolonged, selective reading of the scriptures, focusing on violent retribution toward unbelievers instead of the overall message of acceptance and understanding,” writes Bushman “one might expect to see increased brutality.”

Well, OK, but I’ve read substantial parts of the bible, and there is no overall message of acceptance and understanding. The overall message is that you will be rewarded for obedience and the Other will be tormented brutally. And at least in American religion, the poetry and bits about tolerance are downplayed to give more time to the hellfire and worldly imperialism bits.