2005/10/27

Worldview versus religion.

An interesting story came out in The Journal of Religion and Society: "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies."

The author, Gregory S. Paul, posits the following in his introduction:
  • "That radically differing worldviews can have measurable impact upon societal conditions is plausible according to a number of mainstream researchers (Bainbridge; Barro; Barro and McCleary; Beeghley; Groeneman and Tobin; Huntington; Inglehart and Baker; Putman; Stark and Bainbridge).
  • Agreement with the hypothesis that belief in a creator is beneficial to societies is largely based on assumption, anecdotal accounts, and on studies of limited scope and quality restricted to one population (Benson .; Hummer .; Idler and Kasl; Stark and Bainbridge).
  • The twentieth century acted, for the first time in human history, as a vast Darwinian global societal experiment in which a wide variety of dramatically differing social-religious-political-economic systems competed with one another, with varying degrees of success. A quantitative cross-national analysis is feasible because a large body of survey and census data on rates of religiosity, secularization, and societal indicators has become available in the prosperous developed democracies including the United States."

The conclusions highlight the following points:
  • The United States' deep social problems are all the more disturbing because the nation enjoys exceptional per capita wealth among the major western nations (Barro and McCleary; Kasman; PEW; UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004).
  • Spending on health care is much higher as a portion of the GDP and per capita, by a factor of a third to two or more, than in any other developed democracy (UN Development Programme, 2000, 2004). The U.S. is therefore the least efficient western nation in terms of converting wealth into cultural and physical health. Understanding the reasons for this failure is urgent, and doing so requires considering the degree to which cause versus effect is responsible for the observed correlations between social conditions and religiosity versus secularism.
  • Pressing questions include the reasons, whether theistic or non-theistic, that the exceptionally wealthy U.S. is so inefficient that it is experiencing a much higher degree of societal distress than are less religious, less wealthy prosperous democracies.
  • Conversely, how do the latter achieve superior societal health while having little in the way of the religious values or institutions?
  • There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms (Aral and Holmes; Beeghley, Doyle, 2002).

Gregory S. Paul then concludes:
"It is the responsibility of the research community to address controversial issues and provide the information that the citizens of democracies need to chart their future courses."
  • the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical "cultures of life" that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards.
  • The non-religious, pro-evolution 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.
  • Contradicting these conclusions requires demonstrating a positive link between theism and societal conditions in the first world with a similarly large body of data - a doubtful possibility in view of the observable trends.

I just discovered the following post If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong that illustrates the topic of this post. The comments are most interesting too.


Keywords: , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment