DPChallenge: A Digital Photography Contest You are not logged in. (log in or register
 

DPChallenge Forums >> Rant >> Religious Belief Unhealthy for Society?
Pages:  
Showing posts 1 - 25 of 275, (reverse)
AuthorThread
10/01/2005 01:18:38 PM · #1
I thought the following article about a recent study very interesting and wondered how those folks with a religious bent might respond to the study's findings:

The Dark Side of Faith

---------------------------------------------

The Los Angeles Times
October 1, 2005

THE DARK SIDE OF FAITH
By Rosa Brooks

IT'S OFFICIAL: Too much religion may be a dangerous thing.

This is the implication of 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.

Paul ranked societies based on the percentage of their population expressing absolute belief in God, the frequency of prayer reported by their citizens and their frequency of attendance at religious services. He then correlated this with data on rates of homicide, sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, abortion and child mortality.

He found that the most religious democracies exhibited substantially higher degrees of social dysfunction than societies with larger percentages of atheists and agnostics. Of the nations studied, 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.

This conclusion will come as no surprise to those who have long gnashed their teeth in frustration while listening to right-wing evangelical claims that secular liberals are weak on "values." Paul's study confirms globally what is already evident in the U.S.: When it comes to "values," if you look at facts rather than mere rhetoric, the substantially more secular blue states routinely leave the Bible Belt red states in the dust.

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.

Of course, the red/blue divide is only an imperfect proxy for levels of religiosity. And while Paul's study found that the correlation between high degrees of religiosity and high degrees of social dysfunction appears robust, it could be that high levels of social dysfunction fuel religiosity, rather than the other way around.

Although correlation is not causation, Paul's study offers much food for thought. At a minimum, his findings suggest that contrary to popular belief, lack of religiosity does societies no particular harm. This should offer ammunition to those who maintain that religious belief is a purely private matter and that government should remain neutral, not only among religions but also between religion and lack of religion. It should also give a boost to critics of "faith-based" social services and abstinence-only disease and pregnancy prevention programs.

We shouldn't shy away from the possibility that too much religiosity may be socially dangerous. Secular, rationalist approaches to problem-solving emphasize uncertainty, evidence and perpetual reevaluation. Religious faith is inherently nonrational.

This in itself does not make religion worthless or dangerous. All humans hold nonrational beliefs, and some of these may have both individual and societal value. But historically, societies run into trouble when powerful religions become imperial and absolutist.

The claim that religion can have a dark side should not be news. Does anyone doubt that Islamic extremism is linked to the recent rise in international terrorism? And since the history of Christianity is every bit as blood-drenched as the history of Islam, why should we doubt that extremist forms of modern American Christianity have their own pernicious and measurable effects on national health and well-being?

Arguably, Paul's study invites us to conclude that the most serious threat humanity faces today is religious extremism: nonrational, absolutist belief systems that refuse to tolerate difference and dissent.

My prediction is that right-wing evangelicals will do their best to discredit Paul's substantive findings. But when they fail, they'll just shrug: So what if highly religious societies have more murders and disease than less religious societies? Remember the trials of Job? God likes to test the faithful.

To the truly nonrational, even evidence that on its face undermines your beliefs can be twisted to support them. Absolutism means never having to say you're sorry.

And that, of course, is what makes it so very dangerous.

10/01/2005 02:00:42 PM · #2
I'm not particularly religious or political, and I've not done any research on this... and I don't claim that anything I say is fact, but I believe that a lot of differences discussed in the article between the red states and the blue states can be supported or explained to some (or even a large) degree by socioeconomic status. Historically the red areas of the US are less affluent and less educated overall. Those with less tend to rely more on faith than anything else, which leads to a more rigid interpretation of the bible, in turn bringing about more radical extremism. Those areas with more poverty have higher crime rates, higher teen pregancy and STD rates, lower educational levels, higher abortion rates, and higher rates of child mortality. I think the article is something that can be used wrongly to polarize the issues, making them Republican vs Democrat rather than looking at the issues logically and systematically from a sociological standpoint of class. Just my thoughts.
10/01/2005 02:56:53 PM · #3
Ditto what Laurie said.
10/01/2005 03:37:22 PM · #4
Something to add to the pot...

Just want to point out that there is a HUGE difference between religion and a personal relationship with Christ.
10/01/2005 03:57:53 PM · #5
Originally posted by fayepek:

Something to add to the pot...

Just want to point out that there is a HUGE difference between religion and a personal relationship with Christ.


that's very true.
10/01/2005 04:51:12 PM · #6
ditto laurie
ditto fayepek
ditto sher

10/01/2005 05:35:52 PM · #7
I was going to argue, but I guess that would set me up for his next to last full paragraph.

