Jesus Creed

Augustine’s famous opening lines in his The Confessions (Everyman’s Library)
says something like this: You [God] have made us for yourself and we are restless until we find ourselves in You. One way of putting this is that humans are hardwired for God.

In What Americans Really Believe the authors examine this question and wonder if the evidence available today from American surveys can probe into an answer to the belief Augustine confessed. It’s about personality. Is religiousness inherent to personality? The ability to determine the kind of evidence permissible and how to frame it so that it speaks to this issue are not easy, so the designers of this study were careful.
First, words. They ask Americans to describe themselves with words and arrive at the OCEAN study: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Openness reveals artistic and deep vs. uncreative and shallow.
Conscientiousness reveals efficient and organized vs. undependable and sloppy
Extroversion reveals talkative and active vs. quiet and reserved
Agreeableness reveals kind and sympathetic vs. critical and selfish
Neuroticism/Emotional stability reveals anxious and moody vs. relaxed and calm
This study wants to see if there are correlations of these personality types and religiousness.

What they probed was the associations between religiousness, OCEAN, and personal beliefs and attitudes and ideology. So they are measuring correlations.

#1: Practices. There is a high correlation between self-reported religiousness (a person says she or he is religious) and religious practices, like church attendance and Bible reading. But there is no significant correlation between religious practices and OCEAN (the Big Five).
#2: Beliefs. There is a correlation between self-reported religiousness and beliefs – like biblical literalism, certainty of God and certainty of heaven.
#3: Moral attitudes. Self-reported religiousness correlates with particular moral views — abortion, divorce, marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, and embryonic stem-cell. Notably, war did not correlate with religiousness. And in OCEAN, the highest correlation was found with “A” (Agreeableness). Those who were E (extroversion) and O (openness) were the least likely to agree with these moral attitudes/views.
#4: Politics. Those who self-reported religiousness were the least likely to be liberal in politics. O (openness) correlates with being Democrat.
Their conclusion: religiosity correlates with personality as personal beliefs, moral views and politics. The correlation is consistent. Therefore, they conclude, religiosity is a good predictor of important areas of social life.
Well, I don’t think they really answer the question about being hardwired for God. But they do show correlation of religiousness with a variety of issues.
Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus