Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Primacy Revisited

A nod to Francois Tremblay for bringing this study to my attention.

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


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 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."

...

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.

...

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”


This matches up exactly with what I have said in previous posts here, here, here, and here. The evidence is on my side, and it keeps piling up.

The verdict is in: We are far better off without any religious beliefs, without any belief in god(s), and without any afterlife belief.

33 comments:

euclids child said...

I would like to see the actual study. My personal beliefs are similiar to yours. I think religion [ and belief in sky fairies in general ] is a very bad thing for society. I would like to be able to cite this study to support my belief. But being skeptical, I have a wonder. This is not a controled experiment. Religion is not the only variable in the equation. As much as i would like this to be true, comparing murder rates etc. based on gallup poll between entire countries, is week scientifically.

Aaron Kinney said...

euclids child,

Thanx for the comment!

Well, Ive had multiple Christians tell me that this study only shows correlation, NOT causation.

And I agree with them. I dont think that religion directly increases inhumane behavior per se. I believe that education, or more specifically the lack of it, is the cause for INCREASED religion and INCREASED inhumane behavior in a society.

I dont know where the actual study results can be found, but I can attest that this study confirms what Ive seen in other studies and lists regarding quality of life, and religion.

Looking only at America, we can see that the more religious areas are worse off, and the coastal areas of America (less religious) are better off. The highest divorce, abortion, murder, STD, early mortality rates, and high religious devotion are in the more ignorant areas of America.

Its simple: smarter societies treat eachother better, live better, and believe in God less.

Tanooki Joe said...

Of course, it works the other way too: the better off a society is, the less likely the members are to desire the opiate of belief in God and the afterlife.

hashishan prophet said...

This mighty study demonstrates how evil and infanticidal the christians are in every degree. They are murderers, rapists, sickies, and above all liars. They deny the true prophets of God and uphold the Monkey-Christ.

Death to the Monkey-Christ! Curses against the Christolaters!

I am the TRUE Lord. By my fruits ye shall know me.

Harken to my Gospel, minions, and spread the word: Jesus had it coming!

MichaelBains said...

PZ Meyer's Pharyngula, of course, has a little more detail. It isn't a ton but he seems to have some of the data from the study.

Cool post Aaron.

And Gawp! to you too Hashish-god!

Francois Tremblay said...

Pharyngula is a liberal.

And there is a correlation between religion and immorality. As I've always said, when you become religious the first things to go are reasoning and moral responsibility. Given this, how can any Christian lay claim to moral behaviour ?

Crushin' on Collectivism said...

Rand is dead. Rand remains dead. And we have killed her.

Francois Tremblay said...

No one asked for your opinion. And what does it have to do with religion creating immorality ?

Koheleth of Atheism said...

O Francois Tremblay, guardian of the one true faith, high-priest of the libertarian temple, etc., etc.,...

I adore the charm with which you put forth your apologetics. "No one asked for your opinion." But no one needed to ask, you see. I like my fellow atheists, Pharyngula in particular, and I don't like to seem them dismissed so easily by pretend infidels like yourself.

Citoyen Tremblay, you betray the cause of free thought by your shallow allegience to a handful of crusty axioms invented by a White Russian hack. I don't know. Maybe you are not a Randroid, but rather a devotee of some other Austrian or possibly Chicagoan guru. Either way, I pity you. A free mind is such a terrible thing to waste, whether it be wasted on Christianity, Nietzscheism, Objectivism, Marxist-Maoism, or Chomskyite-Larouchianism. I myself am not a member of any conservative party, nor any liberal party, nor any libertarian party, nor any fascist, socialist, or Islamic fundamentalist party, nay, nor any party that I have heard of. My mind is my own party.

Churches, parties, religions, and creeds of all kinds are the principal sources and forces behind the cruelty, the stupidity, the ugliness, and all the beastly little woes of this age. Morality is the principal cause of immorality, just as virtue was ever the father of vice. Find your highest ideal and slaughter it as a sacrifice to the cause of humanity; tear off the blinders of your thought and stand naked before all of the howling winds of chaos. Your faith will not abide you; your reason will not abide you.

I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit: thus saith the Preacher. Nothing in this void is of any consequence save the works of love; and all the eons and eternities of lifeless dust to follow are as nothing to the fleeting hours of love. The abyss has us in all its maw, and our souls are crushed together under the weight of all our folly. Let the inexorable union be therefore an espousal of love. The liberty of love shall be the exchange of wills rather than states. We shall have to endure the end of the age of action. Let each to his will. There is no consequence.

What I should be saying is this, dear supplicant:

You're all right, kiddo. You're all right.

Francois Tremblay said...

Aaron, why don't you close your comments sections for non account holders ? This last one here seems to have a severe case of verbal diarrhea.

Tanooki Joe said...

Don't do that. I'm tired of not being able to comment on sites because I don't have a blogger account.

DUB said...

Religion gives its adherents somewhat of a god complex. They can claim they appeal to the highest authority, and then justify freely forcing their morality and standards on anyone else.

Religion builds morbidly heavy amounts of guilt, and therefore can be potentially pivotal in the development of neurosis and psychosis.

There is an absolute abundance of evidence throughout history supporting the potential evils of religion.

I can find no supporting evidence that a people's morality is exclusive to their religion. We simply do not have a situation of a culture completely sans religion to test this - and quite possibly, at this time in human development, never have such a situation. We do have a plethora of information regarding the relgiosity of nutcases and sickos and their supporters throughout time. We can draw fine analysis from this.

I absolutely, positively believe frimly that religious societies are worse off simply due to the presence of said religion.

Aaron Kinney said...

I dont want to close off comments to non members because it will prevent people like Tanooki Joe from commenting. I know how maddening it is to have 50+ accounts online, and if not requiring registration to blogger will help the comments activity on my blog, then so be it.

But what was the point of "crushin" even coming in here spouting off about Ayn Rand? What does that even have to do with anything?

LBBP said...

So I have to ask...

Francois Tremblay said: "Pharyngula is a liberal."

Are you therefore dismissing his contribution, even though it supports your position, just because he has a different political opinion? Or, are you confirming that he is a liberal so of course he has more information?

I think I need to write a post or two about my disbelief at anyone that calls themselves a conservative atheist. The two concepts are (or should be) mutually exclusive. Social conservatism by definition implies a lack of desire for change. What could be a bigger change than a civilization free from religion?

Cowboy Cody said...

Wow. It's very nice to find someone coherently and intelligently refuting the "god-need" of society. I usually just turn up the arrogance and tell people that shit just isn't real. Keep up the good work.

Francois Tremblay said...

"I think I need to write a post or two about my disbelief at anyone that calls themselves a conservative atheist."

Who gives a shit ? I hate conservatives.

Aaron Kinney said...

Franc, you are nothing if not intense.

LBBP, Franc is a libertarian. So he's got equal (or almost equal) scorn for liberals and conservatives.

PZ Myers may be a liberal, but personally I dont think his political views are relevant to this topic. I also think his views on this study are good, and I do enjoy reading Paryngula regularly, since is a biology/atheist blog and not a political blog.

Besides, Pharyngula once featured my very own Kill The Afterlife blog on his top three list, bringing me tons of traffic. So Maybe Im a bit biased LOL!

Francois Tremblay said...

Eh, I didn't say I hated him. His blog is all right, but every little bit of statist politics I read on a blog that is not supposed to be political pisses me off.

LBBP said...

I can't remeber where (as usual) but, I read a great quote recently by a blogger. When asked if his blog was political the response was "All blogs are political and then whatever else they are about."

It would seem I now have the same bias. I think that was ~I Am's~ doing. He sent a request to PZ for him to link to God or Not. I think this was PZ's compromise.

LBBP said...

I had originally planned on commenting "on topic" but got distracted.

I have seen this study mentioned a couple of other places. It seems self evident to me. A quick scan of the major conflicts over the span of civilization shows that the vast majority were about or caused by religious strife. Even so called "racial" conflicts more often than not have a religious component. Expanding that need for conflict to internal strife within the societies that support the most rigid religious doctrines appears to be too easy a shift.

Tanooki Joe said...

LBBP:

I would say "empirically irrefutable" is even better than "self-evident". If it were self-evident to everyone, we wouldn't have religion, would we?

Aaron Kinney said...

LOL "empirically irrefutable" is nice.

Ugh its already been a week! I need to make another post on this blog already. Gotta come up with more anti-afterlife-related material!

Francois Tremblay said...

"If it were self-evident to everyone, we wouldn't have religion, would we?"

You don't understand what "self-evident" means, evidently.

Tanooki Joe said...

Oh, you're no fun Francois. That was a joke.

Francois Tremblay said...

What ?

Tom G said...

The amazing thing about all this discussion is that the study it's based on has been thoroughly discredited as shoddy science.

Aaron Kinney said...

Tom, youre a day late and a dollar short. Ive already refuted like 5 Christians at Christianforums.com who've brouht the same objections as you have.

You posted a link of a "discreditation" from a Christian blogger, whose argument is primariy based on "correlation is not the same thing as casuation"

I will say it again. CAUSATION IS NOT NECESSARY FOR THE VALIDITY OF THIS STUDY! Correlation is ALL that is needed in this context.

Reason one: these factors can be caused by outside things, like education. Increased education improves quality of life and decreases religious belief. Theres your cause. Its outside the two factors in the study, and it validates the correlation between the two, and totally refutes this sorry attempt at discrediting the study.

Reason two: Correlation is ALL THAT IS NEEDED to REFUTE the Christian/religious claims that there will be an improvement in quality of life when increased religious observance is practiced. You are in the unfortunate position of supporting a cult/superstition that makes POSITIVE claims about the correlation of quality of life and religious observance. And this study BLASTS IT OUT OF THE WATER.

So for you to come in here and bitch about howcorrelation does not imply cuasation is for you to miss the point. Indeed, you are attacking a strawman. You seem to forget that it is the religions that initially made the claim of a positive correlation, or even a direct positive causation between religious observance and quality of life. You conveniently forget the religions' claims here when you attempt to discredit the study.

So correlation is all thats needed because a third causation factor, I argue "education," causes both of these things to happen (improved quality of life and decreased religious observance). Furthermore, the study still blasts the religious claims of improved life through observance of dogma out of the water.

Have a nice day. And DO let me know if you ever come up with a study that shows a positive correlation between religious devotion and qualiy of life (good luck!).

Tom Gilson said...

Oh, Aaron, I know it seems like you've successfully countered the refutation, but you really haven't. That's because the correlation/causation problem wasn't the focus of the refutation in the first place. You are simply wrong in your statement, that the argument is primarily based on the argument, "correlation is not the same thing as casuation."

Scott Gilbreath pointed out in passing that the news reporter made that mistake, but he was clear that the original research article did not, and yet he refuted the original research much more strongly than the newspaper article.

But before I go into that, I want you to know about the massive (and properly executed) National Study of Youth and Religion, published recently out of the University of North Carolina. I have more information on it here. It shows that higher religious commitment correlates with increased quality of life in these areas:

"Habits: smoking, drinking, marijuana use, TV watching, pornography use, 'action' video game use
"
School: grades, cutting classes, getting suspended or expelled
"
Attitude: parents' report of their temper or rebelliousness
"
Sex: physical involvement and convictions, including number of partners
"
Emotional well-being: satisfaction with physical appearance, planning for the future, thinking about the meaning of life, feeling cared for, freedom from depression, freedom from feeling alone and misunderstood, not feeling 'invisible,' not feeling guilty often, not feeling life is meaningless
"
Relationships with adults: closeness with parents, number of adults connected to
"
Moral reasoning and honesty behaviors: belief in stable, absolute morality; not following a 'get-ahead' mentality; not taking a hedonistic approach, lower incidence of lying to parents and cheating in school
"
Moral compassion: caring about the needs of the poor, caring about the elderly, caring about racial justice
"
Community participation: participation in groups, giving funds, volunteer work (including with people of different race or cultural background), helping homeless people, participating in leadership role in an organization."

So, thanks for wishing me luck on finding something that showed a positive correlation between religion and social outcomes. I can show you more; there are lots of them, but this was the largest so I thought it would be the most interesting to you.

Now, back to the study whose refutation you thought you had countered. I quote from that refutation a few paragraphs on the serious flaws in Gregory Paul's methodology:

"So, Mr Paul's sample frame [choice of countries included for analysis] appears arbitrary. Obviously, in a sample of eighteen observations, inclusion or exclusion of only one or two observations can make a big difference in the results.

"Another problem with Mr Paul's sample frame is that the time frame of the observations is ambiguous. Referring to data on the social problems under examination, he says: “Data is [sic] from the 1990s, most from the middle and latter half of the decade, or the early 2000s.” So, it sounds like the sample of data to be compared uses different reference years for different countries. Nowhere does he list which year pertains to each data observation. At best, this is very sloppy statistical practice. If one were suspicious, one might point out that this makes cooking the results child's play."


