Religion and social conditions


peapod
#1
The Times

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

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.
The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

Mr Paul delayed releasing the study until now because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that the evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills. “I suspect that Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states,” he added.

He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven. Likewise, the theory of evolution would not enjoy majority support in the US unless there was a marked decline in religious belief, Mr Paul said.

“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

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

Here's a link to the original research article by Gregory S. Paul: Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look

moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html (external - login to view)
 
Vanni Fucci
#2
It's as I've long suspected...

When one considers that religions, especially conservative denominations increase their numbers exponentially during times of political and societal instability, preying upon those that would be better served by a stronger welfare state...

In other words, religion offers a helping hand, then kicks you in the teeth...
 
neocon-hunter
#3
Your last sentence says it all.

Take abortion for example, they will do everything to make sure you keep the child you do not want, then after it is born they jet.
 
bevvyd
#4
When one considers that religions, especially conservative denominations increase their numbers exponentially during times of political and societal instability, preying upon those that would be better served by a stronger welfare state...

Or they up their numbers by continuing with child baptisms. I thought we had this freedom of religion thing here in Canada, babies can't speak for themselves.
 
Reverend Blair
#5
Quote:

babies can't speak for themselves.

I dunno...I was at a baptism once where the baby peed on the priest. Could be that he was making a statement.
 
bevvyd
#6
I asked my mom why she baptized me and she told me "It was the thing to do back then". And a girlfriend's grandfather told her when she needed money to have her daughter Christened, it should be good for at least $15,000, but that was about 10 years ago now.

Last time my Mom stepped into a church was when my younger sister got baptized, my how important this baptismal thing must have been her and my dad.
 
Twila
#7
I dislike studies that are done using 2 completely different countries.

Now if the study could be done with only the US Religious against non religious then fine. But the US's problems are uniquely theirs and I don't believe you can compare their social problems with Britians.
 
Jo Canadian
#8
 
neocon-hunter
#9
Only the atheist recognizes the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved. Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God, while this same God drowned infants in their cribs. Because he refuses to cloak the reality of the world’s suffering in a cloying fantasy of eternal life, the atheist feels in his bones just how precious life is -- and, indeed, how unfortunate it is that millions of human beings suffer the most harrowing abridgements of their happiness for no good reason at all.

Of course, people of faith regularly assure one another that God is not responsible for human suffering. But how else can we understand the claim that God is both omniscient and omnipotent? There is no other way, and it is time for sane human beings to own up to this. This is the age-old problem of theodicy, of course, and we should consider it solved. If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil. Pious readers will now execute the following pirouette: God cannot be judged by merely human standards of morality. But, of course, human standards of morality are precisely what the faithful use to establish God’s goodness in the first place. And any God who could concern himself with something as trivial as gay marriage, or the name by which he is addressed in prayer, is not as inscrutable as all that. If He exists, the God of Abraham is not merely unworthy of the immensity of creation; he is unworthy even of man.

There is another possibility, of course, and it is both the most reasonable and least odious: the biblical God is a fiction. As Richard Dawkins has observed, we are all atheists with respect to Zeus and Thor. Only the atheist has realized that the biblical god is no different. Consequently, only the atheist is compassionate enough to take the profundity of the world’s suffering at face value. It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion -- to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious delusions, and religious diversions of scarce resources -- is what makes atheism a moral and intellectual necessity. It is a necessity, however, that places the atheist at the margins of society. The atheist, by merely being in touch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors.
 
no1important
#10
Spirit World: British bishops say not to take the Bible literally (external - login to view)


The hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the British Isles has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true. The bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their 5 million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect "total accuracy" from the Bible.
"We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision," they say in The Gift of Scripture.
The first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that British Catholic bishops insist cannot be "historical." At most, they say, they may contain "historical traces."
- The Times of London

Very interesting.
 
Jo Canadian
#11
 
no1important
#12
Inside The Church of Hate (external - login to view)

The Sky Report has secretly filmed one of America's most controversial Christian ministers praising the London bombings.

Fred Phelps says that terrorist outrages and natural disasters such as Hurricane Rita are examples of God's wrath against countries such as America and Britain for tolerating homosexuals and homosexuality.

Fred Phelps, who set up the controversial Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, told our undercover reporter about the attacks, which killed 52 people:

"Oh I am so thankful that happened. My only regret is that they didn't kill about million of them. England deserves that kind of punishment, as does this country (America)".
 
pastafarian
#13
As sympathetic as I am to the motivations of both Ms. Gledhill and those who are concerned about religious extremism in places like Iran and the US, the journal article she cites is so poorly written and researched, that it is more of a liability than an asset to those of us who wish to argue that religious belief is not necessarily responsible for morality in our societies. As I have written elswhere after being initially beguiled by the story, which plays to my biases:

"Posted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:27 am Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I took a good hard look at the academic paper and even though I really wanted it to be good, I have to say it's crap, and the Journal of Religion and Society is not a reliable source.

The author doesn't provide the raw figures he uses for his graphs so we have to hunt them down ourselves. He can't sustain his thesis that there is a trend of correlation between religiosity and "societal ills" because his only outlier is the US and he hasn't done a regression analysis, if that is even possible with data that comes from yes/no answers in a survey. Why Italy and Ireland don't show significant difference from France and Norway is never adressed, for example. He hasn't dealt with the issue of the extent to which religion is overtly present in government and so determines the laws that regulate behaviour rather than just as a characteristic of the population, independent of the considerations that dtermine laws and I expect that if you compared "societal ills" to number of McDonald's restaurants, you'd get a similar result.

It's really not clear that the questionnaires that were used to determine the belief systems in the different countries are even really comparable, let alone identical and I have serious doubts about the similarity of reporting levels for the social phenomena and the effectiveness of police and courts in the various countries for obtaining homicide stats. Is "homicide" just premeditated murder, does it include "manslaughter" or "criminal negligence causing death", which are plea-bargain charges available in some countries, but not in others for example.

In the end, Paul doesn't make a case for anything other than the fact that the US is out-of-step with the other countries in his study. Period. And that could be shown in a much more convincing way than this amateurish paper."

Sorry, I would like to believe this paper, but I can't and citing it only strengthens the hand of those who confuse religious faith with an attraction for totalitarianism, self-righteousness and greed.
 
coldstream
#14
Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. The most succesful culture in human history, in terms of technology, moral purpose, social order, philosophical understanding, has been the Western Christian society, if you exclude the sustained counter attacks on its highest principles, from within (lately in the form of radical relativism) and without (for millenia by Islam). There has been no society in human history that has not developed some form of supernatural mysticism, in fact, all civilizations and cultures crystallize around some religious archetype, for better or for worse. That is fundamental to the human condition. This article is the kind of nonsense that comes out of institutions of 'higher' learning these days, lost in their own nihilist universe, racked on pure skepticism and empiricism, they give no credit to the principles on which their own civilization was founded. One can only conclude with the demise of the formative beliefs, a new society will develop based on this nihilism and skepticism. It's not hard to see that what will emanate will not be pretty.
 
Vanni Fucci
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by coldstream

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. The most succesful culture in human history, in terms of technology, moral purpose, social order, philosophical understanding, has been the Western Christian society

There's no such thing...try again...slipstream...
 
pastafarian
#16
coldstream, your revision of history is...creative, shall we say.
Modern technology is a product of the Enlightenment, which took place against strong opposition from the Christian Church. What's more, if it had not been for the cultural eclecticism and respect for learning of Islam from about 600 to 1400 AD, Europe probably would have never emerged from the Dark Ages and virtually all of Western (meaning mostly Greek) science, philosophy and culture --plus the Arab contributions to it-- would have been lost by the religious tyrants who strangled Western intellectual development during this time. "Christian" culture gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition and has tried to stop progress in science, art, history and human rights. It has been an apologist for slavery, several genocides, racism and poverty and any positive achievements that have been made by people in any of these areas have tended to occur in opposition to the desires of the various Christian Churches.

There have been a few exceptions to this general trend, mostly by those crazy few who believed that being Christian meant actually trying to live as Christ suggests in the Gospels, but they have been a small minority and don't carry much weight in present-day Christendom, either.
 
Andygal
#17
Bravo pastafarian! I couldn't have said it better myself.
 
HTO
#18
No kidding! Well said, pastafarian.

That name is making me hungry!
 
pastafarian
#19
Unwittingly, coldstream has enunciated the two intellectual principles upon which any just and healthy society must be fashioned:"pure skepticism and empiricism". I believe he truly does have the keys to a Utopian world.
 
coldstream
#20
Quote:

There's no such thing...try again...slipstream...

Again an example of the blindness and relativism that has overtaken our society.
 
peapod
#21
credo, quia absurdum.
 
pastafarian
#22
Quote:

Again an example of the blindness and relativism that has overtaken our society

No, coldstream, Vanni Fucci's was an "absolutist" statement which compared historical fact to the mythology you typed.

Geez, at least get the terms YOU use straight." Relativism" implies the LACK of absolutes.A "relativist" would argue that there was some way to rationalize the term "Western Christian society" so that it described something non-imaginary.
 
coldstream
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by pastafarian

coldstream, your revision of history is...creative, shall we say.
Modern technology is a product of the Enlightenment, which took place against strong opposition from the Christian Church. What's more, if it had not been for the cultural eclecticism and respect for learning of Islam from about 600 to 1400 AD, Europe probably would have never emerged from the Dark Ages and virtually all of Western (meaning mostly Greek) science, philosophy and culture --plus the Arab contributions to it-- would have been lost by the religious tyrants who strangled Western intellectual development during this time. "Christian" culture gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition and has tried to stop progress in science, art, history and human rights. It has been an apologist for slavery, several genocides, racism and poverty and any positive achievements that have been made by people in any of these areas have tended to occur in opposition to the desires of the various Christian Churches.

There have been a few exceptions to this general trend, mostly by those crazy few who believed that being Christian meant actually trying to live as Christ suggests in the Gospels, but they have been a small minority and don't carry much weight in present-day Christendom, either.

pastafarian,

Modern technology did start in the West, but its fundamental components preceded the Enlightenment. The so called Golden Age of Islam, from 600 -1400, produced very little in terms of philosophical or scientific advancement, if you discount its purported invention of the number zero. The European Dark Ages, which ended with the Medieval period, was not a product of Islamic intercession. It was very much spearheaded by the emergence of the Church, its vast building projects of Cathedrals, its development of universities, its patronage of sciences and exploration, it models of the nuclear family and the community. The Christian religion represents an ideal, to which the human element has conformed imperfectly from its inception, hence things like the Inquisition. It is the ideal on which our civilization, however is built.

The Enlightenment is too broad a term to discuss without it nuances. It undoubtedly established democracy and republican ideals. It also can be seen to have been corrupted from its original intent, into the forms of radical nihilism, relativism and individualism that we now see moving into mainstream thought. In many ways it is annihilating the fundamental social organizations, the family being central to that, on which our culture depends for its sense of order. Without that the productive impetus on which our society is founded, it will collapse, with catastrophic economic and social implications. What will emerge after that is what you see now in Islamic dominated nations, none of which have a viable democracy (the closest is Turkey, with a militarily secured secularism and widespread human rights abuses), and whose economies are based either on extraction of mineral wealth, if they're lucky. If they're not its dominated by stoop labour, mercantilism and trading, built things like opium trade from Afghanistan. These societies are more often than not very violent and clannish.
 
pastafarian
#24
Quote:

The so called Golden Age of Islam, from 600 -1400, produced very little in terms of philosophical or scientific advancement, if you discount its purported invention of the number zero.

I'm not going to list them all, since it's pretty clear this is en ideological rather than a factual debate for you.

The numeral representing zero was part of the Aravbic system of numerals which alone revolutionized mathematics. Systems of algebraic equations, quadratic equations and solution of some special examples of Fermat's Theorem are all contrcutions of Islamic culture. They established formal empiricism as a tool of scientific investigation, showed that geometrical problems could be solved algebraically and made a whole pile of discoveries and technical innovations without which the modern science of chemistry would not exist. They invented the astrolabe and conceived of the pendulum as a device to measure time. Without their trasnslations of the Greek scientists and philosophers, the loss suppression and destruction of these texts by the Church would have made them forever unavailable. The modern university is a creation of Islam, which trained the few educated Europeans that were around in the Middle Ages.

Quote:

The European Dark Ages, which ended with the Medieval period, was not a product of Islamic intercession

Nobody has claimed this.

Quote:

It was very much spearheaded by the emergence of the Church

Agreed, the Church was largely responsible for the Dark Ages. The rest:
Quote:

universities, its patronage of sciences and exploration, it models of the nuclear family and the community.

is fantasy.

Quote:

The Christian religion represents an ideal, to which the human element has conformed imperfectly from its inception

Here at last, we agree. And so are (among others) Hinuism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Jainism and certain threads of Existentialism (see Camus, for example).

Christianity itself is an amalgam of myths (in the most positive sense), wisdom and stories cobbled together from the Sumerians, Mithrans, Egyptians and others.

The rest of your post is, at best pure speculation organized to bolster a xenophobic mythos of Euro-American superiority.
 
no1important
#25
Top US court hears religious case (external - login to view)

The US Supreme Court is debating its first religious freedom case since the appointment of the new Chief Justice, John Roberts.

The judges are deciding whether to let a small congregation in New Mexico worship with hallucinogenic tea.

The hoasca tea is considered sacred to members of the group, O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal.

However, the administration of President George Bush argues that it is illegal and potentially dangerous.

About 130 members of a Brazil-based church have been in long-running dispute with federal agents, who seized their tea in 1999.

Members of the group believe they can understand God only by drinking the tea, which is consumed twice a month at four-hour ceremonies.

Click link at top for rest.

This will be very interesting to see play out.
 
Hard-Luck Henry
#26
Was Jesus a stoner? (external - login to view)

[img][/img]
 
coldstream
#27
Quote:

Agreed, the Church was largely responsible for the Dark Ages

Quote:

Christianity itself is an amalgam of myths (in the most positive sense), wisdom and stories cobbled together from the Sumerians, Mithrans, Egyptians and others.

Quote:

it's pretty clear this is en ideological rather than a factual debate for you.

Well, pastafarian, pot.. kettle.. black...

The philosophical period of Islam more or less completely sputtered out by the 14th Century, afterwhich it was ruled by Imams and despots, and was extremely literal to the Koran. Although there is some evidence that texts of the Greek and Roman philosophies and sciences were preserved in Muslim institutions... the same preservation can be said to have happened int the Benedictine monastaries that started to appear in the 7th Century. The Arabic number system is a symbolic notation system, that is not in and of itself responsible for the development of mathematics. It was simply more concise the the Roman and other systems that were developed before it. The development of higher order mathematics, in part in conjuntion with the development of atronomical observation, was for the most part of the Western progression. The veracity of religions can be gleaned from the order and advancement of societies they produce.
 
coldstream
#28
AND... BTW

The Dark Ages were not brought on by the Church, but by the collapse of the Roman Empire and Classical Civilization. It led a period of retrenchment in science and building technologies, and to tribalism and lawlessness in Western Europe the lasted 600 years. It's emergence was due to development of both the Church and nation state, both founded on concepts of Christian dualism (Give unto Caesar what is Ceasar's, and unto God.. etc.), which is the founding pillar of Western civilization. You can take from this that civilizations can and do collapse, when their civilizing impetus is discarded, for myths and superstitions.
 
no1important
#29
Ford, gay rights leaders to meet on ad pullout (external - login to view)

A teaser:

Ford Motor Co. executives will meet early next week with leaders of gay rights organizations to discuss the automaker's decision to pull advertisements for its Land Rover and Jaguar lines from gay publications, a Ford spokesman said Friday.

"We look forward to the dialogue with the leadership of the gay community," said spokesman Mike Moran.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the group will ask Ford to explain why it dropped the ads and encourage company officials to reconsider the decision Monday.

The meeting between the automaker and leaders from 19 gay rights organizations will come one week after those organizations issued a joint statement decrying media reports of a "confidential agreement" between Ford and the conservative American Family Association.

In May, the association called for a boycott of Ford because of the automaker's sponsorships of gay events such as pride celebrations, donations to gay rights organizations and diversity workshops for managers that included sexual orientation training.
[/end teaser]

American Family Association are a bunch of bigots. Groups like that is the reason religion gets a bad name. Maybe a boycott on Ford is in order for them falling to the pressure of the AFA? Personally I have never owned a Ford and most likely never will. They are bigots by association.
 
Reverend Blair
#30
Somebody should start a counter-boycott. See how well Ford likes having only the religious right as customers.
 

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