It’s not society’s fault, it’s faith’s fault

Ha ha:

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

Money quote:

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”

Yup, you bet.

(via Drudge)

My fire-and-forget posts often don’t work out too well for me. Kyle appropriately smacks me for not doing my homework. Eliciting my response where I link the actual study and actually put a smidgen of thought into the issue. Right now, I’m deciding between whether this study is either just another one to be thrown in the Stack of Studies or a clarion wake up call for theists in the U.S. to get their sh** in order. If you don’t want to read the comments, the bottomline is that the news article mangled the study. Surprise surprise.

Finally, here’s some food for thought. This is the opening graph of the study’s discussion:

The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator and acceptance of evolution, plus the lack of a significant religious revival in any developing democracy where evolution is popular, cast doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science. Such an amalgamation may not be practical. By removing the need for a creator evolutionary science made belief optional. When deciding between supernatural and natural causes is a matter of opinion large numbers are likely to opt for the latter. Western nations are likely to return to the levels of popular religiosity common prior to the 1900s only in the improbable event that naturalistic evolution is scientifically overturned in favor of some form of creationist natural theology that scientifically verifies the existence of a creator. Conversely, evolution will probably not enjoy strong majority support in the U.S. until religiosity declines markedly.

This puts an interesting spin on the evolution vs. creation debate.

3 thoughts on “It’s not society’s fault, it’s faith’s fault

  1. Did you read the publication? The article you posted was crap.

    Right in the introduction it reads

    This is not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health.

    Here’s part of the conclusion:

    Pressing questions include the reasons, whether theistic or non-theistic, that the exceptionally wealthy U.S. is so inefficient that it is experiencing a much higher degree of societal distress than are less religious, less wealthy prosperous democracies. Conversely, how do the latter achieve superior societal health while having little in the way of the religious values or institutions? There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002). It is the responsibility of the research community to address controversial issues and provide the information that the citizens of democracies need to chart their future courses.

    These are correlations, not necessarily causations. And I think the question posed is a completely valid one.

  2. No, I didn’t read the actual study. I didn’t read the article until I got home where I don’t have access to most journal articles. I was suspicious that this may have been another botched report on a scientific study, but I had no way of verifying until I got back on campus. I guess I didn’t need to wait.

    So, we got a poorly reported study — a study with a valid question! — that shows a correlation between religiosity and societal health. Correlations can be anything from interesting to meaningless. After all, there’s a correlation to increased ice cream sales and murder rates. The money quote actually appears in the study, and I think it’s a gross (shocking?) overstatement of what any sociological study can prove. I don’t see how a study such as this can “refute” that fear.

    There’s lots I could say about this, even assuming the study is solid and accurate. The first thing that comes to mind is that I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve long thought that religious believers in the United States — evangelical Christians especially — are probably some of the most weak and depraved people of faith on this planet. In a lot of ways, the Christian church in the U.S. is a colossal failure, and I would place much of the blame of society’s ills at its feet. The second thing of which I’m reminded is a passage from 2 Timothy:

    This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    I’m not going to say we’re in the last days, but modern American “believers” remind me a lot of this passage.

  3. Which is why I no longer include myself in the number of American believers.

    I’m not scared of the idea that we can treat each other civily and live healthily without a religious mandate to do so.

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