There are also serious problems with the statistical handling:

"Mr Paul presents a series of charts plotting the incidence of religious belief paired with each of the social problem variables. The accepted statistical procedure at this point would be to present estimates of correlation coefficients and measures of goodness-of-fit. These estimates are necessary because they provide the precise quantification of relationships among the observed variables. How closely are they correlated? How much of the variation in the observed data is explained by the correlation? These are the basic nuts and bolts of statistical analyses of this kind. Calculation of these statistics can be done in a few different ways; one of the more common is by use of a technique known as linear regression analysis. So, I couldn't believe my eyes when I read this:

"'Regression analyses were not executed because of the high variability of degree of correlation, because potential causal factors for rates of societal function are complex, and because it is not the purpose of this initial study to definitively demonstrate a causal link between religion and social conditions. . . . Therefore correlations of raw data are used for this initial examination.'

"This is simply inexcusable in a research project involving statistical analysis. I have never seen anything like this--either in my professional career or in my university studies of statistics and econometrics."
. . .
"Worst of all, Mr Paul's 'correlations of raw data' amount to eyeballing the pair-wise data plots. This hardly qualifies as a correlation analysis--or any kind of statistical analysis. How unscientific can you get!"


If you want to see where that quality of research can get you, see Telic Thoughts, where similar methodology produced opposite results to Paul's. They're not claiming their results are valid either, they're just demonstrating how, with sloppy enough science, you can prove anything you want to prove.

Finally, you seem to be unhappy that it was a Christian who refuted Paul's study. Remember, he had an axe to grind also, and by the way, he has no experience whatever in th scientific field in which he was publishing.

I suggest for the sake of intellectual honesty you go back to the five places you went to and tell them Gilbreath's refutation was valid after all.

Aaron Kinney said...

Thanx for the reply Tom.

Regarding the National Study of Youth and Religion, Id really like to take a look at the data and not just the claims it makes. But its $25. So the best I can do is respond to the claims it makes. Now I dont know where the study looked for data so Im going to play around with America and European nations right now.

School: Europe is much less religious than America but much more educated. Thats a fact. And within America, the lowest SAT test scores are found within the Bible belt and Southern states, which are much more religious than the coastal areas.Not to mention the fact that people with PhDs are less religious than people with 4 year degreees, and people with 4 year degrees are less religious than people with high school diplomas, and people with high school diplomas are less religious than people who never graduated.

Sex: I have a big problem with this one, because your Youth study says "physical involvement and convictions, including number of partners" and mentions nothing about what MATTERS in regards to sex quality, which is pregnancy, abortion, and STDs. The number of partners you have is irrelevant. This study is obviously biased because it equates chastity with goodness and quality of life, rather than equating quality of life with STDs and pregnancies and abortions. Now, America has much more STD and teenage pregnangy issues than secular Europe, and the Bible belt of America has more abortions and teenage pregancies than the coastal areas. The places in Europe with the lowest teen pregnancy rates and STD rates are the most liberal and athesitic nations, like the scandanavian ones. The fact that your pro-religion study doesnt even mention abortion, STDs, and teen pregnancies leads me to be very suspicious. And I totally reject its assumption that lower # of partners = good.

Emotional well-being: Heres another one where religion loses. The most religious places of America also have the most obese people, but the study mentions "satisfaction with physical appearance." So what if a fat person is happier with their appearance than a critical secular person? Thats just means that the fat person has lower standards. This "satisfaction with physical appearancee" thing is totally subjective and makes me think that religions lower the standards of your physical appearance goals. And if you want to talk about emotional well being, then tell me why atheists are severely underrepresented in mental institutions? Nuthouses, (full of people who are not emotionall well) are overwhelmingly religious, and very devoutly so. The same thing goes for prisons. According to the US Bureau of Prisons, the prison population is like 99+% religious. So atheists and secularists are severely underrepresented in American prisons as well.

Relationships with adults: This one is odd. I wonder if divorce factored in to your study? It doesnt mention divorce. Well, the Bible belt again leads America in divorce, and of course secular Europe has less divorce than America does. This may be unscientific, but I would claim that a lower divorce rate would IMPROVE relationships between parents and children.

Moral compassion: Again the religious study loses. Secular Europe donates much more in aid and compassionate programs for the needy than America does. Ever read the book by T. R. Reid called "The United States of Europe"? I highly suggest it.

