RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.
The study is by social scientist named Gregory Paul, who obviously has a chip on his shoulder that keeps him from understanding Christianity:
“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."Personally, I know of no Christians that believe that. America does stand for freedom and democracy, but Christians see it for what it is spiritually -- full of worldly sin.
The entire study, which appears in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, is breathlessly reported in the London Times' Times Online, from which the three paragraphs at the top came.
As is typical of MSM, the London Times charges into the study, pulls the most sensational quotes, and ties them up in a neon "LOOK AT ME!" ribbon. It fails to report little items like this, which appears at the top of Paul's study:
This study is a first, brief look at an important subject that has been almost entirely neglected by social scientists. ... This is not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health.
Even as a first study, Paul's work is sophomoric, contrived and biased. The study makes Paul's contempt for Christians evident. He spends several paragraphs at the outset belittling those who believe in creation, and working to establish that Christians have little need for, or foundation in, science.
His bias clearly established, Paul launches into correlations. America is Christian and it has more murders. Europe isn't Christian and it has fewer murders. The flaws are enormous:
First, calling America Christian and Europe secular is a stretch. America started with a quest for religious freedom, and for 300 years has been moving away from that ideal. Europe started as rock-solid Christian and for 125 years has been moving away from it.
This leads to the second flaw in the study: the myriad societal differences beyond, as C.S. Lewis might put it, mere Christianity
. The US remains predominantly a laissez faire democracy while Europe is a highly regulated social democracy. The effect of this on, say, murders, is obvious: strict gun controls in Europe, limited gun control in the US. Similarly, socialized medicine in Europe may have more to do with lower STD rates there than secularism does.
Heck, small, densely packed lifestyles and less car ownership may have more to do with lower promescuity in Europe than faith. Here in the US, there's always a sofa downstairs, a bedroom upstairs, or a back seat on a dark street -- things often hard to find in Europe.
That last one was semi-faceteous, but it drives home the point: There are so many differences between Europe and America that you have to perform reductions on the data to pinpoint the effect of any one factor. Paul does not do that in this study, and says as much at the top. Here's how Clayton Cramer
One of the great hazards when doing correlation analysis is to assume that correlation indicates causality. If you find that A is present, and so is B, it is tempting to assume that A causes B. But it could also be that B causes A--or perhaps there is some underlying causal factor C that causes both A and B. It could even be a coincidence that A and B are both present. There are methods for showing that the correlation of A and B is not likely to be coincidence, but there is still the problem that you may have not considered all the possible factors that may explain why both A and B are present.
Finally, Paul does not look into sub-populations. He is so eager to attack Christianity that he didn't partake the obvious study: European vs. US Christians and European vs. US secularists.
The study is sure to get lots of play in the secular MSM, but honest Leftybloggers are more forthcoming than these reporters. Here, for example is a bit of what Politboro Dictat posted in what is an excellent rebuttal of Paul's work:
First of all, let me be clear. I am an atheist. If you press me with “Okay, what happened before the Big Bang?” I will confess that I don’t know and therefore cannot deny the possibility of God. Maybe that makes me an agnostic. But I’m as secular as one can be. Now read this prejudiced, narrow-minded, intolerant, anti-religious pseudo-science ...
All this proves two things: Social science is not a science. And biased MSM will continue to treat it as science.h/t Memeorandum