Weiler is co-author, with Marc Hetherington of Vanderbilt, of the book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics.
He was interviewed on a recent SGI Point of Inquiry podcast and his comments there were the best exposition of the scientific worldview which I've heard in quite a while.
It raised an interesting question for me which I’ve not seen explored scientifically anywhere yet.
Why are Christians mostly not running amok?
Catholics can always confess their sins and be absolved of anything from theft to child rape and murder, so what stops most of them doing this on a regular basis…. i.e. give in to whatever base impulses they may have and then confess and be absolved? I know one person who is in some weird religious fundamentalist sect which holds that the one and only thing which is required to get into heaven is to accept Jesus as your lord and saviour. I flat out asked him if Hitler could have availed himself of this get out of hell free card and his answer was “yes”. I didn’t ask him why he didn’t kill his wife and kids for the insurance money when he tired of living with them since he could still go to heaven by judicious use of that card in the last minutes of a completely amoral, hedonistic life—for fear of endangering his family, but it remains a question for me. I know there are some Christian terrorists who take the bible too literally and do act on what they believe it instructs them to do, but these are in a small minority.
Why is that? More to the point, how do they explain that to themselves? As Weiler points out, there is nothing special about human pro-social behaviour. It is present in all social animals, but how do the self-proclaimed believers in the holy books explain it in terms of their beliefs?
Obviously, Christian dogma, (and perhaps even less so Muslim dogma), does not really provide much of a push toward a moral life. The biggest crime to a muslim or a devout christian is to question their respective religious dogma. Murder, torture, genocide, human sacrifice are all minor pecadillos compared to that and are easily forgiven and in some cases even encouraged.