One practice that can potentially temper feelings of moral superiority is religion. All major faiths emphasize the value of being humble and the perils of hubris. “In humility count others as better than yourself,” St. Paul advises in his letter to the Philippians.
Yet for some people, religion appears to amplify the instinct to feel like a moral beacon. In a 2002 study, researchers at Baylor University in Texas and Simpson University in California evaluated the religious commitment of 249 students, 80 percent of whom were members of a church.
The researchers, led by Wade C. Rowatt of Baylor, found that the students in this highly religious group considered themselves, on average, almost twice as likely as their peers to adhere to such biblical commandments as “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The study also found that the most strictly fundamentalist of the students were at the highest end of the scale.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Jesus Loves you, but I'm his favorite
The New York Times reports on the holier-than-thou syndrome: an inclination to believe that our individual morals are stronger than our peers. Such an inclination is most pronounced in the religious: