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 Are we better off without religion?
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SFN Die Hard

5310 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2009 :  15:31:53  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sue Blackmore says:
Popular religious belief is caused by dysfunctional social conditions. This is the conclusion of the latest sociological research (pdf) conducted by Gregory Paul.

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The Imperfectionist

4954 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2009 :  18:40:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm curious to read the study. My gut feeling is that it's hard to run a control study to compare to. But perhaps they account for this...
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

26015 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2009 :  18:51:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A lot of commenters over there seem to have cause-and-effect backwards. They're trying to come up with causal links from religion to high measures of crappy life experiences, when what's being hypothesized is that high amounts of misery cause religion.

Edited to add that if correct, the hypothesis means not that we're better off without religion, but that being better off would lead to less religion. In other words, fix the social problems we have here in the U.S. (drugs, violence, gap between rich and poor, etc.), and religion will go away on its own as fewer people look to it for security.

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Evil Skeptic

13470 Posts

Posted - 12/10/2009 :  19:49:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have also heard of study that ties the fervor of religion to stress factors in said country. That study was more than a year ago and I would have to track it down. Might have been the same study, or it might have been a poll. I can't remember right now.

I see that Susan Blackmore is less than convinced of the correlation equaling causation in this case as surmised by the studies author. I haven't read the study. And I don't think I'm qualified to make any real judgment about it. I have a lot of respect for Susan Blackmore. I will be interested in what I might learn by following this thread. Gosh, I guess I should read the study now.

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Dr. Mabuse
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9680 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2009 :  00:09:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.
In other words, fix the social problems we have here in the U.S. (drugs, violence, gap between rich and poor, etc.), and religion will go away on its own as fewer people look to it for security.
That's a theory I acribbe to, and point to Scandinavian countries as an example for higher median social wellbeing and lower religiosity.

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15831 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2009 :  04:02:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Does religion cause a crappy society, or does a crappy society cause religion? There's a world-wide, undeniable correlation between the two, but I haven't seen convincing evidence of causation either way (or of non-causation either way). More studies need to be done!

My own guess is that there is causation, and it works strongly both ways: Religion, I suspect, contributes to creating and maintaining a crappy society, and a crappy society drives people to religion.

No wonder fundies almost always oppose efforts to effectively tackle the root causes of injustice, bigotry, inadequate medical care, and poverty. Social progress is bad for their business.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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SFN Addict

2437 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2009 :  19:09:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I certainly don't doubt the fact that the United States, a nation with a reasonably high overall standard of living (at least compared to 2nd and 3rd world countries), has a much higher incidence of religiosity than many other nations with comparable or higher living standards. I do wonder about the heavily Catholic European nations such as Italy, France and Spain, but that aside, let's assume that the premise is correct.

I feel that the essence of the problem lies in the virtual deification in the US of the virtues of independence and individuality. From the root origins of the American Revolution, the mercantilism of the late 18th century into the development of a capitalistic economy, then the Western expansion period during most of the 19th century, into the Industrial Revolution of the 20th century, and on to the technological developments of recent decades; the ethos of America has been one of glorification of individual effort, and denigration of group effort -- at least as such effort is identified with strong central government.

I feel that this denial of cooperative enterprise ("socialism") and enthusiastic acceptance of self-reliance ("democratic capitalism") in secular matters leaves the average citizen feeling an imbalance or lacking as far as where to look for guidance when self reliance fails to cope with the vicissitudes of existence.

Enter a return to the Faith of our Fathers, the Calvinism and Catholicism that comforted, consoled and clarified in times of adversity from the Dark Ages right up to the Pilgrims' Puritanism and beyond as the nation developed into arguably the most diverse, complex, and multi-faceted nation in the world.

If you can't trust Government, you can trust God! If things have become too complicated to deal with, turn to Jesus, he'll sort it out for you! Guns are better than words, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

The prototypical ideal American is a God-Fearing individualist high on Free Enterprise, ownership of weapons and real estate, and willing to submit to no master except his Lord and Master. "With God, anything is possible". "Jesus is the Way and the Light" And so forth.

I believe that more than half of the population of this country is imbued with these simplistic notions to some degree. The rightwingnut Republicans certainly are saturated with this nonsense and I'm concerned that a disturbing number of "centrist" independents are buying into this conservative manifesto. The pendulum appears to be swinging back all too soon!

My guess is that if it were ever accurately tested, there would be a strong correlation demonstrated between religiosity and political conservatism. Maybe there have been such studies. If so, I am unaware of them.

In short, I feel that the average American needs a leader, an authority, a father figure if you will; because our form of government largely does not provide sufficient reassurance that everything is OK and under control. Despite strongly wishing to be independent individualists, most people get pretty frightened when they come up against hard knocks that their government offers no protection from. It is very acceptable then, both individually and collectively, to turn to God.
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SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 12/11/2009 :  19:26:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Are we better off without religion? I am. SS

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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