Saturday, 25 June 2011

Religion Makes You Stupid and Violent

We sane people knew that, but we sane people like to have those facty-sciency thingies at hand.
We are led to believe, for example, that faith and religion are socially beneficial, that it lowers the violence of rape, murder and suicide and that it tempers juvenile misconduct. However, according to research published in the U.S. academic journal Religion and Society and as reported by The Times U.K., the opposite may be true.

Eighteen of the most prosperous democracies in the world were studied. In those countries at least 60 percent of the population accepts evolution as fact and only 10 to 30 percent believe in God. It is nearly reverse in the U.S., where a base of 60 percent do not accept evolution and anywhere from 50 to 80 percent believe in God.

The results show that in general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, rape, robbery, juvenile mortality, STD infections, teen pregnancy and abortion. As example, America’s murder rate is five to ten times higher and its rate of sexually transmitted diseases nearly 300 times higher than in secular societies; and our rates of divorce, substance abuse, social and economic inequality are off the charts. It concluded that because of the strong correlation between faith and antisocial behavior, there is reason to suppose that religious belief actually does more harm than good. . . .

But from the social scientist’s perspective there is a greater likelihood that religion leads to antisocial behavior because blind faith creates a loss of intellectual curiosity and an inability to reason.

Some direct quotes from the Times article:
“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”
. . .

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


Image source


Bina said...

Fundamentalists of whatever religion always interpret "Thou Shalt Not" as "But I'm in favor with God, so I'm DIFFERENT".

Also, they think all women are fair game if you can see 'em...

Beijing York said...

"60 percent do not accept evolution" - that is astonishing. I'm guessing that that figure had to be much lower in the 1970-80s. In fact, I'm guessing more people accepted evolution during the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in the 1920s.

fern hill said...

Astonishing, indeed, BY. But astonishing ignorance is the only way to explain what's going on down there.

ThinkingManNeil said...

I was a fundamentalist evangelical christian for many years so I can personally attest to the general antipathy towards science, thought, and things intellectual. I was vice-president of my church youth group, a Sunday school bus captain, vice-president of my Inter-School Christian Fellowship chapter in high school and even attended a year of bible college with the idea of going into missionary aviation, but I struggled all during this time with doubt and fear that my faith simply wasn't good or strong enough for god as I never seemed to receive any real acknowledgement or comfort from him/her/it. It wasn't until I began reading other books which questioned the premises and claims of christianity that I began thinking for myself in an increasingly independent and fearless way that I worked my way out of the mental, psychological and emotional mire that is religion.

I remember quite distinctly while I was a young person in church being openly discouraged in my desire to attend university to study astronomy and other sciences as "you have a bible college right here in town and it's much more appropriate for a young christian." It's no secret that religion's openly mistrust and despise science as science properly done pays no deference to authority, tradition, scripture, or dogma; it presses ahead to give us as clear a view as possible of the Cosmos and all it contains. That view may not always rest easy with us tiny, mortal hominids, but it is the truth.

Religion's three tools are emotion (appeals to the vulnerable), fear (fear of the other, fear of death, fear of change), and control (through rhetoric, specious arguments, hyperbole, intimidation and the establishment of monolithic, often patriarchally derived and maintained, institutions). No matter how savvy some of them may have become when it comes to using social networking technology and the like, they basically have one fallback position: the bible is god's word and that's that - no questions asked. Since this does little to encourage thought ("Lean not unto your own understanding") or even questioning ("sowing seeds of doubt and discord") it quickly becomes apparent how easily christian fundamentalists can be manipulated by the hyper-capitalist corporatist agenda and be led by the nose to carry the water for the likes of the Koch brothers while impoverishing and enslaving themselves to them, singing hymns and patriotic tunes all the way. In fact, they have been so successfully deceived that they now conflate mindless, right-wing, jingoistic patriotism, the false hopes and propaganda of predatory "trickle down" capitalism and the absolute rights of the corporatized state with biblical principles. It's little wonder that they've almost completely abandoned the social gospel of the new testament and it's "compassionate christ" for so-called "Kingdom theology", Christian Dominionism", and a more muscular "Warrior Jesus". One can also easily see why they refer to themselves -- appropriately - as sheep.

I have left christianity and religion behind me. I am now and atheist and am free to think and question as I please. I don't pretend to have all the answers and never will, but I'm completely OK with that now and to tell the truth, that in itself is tremendously liberating.


Beijing York said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and assessment, Neil.

This I find of particular interest:

In fact, they have been so successfully deceived that they now conflate mindless, right-wing, jingoistic patriotism, the false hopes and propaganda of predatory "trickle down" capitalism and the absolute rights of the corporatized state with biblical principles.

Too many people believe that Harper's Mission Alliance Faith is benign when it comes to his choice of governing and policy priorities. I truly believe that they are being naive. What you describe is Harper and many of his co-fundamentalists to a tee. The leaders of such a movement may be calculating pricks but their damage is the same as if they truly believed in these muscular interpretations of the bible.

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