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Atheists Not So Fond of Generosity, Forgiveness

John on October 15, 2007 at 9:17 am

My friend Scott at Magic Statistics has had a bunch of interesting things up this week. I’ve been tempted to steal several of them but today I’m finally succumbing to temptation. Scott notes the results of a sociological survey of theists and atheists which found:

Canadians who believe in God are more likely than those who do not to place a high value on such social virtues as love, kindness, and courtesy.  Theists regarded every one of the twelve traits included in the survey as more important than did the atheists.  Believers were 80% more likely than atheists to consider patience and generosity very important.

Click on over to look at Scott’s lovely graph. Also low on atheist’s priority list (besides the generosity and forgiveness) are patience, concern for others and family life.

Of course it’s possible to excel at something you don’t value, but I think it’s probably not the normal state of affairs. As the survey’s author says:

The old question, “Do people need God to be good?” may well have a more complex answer: “People who don’t believe in God can be good. But people who believe in God are more likely to value being good, enhancing the chances that they will be good.”

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