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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Of Religion and Social Dysfunction

Thanks to one Jason Stackhouse (who I have met but don't know well; I found his blog via agent 139) for linking to an interesting study examining the relationship between belief in God and a society's well-being. It's presented well, and cites its research, but neither the author nor the publication is familiar to me. Given the huge bullshit-to-actual-content ratio on the internet, I'm skeptical of authoritative-looking papers from unknown sources. That said, it's an interesting read.

The aim is to critically examine the once-obvious assumption that belief in God is beneficial to society as a whole. To do so, the study compares the United States to other Western democracies, including Australia, Sweden, France, Germany and Japan, graphing indicators of social dysfunction (such as abortion, rate of STD infection, youth suicides, and teen pregnancy) against indicators of religiosity (attending church services regularly, absolute belief in God, Bliblical literalism). And its findings are somewhat surprising. Not only is there an inverse relationship between social dysfunction and secularism, but look at the graphs at the end of the paper (click the links to see the different data). That "U", representing the United States, is always flung way outside the cluster of countries down near the corner of the graph. America is anomalous in that it "is the only prosperous first world nation to retain rates of religiosity otherwise limited to the second and third worlds" (¶13).

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