Monday, October 10, 2005

Organized Religion is Muy Malo

There was an interesting article in the Oct 1 2005 issue of the LA Times by Rosa Brooks called "The Dark Side of Faith". The piece reports on a study "reported in the current issue of the Journal of Religion and Society, a publication of Creighton University's Center for the Study of Religion. The study, by evolutionary scientist Gregory S. Paul, looks at the correlation between levels of 'popular religiosity' and various 'quantifiable societal health' indicators in 18 prosperous democracies, including the United States"

It's quite an interesting article. Essentially the report correlates sexual abuse, murder, teen pregnancy and STD's with the areas of the world (and America) that have the strongest followers of organized religion:

"the U.S. -- which has by far the largest percentage of people who take the Bible literally and express absolute belief in God (and the lowest percentage of atheists and agnostics) -- also has by far the highest levels of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases."

it goes on to say :

"Murder rates? Six of the seven states with the highest 2003 homicide rates were "red" in the 2004 elections (Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina), while the deep blue Northeastern states had murder rates well below the national average. Infant mortality rates? Highest in the South and Southwest; lowest in New England. Divorce rates? Marriages break up far more in red states than in blue. Teen pregnancy rates? The same."

Very interesting indeed. Finally a report validating what most of us non-religious people believe "blindly following a religion is not a good thing". And lets not even talk about the number of wars and mass murders committed in the name of God or over some religious issue.


Yael said...

Although this is an interesting article, I really think that it is a logical fallacy to just see that two figures are correlated and conclude that a particular one was caused by a particular other one.

First of all, what if the cause-effect relationship is reversed (i.e. religiousness is caused by all that bad stuff, not the other way around)? That's a possibility.

What I personally think is that there are other factors in play. I think that, for many reasons, certain societies or groups of people have qualities that will make the society more prone to religiousness, and also more prone to all those bad things that you quoted. For example, and I know I'll come off as a total snob/elitist here, but I'm generalising: it seems to me that less-educated societies are more prone to being led to believe in organised religion blindly; at the same time, less-educated societies are more likely to have higher rates of crime, teen pregnancies, STDs, etc...

I haven't read the article, but based on your quotes it seems that it has just found a correlation between two things, not a clear cause-effect relationship.

trace said...

You are so smart.. true, correlation does not prove causaility.. for example it is possible that since crime was up so much, people looked to religion to help them deal with it...

but I would counter that religion has most likely been just as important to these people in the red parts of america for so long that if it isn't the cause, its certainly not the solution..