Religion and Societal Dysfunction

Dys­func­tion­al soci­et­ies and those under extreme stress rely on reli­gion as a cop­ing mech­an­ism; it is “a nat­ur­al inven­tion of human minds in response to a defect­ive hab­it­at”.

This is one con­clu­sion from Gregory Paul who has released the find­ings from his research on the incid­ence of reli­gious belief and how it affects the over­all ‘health’ of a soci­ety.

[Paul’s] earli­er, 2005, research […] showed strong pos­it­ive cor­rel­a­tions between nations’ reli­gious belief and levels of murder, teen­age preg­nancy, drug abuse and oth­er indic­at­ors of dys­func­tion. It seemed to show, at the very least, that being reli­gious does not neces­sar­ily make for a bet­ter soci­ety. […]

In this latest research Paul meas­ures “pop­u­lar reli­gi­os­ity” for developed nations, and then com­pares it against the “suc­cess­ful soci­et­ies scale” (SSS) which includes such things such as hom­icides, the pro­por­tion of people incar­cer­ated, infant mor­tal­ity, sexu­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, teen­age births and abor­tions, cor­rup­tion, income inequal­ity, and many oth­ers. In oth­er words it is a way of sum­ming up a soci­ety’s health.

The res­ults?

The 1st world nations with the highest levels of belief in God, and the greatest reli­gious observ­ance are also the ones with all the signs of soci­et­al dys­func­tion. These cor­rel­a­tions are truly stun­ning. They are not “barely sig­ni­fic­ant” or mar­gin­al in any way. Many, such as those between pop­u­lar reli­gi­os­ity and teen­age abor­tions and STDs have cor­rel­a­tion coef­fi­cients over 0.9 and the over­all cor­rel­a­tion with the SSS is 0.7 with the US included and 0.5 without. These are power­ful rela­tion­ships.

As always.

Gregory Paul and Phil Zuck­er­man wrote the essay Why the Gods are Not Win­ning for Edge.