The Danger of Belief is Thinking You Believe What God Does

A study done by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago tells us all believers think God agrees with what they do about a host of non-related issues. Let me just quote from Discover Magazine’s “Creating God in One’s Own Image” (Nov. 30, 2009):
Epley asked different groups of volunteers to rate their own beliefs about important issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action, the death penalty, the Iraq War, and the legalization of marijuana. The volunteers also had to speculate about God’s take on these issues, as well as the stances of an “average American”, Bill Gates (a celebrity with relatively unknown beliefs) and George Bush (a celebrity whose positions are well-known).

For many religious people, the popular question “What would Jesus do?” is essentially the same as “What would I do?” Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.

Epley surveyed commuters at a Boston train station, university undergraduates, and 1,000 adults from a nationally representative database. In every case, he found that people’s own attitudes and beliefs matched those they suggested for God more precisely than those they suggested for the other humans.
If this study shows us anything at all it should make believers less certain of what they pontificate about. In fact, this study falsifies faith itself, for there is no independent way to determine what God thinks, if he exists at all. Believers simply create their own religion, their own Gospel, and their own God in their own image.

This is a recipe for disaster since believers will claim they have a divine mandate for anything they think is the case.

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