Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' - Times Online

8 Indigenist News Items for: 8
22.11.08
Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' - Times Online


Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' - Times Online: "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 performance 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."


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article571206.ece



I'll post the whole article here and in the group "God Damn Atheists" on this site.
From The Times September 27, 2005
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 performance 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 skeptical 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 gonorrhea 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, pro-evolution 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.”

Views: 568

Comment

You need to be a member of Atheist Nexus to add comments!

Join Atheist Nexus

Comment by Chrys Stevenson on January 25, 2009 at 4:54pm
I think we have to be careful to be as cautious about data that supports our position as that which counters it. Here is a critique of Paul's study (summarised on Wikipedia):

"Paul authored a paper in 2005 entitled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look". He states in the introduction that the paper is "not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health".

This paper has been criticized on statistical grounds, for conceptual ambiguity , its indirect measure of "religiosity" (the author's term) and its "chi-by-eye" interpretation of scatterplots rather than quantified measures. Summing up in a published article in the same journal, Moreno-Riaño, Smith, and Mach from Cedarville University wrote that "[Paul's] methodological problems do not allow for any conclusive statement to be advanced regarding the various hypotheses Paul seeks to demonstrate or falsify."

Gary F. Jensen of Vanderbilt University is one of the scientists who criticizes the methods used by Paul, including that "Paul’s analysis generates the 'desired results' by selectively choosing the set of social problems to include to highlight the negative consequences of religion". In a response to the study by Paul, he builds on and refines Paul's analysis. His conclusion, that focus only in the crime of homicide, is that there is a correlation (and perhaps a causal relationship) of higher homicide rates, not with Christianity, but with dualistic Christian beliefs, something Jensen defines as the strong belief in all of the following : God, heaven, devil and hell. Excerpt: "A multiple regression analysis reveals a complex relationship with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it."

This is not to say that the hypothesis has no merit, but with any research we have to consider what methods have been employed, and how it has been received in peer reviews.

Phil Zuckerman's paper on religiosity and societal health supports many of Paul's findings, but reaches a different conclusion:

Source

"When recognizing that countries containing high percentages of non-
believers are among the healthiest and wealthiest nations on earth (Paul, 2004),
we must distinguish between nations where non-belief has been forced upon the
society by dictators (“coercive atheism”) and nations wherein non-belief has
emerged on its own without governmental coercion (“organic atheism”). Nations
marked by coercive atheism -- such as North Korea and former Soviet states --
are marked by all that comes with totalitarianism: poor economic development,
censorship, corruption, depression, etc. However, nations marked by high levels
of organic atheism – such as Sweden or the Netherlands -- are among the
healthiest, wealthiest, best educated, and freest societies on earth.

Consider the Human Development Report (2004), commissioned by The
United Nations Development Program. This report ranks 177 nations on a
“Human Development Index,” which measures societal health through a
weighing of such indicators as life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate, per
capita income, and educational attainment. According to the 2004 Report, the
five highest ranked nations in terms of total human development were Norway,
Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands. All five of these countries are
characterized by notably high degrees of organic atheism. Of the top 25 nations
ranked on the “Human Development Index,” all but one (Ireland) are top-
ranking non-belief nations, containing very highe percentages of organic
atheism. Conversely, of those countries ranked at the bottom of the “Human
Development Index” -- the bottom 50 -- all are countries lacking statistically
significant percentages of atheism.

Concerning the infant mortality rate (number of deaths per 1,000 live
births), irreligious countries have the lowest rates, and religious countries have
the highest. According to the CIA World Factbook (2004), the top 25 nations with
the lowest infant mortality rates were all nations containing significantly high
percentages of organic atheism. Conversely, the 75 bottom nations with the
highest infant mortality rates were all nations without any statistically significant
levels of organic atheism.

Concerning international poverty rates, the United Nations’ Report on the
World Social Situation (2003) found that of the 40 poorest nations on earth, all but
one (Vietnam) are highly religious nations with statistically minimal or
insignificant levels of atheism. Concerning illiteracy rates, the same report found
that of the 35 nations with the highest levels of youth illiteracy rates, all are
highly religious nations with statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism.

Concerning homicide rates, Fajnzylber et al (2002) and Fox and Levin
(2000) found that the nations with the highest homicide rates are all highly
religious nations with minimal or statistically insignificant levels of organic
atheism, while nations with the lowest homicide rates tend to be highly secular
nations with high levels of atheism.

Concerning suicide rates, religious nations fare better than secular nations.
According to the 2003 World Health Organization’s report on international male
suicides rates, of the top ten nations with the highest male suicide rates, all but
one (Sri Lanka) are strongly irreligious nations with high levels of atheism. Of
the top remaining nine nations leading the world in male suicide rates, all are
former Soviet/Communist nations, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Latvia. Of the
bottom ten nations with the lowest male suicide rates, all are highly religious
nations with statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism.

Concerning gender equality, nations marked by high degrees of organic
atheism are among the most egalitarian in the world, while highly religious
nations are among the most oppressive. According to the 2004 Human
Development Report’s “Gender Empowerment Measure,” the top ten nations with
the highest degrees of gender equality are all strongly organic atheistic nations
with significantly high percentages of non-belief. Conversely, the bottom ten are
all highly religious nations without any statistically significant percentages of
atheists. According to Inglehart (2003), countries with the most female members
of parliament tend to be countries characterized by high degrees of organic
atheism (such as Sweden and Denmark) and countries with the fewest female
members in parliament tend to be highly religious countries (such as Pakistan
and Nigeria).

In sum, with the exception of suicide, countries marked by high rates of
organic atheism are among the most societally healthy on earth, while societies
characterized by non-existent rates of organic atheism are among the most
unhealthy. Of course, none of the above correlations demonstrate that high levels
of organic atheism cause societal health, or that low levels of organic atheism
cause societal ills. Rather, societal health seems to cause widespread atheism, and
societal insecurity seems to cause widespread belief in God, as has been
demonstrated by Norris and Inglehart (2004), mentioned above.
"
Comment by Krista on January 24, 2009 at 11:55pm
Thanks for sharing this!

line

Update Your Membership :

Membership

line

line

Nexus on Social Media:

line

© 2017   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service