Monday, October 03, 2005

The Value of Religion

There have been a lot of stories in the last few years about the secular value of religion, ranging from the supposed health benefits of prayer to assertions that religion is a necessary condition of a moral society. Occassionally, even a confused atheist chimes in with nonsense about the hollow negativity of secularism and the importance of "rational mysticism." So it is nice to see some research out which completely undermines these claims. The Times of London summarizes the findings of an article in the Journal of Religion and Society:
    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.

    “The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

    ...The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional.

    “The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”
The full version of the paper also contains a nice quote from Tom Delay I'd forgotten about:
    The current House majority leader T. DeLay contends that high crime rates and tragedies like the Columbine assault will continue as long as schools teach children “that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup of mud
This guy was actually the Speaker of the House? It is so embarassing to be an American.

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