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New research conducted at the University of Oregon shows that people who believe in a loving and merciful God are more prone to cheat than those who believe in a punishing God. Psychologists Azim Shariff and Ara Norenzayan said their research suggests a belief in a forgiving God will not necessarily stop undergraduate students from cheating on exams. To test the theory, the psychologists set up an experiment where they told students during a math test that a software glitch would allow them to see the answer unless they pressed the space bar almost as soon as they saw the question.

Shariff said, overall, the study found no difference in cheating between believers and non-believers, but the main difference was what kind of god a person believed in. He added, “What we found is that those people who see God as a more punitive, angry, vengeful God, they tend to—in a laboratory-based cheating measure –they cheat a lot less, whereas people who believe in God as a comforting, loving agent, forgiving agent seem to cheat more.”

Belief in Angry God Prevents Academic Cheating, http://www.christianpost.com/news/belief-in-angry-god-prevents-academic-cheating-49917 ; April 21, 2011. Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell

Romans 2:4 (CEV) “You surely don't think much of God's wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don't you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him?”

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