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Mbee's Avatar Comment 1 by Mbee

I think that people generally want an easy life. If it helps them get through life by thinking there is a god that is watching and helping guide their lives then they can sit back and relax and know that 'something' is looking out for them. Plus everyone else around them seems to believe it, so it must be true. Unfortunately a typical non thinking average persons attitude - all they want is to get through life day by day. Most people don't want to think about god and just follow blindly!

On a slightly related subject I saw an old Martha Stewart program today where they were making gravestones for Halloween.
One of the stones read "Here lies an atheist - all dressed up and no place to go".
At first I was annoyed to see this, then I thought about it - It is actually accurate. The problem with the religious who think this is funny is that they don't realize it is true for all of us - they just don't know it! (Assuming you are not cremated of course)

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 12:49:00 UTC | #391088

andersemil's Avatar Comment 2 by andersemil

It says a lot about the roots of religion and the history of atheism as well, I think. In ancient societies, life was very insecure, fear of getting ill from unknown diseases, eaten by predators etc would seem to necessitate prayers to higher beings for comfort and security, since at that point we had no knowledge of how nature works. So as science, technology and healthcare progresses, the need for religion recedes.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 13:54:00 UTC | #391110

suffolkthinker's Avatar Comment 3 by suffolkthinker

I must say I was very disappointed when I listened to this podcsat in my car earlier today.

The study uses "Income Inequality" as a surrogate for "personal security" which is far from clear is a reasonable thing to do. There is a theory with a lot of currency in left leaning social scientists that "income inequality" is itself a "bad thing" more so than abssolute poverty. Indeed there is research to show it correlates to all sorts of things but it is a a far from a proven hypothesis. And it certainly is not proven the degree of "existential personal security" felt by people in a society correlates to "income inequality".

For a measure of religosity it uses "how many times do you pray in a day" figures, which seems like a pretty good surrogate as it does measure a (reported) behaviour rather than a totally subjective question like "how religious are you", but again will be biased by religious cultures - e.g. an Muslim is compelled to prey a number of times a day so is likely to give that as a stock answer and bias the result even if what he/she is doing is kneeling down and thinking of the cricket.

Also in the show they used Ireland and Finland as 2 countries that are similar in most metrics except income inequlaity and surprise, surprise Ireland has a great income inequality and also prays more. I was shouting at Laurie Taylor to ask about the influence of the Catholic Church in irish society but the question went unasked.

Mildly interesting research at best but still a lot, lot more to be done.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 14:47:00 UTC | #391125

bnightm's Avatar Comment 4 by bnightm

I wanted to comment on this, but happen to find myself in complete agreement with what suffolkthinker has already written.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 15:10:00 UTC | #391130

notsobad's Avatar Comment 5 by notsobad

Also in the show they used Ireland and Finland as 2 countries that are similar in most metrics except income inequlaity and surprise, surprise Ireland has a great income inequality and also prays more.

In this case I'd say that both higher religiosity and income inequality have been caused by more or less the same thing.
Why are so many scientists confused about causality?

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 15:36:00 UTC | #391138

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 6 by Adrian Bartholomew

5. Comment #408885 by notsobad on August 24, 2009 at 4:36 pm
Why are so many scientists confused about causality?
Eh? They talked about causality and mentioned the possibility of an extra effect causing both.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 16:09:00 UTC | #391147

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 7 by Ivan The Not So Bad

Here is the actual research paper:


http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2009/2009-17.html


As they said, a lot more to be done but still well worth the read.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 16:39:00 UTC | #391157

Duarf Dog's Avatar Comment 8 by Duarf Dog

RE: 408856, "fear of getting ill from unknown diseases, eaten by predators etc would seem to necessitate prayers to higher beings for comfort and security" . Or maybe it was the wealthy, who made offerings to the gods, that created religion for fear of losing it all.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 18:39:00 UTC | #391205

The author's Avatar Comment 9 by The author

The study does not use "personal insecurity" and "income inequality" interchangably. Instead, it shows that income inequality is one important factor that leads to personal insecurity which leads to religion (all in the sense of a strong correlation). Nothing is wrong with the study. The findings fit well to findings of Gregory S. Paul:
http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP07398441_c.pdf

So stop making stuff up just because you don't like the results.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 19:23:00 UTC | #391225

canatheist's Avatar Comment 10 by canatheist

Correlation does not necessarily mean causation! However, there is some validity in the correlation of socioeconomic status and one's relative religiousness (or lack there of). I don't think we needed a study to tell us that.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 19:54:00 UTC | #391234

notsobad's Avatar Comment 11 by notsobad

Adrian Bartholomew,

I was responding to suffolkthinker's post, which I cited.
Many scientists, even though usually of the 'soft science' variety, seem to confuse causality. But also a lot of 'journalists' confuse causality and interpret scientific findings with bias instead of just reporting facts.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 19:58:00 UTC | #391237

mmurray's Avatar Comment 12 by mmurray

One of the stones read "Here lies an atheist - all dressed up and no place to go".


At the risk of being pedantic being an atheist does not rule out belief in an afterlife of some form. Particularly something like reincarnation.

