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Religiosity correlates with a variety of societal ills

Underseer

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Study: http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.pdf

Article about study: http://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/religious-belief-and-societal-health/

This can't be the only study of this kind. Perhaps we should collect links that can be used to back up evidence in debates in this thread?

Although discussing them is not out of the question either. Religious people seem to assume that their religion brings positive effects to society, and I think this is a dangerous assumption to allow to go unchallenged. If anything, religion makes societies worse.
 

rousseau

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I can remember reading about how one of the most atheistic (Scandinavian) countries is one of the most efficient and well run countries in the world.

Religion is obviously correlated, but causation is a leaning (or not) on rational thought (I would guess).
 

steve_bnk

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The problem is North Korea, China, Cuba, and the old Soviet union. All atheist ideologies and harsh oppressive authoritarian regimes.

On a large human scale if not religion it will be something else.

Recent events highlight how the liberal left can be just as aggressive in suppressing that which it does not want to hear as conservatives have done historically.
 

doubtingt

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I can remember reading about how one of the most atheistic (Scandinavian) countries is one of the most efficient and well run countries in the world.

Religion is obviously correlated, but causation is a leaning (or not) on rational thought (I would guess).

If leaning on rational thought is a causal factor, then so is religion because religion is anti-thetical to rational thought. Not only do religions espouse ideas that cannot be accepted rationally and thus undermine rational thinking, but most religions promote anti-intellectual values that rooting belief in authority and faith is virtuous and morally required, which is directly opposed to the intellectual values required for rational thought.
IOW, religion is not just a by-product of non-rational thought, it is a promoter and enabler of it.

What is especially important about the data is that religiosity can explain the standing of the USA on these societal variables, whereas economic wealth cannot and would predict that the USA should fair better than ever other country. The data is cor relational, but there are very few alternative variables that would predict the USA as being so mediocre on these societal outcomes.
 

doubtingt

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The problem is North Korea, China, Cuba, and the old Soviet union. All atheist ideologies and harsh oppressive authoritarian regimes.

No, none of those were "atheist ideologies". The were state-authoritarian ideologies that therefore opposed all challengers to state-authority including competing authoritarian regimes like religion, but also anti-authoritarian free-thinkers among the intellectuals. Atheist organizations like this one or organized secular humanism that promote non-theistic free thinking are also opposed by those states.

On a large human scale if not religion it will be something else.

That logic is like saying that consuming poison isn't a cause of death or something to worry about , because if poisons don't kill you something else will.

Recent events highlight how the liberal left can be just as aggressive in suppressing that which it does not want to hear as conservatives have done historically.

Well, the "liberal left" is not equal to an absence of theism, so that isn't relevant. The most telling data is when you examine people in countries in which the state is neither used to directly crush religion nor to force it on people. IOW, people are relatively free to gravitate toward or away from religion and toward or away from supporting authoritarian oppression, the data consistently shows a negative correlation between respect for personal liberty/tolerance/equality and level of religiosity. This is true within individual countries and between them. Of course alternative ideologies can be used to serve a similar authoritarian function that religion was tailor made to perform, just like mercury could be substituted for rat poison, but that doesn't mean that putting rat poison in your food isn't dangerous or that you aren't safer if rat poison isn't any where near you. Atheism is not an alternative ideology, it isn't an ideology at all. It is the absence of a religious ideology. It is akin to soup that doesn't have rat poison in it versus one that does. Might it have another kind of poison in it? Sure, but any rational person would still choose the soup without the rat poison. Also, the evidence shows that religiosity predicts acceptance of other authoritarian views, which is also predicted by an viable psychological theory, because accepting one authoritarian system requires justifying authoritarianism itself, which makes you prone to accept other authoritarian systems. Thus the correlation between religiosity and authoritarianism is partly because religion is authoritarian, but also because its authoritarianism makes people susceptible to other forms of authoritarianism.
 

Underseer

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The problem is North Korea, China, Cuba, and the old Soviet union. All atheist ideologies and harsh oppressive authoritarian regimes.

On a large human scale if not religion it will be something else.

Recent events highlight how the liberal left can be just as aggressive in suppressing that which it does not want to hear as conservatives have done historically.

First of all, even factoring those in, there is still a statistically significant correlation between all those societal ills and religiosity.

Secondly, there's no such thing as an "atheist ideology." If you pulled aside any of those Russians working the gulags and asked them "Why are you doing this to your fellow citizens?" not one of them would have answered "For atheism," but all of them would have answered "For communism" or "For mother Russia." The problem was not that those communist countries lacked religion, but that they had too much. They took an economic theory and turned it into a religion complete with priests, preachers, missionaries, and even prophets. If you look at all the bad things they did, they did all the same things all the theocracies of history did.

- - - Updated - - -

I suppose we should thank Steve BNK for demonstrating what happens when you show evidence to theists. They simply ignore the evidence and argue that the opposite is true.
 

steve_bnk

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There is nothing in human history tosupport the assertion that the absence of religion equates tosomething more rational in culture. Period.


Second after WWII itself the greatest calamities in the last century were the Chinese Cultural Revolutionand the Soviet irrationally ideological system Both engendered disastrous famines and perpetrated mass atrocities.


Here in the USA organized atheists attimes can take on the persona of the conservative Christians thatsought to seek and destroy anything not Christian or Christiansanctioned. Just as bigoted and hostile to opposing views.


To be honest the attitudes that areemerging from organized atheism today scare me far more than Christianity.