Community participation: Again, Secular Europe outperforms America for the reasons I cited above.

On your blog you stated "Could you ask for better than that?" and I must answer, yes I could.

Too bad I dont have the $25. I would like to see the details of the study.

I think the study you cited is woefully subjective, and omits vital stats in its studies. Why no STD or abortion and teeage pregnancy research in its "sex" portion? Why no mention of divorce in its "relationship" portion? And its claims are rather unusual considering the information I have and the data that backs up what I claimed. If you want details for any of my claims, just ask and I will provide the data andor links to it.

I reject the Youth study for now. I want to see a study that deals more with quantitative things, not just subjective claims of emotional happiness. How can you look at emotional well being and not look at mental houses or recovery centers or prisons? How can you look at school without comparing the religiosity of doctors to that of drop outs? And on and on and on...

Tom Gilson said...

Aaron, I'm not going to extend this a lot further, but I have to say your "research" methodology is weak, just as Paul's is.

First of all, you are not on solid ground in attempting to debunk a study you have not read. It was properly done. The summary I gave here was just that; it was a convenience for those who do not buy the book, not a sufficient basis for criticism. If you want to write about it, you owe it to your readers to read it; it's the responsible thing to do.

Your assertions regarding geographic locations carry very little weight, scientifically. (Do you have experience in social science research?)

There are two major problems with your approach (and these also apply to Paul's study). The first is the enormous number of confounds in such a study. Assigning a correlation to religiosity alone is not supportable, because of the huge variety of other variables that could affect the outcome.

Even within religiosity there are confounds. For instance, a study would have to account for the difference it makes whether a person's religion is Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or mainline, charismatic or traditional, and so on. Then there are other moderating/mediating factors like race, education, and so on. The list goes on forever.

So the only way to tease out the true factors involved is to do a large enough study that you can statistically separate those factors. (Which is exactly what the National Study of Youth and Religion did.)

The other problem is providing a proper operational definition of the research terms, including religiosity as mentioned above, but also the criterion measures, the outcomes. This is very difficult, and again the NSYR did a scientifically standard, professional job of it.

Now, for some more "quantitative" stuff, since you asked:

Religious belief correlates with fewer suicides, also shorter hospital stays and better recoveries, and positive mental health in students.

That's enough for now. I'm not going to bat this back and forth, since I sense you really, really want to find something wrong with any of these studies, rather than to read what is there. And I don't want to play that game.

Tom Gilson said...

One final thing, Aaron. You were strangely silent in your last post about the Gregory Paul study. I hope you caught the real problems with the study and adjust accordingly.

Aaron Kinney said...

Aaron, I'm not going to extend this a lot further, but I have to say your "research" methodology is weak, just as Paul's is.

Okay fine.

First of all, you are not on solid ground in attempting to debunk a study you have not read.

But I am on solid ground in raising initial suspicions based on the claims that the study makes in which you have to pay $25 to see the evidence for such claims.

It was properly done. The summary I gave here was just that; it was a convenience for those who do not buy the book, not a sufficient basis for criticism. If you want to write about it, you owe it to your readers to read it; it's the responsible thing to do.

I dont want to write a blog post about it. I was merely responding to your mentioning of the study and my thoughts on the things it claims to investigate (and the things it didnt claim to investigate) in the summary.

Your assertions regarding geographic locations carry very little weight, scientifically. (Do you have experience in social science research?)

Oh so the recent studies that claim where the best cities in the world are to live dont carry any weight either? Can we not make claims about different cultures in their respective geographic regions? This is a double edged sword my friend. How can anyone make any claims about any society or group of people if this Georaphic protest is accepted? I was actually making claims about societies that are seperated geographically.

While I dont have any experience in social science research, I obtain my data from institutions that do have much experience in this kind of research, and they are respected organizations that have published and peer-reviewed material. In other cases, they are repsected think tanks and universities.

There are two major problems with your approach (and these also apply to Paul's study). The first is the enormous number of confounds in such a study. Assigning a correlation to religiosity alone is not supportable, because of the huge variety of other variables that could affect the outcome.

Yet these problems are not as large as the problems with the Youth study. At least my claims involve quantifiable and objective things, not just subjective feel-good concepts like how happy someone is with their appearance. I bet you $50 that a crackhead on skid row is more pleased with his appearance than a rich successful healthy and attractive family person.

Funny thing too, is that if God really did exist, then your claim would be worthless, because he would be rewarding the faithful regardless of mitigating factors. I can point to many a Bible verse that champions faith and not works, and promises earthly material rewards for such faith. So why isnt your God intervening and making good on his promises?

Even within religiosity there are confounds. For instance, a study would have to account for the difference it makes whether a person's religion is Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or mainline, charismatic or traditional, and so on.

No it wouldnt. The "kind" of Christianity is irrelevant, and the study doesnt even claim to differentiate or investigate the differences between religions. This is some kind of variation on a no true scotsman fallacy. Regardless if someone is into Catholocism, Islam, or Voodoo, as far as we are concerned, and as far as the study claims to be concerned, its all religion; its all theism.

Then there are other moderating/mediating factors like race, education, and so on. The list goes on forever.

Yes of course. It seems though that you are trying to say that any research into these things cannot bring up any reliable conclusions.

So the only way to tease out the true factors involved is to do a large enough study that you can statistically separate those factors. (Which is exactly what the National Study of Youth and Religion did.)

And its also exactly what the other studies did in which I based my claims on. Studies from the National Bureau of Prisons, from the Jewish Research Institute, from the National Academy of Sciences, from Yale and Columbia Universities, etc...

The other problem is providing a proper operational definition of the research terms, including religiosity as mentioned above, but also the criterion measures, the outcomes. This is very difficult, and again the NSYR did a scientifically standard, professional job of it.

Actually, they did a rather poor job. All their terms and standards were totally subjective, and they ignored vital factors in their study, or they at least didnt mention looking at these things in the study summary: STD rates, teen pregnancy, divorce rates, etc... There is nothing scientific about "how you feel" and the blatantly unsupported assumption in the study summary that less sexual partners is a good thing. Theres nothing scientific about omitting STD information, religiosity among PhDs vs. high school grads, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, and other quantifiable scientific indicators on society.

Now, for some more "quantitative" stuff, since you asked:

Religious belief correlates with fewer suicides, also shorter hospital stays and better recoveries, and positive mental health in students.


Thanks for that. But none of these things you linked touch on the actual criticisms that I raised.

That's enough for now. I'm not going to bat this back and forth, since I sense you really, really want to find something wrong with any of these studies, rather than to read what is there.

And vice-versa my friend. I didnt have to try hard to find things wrong with that study. It jumped out at my amateur self immediately.

And I don't want to play that game.

Fair enough. But why the change of heart? Youre the one that found my blog.

One final thing, Aaron. You were strangely silent in your last post about the Gregory Paul study. I hope you caught the real problems with the study and adjust accordingly.

I got so caught up in the study you linked that I forgot all about Paul. But yea Ill talk about that now. First of all I disagree with your contention that the "correlation does not mean causation" was not the main objection. The guy who criticized that study mentioned it first and foremost, and since its a claim about correlation/causation, I consider it foundational to the study itself, rather than involved with its specific methodology, and foundational criticisms have primacy over methodological criticisms.

And Tom, you have also been "strangely silent." You havent addressed the specific problems that I raised with the Carolina study in terms of prison and nuthouse populations, STD and teen pregnancy rates, divorce rates, and other quality of life issues. You didnt address my criticism about the schooling portion of the study, where I noted that the higher education one has, the less they tend to believe in religion and God. Im getting into the "meat and potatoes" of these issues and you are only able to give me quantitative data about hospital stays and fewer suicides, which are things I didnt even mention. The best you could do is claim that less suicide = less mental weakness, which is only a claim. Who says suicide is a bad thing given the context of the suicides? I would also question whether the suicide study took into account extremely devout Muslims? They dont seem to hesitate when it comes to suicide. Islam is an Abrahamic religion, just like all the Christian and Jewish versions are.

The sad truth Tom, and the truth that you dont want to face, is that the more religious areas of America are worse off than the less religious areas of America. And the more religious places in the developed world are worse off than the less religous places of the developed world. Youre claims of geography being a weak way to argue is weak itself, for if God really DID exist, then he would allow the faithful to benefit in this life regardless of their geographic location. And I also contend that the secular societies would still benefit over the religious ones regardless of the geographic locations they are found in. I was merely using geographic labels for convenience. Let me put it this way: Secular societies are better off than religious societies, and they will be so regardless of which continent they are located on or how they are seperated geographically.

Aaron Kinney said...

Oh and I wanna make a deal. I will change my tune about Pauls study if you change your tune about the Carolina study :)