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The good that comes from belief - Comments

Mango's Avatar Comment 1 by Mango

Some may see religion as a tired old superstition, but it does produce our most ethical and caring young adults — believe it or not.

And also our most inhumane, sadistic, murderous young adults.

And I'd like to know how "ethics" and "caring" were measured. If they'd have asked, "Do you think most people alive today will burn forever in Hell?" how well do you think the religious would have done?

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:09:00 UTC | #82643

rev's Avatar Comment 2 by rev

are you for real ?

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:10:00 UTC | #82644

Andrew Brown's Avatar Comment 3 by Andrew Brown

I would love to see the actual research. Anyone smell conformation bias at all?

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:13:00 UTC | #82645

rev's Avatar Comment 4 by rev

Not you mango,Singleton.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:14:00 UTC | #82647

Mango's Avatar Comment 5 by Mango

Gracias for the clarification, 'migo.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:23:00 UTC | #82651

John Done's Avatar Comment 6 by John Done

I'm trying to think of who it was who said "To say that a religious man is happier than a nonbeliever proves nothing more than stating that a drunk man is happier than a sober one". Saying that religion makes people happy answers next to nothing about whether or not it's true, or wise, or safe.

I'm sick of this insinuation in the media that religious moderates have it right. Maybe they need to be reminded of why we bring up fundamentalists at all.

I also have a concern for this indifference that's gripping the youth of the developed world; it mostly has to do with a combination of the spread of technology making things easier (and making people lazier), a disillusionment with contemporary religious and political ideas, and the influence of relativist and postmodern ideas of what truth is. I do see the need for something more active and positive for people to have greater meaning in their lives. However, a turn to old religion and reviving passionate spiritualism hardly seems to be the answer.

Perhaps we do need to support a positive belief. A secular form of spirituality that embraces true non-speculative science and doesn't include any metaphysical bullshit would certainly hook us all of the mystics (if you're into that sort of thing). But there are already a number of secular communities and organizations advocating science and reason to enhance human happiness and understanding; it seems almost everyone in the media chooses to ignore these groups to make this heretical trend seem like a movement of angry teenagers.

Regardless of who's happier than who or who's scaring off potential converts, this kind of "well, atheists have problems too" shit isn't helping. We'll figure out what's *real* first, and then we'll decide what to do with ourselves.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:33:00 UTC | #82654

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 7 by Diacanu

The good that comes from belief

Argghh!! I'm so SICK of this argument!!

Santa belief makes children behave better, so why not keep it into adulthood?



Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:39:00 UTC | #82657

Smythe's Avatar Comment 8 by Smythe

On a measure of the extent to which a person holds positive human values — favouring an ethical life, justice for all and having an orientation to the common good — we also found the religiously active to be streets ahead.

Could the crux of his argument be a little more vague? I must have missed the meeting where terms like 'ethical life' and 'orientation to the common good' were universally defined. Mr. Singleton was evidently at this meeting since he has apparently measured these variables precisely across different test groups. Otherwise, he would just be fallaciously representing his own opinion as scientific truth, and nobody leading the Ethical Life of an Active Christian would do that, would they?

I can offer some clarification though. A 'street' is equal to exactly 2.4x more ethical, hope that helps.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:54:00 UTC | #82666

Pieter's Avatar Comment 9 by Pieter

Corollary effects of religion are simply one facet of the argument, and plenty of evidence can be dredged up by all sides to support any position. Still, it all simply has no bearing on the far more important question- are religions true?

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 16:59:00 UTC | #82668

JamesDB's Avatar Comment 10 by JamesDB

Hasn't this argument been dismissed time and time again. Why don't these columnists ever read any other articles related before sending it out.
They need to stop being so lazy and read a little, then they would realize there is no point in printing articles saying what dozens of people said before them.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:00:00 UTC | #82671

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 11 by Diacanu


They need to stop being so lazy and read a little, then they would realize there is no point in printing articles saying what dozens of people said before them.

Because then they wouldn't be able to go "look mommy and daddy!! My name is print! I AM somebody!! The guidance counselor was wrong!! Love me!! Love mee-hee-hee-heee!!!!".

If they had to come up with an original thought, it would be months later, or possibly never.

Can't have that.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:03:00 UTC | #82673

BAEOZ's Avatar Comment 12 by BAEOZ

To sum up the good points above:
1. How biased is the research? I mean, if you ask christians should they love their neighbor or does their church group support charities you've already assumed the answer. It's gonna be "Yes, my imaginary friend and his institution are wonderful." The measurement variables in these research efforts are dodgy and only designed to get the answer the researcher is looking for. It's not science.
2. Even if the research is correct, that christian youths are more oriented toward doing some kind of "good" that doesn't prove anything. Giving junkies free smack and needles makes them feel better too. That must be some kind of good.
3. None of the above 2 arguments affect the question of whether there is or isn't a god.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:11:00 UTC | #82676

Ben Jennings's Avatar Comment 13 by Ben Jennings

Christian definition of volunteer work: laboring in one's spare time in order to increase one's chances of going to heaven.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:16:00 UTC | #82681

Dr Benway's Avatar Comment 14 by Dr Benway

Non-believers do disorganized charity, which is more difficult to measure than the organized group charity of churches. I'll use my husband as an example: regular NPR doner, volunteer track coach, volunteering at local races, supporting the Leukemia Society, informal tutoring, helping friends move, visiting sick friends in the hospital, and so on.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:24:00 UTC | #82684

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 15 by Bonzai

Religious charities are often a vehicle for recruitment. This has to be factored in and adjusted for before any conclusion can be drawn.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:31:00 UTC | #82686

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 16 by Diacanu

Sorry if my rant in post 11 was a little too caustic, but the decline in journalism really chaps me.

