Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

zimv20

macrumors 601
Original poster
Jul 18, 2002
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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.”
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
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No need to look further than some of the Islamic states and places like Jerusalem. People there carry firearms in plain sight. Simply awful.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,652
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snkTab said:
Doesn't every country say god is on their side?
No. There are countries that are officially atheist, there are also those that are predominantly Buddhist which provides no single personalised all-mighty deity...
 

iGav

macrumors G3
Mar 9, 2002
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Blue Velvet said:
there are also those that are predominantly Buddhist which provides no single personalised all-mighty deity...
If I wasn't an Atheist, I'd be a Buddhist... I'm totally down with the big fat, bald geezer! Buddha rocks as far as I'm concerned... and would kick the arses of all the other gods put together. ;) :D
 

mpw

Guest
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
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iGav said:
If I wasn't an Atheist, I'd be a Buddhist... I'm totally down with the big fat, bald geezer! Buddha rocks as far as I'm concerned... and would kick the arses of all the other gods put together. ;) :D
I'm an atheist but have been mistaken for a Buddist....oh wait, no I've been mistaken for Budda :eek: :(
 

katchow

macrumors 6502
Feb 14, 2002
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Dayton, Ohio
iGav said:
If I wasn't an Atheist, I'd be a Buddhist... I'm totally down with the big fat, bald geezer! Buddha rocks as far as I'm concerned... and would kick the arses of all the other gods put together. ;) :D
but could he beat up Superman or Mighty Mouse?
 

skunk

macrumors G4
Jun 29, 2002
11,745
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Republic of Ukistan
tristan said:
I wonder how Thailand stacks up then - Buddhist country.
Not very well, lately.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4274350.stm
Thai police killed in bomb attack

Police are hunting for the killers of two marines
Two police officers have been killed by a bomb in southern Thailand, where tension remains high after two marines were beaten to death earlier this week.
The device exploded as the officers were escorting teachers to a school in the province of Narathiwat.

At least two other deaths were also reported in the south on Friday.

Thailand's largely Muslim southern provinces have been hit by a wave of violence since early 2004, leaving more than 900 people dead.

The government has blamed Muslim separatists, while local people have been angered by the security forces' often brutal suppression of the violence.​
 

mactastic

macrumors 68040
Apr 24, 2003
3,647
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Colly-fornia
miloblithe said:
correlation vrs. causality. This study'd gonna need a whole lot more work to prove anything.
Yeah that's what I was thinking while I read the article. Interesting theory, but there are far too many variables to make such broad statements on correlatory evidence.
 

Hoef

macrumors 6502a
Jul 11, 2004
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Houston, TX..... (keep walking)
Since we ditched Christianity in Holland in the 50ies things got a lot better. Now we are not only known for flowers but also for the drugs, s*x you name it.... I am sure we are much better off.... No wonder we have so much immigration </sarcasm>
 

swindmill

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2005
944
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KY
Hoef said:
Since we ditched Christianity in Holland in the 50ies things got a lot better. Now we are not only known for flowers but also for the drugs, s*x you name it.... I am sure we are much better off.... No wonder we have so much immigration </sarcasm>
Talk about causation problems :rolleyes:
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,076
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Washington, DC
skunk said:
I particularly enjoyed this:
[/indent]"developing democracy", eh? Interesting.
I think that's just a rhetorical swipe at the developed/developing nations discourse. Nothing to get bent out of shape about.
 

IJ Reilly

macrumors P6
Jul 16, 2002
17,915
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Palookaville
miloblithe said:
I think that's just a rhetorical swipe at the developed/developing nations discourse. Nothing to get bent out of shape about.
Academic researchers aren't supposed to take rhetorical swipes.
 

XNine

macrumors 68040
religion is evil. Faith is good. Money, sex and beer are good. Naked women are good. Being free of spending money on useless organized religious establishments is good. I feel for the poor souls in the european countries that have to pay VAT. DOWN WITH VAT! DOWN I SAY! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOWN!