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-Study: People Who Believe In Heaven Commit More Crimes?

by Dr. D ~ June 23rd, 2012

Creation of the Sun and Moon by Michelangelo, ...

         (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to an international university study, people who believe in Heaven and a loving and forgiving God are more likely to commit crimes than those who believe in Hell and a vengeful punishing Deity? Here’s the story from CBS in Seattle:

A study published in the scientific journal PLoS One by University of Oregon’s Azim Shariff and University of Kansas’s Mijke Rhemtulla finds that people who believe in hell are less likely to commit a crime while people who believe in heaven more likely are to get in trouble with the law.

The two professors collected data for belief in hell, heaven and God from the World and European Values Surveys that were conducted between 1981 until 2007 with 143,197 participants based in 67 countries. They compared the data to the mean standardized crime rate in those countries based on homicides, robberies, rapes, kidnappings, assaults, thefts, auto thefts, drug crimes, burglaries and human trafficking.

Their conclusion:

Shariff and Rhemtulla believe that the study raises “important questions about the potential impact of religious beliefs on global crime.”

Response: No, the research really raises important questions about the assumptions, methods, goals, and purposes of the two researchers.

At first glance one could draw a logical conclusion from this research that a religion like Christianity which offers a loving God of forgiveness and hope for an everlasting life in Heaven may not be all that good for society after all. Also, a religion like Islam with a vengeful deity that offers an uncertain future with the horrors of a literal hell in the afterlife may actually be better for us.  At least that seems to be one conclusion that the research begs for and one really wonders if either or both of the researchers came from a Muslim background?

Secularists and atheists will draw a conclusion from this research that it is probably better for society and humanity if they didn’t believe in an afterlife at all, since the belief in a Heaven seems to increase the propensity for crime?

However the research may be merely capturing the current popular ‘post-Christian’ thinking and understanding of many Americans and Westerners. When it comes to an afterlife, the understanding of most Americans no longer reflects a Biblical Christian teaching at all. Most expect some kind of heavenly experience where they meet up with all of their friends and family and what ever god there really is will condone whatever way they chose to live their lives. The research may be reflecting this common popular outlook more than any thing else.

One wonders what the conclusions of this research would have been if the researchers had differentiated the participants who regularly attended religious services or church from those who rarely or never participated in any kind of organized religion. Also, how regular participation in a particular religion might affect the crime rate.

What about those who believe in both heaven and hell? My contention is that the crime rate would be demonstratively less for serious Bible believing Christians who believe in both Heaven and Hell and a loving forgiving God who nonetheless will ultimately bring judgment upon the whole World.             *Top

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