Date of Completion
Dr. David Hardy
Research on religion as it relates to free will suggests that one’s religiosity and religious commitment may have an impact on their beliefs about free will and determinism. Previous research indicates a positive correlation between religiosity and belief in free will. When it comes to determinism, reported results are more complicated but lightly suggest that there is a negative correlation between religiosity and determinism--although different definitions of determinism impact the correlation (Carey & Paulhus, 2013). The present study, involving 170 college students, investigated how religiosity and levels of religious commitment may impact beliefs about free will and determinism. In addition, we found interesting results relating to more complex and nuanced beliefs about free will and determinism, namely libertarianism. Similar to previous research, we found that people who are religious have higher endorsement of free will than those who are not religious. However, contrary to past research, we found that those who are religious also have higher endorsement of determinism than those who are not religious. In line with our reported results that religious people have higher endorsement of determinism than non-religious people, we also found that those who are religious have lower endorsement of libertarianism than those who are not religious. It is proposed, based on these results, that those who are religious may interpret causal determinism as a type of divine determinism, also known as fatalism; and therefore, religious people tend to believe that the future is determined and caused by God’s will (Vicens, 2012).
Lewis, Leigh, "Religious Beliefs as They Relate to Beliefs about Free Will, Including Determinism, Libertarianism, and Compatibilism" (2021). Honors Thesis. 382.