[quote]My prediction is that right-wing evangelicals will do their best to discredit Paul's substantive findings. But when they fail, they'll just shrug: So what if highly religious societies have more murders and disease than less religious societies? Remember the trials of Job? God likes to test the faithful. [/quote]

And I also recognize that nothing I type will or can convince anyone to change what they perceive to be correct, especially when they find such "unbiased" support as this.

10/01/2005 06:23:03 PM · #8
Laurie, if what you're saying is that social ills such as higher crime rates, higher rates of teen pregnancy, etc., are correlated with poverty, and poverty is correlated with lack of education and therefore lack of opportunity, I agree with you. The question is what to do about these problems. The religious right in this country would have us believe that in some fundamental way these problems are moral issues rather than, as you say, class/poverty issues, and can be ameliorated if we just make the right moral choices, and to them this means a society that's more highly religious. Well, if they were correct in their approach, then wouldn't there be a positive correlation between highly religious societies and less "social dysfunction," rather than the other way around? I'm not directing this question to you, Laurie, since you seem to be agreeing with me already. :)
10/01/2005 07:26:05 PM · #9
Originally posted by Judith Polakoff:

THE DARK SIDE OF FAITH
By Rosa Brooks

IT'S OFFICIAL: Too much religion may be a dangerous thing.
.................
And that, of course, is what makes it so very dangerous.

This is certainly not a novel nor previously undeclared assessment. This report contains nothing a faith-filled individual should get upset about. In fact, "facts" such as outlined in this study were the strength of evidence used in the trial of Jesus. However, one need only read his words to understand that Jesus is not the author of immorality, murder or perversion, as this story purports to interpret.
10/01/2005 10:14:20 PM · #10
Originally posted by Judith Polakoff:

Laurie, if what you're saying is that social ills such as higher crime rates, higher rates of teen pregnancy, etc., are correlated with poverty, and poverty is correlated with lack of education and therefore lack of opportunity, I agree with you. The question is what to do about these problems. The religious right in this country would have us believe that in some fundamental way these problems are moral issues rather than, as you say, class/poverty issues, and can be ameliorated if we just make the right moral choices, and to them this means a society that's more highly religious. Well, if they were correct in their approach, then wouldn't there be a positive correlation between highly religious societies and less "social dysfunction," rather than the other way around? I'm not directing this question to you, Laurie, since you seem to be agreeing with me already. :)

First, while I would agree that there is a direct correlation of crime to poverty, and that there is a direct correlation of poverty to lack of education, what evidence do you have that lack of education has a direct correlation with lack of opportunity? I can't speak for other countries, but in the U.S. I don't believe that ANYONE lacks the opportunity for at least a high school education. The fact that many squander that opportunity is not the fault of society.
Secondly, yes, it is a moral choice ( whether founded in religion or not ) to squander the opportunity for an education.
Thirdly, more "religion" is not the answer. Even Christ, himself, warned against emulating the "religion" of the pharisees - He called them "white-washed tombs" and "hypocrites". However, an increased sense of "morality" IS the answer, but it would appear that many, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world, prefer to bend the definition of "morality" to include only those "sins" that they, themselves, do not indulge in regularly. Ergo, abortion, adultery, pre-marital sex, fornication, homosexual behaviour, internet pornography, cheating on one's income taxes, dealing drugs, using drugs, looting when there is little chance of getting caught, stealing paperclips from one's employer, etc. are no longer considered immoral, as they once were.
And yes, the "religious right" attempts their best to reverse the slide into immorality, even though it often seems like bailing against the tide.
What I find most interesting is that although the article is entitled the Dark side of FAITH, it only speaks of societal dysfunction as it relates to "RELIGIOUSITY", not as it relates to FAITH. When the author cannot or will not recognize the difference, nothing more need be said to determine that the piece is biased.

Message edited by author 2005-10-01 22:18:44.
10/02/2005 12:49:35 AM · #11
Originally posted by RonB:

First, while I would agree that there is a direct correlation of crime to poverty, and that there is a direct correlation of poverty to lack of education, what evidence do you have that lack of education has a direct correlation with lack of opportunity? I can't speak for other countries, but in the U.S. I don't believe that ANYONE lacks the opportunity for at least a high school education.


I wasn't referring to a lack of opportunity for education; rather that the poorly educated lack employment opportunities. For the sake of argument, I'll agree with you that everyone in the U.S. has access to at least a high school education, although not all high school education is created equal, and a high school education alone these days barely affords you more opportunity than being a high school dropout. But we can argue about this in another thread.

