#0018 RRS Newsletter for June 21, 2007

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My appologies for no post yesterday, a friend was in from out of town unexpectedly. This edition promises to be pretty interesting, though, a bit long. Be sure to check out the latest from the main HQ. Sapient inquires for help from you, the members, to decide on their next big project.

Thanks for reading,
Jack,
and the RRS MI team

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Here is our youtube channel, view it before we're banned for rocking the boat!

Challenge to married Christian couples to abstain from murdering millions of potential humans.

Here is our burqa challenge video, referenced in the video below.

Question for muslim woman who wears burqa:

Why the double standard?

What should the next big Rational Response Squad project be?

Talk about this topic on our message board instead.

Sapient would admit his mother to a mental hospital if...

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The first RRS MI meeting

The first meeting for the Rational Response Squad Michigan chapter, a 4th of July BBQ party!

Hosted By: Jack Wynne
When: Wednesday Jul 04, 2007
at 2:00 PM
Where: Jacks house
321 Central
Inkster, MI 48141
United States
Description:
This will be an informal event, a chance for us to meet an discuss what we want to see out of this chapter. This will be a BYOB event, but I will be cooking the main courses, including baby back ribs, various grillable fish, chicken, some game, burgers, and hot dogs. If anyone feels so inclined to bring a side dish to add to the spread, I will not object! Space to crash for those who may need it will be available, so I hope to see all of you locals here! You schmucks in Canada and Ohio too!

Click Here To View Event

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Studies you should know about

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 19, 2007 7:36 AM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Invisible Pink Unicorn
Date: Jun 18, 2007 4:04 PM

From: Damned Goods
From:
ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE

Special thanks to Baltazar for format.

(1) Faith & Intelligence

Intelligence & Religion

Religiousness, Spirituality, and IQ: Are They Linked?

Plus: Scientists & Belief

Leading scientists still reject God

Scientists' Belief in God Varies Starkly by Discipline

(2) Faith & Violence

Does biblical violence cause aggressive readers?

When God sanctions killing, the people listen

(3) Faith & Morality

Divorce: Born Again Christians Just As Likely to Divorce As Are Non-Christians

Prison: The results of the Christians vs atheists
in prison investigation.

Secular Nations:

The following is taken from Sam Harris' An Atheist Manifesto (a).

Countries like Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on Earth. According to the United Nations' Human Development Report (2005) (b) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest in terms of human development are unwaveringly religious. Other analyses paint the same picture: The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious literalism and opposition to evolutionary theory; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, STD infection and infant mortality (c). The same comparison holds true within the United States itself : Southern and Midwestern states, characterized by the highest levels of religious superstition and hostility to evolutionary theory, are especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction, while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform to European norms (d). Countries with high levels of atheism also are the most charitable in terms of giving foreign aid to the developing world (e). The dubious link between Christian literalism and Christian values is also belied by other indices of charity (f). Consider the ratio in salaries between top-tier CEOs and their average employee: in Britain it is 24 to 1; France 15 to 1; Sweden 13 to 1; in the United States, where 83% of the population believes that Jesus literally rose from the dead, it is 475 to 1(g).

(a) An Atheist Manifesto

(b) Human Development Report 2005

(c) Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiously and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies

(d) Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

(e) US and Foreign Aid Assistance

(f) Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

(g) Europe vs. America

(4) Faith (Prayer) & Healing

Prayer does not heal the sick, study finds

INQUIRER
Director, ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE

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Evolutionary Biology

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Human evolution
Date: Jun 20, 2007 9:02 PM

click here for link

Leading Biologist Douglas Futuyma's newest Evolutionary Biology book "Evolution" is one of the best bio evo books available for undergraduates, click the link above to preview the first few pages of his highly colored and illustrated 600 page book.




"I just ordered this last night "NEW" for 55$ so ignore the 100$ price tags that you see next to this book, with a little

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I don't have a "New Age Nutbag" category, so I posted this here.

