University of Oxford

Belief in all-knowing, punitive gods aided the growth of human societies, study says

Belief in all-knowing, punitive gods aided the growth of human societies, study says

Belief in moral-watching, all-knowing, punitive gods might have helped human societies grow far beyond small, close-knit groups, a new study shows. Researchers who ran an experiment with a total of 591 people in eight different small-scale societies around the world found that people who believed their deity of choice knew about their misdeeds and would punish them were more likely to play fairly in a game where money was on the line.

The findings, described in the journal Nature, hint at the integral role that certain religious beliefs may have played in the dramatic expansion of human societies.

Part of what has made humans as a species so successful is their ability to form...

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