I want to be a writer, and magazines may be my way in, but if standards are decaying so badly, what am I to make of my own writing?

Competing against fevered egos who don't give the slightest shit about quality is just so disheartening.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:32:00 UTC | #82687

ProfessorGasCan's Avatar Comment 17 by ProfessorGasCan

*kicks desk*

Talk about trying to discredit atheists as good citizens. I'd like to know more about their "evidence" they spoke of.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:35:00 UTC | #82688

notsobad's Avatar Comment 18 by notsobad

I'd like to see the actual research.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:42:00 UTC | #82690

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 19 by Diacanu

That does it.
I can't take it anymore.

My anger at crap hackery can't fester inside my head anymore, I have to DO something about it.

Coulter, D'Souza, Behe, Limbaugh, etc, etc, they're all awful, and they don't give a shit.
It's all about ego and money, and I can't stand it anymore.

I've got to make a career to have the momentum to swing to fight this crap.

I've got to get writing.
I've put it off too long.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:45:00 UTC | #82692

A. Person's Avatar Comment 20 by A. Person

Deep down, most people don't care about the "truth value" of claims.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:54:00 UTC | #82694

atheist_peace's Avatar Comment 21 by atheist_peace

"Active Christians, for example, do much more hours of volunteer work per month than secular youth."

I assume most of this "volunteer" work is at church.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 18:18:00 UTC | #82700

black wolf's Avatar Comment 22 by black wolf

I found this on the study:

surprise surprise
catholic university
study which they've made a book out of which is coincidentally for sale for only 40-50AU$

my pdf plugin is damaged, so please someone look into the study linked above and comment on their methods / questionnaire.
good night

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 18:53:00 UTC | #82701

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 23 by Cook@Tahiti

20. Comment #86618 by A. Person on November 9, 2007 at 5:54 pm

>Deep down, most people don't care about the "truth value" of claims.

Even if it's correct, it's a pretty misanthropic view - to paraphrase, it's saying humans can't handle truth - they need a layer of fantasy, a security blanket, in order to keep going.

However, the enormous variation in religiosity between countries suggests that there is strong cultural component (it's not all "human nature"). There's also a strong correlation between science literacy and irreligiosity, so I would counter that people CAN handle the truth if conditions are right (education, standard of living, economic security, etc).

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 19:00:00 UTC | #82702

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 24 by Diacanu

Even if it's correct, it's a pretty misanthropic view - to paraphrase, it's saying humans can't handle truth - they need a layer of fantasy, a security blanket, in order to keep going.

And it's exactly the belief that religionists and religion exploiters use to justify their shit shoveling.

That's why I steer clear of it.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 19:09:00 UTC | #82703

ChrisMcL's Avatar Comment 25 by ChrisMcL


Fri, 09 Nov 2007 19:18:00 UTC | #82706

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 26 by Diacanu


Fri, 09 Nov 2007 19:19:00 UTC | #82707

BAEOZ's Avatar Comment 27 by BAEOZ

It's interesting that the majority of people contacted, refused to do the survey when they understood the subject matter (63%). That alone suggests a sample bias. The results can't be generalized to the population.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 19:27:00 UTC | #82708

PeterK's Avatar Comment 28 by PeterK

Fickin boolshieze

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 19:34:00 UTC | #82709

BAEOZ's Avatar Comment 29 by BAEOZ

Your true nature is Supreme Bliss

Does that come in caramel flavour?
I think caramel is the most blissful flavour. Thus, supreme bliss would have to be caramel flavoured. QED.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 20:18:00 UTC | #82718

notsobad's Avatar Comment 30 by notsobad

I've been reading the qualitative analysis of interviews and is good for a laugh but also has some good information. It's biased though. For example, "most of our informants were secondary students, and nearly all of these were attending church-affiliated schools." The whole narrative part calls good behaviour Christian or religious values and if someone has religious background, it surely had a positive effect ("Growing up religious does make a difference").

It has some comedy value:
Q:What do you believe about God and Jesus?
A:God created the world, and for some reason God created man, and man did something that God told him not to and that had a huge effect on everything, and then God sent his son, Jesus, to fix it.
Q:Do you think the miracle stories are true?
A:I would assume so, I have no reason to suspect that they are not.

Some 17 yo Catholic
Q:So what do you believe about God?
A:God, he did a lot for us. Like, I mean, the fact that he'd die for us.
Q:And what do you believe happens after death?
A:Heaven, hell, purgatory … I think that like we all go to purgatory … I reckon you stay there until you've paid off your sins, you've repented for what you've done. I'm big on the purgatory thing.

And this is how the numbers of theists are inflated:
(another person)
Q:So do you think of yourself as a Christian or do you think of yourself as a...?
A:Well, I don't really know what a Christian is. I don't see the difference between Christian and Catholic, so I just say I'm a Catholic because I've been brought up in a Catholic family.

The conclusion of this study is contrary to this propaganda piece from Singleton:
"In our study religiosity did not appear to be strongly linked with a particular civic orientation." And 5 out of 7 "strong" humanists and only 6 out of 23 traditional theists were rated as having High civic orientation.
"Having a strong and clearly defined value system that has as its base, social concern and responsibility towards others, seems to be a factor in determining who is likely to be heavily involved in civic participation."

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 20:34:00 UTC | #82720