Freak Vidcast 8: Vortex "Healing"

Freak Vidcast 8: Vortex "Healing"

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Ray & Kirk feel they were treated unfairly in debate w/ RRS

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From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 19, 2007 8:45 AM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Aberrant Iconoclast
Date: Jun 18, 2007 8:06 PM

Much Love to ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE

CLICK HERE!

"While most have understood why we did this debate, there have been a number of Christian arm-chair quarterbacks who are publicly saying that we miserably failed--calling it "the way of the disaster," and saying that we went into the debate totally unprepared. There have also been accusations from Christians and atheists saying that I didn't keep my word. For those of you that have read what our critics are saying, I would like to address these issues." - Ray Comfort

"What are you doing? You're insulting my intellect. And so I am."
- Ray Comfort

We are The A-Team and we're sorry The Way of the Masters' arguments just weren't were any good.

The Truthdig debate between Sam Harris and Chris Hedges

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 19, 2007 10:56 AM

Jussi K. Niemelä

The Truthdig debate between Sam Harris and Chris Hedges

Click HERE for audio & video!

Questions your Pastor will Hate

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From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 19, 2007 1:07 PM

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From: Kristinas World
Date: Jun 18, 2007 9:15 PM

Questions Your Pastor Will Hate

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Who Let the Apes Out? (creationist crap -yes, he's serious)

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Reverend AtheiStar
Date: Jun 20, 2007 4:56 PM

Thanks to: Ex nihil

http://wholettheapesout.com/mainline.php Evolution: A Science Breakdown

Not only is evolution not supported by science
But science actually disproves evolution every day

How?
This book will show you how!

Relying on evolutionists to tell you why evolution doesn't work is like relying on a used car salesman to tell you why the car he wants to sell you doesn't work. How ridiculous is that?

Don't rely on anyone. Read the facts. Decide for yourself. You wouldn't trust an evolutionist to make a $10,000 cash deposit for you, would you? Why would you have such trust in him here?

Reading this book requires no trust in anyone. It presents well-known facts that disprove evolution in more ways than one. See it for yourself, don't be duped by agenda-driven pseudo scientists.

Darwinian evolution does not even begin to address the issue of how organisms transformed from one species into another. Not one biologist, geneticist or biophysicist has ever explained how evolution transformed one species into another on the genetic level.

Fossil records actually show that evolution never happened. The field of paleontology, the "strongest" pillar of evolution, is ripe with deliberate and unwitting misinterpretations. The business of making evolutionary deductions based on paleontological records is more of an art than a science.

Evolution may very well be the most sophisticated hoax ever perpetrated on the human race.

Find out why the theory of evolution doesn't work. Find out the absurdities that the public is being fed as science. Don't be fooled by this totally baseless theory; it's literally making a monkey out of you. Read this book today and get a whole new perspective on the subject. You'll wonder why this insane theory wasn't discarded years ago.

Download - Only $4.95 - Click Here
All major credit cards and checks accepted

We are PayPal "Verified"

For Softcover Click Here

Copyright 1993, 1986
Originally published as a soft-cover book entitled "Human Intelligence Gone Ape" (98 pgs.)
Research done largely in 1983 for an earlier version entitled "A Thin Line Between Theory And Fantasy"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Evolution Theory. Is it science? Absolutely not! Find out why. Theory of Evolution. Is this theory science? Not in the least. Darwin's Evolution. Fact? Fiction? Find out why it doesn't work! theory of evolutionary darwin natural selection creation vs evolution evolutionary theory darwin evolution darwin theory evolution of man

Pat Robertson at His Most Noble

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 20, 2007 8:17 PM

Sharon Condemned to Death by Robertson

Pat Robertson Being Himself

Pat Robertson Calls for an Assassination

Robertson and Falwell Blame 9/11 on Homosexuals, Feminists and Liberals

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New York Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Bill

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 20, 2007 7:58 AM

The A-Team HRC

New York Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Bill Heads to State Senate; Would Provide Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples Under New York Law

WASHINGTON - Today, the New York State Assembly voted 85 to 61 to pass AB 8590, a bill that would provide same-sex couples with the equal right to marry under state law. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

"We congratulate the New York Assembly for passing this important, fair-minded bill, and we also congratulate Empire State Pride Agenda and Marriage Equality NY for their hard work.," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese." We also thank Governor Spitzer for his leadership -- this bill got its start when the Governor followed through on his unequivocal promise to fight for marriage equality."