Originally posted by RonB:

Thirdly, more "religion" is not the answer. Even Christ, himself, warned against emulating the "religion" of the pharisees - He called them "white-washed tombs" and "hypocrites". However, an increased sense of "morality" IS the answer, but it would appear that many, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world, prefer to bend the definition of "morality" to include only those "sins" that they, themselves, do not indulge in regularly. Ergo, abortion, adultery, pre-marital sex, fornication, homosexual behaviour, internet pornography, cheating on one's income taxes, dealing drugs, using drugs, looting when there is little chance of getting caught, stealing paperclips from one's employer, etc. are no longer considered immoral, as they once were.
And yes, the "religious right" attempts their best to reverse the slide into immorality, even though it often seems like bailing against the tide.


I'm just curious -- what is your definition of "fornication"?

Originally posted by RonB:

What I find most interesting is that although the article is entitled the Dark side of FAITH, it only speaks of societal dysfunction as it relates to "RELIGIOUSITY", not as it relates to FAITH. When the author cannot or will not recognize the difference, nothing more need be said to determine that the piece is biased.


The author of the article lays out the criteria used by the study's investigator: "Paul ranked societies based on the percentage of their population expressing absolute belief in God, the frequency of prayer reported by their citizens and their frequency of attendance at religious services." I don't know what you would consider a fair measurement of faith as opposed to religiosity, but in my judgment two of the three criteria (an absolute belief in God and frequency of prayer) seem like fair measurements of faith to me.

You assert that "an increased sense of morality is the answer," but that still begs the question why there is a negative correlation between highly religious societies and "social dysfunction." I don't think you've addressed that issue, unless you're asserting that in highly religious societies there is a LESS developed sense of morality.

10/02/2005 06:40:32 PM · #12
Originally posted by Judith Polakoff:

Originally posted by RonB:

First, while I would agree that there is a direct correlation of crime to poverty, and that there is a direct correlation of poverty to lack of education, what evidence do you have that lack of education has a direct correlation with lack of opportunity? I can't speak for other countries, but in the U.S. I don't believe that ANYONE lacks the opportunity for at least a high school education.


I wasn't referring to a lack of opportunity for education; rather that the poorly educated lack employment opportunities. For the sake of argument, I'll agree with you that everyone in the U.S. has access to at least a high school education, although not all high school education is created equal, and a high school education alone these days barely affords you more opportunity than being a high school dropout. But we can argue about this in another thread.

The major reason that not all high school education is created equal, is not because there is less effort in the teaching offered some, but because there is less effort in the studying of what is taught by some. And that is, unfortunately, due more to culture, than capability. The poorly educated remain so more by choice than by circumstance.

Originally posted by Judith Polakoff:

Originally posted by RonB:

Thirdly, more "religion" is not the answer. Even Christ, himself, warned against emulating the "religion" of the pharisees - He called them "white-washed tombs" and "hypocrites". However, an increased sense of "morality" IS the answer, but it would appear that many, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world, prefer to bend the definition of "morality" to include only those "sins" that they, themselves, do not indulge in regularly. Ergo, abortion, adultery, pre-marital sex, fornication, homosexual behaviour, internet pornography, cheating on one's income taxes, dealing drugs, using drugs, looting when there is little chance of getting caught, stealing paperclips from one's employer, etc. are no longer considered immoral, as they once were.
And yes, the "religious right" attempts their best to reverse the slide into immorality, even though it often seems like bailing against the tide.


I'm just curious -- what is your definition of "fornication"?

Sexual relations between two people who are not married to each other.

Originally posted by Judith Polakoff:

Originally posted by RonB:

What I find most interesting is that although the article is entitled the Dark side of FAITH, it only speaks of societal dysfunction as it relates to "RELIGIOUSITY", not as it relates to FAITH. When the author cannot or will not recognize the difference, nothing more need be said to determine that the piece is biased.


The author of the article lays out the criteria used by the study's investigator: "Paul ranked societies based on the percentage of their population expressing absolute belief in God, the frequency of prayer reported by their citizens and their frequency of attendance at religious services." I don't know what you would consider a fair measurement of faith as opposed to religiosity, but in my judgment two of the three criteria (an absolute belief in God and frequency of prayer) seem like fair measurements of faith to me.

