September 27, 2005

Religion is bad for us all

Fresh research has demonstrated that, contrary to the claims of religious organisations and individuals, religion has a negative effect on society.

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.

Gregory Paul's research has been published in Journal of Religion and Society, and draws from data collected by Gallup, the International Social Survey Programme and other sources. He compared the rates of murder, abortion and sexually-transmitted infections in several prosperous democracies.

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...

...[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.

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'The Times, 27th September 2005.

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Writing in the Journal for Religion and Society , Gregory S. Paul offers what he calls "a first look" at "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies." Let's start wi... Read More


I have to wonder if the results would have held true if the religions in question didn't stifle education and independent thought.

The assertion that some kind of a religious capital could be proven to have a beneficial impact on society is of course highly contentious, if not plain ludicrous.

But so is the idea that rates of murder, abortion and sexually-transmitted infections can somehow be (negatively) correlated to the religiosity of a people or country. That would deny the overwhelming influence of a very large number of factors that influence to these numbers and have little, if anything at all, to do with religion.

Both sides are wrong in the sense they drag what should be a personal experience (faith) into politics. That's why creationism e.g. has no place in schools, other than in religious education classes: the bible's account of creation wasn't meant as scientific theory, rather it's intended as a parable. Those who drag religion into the political arena insist that creationism is on a par with evolutionary theory but it was never mean to be that way.

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This page contains a single entry by Feòrag published on September 27, 2005 4:09 PM.

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