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Religion (especially the type that rejects evolution) may be bad for your health

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Societies worse off “when they have God on their side”
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

September 27, 2005
The Times

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today…. [For rest of article, go here.]

By the way, Gregory Paul, the researcher in question, is a freelance dinosaur paleongologist. One wonders about his expertise in drawing the conclusion that religion is bad for your health. Could it be that he had his conclusion ready to go and massaged the data to fit it? Say it isn’t so.

A lot of comments.... but how about reading the study? http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html Go on, treat yourselves. 2perfection
Not much of a study. How many atheist cultures have survived and prospered for thousands of years? How many religious cultures? 'Nuff said. DaveScot
"The purposeless mechanism that is embraced would certainly cause more damage than the one that holds that life has meaning and the universe and life in it isn’t simply a cosmic accident. That would be an interesting study if done by an ACTUAL statistician, sociologist, or someone who was studied in the field itself." That would be interesting, I'm surprised it hasn't already been done. I know of a study that does show this, although it covers only youth. Of course there's many studies linking religious belief to good health and general well being, and last time I checked, people who are happy and content are far less likely to cause damage to society. jasonng
I can easily see how belief in unguided, purposeless process that ultimately means no meaning to life and no real value to life outside of flesh DNA factories for our selfish genes could cause the problems that the author of the study claims are due to religion. You would likely see the total opposite from religion- which is based on meaning in life, a higher purpose, true value to life in general...a goal other than selfish genes that control all of us to reproduce so they can replicate and make even more and more DNA. The purposeless mechanism that is embraced would certainly cause more damage than the one that holds that life has meaning and the universe and life in it isn't simply a cosmic accident. That would be an interesting study if done by an ACTUAL statistician, sociologist, or someone who was studied in the field itself. jboze3131
"I guess that setles it, then. Let’s all preach evolutionism in classes, and all the ills of the West will vanish." It's funny that evolution isn't founded on being nice to people and obeying the law, but rather a selfish battle for reproduction and survival. If this "study" is correct then we have an interesting paradox here, one that I have yet to see a Darwinist explain. jasonng
This is just brilliant. Now, if we don't teach evolution, we will become murderers. - “The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.” I guess that setles it, then. Let's all preach evolutionism in classes, and all the ills of the West will vanish. - "He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven". The question is: are people willing to hear/read about the evidence of a Designer ? Further more, once can always say: Most AMERICANS would become evolutionists only if theory of evolution would be scientifically proven. Mats
"As to abortion rates…Religion plays no part in it generally speaking. The majority are done for convenience only - not medical/health reasons as so many would like you to believe." One of the most common pro-choice arguments is cases where the mother was raped or there's a danger to the mother or fetus. I wonder why they never mention the actual data that they must have secretly hidden somewhere that no one knows about. Or maybe they also know that the vast majority of abortions are done for "convenience" reasons and... they'd rather we not know this. Compare that to this so-called "study" in which America is dubbed the "Christian nation", after which the author goes out and finds everything that's wrong with America and blames it on religion. It's interesting that he offers no comparison between religious and non-religious people in America. That would be a much better comparison as that would rid us of many influencing factors including cultural and historical differences between countries. Instead the author chooses to offer a fundamentally flawed study that's childish and, as with many such arguments, offers no real basis for the discerning reader to consider. jasonng
[...] Magic Statistics (highly recommended) Uncommon Descent [...] 4thelittleguy.com » Blog Archive » Even religion is bad for your health now
earthenvesselmz wrote: "It seems to me that people are much more likely to reject conclusions they don’t like out-of-hand than they are to fabricate data or misuse statistics. My preliminary estimate puts the difference on the order of 100 to 1." Comedy gold! Watchman
A comment from Telic Thoughts dug up this link and this quote from the study. As you can see, they admit there was no causal relationship demonstrated, yet "cause" is the 4th word in the UK article. Amazing journalism! "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." http://magicstatistics.blogspot.com/2005/09/from-our-bulging-how-not-to-do.html Lurker
it seems we have a number of hard facts that refute half of what the "study" in this comment section alone. i have a feeling this guy has a history of being very anti-religion, anti-christian. not sure what other reason hed have. jboze3131
