RD Extra: A Skeptical Review of Religious Prosociality Research with Luke Galen

This RD extra features a lecture by Luke Galen “A Skeptical Review of Religious Prosociality” delivered to CFI Michigan June 26th 2013

It is often suggested that religion leads individuals to be more prosocial, that is, more cooperative, generous, friendly, and happy. A commonly held belief is that “religion makes better neighbors”. However, a closer examination of the research supporting these claims yields important qualifications to this relationship. Dr. Galen will offer some common examples of these types of studies and invite the audience to ask critical questions regarding the types of conclusions that can be drawn from the “religion makes you good” literature.

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And for everyone who asked for references…get a load of this:


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  1. Steve Van Nest says

    Interesting talk, as usual. Are you going to put the slides online. I would really like to see them. Thanks.

  2. Elvin Lucic says

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for nother very interesting and thought provoking lecture.
    I like the quote attributed to Marcus Aurelius:
    The Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius is credited with saying “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

    Have seen some debate about this being more likely to be something Epicurus would have said.
    Whoever the originator it seems a good answer to Pascal’s Wager.

    Thanks to all the Doubtcasters for a consistently excellent podcast.

  3. Lucy Harris says

    Excellent, at last someone critically examines the Brooksian claims academically. I wish you had links to the studies discussed, especially the dictator ones.

  4. Andrew Ryan says

    Is that a picture of Luke Galen above? They’re as rare as hen’s teeth! It’s pretty hard to find out what any of the Reasonable Doubts crew look like!

  5. Francesca Salinas says

    my best friend’s mother makes $80/hr on the laptop.She has been fired for seven months but last month her payment was $19677 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more… c­a­n9­9.ℂ­ℴ­M

  6. Basilides says

    Prof. Galen, could you please provide a list of the studies you mentioned in your interesting talk.

  7. CONWAY says

    I don’t miss religion, but I do kind of miss church. Mainly for the pot luck suppers and pancake breakfasts. A neighborhood of people who come together and look out for each other is a good thing.

    But I have found that same thing in my apartment building, without the need for believing in fairy tales. The lady in apartment #3 makes a wicked lasagna.

    The first Saturday of every month we have a big cook out in the back yard. BBQ and beer and music and fun and fellowship. No need for kneeling or bowing or hating those who live in the wrong apartment building.

    And we look out for each other. Giving a ride to the doctor’s office. Helping to organize a yard sale when money was tight. You need an umbrella? Here, take mine.

    No god needed. Just humanity.

  8. andrew3112 says

    If you think Melissa`s story is nice…, last pay cheque my uncles step-son basically also earned $7204 working fourteen hours a week at home and they’re neighbor’s sister-in-law`s neighbour done this for 9-months and brought home over $7204 part-time from a pc. the guidelines on this web-site BAM21.com

  9. ryangerber says

    Just listened to this podcast, and it was pretty awesome. I don’t usually get all the way through the RD Extras, largely because I can’t stand the debate format, but this was very well researched and well presented.

    I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  10. says

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  11. andrewviceroy says

    Great lecture. Luke makes a joke at 12:12 about people with business major not being as trusted as Christians. It’s funny, but I wonder if that bias was controlled for in the study. Is a shady reputation of Business majors a possible confound?

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