Not to me. According to scripture, even SATAN and the demons have an absolute belief in God, so that criteria is not one of the factore that I would apply in deciding whether a person has FAITH or not. And, judged by the number of "novenas to St. Jude" that appear regularly in the classified section of most major American newspapers, frequency of prayer is also not a determinant of faith - at least to me it is not. Rather, FAITH is not just a belief ABOUT God, but a belief that what His word says is true - that all are sinners deserving of eternal separation from Him, but that He, in His mercy, made the way for sinners to be reconciled to Him through Christ. In gratitude to Him, people of faith try to live in accordance with His teachings. Not that they succeed 100% of the time. Or even 10% of the time. But people of faith, will neither deny their sinfullness nor boast of it.

Originally posted by Judith Polakoff:

You assert that "an increased sense of morality is the answer," but that still begs the question why there is a negative correlation between highly religious societies and "social dysfunction." I don't think you've addressed that issue, unless you're asserting that in highly religious societies there is a LESS developed sense of morality.

I think that your last statement is a fair assertion. When the Apostle Paul was in Athens, he observed that the city was full of idols. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers took him to a meeting at the Areopagus because he was speaking of "foreign gods", namely Jesus Christ. Paul said to them: ""Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you....since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

It is far easier to be "religious" and worship IDOLS, than to agree with God that we are sinners, accept that He is Lord, and worship Him alone. The U.S. has many, many idols - and a great deal of "religiousity". But it is rotting from the inside out. Far, far too many of America's "religious" leaders have become as the pharisees: whitewashed tombs, and hypocrites. They have stopped preaching the "whole" message in order to avoid making their congregants feel "uncomfortable". And, in the end, they will be judged for their failure to fulfill their duties in a worth manner. Scripture says: "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."
10/02/2005 07:42:24 PM · #13
Originally posted by RonB:

The major reason that not all high school education is created equal, is not because there is less effort in the teaching offered some, but because there is less effort in the studying of what is taught by some. And that is, unfortunately, due more to culture, than capability. The poorly educated remain so more by choice than by circumstance.

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen you write. To blame a lack of credentialed teachers, adequate textbooks, or clean bathrooms on a "lack of effort" by the students is the most unfathomable bit of distorted "logic" I've come across in some time.
10/02/2005 07:54:37 PM · #14
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by RonB:

The major reason that not all high school education is created equal, is not because there is less effort in the teaching offered some, but because there is less effort in the studying of what is taught by some. And that is, unfortunately, due more to culture, than capability. The poorly educated remain so more by choice than by circumstance.

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen you write. To blame a lack of credentialed teachers, adequate textbooks, or clean bathrooms on a "lack of effort" by the students is the most unfathomable bit of distorted "logic" I've come across in some time.


Well, about what percent of the problem do you think a lack of effort by the student is in reguard to the education problem. What percent is attributable to the things you mention? I think education is a personal resposibility. (As well as many other things)
10/02/2005 07:59:51 PM · #15
This is a simplistic view, but does it not follow that the more people have a belief or sense of belonging in something, the more they have to defend it? Even belonging to a club or organisation can have negative effects - just look at football hooliganism and politics.

Message edited by author 2005-10-02 20:00:38.
10/02/2005 08:30:00 PM · #16

Amazing to me how blood always followed the cross.
10/02/2005 09:43:20 PM · #17
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by RonB:

The major reason that not all high school education is created equal, is not because there is less effort in the teaching offered some, but because there is less effort in the studying of what is taught by some. And that is, unfortunately, due more to culture, than capability. The poorly educated remain so more by choice than by circumstance.

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen you write. To blame a lack of credentialed teachers, adequate textbooks, or clean bathrooms on a "lack of effort" by the students is the most unfathomable bit of distorted "logic" I've come across in some time.

Do you really believe that the percentage of credentialed teachers is higher in non poverty-ridden areas than in areas of poverty within the same funding districts? If you do, then do you have any reliable sources to support that belief?

Do you really believe that textbooks are less adequate in areas of poverty than in non poverty-ridden areas within the same funding districts? If you do, then do you have any reliable sources to support that belief? And I mean when the textbooks were issued originally, not after the students have had the books for a year or two. See, I believe that some students don't take proper care of their textbooks, and some do. I also believe that, by and large, such behaviour varies from school to school.

Who do you think is ultimately responsible for "unclean" bathrooms? The educators? or the students? Do you think that the "teachers'" lavatories are as unclean as the students' lavatories? If not, why not? Is it because the teachers' lavatories are cleaned more frequently? Or because some students don't make an attempt at keeping the bathrooms relatively clean? Oh, and do you really believe that the bathrooms are cleaner in non poverty-ridden areas than in poverty-ridden areas in the same funding districts? If so, why do you suppose that is? See, I believe that the culture in some schools is one of consideration - that others will have to use the same bathroom after you leave - while the culture in other schools is one that disregards the effect on slovenliness on those who follow, and shows special disrespect toward the custodial staff who must clean up the mess.
10/02/2005 09:59:49 PM · #18
Originally posted by gibun:

Amazing to me how blood always followed the cross.

