BEACON TRANSCRIPT – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “love thy neighbor” are some of the golden rules bestowed upon us by religion. But it would seem that the most effective method of keeping us in check was and is fear. And according to a recent study, fear of divine retribution might have eased human expansion, thus creating the first markets and trades.
While not the most pleasant way to catch someone’s attention in order to teach him a good lesson, it would seem that fear itself was a most effective ways of educating individuals. A new study has uncovered that individuals belonging to certain beliefs are less inclined to be self-centered if they know that there’s an eye in the sky which sees everything.
In fact, according to the study’s abstract, it was fear of divine retribution that prompted man into expanding, thus forming the first large-scale cooperative associations. We could even say that the first markets and trades came to life, all because of a handful of individuals who were constantly worrying about God and divine retribution. Working towards earning that bounty that awaits him in Heaven, man did everything he could in order to appease his all-knowing and vengeful God.
The study in question was conducted by a team of scientists from the Center for Human Evolution, Cognition and Culture, which is part of the University of Columbia. Benjamin Purzycki, a postdoc student and the leading author of the study, said that he and his colleagues managed to find a direct link between divine retribution and human expansion.
Purzycki and his team of scientists argued that the so-called magnanimous behavior played a key role in the development of trust, which basically represents the foundation of human expansion.
In order to understand how religion is capable of establishing trust between the individual, the head researcher, along with his team of scientists studied 8 religious communities from Fiji, Brazil, Tanzania, Vanuatu, Siberia, and Mauritius. All in all, approximately 600 individuals participated in this study, which managed to bring together various religions, including Christianism, Buddhism, Hinduism and animism.
And to see if there is indeed a connection between the economic expansion and fear of divine retribution, the scientists enticed the participants with a little game. Two cups were laid before the participants, 30 coins, and a dice painted in two colors. The game had two versions: one featuring yourself and a distant co-religionist while the other one mirror the relation between a local co-religionist and a distant co-religionist.
And the beginning of the game, each participant was asked to memorize a cup. After this, the participants were asked to roll the dice and, depending on the color to put the coins in the cup they had in mind or in the other. Moreover, the individuals were notified that at the end of the game, all the money will go to one of the categories.
Also, the participants were allowed to cheat. The scientists have observed that when playing the first version of the game, the participants were more likely to cheat in their favor and less likely to cheat in favor of a distant co-religionist.
Moreover, they have observed that if an individual believed in a punitive and moralistic God, the odds of favoring co-religionists increased by 5 times than those who did not believe in a moralistic and punitive God.
The results prove that fear of retribution might have eased human expansion, although the lead author said that they should not be taken for granted because one cannot account for all the variables when it comes to human drive.