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04 May 2011

Religiosity and Racism

In the "No shit, Sherlock!" category, I present this paper to you.  The Chronic Dependence Of Popular Religiosity Upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions by Gregory Paul, Evolutionary Psychology, 7(3): 398-441 (2009).  Which seems to be a follow-up to an article that I have regularly referred to when showing how detrimental religion is to society.

Abstract: Better understanding the nature, origin and popularity of varying levels of popular religion versus secularism, and their impact upon socioeconomic conditions and vice versa, requires a cross national comparison of the competing factors in populations where opinions are freely chosen. Utilizing 25 indicators, the uniquely extensive Successful Societies Scale reveals that population diversity and immigration correlate weakly with 1st world socioeconomic conditions, and high levels of income disparity, popular religiosity as measured by differing levels of belief and activity, and rejection of evolutionary science correlate strongly negatively with improving conditions. The historically unprecedented socioeconomic security that results from low levels of progressive government policies appear to suppress popular religiosity and creationist opinion, conservative religious ideology apparently contributes to societal dysfunction, and religious prosociality and charity are less effective at improving societal conditions than are secular government programs. The antagonistic relationship between better socioeconomic conditions and intense popular faith may prevent the existence of nations that combine the two factors. The nonuniversality of strong religious devotion, and the ease with which large populations abandon serious theism when conditions are sufficiently benign, refute hypotheses that religious belief and practice are the normal, deeply set human mental state, whether they are superficial or natural in nature. Instead popular religion is usually a superficial and flexible psychological mechanism for coping with the high levels of stress and anxiety produced by sufficiently dysfunctional social and especially economic environments. Popular nontheism is a similarly casual response to superior conditions.
You really need to click on the link to the PDF and read it.  Just trust me on this!  This excellent article in the NYT is what led me to it.

Why do Americans still dislike atheists?
By Gregory Pauland Phil Zuckerman, Published: April 29

Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists. Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can’t join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently “spiritual” in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, nonbelievers are one minority still commonly denied in practical terms the right to assume office despite the constitutional ban on religious tests.

Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently — and uncivilly — declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens.

Continues @
Certainly does not paint a rosy picture for those who insist that religion is some sort of force for good.  If anything, the data seems to indicate the exact opposite.  Now there is a large argument to make about correlation and causation.  However, with the US being the only outlier in the data, things are hard to line up if you want to remain in the area of countries that are considered first world.  Although, I think if you open up the bin, and compare nations that do not rank so high in economic and technological advancement, it would still look very bad for religiosity and societal well being.

Another telling bit of data would be the breakdown of how each state within the United States ranks.  Again, if you look at the more secular states, and they are much better off than the more religious states.  Not only by crime statistics, but by the "seven deadly sins" aggregates!  Kansas State University has created this amazing map of sin by plotting per-capita statistics on things like violent crime (wrath) , STDs (lust) and gluttony (fast food joints).

In other words,not only are religious people deluded, they are dangerous hypocrites.  But like I said, "No shit, Sherlock!"

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