The placement of this statement in this thread bothered me. So I went to your profile to see how you see yourself. In your profile you say:

"I am me. Nobody else but me. He who doesn't like to be hurt so he tries not to hurt others. He who likes to be kind and giving and if you are not kind or giving, that's okay as you are you and that he does respect."

That leads me to wonder how it is that someone who tries not to hurt others, and respect others even if they are not kind or giving, could make the statement you did? So far in this thread, I have seen nothing to suggest a desire for bloodshed by anyone, let alone by those who follow the cross. Hence, I'm curious as to what compelled you to make such a statement?
10/02/2005 10:06:07 PM · #19
religion is a form of control
10/02/2005 10:29:29 PM · #20
Originally posted by shadow:

religion is a form of control

"And I Will Be Controled By No One" Right?
10/02/2005 10:29:42 PM · #21
RonB,

Sometimes a statement is exactly what it is.... a statement. Something to make people think, something to broaden our perspectives of how things are, or can be, perceived. A statement is not necessarily argumentative nor judgemental.

I have learned the hard way to live close to my Creator. My choice is not the form of religion or the following of dogma, it is to personalize my relationship with God. My statement is aimed at that exactly, beware of following man or a man, a religion or a religious institution. Be aware of the yin and yang in every aspect of life... the good and the evil and the fact that in the good there is evil and in the evil there is good.

10/02/2005 10:36:31 PM · #22
Originally posted by David Ey:

Originally posted by shadow:

religion is a form of control

"And I Will Be Controled By No One" Right?


hehe but dont you think its funny if... say... I manage to convince everyone to be do-gooders so i can take advantage of them? ;) *evil grin*

"its easier to control a group of lambs than a group of tigers"

:) just food for thoughts!

Message edited by author 2005-10-02 22:39:37.
10/02/2005 10:58:28 PM · #23
Or you can look at George Calin's take on it...
//www.objectivethought.com/atheism/carlin.html
10/02/2005 11:08:39 PM · #24
Originally posted by gibun:

RonB,

Sometimes a statement is exactly what it is.... a statement. Something to make people think, something to broaden our perspectives of how things are, or can be, perceived. A statement is not necessarily argumentative nor judgemental.

I have learned the hard way to live close to my Creator. My choice is not the form of religion or the following of dogma, it is to personalize my relationship with God. My statement is aimed at that exactly, beware of following man or a man, a religion or a religious institution.

Ahh. In this we are in agreement - with one minor exception. For I do choose to follow "a man", but that man is Christ.

Originally posted by gibun:

Be aware of the yin and yang in every aspect of life... the good and the evil and the fact that in the good there is evil and in the evil there is good.

Perhaps in this life, because we are only human, what you say has some basis in truth. But in the heavens, good and evil are as black and white, there is no blending.

Matthew 19:16-17 "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God"

And in God there is no evil. Likewise, in SATAN, there is no good.

Message edited by author 2005-10-02 23:14:32.
10/02/2005 11:12:07 PM · #25
Ok first not all people have the ability to go to school and get an education. Some have family issues, some have health issues, etc...
Yes there is public schools available to everyone, but some do not meet special needs, etc.... As far as some schools teaching more and having better stuff that is right. I know here in our state and county that there are several different schools with different ways. For instance say the school closest to us does not have the ability to handle children with handicaps, etc... Now say I do not have the money or ways to get my child to a special school-does that sound like they are all equal, does that sound like my child has the same oppertunity, or is it the parents fault that child can't get the same education?
As far as the poeple who believe most in god having higher social no no's, well this could be true in a sense but I'm not really sure. I think alot of people try to fix their sins by having abortions and so on, maybe this is partially where this comes from.
Personally I know alot of christians and few pegans and some non believers and I'd say they all about rate the same, though I do know more christians who do not practice what they preach than pegans.
Pages:  
Current Server Time: 06/20/2019 11:52:17 AM

Please log in or register to post to the forums.


Home - Challenges - Community - League - Photos - Cameras - Lenses - Learn - Prints! - Help - Terms of Use - Privacy - Top ^
DPChallenge, and website content and design, Copyright © 2001-2019 Challenging Technologies, LLC.
All digital photo copyrights belong to the photographers and may not be used without permission.
Proudly hosted by Sargasso Networks. Current Server Time: 06/20/2019 11:52:17 AM EDT.