Do certain types of religions foster different kinds of beliefs? It really depends a lot on the individual who is participating in that religion and what ideas in that context they hold onto.  If we look at the Christian tradition or the Muslim tradition or the Jewish tradition there are lots of people who are enormously compassionate and loving and wanting to help other people.  There are also people who are very hateful and very angered at people who don't agree with them or who don't see things the same way that they do. 

On the other hand, Buddhist and Hindu practices tend to be directed a little bit more on the notion of connectedness and interconnectedness and oneness.  They also can foster tremendous senses of compassion and love for other people, but sometimes they also go awry. 

So that's actually one of the big questions that I don't think we have the true answer to yet, which is why do we have some people who are very religious who look at the world and other people in very compassionate ways and we have other people who are very religious and they look at the world in very negative ways.  We don't fully know if it's just the doctrine that people are holding onto, or whether its the neural connections in their brain initially that lead them down a path of being more angry or being more loving.  

So this to me is a very important area for us to study going forward to try to better understand how all of the different traditions have an impact on the ways in which people believe, in the ways in which they think, and in terms of being compassionate.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock