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Due to the many counts of violence that have taken place in the name of “religion” throughout history, “differing religious beliefs” is often thought of as a point of contention and strife instead of peace. However, according to recent study findings published with the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, instead of causing violence, religious beliefs actually promote interfaith cooperation.
Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University and New School for Social Research considered how Palestinian youth made their moral choices, either being from the perspective of their god Allah or their own perspectives. The study results found that the Muslim-Palestinians who used Allah’s perspective instead of their own valued the lives of Jewish-Israelis and Palestinians more equally.
Jeremy Ginges, who is a New School for Social Research professor of psychology, said the following about the importance of the study findings:
“Our findings are important because one precursor to violence is when people believe that the lives of members of their group are more important than the lives of members of another group. Here, we show that religious belief—even amidst a conflict centered on religious differences—can lead people to apply universal moral principles similarly to believers and non-believers alike.”
The study results actually revealed a decrease of bias by 30% when the study participants were faced with a fictional scenario “tolley dilemma” that determined if participants thought a Palestinian man should be killed in order to save the lives of either five Muslim-Palestinian or five Jewish-Israeli children.
Nichole Argo, who is a research scientist in decision sciences and public policy at Carnegie Mellon said the following about the study findings:
“This study adds to a growing literature on how religious belief can increase cooperation with people from other faiths.”