In my view religion is one manifestation of a basic human nature.
 

Underseer

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There is nothing in human history tosupport the assertion that the absence of religion equates tosomething more rational in culture. Period.[...]

That's not what we are discussing. What we are discussing is the correlation between religiosity and a variety of societal ills such as violent crime rates and poverty.
 

doubtingt

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There is nothing in human history tosupport the assertion that the absence of religion equates to something more rational in culture. Period.
This statement is at best true only in the most meaningless sense that it is also true that "nothing in human history to support the assertion that the absence of frontal lobes equates to something less rational in culture."
Both this and your statement are only true in the sense that there is no evidence because there have been no cultures with an absence of religion or frontal lobes.
Even cultures ruled by the authoritarian States you list, were filled with people who had religion.

But beyond that, your statement is false because their is plenty of evidence that cultures with less religion are more rational. The progress of the West hinges in large part on rationality which coheres strongly with a corresponding reduction in religious thinking both by the citizens of these societies and by their leaders.
Western governments were designed by people keen on not using religious thinking in the formation of the governments and on keeping the impact of religious assumptions to a minimum. While far from perfect, these systems allow for greater influence of rational thought on the political process than most societies in history. In addition, clear signs of irrational culture among these western nations (such as rejection of basic scientific facts like evolution, human influenced climate change, biological basis of homosexuality, the causes of criminality, etc. ) are strongly predicted by cultural differences in religiosity.

In my view religion is one manifestation of a basic human nature.
This is true, but religion is more than a mere byproduct of a human tendency toward unreason and authoritarianism. Being a cultural system that actively and as its central mission seeks to influence culture and human action and thought, religion is clearly more than an outcome variable. IT is also a causal factor that enables and exacerbates the very irrational thinking that gives rise to it.
Religions of today that dominate do so because they so efficient and effective at having this kind of impact and helping to foster the very irrationality and authoritarianism upon which they depend.

Oh, and as Underseer pointed out, your comments about governments and rationality aren't even relevant to the thread topic which is about religious beliefs held by people and various social ills, many of which may not be due to irrationality so much as the destructive morals and values that most religions promote.
 

Loren Pechtel

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There is nothing in human history tosupport the assertion that the absence of religion equates tosomething more rational in culture. Period.


Second after WWII itself the greatest calamities in the last century were the Chinese Cultural Revolutionand the Soviet irrationally ideological system Both engendered disastrous famines and perpetrated mass atrocities.

I disagree. Their religion was Marxism. Sure, it doesn't have a deity--but neither does Buddhism. (Buddha is *NOT* a god, merely an example of what to strive for.) It still has the fundamental aspect of religion: Important core beliefs that are taken on faith, not subject to testing.
 

Underseer

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I disagree. Their religion was Marxism. Sure, it doesn't have a deity--but neither does Buddhism. (Buddha is *NOT* a god, merely an example of what to strive for.) It still has the fundamental aspect of religion: Important core beliefs that are taken on faith, not subject to testing.

Even if you ignore that, there is the matter of cause and effect.

If you pulled aside any of those Soviet citizens working the gulag and asked them "Why are you doing these things to your fellow citizens?" not a single one of them would have answered "for atheism," rather all of them would have answered "for the state" or "for mother Russia" or even (ironically) "for the people."

On the other hand, if you pulled aside any of those crusaders who committed acts of cannibalism specifically to terrify the civilians of besieged cities and asked them why they were doing those things, every single one of them would have answered "for Christ" or "for Christianity." If you asked the torturers of the Inquisition why they were torturing so many Jews and Muslims, every single one of them would have answered "for Jesus" or "for Christendom." If you asked that Army of God guy why he bombed gay night clubs, the Olympics, clinics, etc, he would have answered "for Jesus" or "for Christianity." If you ask all those African Christians why they are setting children on fire for witchcraft, every one of them will answer you "for Jesus."

The list goes on and on. Sure, you can identify other causes of each of those events, but when you ask the people at the bottom of the chain what their motivation is for committing unspeakable atrocities against their fellow man, and you see the primary cause that made the atrocities possible in the first place.
 

doubtingt

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Even if you ignore that, there is the matter of cause and effect.

If you pulled aside any of those Soviet citizens working the gulag and asked them "Why are you doing these things to your fellow citizens?" not a single one of them would have answered "for atheism," rather all of them would have answered "for the state" or "for mother Russia" or even (ironically) "for the people."

On the other hand, if you pulled aside any of those crusaders who committed acts of cannibalism specifically to terrify the civilians of besieged cities and asked them why they were doing those things, every single one of them would have answered "for Christ" or "for Christianity."

Exactly. This relates strongly to my prior point that the non-theism of Communism was an incidental byproduct of wanting to crush all competing sources of social control. If that is your goal, then eliminating religions is a given, because religions are designed for authoritarian control. Anyone with the goal of authoritarian control either has to eliminate all religions, or all but one and become the authoritarian controller of that one religion which controls the masses.
Nothing about atheism promotes authoritarian control. It is merely the absence of blind belief in and worship of the most authoritarian concept ever imagined, God. Since that concept is so inherently authoritarian, its prevalence will tend to increase authoritarianism across most situations because so few other ideas are as inherently authoritarian. Despite this general relationship, it can still be the case that a non-theistic worldview can borrow the core values of faith, obedience, and authority from theism and religion and use them to the same ends, but this will require the creation of a whole substitute ideology (like Communism) that parallels religion because the absence of religion or theism in itself won't motivate or organize anything.
 
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