October 05, 2018

Credit: (AP Photo/ Joe Cavaretta, File 

Religions have been studying human behavior for thousands of years - long before science got into the game. And for Christians, the seven deadly sins have offered a moral and social framework to get folks on the straight and narrow. Neuroscientist Jack Lewis says: we can use that framework to inform our future decisions. We talk to Lewis, author of the new book “The Science of Sin: Why We Do The Things We Know We Shouldn’t,” about the biological side of this religious list. 

Three Takeaways:

  • Humans are social creatures. We thrive on human interaction. But according to Lewis, behavior considered sinful, like greed, leads to social isolation. And being ostracized has adverse consequences - confirmed by science - for both the mind and body. 
  • Lewis says that pride can be a double-edged sword. There’s a big difference between feeling it and expressing it. This also applies to other sins, like lust. Lewis describes sexual attraction as a natural human emotion. But once these feelings lead to infidelity, the potential social loss can be tremendous.
  • Lewis, who is an atheist, believes that ancient Christian teachings can nevertheless guide our modern moral compass. If we study them through a scientific lens, he argues, we can combine and apply the best teachings from both religion and neuroscience.

More Reading:

  • The movie “Seven,” starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, follows a series of murders based on the seven deadly sins. The movie’s screenwriter, Andrew Kevin Walker, talks with Uproxx about the film. 
  • Narcissism is on the rise. The Conversation finds that technology and a breakdown of social norms are the main culprits.  
  • But at least wrath is on the decline! Author Steven Pinker tells NPR that world is becoming less violent. Recently, we talked with Patrick Sharkey about America’s crime decline.  

Jack Lewis, psychology, neuroscience, sin, Sci and Tech

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