Religion and Morality: Seeking a correlation

Reply Sat 22 Oct, 2005 04:35 pm
A study by Gregory S. Paul, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, maintains that there is a definite correlation between religion and morality; but the correlation is the opposite of what we might suppose. Ranking 18 prosperous democracies according to their religious fervency, he then correlated religious observance with various indicators of social health, such as homicide rate, teen pregnacny, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. The U. S., which was identified as by far the most "religiously fervent", also ranked number one in most social problems, with the numbers for other nations falling into line. Interestingly, the numbers for social ills in the "red" states, which are also statistically the more religiously fervent states, were also worse than the blue, supposedly less moral, states.

The author cautions that correlation is not causation, and that perhaps high levels of social dysfunction fuel religiousity, rather than the other way around. He also stressed that this study is the first of its kind.

Summary adapted from The Week Magazine, which was based on an article by Rosa Brooks in the LA Times. The original article can be found at:

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Reply Sat 22 Oct, 2005 08:34 pm
I'm just bookmarking for now -- this looks very interesting and I hope to have time to read the article in the morning.

At the recommendation of another A2Ker I just picked up a copy of the book "Harmfull To Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex" which seems to deal with similar issues.

Additonally, I've recently read a few articles pointing to a fear of science as the driving force behind the "new morality".

I look forward to this discussion. Thank you.
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Reply Sat 22 Oct, 2005 09:16 pm
What would you expect when preachers are more concerned with their own ambitions than with the spiritual needs of the flock?
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Reply Sat 22 Oct, 2005 10:08 pm
It's the religious who are quick to ask atheists, "If there's no God, then why not rape, murder and such?" It sounds silly even as I type it, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen that question asked. I always used to respond: "That you have to ask says more about you than any atheist."
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Reply Mon 24 Oct, 2005 10:52 pm
..possible causation....

Is it possible Sunday's confession lowers the threshold of Saturday's behaviour?
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Reply Thu 3 Nov, 2005 05:56 pm
That has always been a pet theory of mine, Eorl.

I am certain too that for at least some people, the idea that the universe is ultimately just (rather than merely random) and that a great father in the sky will straighten out all of our misdeeds makes it easier to misbehave. Its a cry for attention to an absent or inattentive parental figure, and what's the harm if the "real" world lies beyond our own?
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Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2005 02:29 am

Add to all that the self-justification that a creator made you the way you are.....and you start to wonder why the churches aren't pumping out MORE axe-murderers. Twisted Evil

I guess the need for a functional society wins eventually !!!
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Wolf ODonnell
Reply Fri 4 Nov, 2005 07:57 am
At first, I was confused when I read this study. The avatar of the dog with the rocket strapped to its back made me think you were Ican. This topic isn't something he would post about.

Then I realised, that it wasn't him.

Firstly, I can say that statistics can get quite misleading. Yes, one could be the cause of the other, or their negative correlation could just be a coincidence.

Still, it is interesting to see this.
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Reply Sun 6 Nov, 2005 06:47 pm
I agree Wolf....

There is also a proven negative correlation between education and religion ....and a matching correlation between education and the crimes mentioned.

So education alone could be the one factor that effects both.
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