Michael

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 21:20:00 UTC | #391257

Moq's Avatar Comment 13 by Moq

From the article:

This analysis shows that, across a broad multinational panel, those countries with shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher violent crime, more corruption, higher abortion rates, and less peace also tend to have higher average levels of personal religiosity, as measured by the frequency of prayer. Furthermore, these indicators of personal insecurity also correlate with income inequality, allowing inequality to serve as a widely available proxy for personal insecurity as it pertains to religiosity. Using this proxy, personal insecurity is shown to be at least as important in the determination of national average religiosity as the factors that are conventionally considered important, such as wealth, urbanization, and governmental regulation of religion (and indeed personal insecurity appears to be the most important determinant).

[...]

In conclusion, the current analysis ties together and explains two apparent paradoxes. First, the observation that modernization, in terms of average material wealth, appears linked to secularization in some countries but not others. The key to this paradox is that it is not simply average wealth, but also the distribution of wealth and the degree to which wealth is used to improve average personal security, which in large part determines religiosity. Second, the observation that religion, although generally believed to have a pro-socializing effect on the individual level, is associated on the macro level with societal ill health. This is most likely because personal religiosity is in part a response to adverse social environments, but that aggregate religiosity does not significantly ameliorate them.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 22:40:00 UTC | #391278

Mbee's Avatar Comment 14 by Mbee

Re 12. Comment #409012 by mmurray

Yes agreed that it does not rule out the afterlife. I just found it funny in that the religious were taking a dig at the atheists (no pun intended) while the comment can be seen equally well as a jab at the religious belief that they think that they do have somewhere to go.

Mon, 24 Aug 2009 22:51:00 UTC | #391286

sara g's Avatar Comment 15 by sara g

It seems likely that the causality is circular. In societies with great inequality, the poor take comfort that religion will improve their lot and the wealthy use religion to ameliorate guilt. Very religious societies make it easy for those at the top to control those at the bottom. This situation is made worse by outside forces that benefit from inequality, for instance the church itself being among the powerful who want to stay in control.

Tue, 25 Aug 2009 02:56:00 UTC | #391347

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 16 by Roland_F

The strong negative correlation between education and religiosity was not mentioned. There were already some articles about this here on RD.NET. This also goes in the same direction low education – high religiosity, high crime rate, high insecurity and high income inequalities.
What was mentioned from the authors : that there is no long enough history of these studies is not valid, as the entire Christianity movement were starting up as some “opium for the masses” for the slaves and dispossessed peasants. Under Constantine it became preferred religion of the Roman Empire as a good tool to keep the dispossessed at bay (lulled down) to give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar (eg. paying Taxes) and bear their low life in the hope for a better afterlife.

In Hinduism the religion and the hope for a better afterlife is also keeping the dispossessed masses calm. Poverty is the fault of the previous life, but being a devout Hindu increases your Karma and chances for a better and higher level of rebirth as a richer person.

So in short as other already mentioned here: (1) keeping down the poor masses and promise eternal bliss in heaven and (2) allow the rich people including the clergy to enjoy their life here and now with clear consciousness with their wealth as a sign that god likes them.

Tue, 25 Aug 2009 04:16:00 UTC | #391353

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 17 by Nunbeliever

I'm a bit disappointed that the host did not follow up the fact that in countries with great economical inequality even the wealthy are more religious. In my opinion this requires some further explaining. Interesting study though, but a quite narrow pespective I'm afraid...

Tue, 25 Aug 2009 10:07:00 UTC | #391403

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 18 by Bernard Hurley

I'm a bit disappointed that the host did not follow up the fact that in countries with great economical inequality even the wealthy are more religious. In my opinion this requires some further explaining. Interesting study though, but a quite narrow pespective I'm afraid...


It seems to me that in a country with great economic inequality the rich might have reason to fear that the poor might rise up and take their riches away from them. Also there is more reason to fear loosing a relatively well paid job in a country with inadequate social security than to fear loosing a less well paid job in a country with adequate social security.

As has been pointed out the phenomenon is probably cyclic. However if it is really the case that religious people on the whole care less about social injustice that the non-religious this would seem to indicate that the religious are less moral than the non-religious.

Tue, 25 Aug 2009 13:44:00 UTC | #391445

Ania's Avatar Comment 19 by Ania

I'm quoting here, but someone once said "religion is a tool to keep the poor from murdering the rich"

Wed, 26 Aug 2009 04:26:00 UTC | #391695

sara g's Avatar Comment 20 by sara g

I can think of a couple reasons the wealthy would also be religious. God makes it OK to have a lot when others are struggling. God may have chosen his special favorites to have the good life and be punishing the poor. Or there are rewards for the pious poor in the afterlife, so there is no need to worry about their current suffering. More cynically, the wealthy may make a show of being religious because they know it keeps them in power.

Wed, 26 Aug 2009 20:13:00 UTC | #391889

andersemil's Avatar Comment 21 by andersemil

18. Comment #409206 by Bernard Hurley

I agree with you fully. It may seem a bit far-fetched, but I watched the Michael Moore "documentary" Bowling for Columbine, in which he aot compared Canada against the US, and made a point of US citizens being generally more scared and thus feeling a need to arm themselves to their teeth, even the rich people. In my personal oppinion, the US, grocely generalized, is a country with great personal insecurity and this could explain the tendencies toward extremism.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 07:21:00 UTC | #392000