(Mirror Daily, United States) – A group of researchers concluded that societies evolved because of their belief in punitive gods. According to the researchers, people that believe in a punitive, all-knowing deity have a tendency to act more fairly when playing games because they know that they are being watched by the Supreme Being that they believe in and will be punished if they act badly.
The researchers conducted a study on a sample of 591 individuals that belonged to a variety of small-scale groups or societies from all around the world. And it seems that those who believed in a higher all-knowing and punitive entity were more inclined to play by the rules than those who didn’t.
The researchers published their findings in the Nature journal and concluded that societies evolved because of their belief in punitive gods. The belief system seems to act like an extra layer of morality making the people think twice about their actions because they were being continuously watched.
Previous studies were on the matter were not taken into consideration by the scientific community because they didn’t involve people from small societies, the basics of every evolutionary research.
In order to get away from the academic environment and find a way to determine the degree of influence that religion had on the evolution of societies, the team of researchers applied a specifically designed test to members of isolated communities.
Some of the chosen communities for the study were the Hindu from the Mauritius Island, the Christians from the Fijian Yasawa Island and the Hadza tribe in Tanzania which are among the last hunter-gatherer societies left in the world.
The test devised by the researchers consisted of a game. The individual that participated was given a six-sided die which had three colorful sides and three white ones, two glasses, and 30 coins. The rules were simple.
The participant had to put coins in either the glass that belonged to a member of the same religion but from a different tribe or the glass that belonged to them. Every time the dice would fall on the colored side the coins would go in the glass of the participant’s choice. When it fell on the blank side it would go to the opposite glass.
But the main catch of the experiment was that nobody was watching over the player. He could have easily cheated without anybody knowing about it. Except statistics that proved the odds were about 50 -50.
After convincing members of different religions to play the game, the researchers analyzed the results. It seems that those who believed in an all-knowing, moral and punitive god put 14.53 coins in the stranger’s glass. The ones that believed in a deity that was not that harsh with its people put an average of 12.50 coins in the stranger’s glass.
The conclusion of the scientists was that societies evolved because of their belief in punitive gods. A society with a strong moral code was more likely to take care of its members that were not part of the family than a society that was more lax from a moral point of view.
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