How many times in history have people claimed God to be on their side? A recent study by Nicholas Epley at the university of Chicago might explain why. He asked Christian volunteers their views on a series of controversial topics, such as the death penalty and abortion. They were then asked what they thought the views were of average Americans, public figures like Bill Gates, and God. The volunteers own views most resembled those of God.
The next stage was a clever twist. Another group of volunteers were given tasks designed to soften their views, such as playing devils advocate and defending the death penalty when they were actually in favour of it. The result was that the views attributed to other people remained the same, but those of God shifted in accordance with their own.
Finally the team used a brain scanner which showed that the same brain areas became active when contemplating their own views as those of God, but an area used for inferring other people’s mental states lit up when thinking about other American’s views.
Interesting isn’t it? As an atheist my conclusion is going to be different from people of faith, and I’d be genuinely interested to hear their thoughts – and anyone elses, obviously.