As to abortion rates...Religion plays no part in it generally speaking. The majority are done for convenience only - not medical/health reasons as so many would like you to believe. Reasons for Having an Abortion (only 6-7% are performed for medical/health reasons): 25.5% of women deciding to have an abortion want to postpone childbearing. 21.3% of women cannot afford a baby. 14.1% of women have a relationship issue or their partner does not want a child. 12.2% of women are too young (their parents or others object to the pregnancy.) 10.8% of women feel a child will disrupt their education or career. 7.9% of women want no (more) children. 3.3% of women have an abortion due to a risk to fetal health. 2.8% of women have an abortion due to a risk to maternal health. Global Study: http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/2411798.html Lurker
Abortion rates http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5212a1.htm Houston, we have a problem... The first step in solving any problem is admitting you have one. America hasn't yet admitted this one in public discourse. It's politically incorrect. Liberals have made it almost impossible for rational people to discuss the plain facts and ways to solve the problem so the problem just persists and festers. DaveScot
The author seems to like comparing us to the U.K. Funny he fails to mention that the comparatively tiny U.K. wouldn't exist today if not for violent gun-loving America coming to its defense twice in the last century. Is America violent? You bet. Even subtracting the half of violent crime attributable to a small racial minority we're still a reactionary militaristic nation. That's what got us from a collection of 13 tiny British colonies to the only superpower in the world today. We didn't attain that position by being a bunch weak-kneed pacifists. Duh. DaveScot
Scroll down to the bottom of the following link to discover (if you didn't already know) that black men killing black men is what's largely responsible for the high U.S. murder rate. This is the worst kept secret in America. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/hmrt.htm DaveScot
Utter nonsense. The United States is the most religious of large developed nations and is the shining city on the hill with the highest overall living standards, greatest degree of personal freedom, and is the sole economic and military superpower on the planet. Morever, small Scandanavian countries and Japan are ethnically pure in comparison to multicultural America and don't have to deal with the friction created between diverse cultures all living together under the same laws. In particular, and even more inflammatory, is that countries where the Protestant Reformation was a prevailing force, those countries as a group and the United States in particular, have the highest living standards in the world today. Make no mistake about it, societies where Protestant Christians are in the majority is the single most healthy thing you can possibly have. DaveScot
I have a long post on this, examining his "facts" here (my trackback mechanism isn't working). jeffburton
"Right, but isn’t Scotland where they have that big conflict between protestants and catholics?" Not that Scotland doesn't have/has had civil unrest along Catholic/Protestant divides, but I think that's Ireland you're thinking of. Anyhow, in order for this study to not be ridiculous, it would need to show either that religious people are more likely to be criminals (and good luck with that, especially since actual rigorous studies contradict it), or at least show how they cause other people to become criminals. That the US happens to be religious, and also happens to have high crime, is hardly proof of anything. On top of that, I think it's worth pointing out that the parts of the US with the most religious are also the parts with the least crime. Is that coincidence? Deuce
[...] A new “study” by Gregory Paul has been brought to our attention by Bill Dembski . As you can see from Dembski’s blog, the “study” is being given significant media attention. [...] Telic Thoughts » A New “Study”
Perhaps he is refining his data to demonstrate that it is especially evangelical, protestant Christianity that shows this close relationship to evil...in fact the presence of the bible and the teaching of Christ are the real causes! arowell
Paul's argument has no strength, whatsoever. Not only does he not provide any details as to why "religion" contributes to social ills, but he doesn't even provide a definition of the word! And to think he's getting attention like this from the media! David crandaddy
the author of the "study" says that no prosperous nation outside of the US has high crime rates. scotland isnt in the united states and it has very high crime rates from whats been reported in the past few days. that refutes his claim there. as for numbers. how does dembskis work make bogus use of statistics? as the sociology professor in the article mentions- this guy is using the data incorrectly. the author then admits that religion might not the reason behind the stats he lists. religion might not have anything to do with it he admits! i havent seen the report with the numbers, so i cant take the data and refute it. as mentioned, the sociologist who was quoted in the interview related to this study said the guy was fudging the numbers and using them to make a point they cant possibly be used to make. ill trust the sociologist over the skeptic freelance paleontologist personally! the more religious a nation is the higher murder rates? thats not even reasonable. common sense tells us that a religious nation isnt going to have any effect on murder rates or std rates, suicide rates, or abortion rates! those nations who aremost religious and oppose abortion in the greatest numbers will see the highest abortion rates? common sense tells us that religion doesnt come into play with this subject, let alone allow us to say that religion causes more abortions! the author also shows his agenda when he constantly brings up evolution. he says that the nation that rejects evolution in the largest numbers (the US) is the nation with the highest rates of murder, abortion, etc. (the US doesnt even have the highest murder rate of industrialized nations as he seems to think!) so, now he claims that the denial of mud to man evolution is the cause of murder, abortion, suicide, etc? nonsense, and anyone with any common sense calls it just that. see, theres no need to see the data set he used to know that hes using stats that dont connect to the issues involved. you can claim anything you want in this manner. in regards to dembskis stats, thats a totally different story. im not aware of any cases where hes trying to connect stats to issues that are totally unrelated. so that aspect doesnt even make sense when we think about it. the nation with a very high murder rate...lets say colombia. well, that nation is also the nation with the most colombians. therefore, i proclaim that being a colombian leads to the highest rates of murder. thats precisely what this guy did. he took two sets of data that have no relation whatsoever and tried to make them fit together. jboze3131
jboze3131 wrote: "... scotland has the highest murder rate of any nation…last i checked scotland wasn’t in the US, right?!" Right, but isn't Scotland where they have that big conflict between protestants and catholics? http://www.redflag.org.uk/frontline/four/04sectar.html And one might want to include the Middle East where they kill you for blasphemy. I have no idea if that data means anything or not... at least not yet. But for me, it does seem with in the realm of possibility (I am an atheist/agnostic and I've never robbed or killed anyone and hope I never have to). I don't think what the study is trying to do can even be done, there aren't enough countries and nations to get a reasonable, meaningful sample considering all the other factors involved. How well does the state take care of the poor? Are there deep conflicts inspiring murder particular to that country? Factors probably more important than religion. I think some possible counter examples for the US not mentioned in the article would be Russia and China -- how are they doing? Norman Doering
It's interesting that you make such a critique of statistics, jboze, when Dr. Dembski's arguments all rely on them for their entire basis. Just because statistics *can* be misused doesn't mean that they *were*. I notice, for example, that you don't actually give any critique of the data used, and you don't actually tell us where any of your data come from. I wonder, Dr. Dembski, if the people who post here have actually read your academic papers... (speaking of which, I have been reading and re-reading the paper you referred me to, and I can't find the 500 bit threshold anywhere. Is it in a different paper?) It seems to me that people are much more likely to reject conclusions they don't like out-of-hand than they are to fabricate data or misuse statistics. My preliminary estimate puts the difference on the order of 100 to 1. (this figure is based on the estimate that for every statistical report released, there are probably at least 100 people that reject its conclusions with no factual basis for doing so. Assuming that statisticians are not worse people than everyone else, we end up with a 1 to 100 ratio) earthenvesselmz
Religion damages society? Take 2 Following links from a related TECHNORATI search, I found Uncommon Descent, which noted that Mr. Paul is a palaeontologist and pointed me at this transcript: RareKate Writes
too bad you can make numbers and stats fit ANY preconceived idea you have. worthless article. studies have shown that religious people live longer lives and have lower risks for various diseases and health problems, especially those that are stress-related. religious people report having an overall better mood than the public at large...they also report that they have less stress and less depression, suffer less from anxiety and other mental health issues. as mentioned- there's no denying the fact that materialistic ideologies of the 20th century caused the deaths of more than all of the rest of history combined. btw, what on earth does this mean? "The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high" they just reported the other day that scotland has the highest murder rate of any nation...last i checked scotland wasn't in the US, right?! have i been fooled all these years to think scotland was part of the UK? what is a "high" murder rate? are we to believe that murders don't happen in any significant numbers in any "prosperous democracy" besides the US? that's classic! we'll write off all the murders in other nations as not really murders? maybe they were illusions. sort of like the "illusion of design" in the world! jboze3131
Yes, nevermind the unspeakable evil and gross imorality done in the 20th century alone under the banner of Nietzsche-esque materialism (outweighing the evil committed under the banner of "religion" in all prior centuries of recorded history)... ...let's just talk about how bad that there religion shtuff is. Bombadill
What an assinine article. Dan
A notably one dimensional article. Is this what people read papers for? Jon Jackson

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