Solmonese continued, "As I have been pleased to observe on more than one occasion recently, there is a steadily building wave of support for equality in more and more states, and we hope New York will add to that momentum by recognizing that all loving and committed couples deserve full equality under the law. This is about basic fairness for same-sex couples and their families."

Already this year, legislatures in several states have taken a stand for equality for same-sex couples and their families. Last week, the Massachusetts legislature rejected, by a 151-45 vote, a discriminatory proposed constitutional amendment that would have rolled back marriage equality in the Bay State. Earlier this month, California's Assembly passed a marriage equality bill; that bill is pending in the state Senate. Earlier this year, civil union legislation was signed into law in New Hampshire, while domestic partnership bills were signed into law in Oregon and Washington.

Last year, New York's high court ruled against marriage equality in a 4-2 decision. The majority opinion in Hernandez v. Robles concluded that whether same-sex marriages deserve equal recognition "is a question to be addressed by the Legislature." The court's Chief Judge predicted in dissent that "future generations will look back on today's decision as an unfortunate misstep."

If the New York marriage equality bill is signed into law, New York would join Massachusetts as the second state to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples under state law. Ten states, plus Washington, D.C., now have laws providing at least some form of state-level relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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Faith Forum Imposes Religious Test for Public Office

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The Secret Delusion
Date: Jun 20, 2007 12:06 PM

Much thanks to:
Susan B.
No Indoctrination
TPO

This news is a little dated but I'm posting it here just in case any of you missed it.  Click here to listen to Indepth analysis of the CNN-TV presidential "forum on faith" and you will discover the reason behind this action alert. 

Here is the letter I wrote CNN in response to this action alert:

This email is in reference to the Presidential faith forum your network held recently.  

In an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists Thomas Jefferson wrote, "[I believe] that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship…" 

What part of these sentiments does your network not get?  Are your program directors ignorant of the secular foundation of this country and the founders' insistence on Church State Separation?

I am very concerned about the suggestion by CNN that there is a religious test for public office.  This type of programming is something I would expect from the 700 Club, not the secular media.  The awkward and prying nature of much of the questioning, and the lack of nonChristian and nonreligious representation from the questioners reeks of a sectarian influence in your network.

I'm beginning to wonder if CNN actually stands for the Christian News Network.  Is there no limit to how low you are willing to go to woo religious-right viewers from FOX News?

If you would like to share your response, please feel free to visit my blog and post your letter or a link to your letter in the comment section.

Thanks,
TPO


CNN Crosses the Line

Faith Forum Imposes Religious Test for Public Office

June 8, 2007

CNN TV's "The Situation Room" on Monday, June 4, 2007, was billed as a presidential forum on "faith and values," and was jointly sponsored with a Protestant evangelical. Although Soledad O'Brien of CNN moderated, a pool of exclusively Christian clergy and leaders were present to also ask questions. Drafted for this baptism by public piety were the top-tier Democratic presidential hopefuls: former Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.

Among questions candidates were asked: what do you pray for, and what is your "biggest sin." The constitutional prohibition of a religious test for public office is meaningless in a climate of religious tribalism. Now even the secular media appear to expect candidates to genuflect before religious leaders, parrot piety, pledge allegiance to religion, preach to the choir and sing from the same hymnbook in order to be considered electable. When did "faith" become a qualification, much less a prerequisite, for public office? We don't need FOX TV when we've got CNN trying to outfox FOX. It looks like we don't even need a religious-right lobby--when we have the media taking over the religious agenda.

News coverage of the forum, FFRF's analysis and other background links can be found at the end of this alert.

Please Contact CNN!

Express your concern about the imposition by media of a religious test for public office, the alliance of secular media with a religious group, the embarrassing and intrusive nature of much of the questioning, and the lack of nonChristian and nonreligious representation from assembled questioners. Such pandering degrades the political discourse. If candidates are going to be asked about personal religious beliefs, then they should also be asked pointedly about their position on the separation of church and state, and whether they would attempt to impose their religious dogma upon our secular laws.

The Situation Room
CNN Washington Bureau
820 First St. NE
Washington DC 20012
Phone 202-898-7900

"Instant Feedback to The Situation Room"
http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5.html

Jonathan Klein, President
CNN
One Time Warner Center
New York NY 10019
212-275-7800

More Background:

Statement by the Freedom From Religion Foundation

"The Democrats' Leap of Faith," by Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, June 6, 2007

MediaMattersforAmercia additional background

Edwards, Clinton and Obama Describe Journeys of Faith, by Patrick Healy and Michael Luo, New York Times, June 4, 2007

For maximum effectiveness, please respond as an individual, not as a member of FFRF. Short, succinct letters or e-mails, concentrating on one or two mail points, are most effective. FFRF is pleased to see your responses and replies, although we may not have time to acknowledge them. Again for maximum effectiveness, please use a "blind copy" only to FFRF. Copy: ; FFRF, Inc., Attn: Annie Laurie Gaylor, PO Box 750, Madison WI 53701.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.


Click here to listen to Indepth analysis of the CNN-TV presidential "forum on faith"


June 9, 2007 - Michelle Goldberg interview
Guest Michelle Goldberg, lively Salon.com journalist and author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, returns for an encoure interview to talk about the new creation museum and the status of the religious right assault against secularism in America today. The show includes a clip of Bill O'Reilly attacking "secular progressives," and an indepth analysis of the CNN-TV presidential "forum on faith and values" (June 4), and the broader implications of a de facto religious test for public office being imposed by media. (MP3, 46 min, 21.3 MB)

STEM CELLS: RELIGION VS. HEALTH

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 20, 2007 7:20 PM

Bush Vetos Stem Cell bill: Video

TPO

Bush Vetos Stem Cell bill: Video By: John Amato

Digg It!!!

bush-vetos-stemcells.jpg 

Bush gave a speech about his veto of the bill for Stem Cell research bill. He had a cute photo-op staged to show the world that cures can come from other stem cell lines which is correct. The problem is that the most promising lines needed for funding are not getting the money they need and he’s turned his back on millions of Americans today.

video_wmv | Play (517) video_wmv | Play (327)

He falsely asked for Congress to stop politicizing Stem Cell research, but that’s what he did today and took a ridiculous moral position. This is why we need separation of Church and  State. Religion cannot dictate Science. Here’s the role call of the vote…Update: Fact Check Bush on Stem Cell via The Democratic Caucus’s Senate Journal. 68 percent support funding, in the latest ABC/Post poll to measure views on the issue, in April.

Hillary Clinton: “This is just one example of how the President puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families, just one more example of how out of touch with reality he and his party have become. And it’s just one more example as to why we’re going to send them packing in January 2009, and return progressive leadership to the White House.”

Nancy Pelosi: “Once again, the President has ignored the will of the American people, of leading medical researchers, and of a bipartisan majority of the Congress. His cruel veto says ‘no’ to the hopes of million of families across America. 

John Edwards: “President Bush had a simple choice today: direct the full force of American scientific ingenuity towards responsible, life-saving medical research or pander to a narrow segment of his political base.

Barack Obama: By vetoing funding for stem cell research once again, the President is deferring the hopes of millions of Americans who do not have the time to keep waiting for the cure that may save or extend their lives.

MJ Fox pleads for Stem Cell research: Give Hope a Chance

MJ Fox pleads for Stem Cell research: Give Hope a chance By: John Amato

Digg It!!!

mjfox.jpg

Here’s a brief clip of Michael J. Fox talking to Cooper about Stem Cell research.

video_wmv | Play (789) video_wmv) | Play (510)

Fox: I have just one message and it’s bi-partisan—and it’s non-partisan, and it’s just about hope. It’s just about giving hope a chance.

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This is a six part series that I will be posting in three installments, enjoy!

Atheist Answers to Religious Questions 1

Atheist Answers to Religious Questions 1

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Atheist Answers to Religious Questions 2

Atheist Answers to Religious Questions 2

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It doesn't take religion to raise a kid with good values

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 19, 2007 7:37 AM

It doesn't take religion to raise a kid with good values

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Invisible Pink Unicorn
Date: Jun 18, 2007 4:08 PM

From: Seeing Within
ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
TPO
Dan

Kids don't need religion to be good, writer says

It doesn't take religion to raise a kid with good values, says Minnesota writer, editor and teacher Dale McGowan in his new anthology.

Last update: June 15, 2007 – 3:37 PM

Why can't I hit that nasty kid? He hit me!

Where did we come from?

Is Grandpa in heaven?

Ah, the big questions. For religious parents, the answers can include references to the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount.

What about secular parents?

Dale McGowan, a writer and former professor at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, is editor of a new anthology of essays that aims to help parents show kids how to find meaning and behave well without using supernatural explanations. McGowan, 44, a father of three who lives in Robbinsdale, believes that teaching secular children to be compassionate, critical thinkers is not only possible, but more honest.

"Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion" gathers wisdom, tips and quips from prominent atheists, agnostics and secular humanists. The book's theme is captured in one sentence from contributor Penn Jillette (of the duo Penn & Teller): "Tell your kids the truth as you see it and let the marketplace of ideas work as they grow up."

Q What are this book's most important messages for parents?

A One: Never fear a question. The whole idea of free thought is that you sit down before a fact like a little child, then follow it wherever it leads. My own kids have gone to a Lutheran preschool. I'm happy to have them exposed to religious ideas; the only ones I won't tolerate are hell and the assertion that doubt is bad. I say, let the child ponder ideas and run with them.

Two: Avoid saying that something is the way it is "because I said so." Take the time to give a reason in discussions about truth or morality.

Three: The failure of empathy is responsible for a tremendous amount of destruction in the world. It's dangerous to divide ourselves from others and demonize them.

Four: One of the ways to ease the pain of death so people don't have to run for religious comfort is to accept and acknowledge its reality.

Q What's the biggest challenge in raising your own children this way?

A Trying to raise children to think for themselves is hard in a culture that often devalues that. This culture often sees unthinking faith as an automatic good and hatred of faith as the only alternative. I have so many people say to me after book discussions that they didn't think secular humanists could be so friendly. Once people get past assumptions, they see we're just people, too.

Q Religious people sometimes say you can't have values without religion. What do you say?

A I have never known a parent who had the least trouble explaining why something was right or wrong without turning to religion. Some might say you can't do that without the Ten Commandments, but then I'll hear them say to their child, "Don't hit her! How would you like that if she did that to you?" When it comes to explaining to kids why they should be good, reason works best.

Q What is your faith background?

A I grew up in a nominally religious home. My dad died when I was 13 and he was 45. I was consumed not just with the need for consolation but with a real hunger to know where he was. I began reading the Bible, talking to ministers, going to church with Mormon, Baptist, Presbyterian and evangelical friends. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that religion was a human construct we use to explain the things we don't understand and to help us feel better.

Q What has been the response to the book?

A It's been very well received. It's a relief that it's not being viewed as just another entry in the culture wars. Something about planting this particular flag on the mountain of family values is getting people's attention. Even some Christian readers say they found a lot of the essays useful.

Q Are you surprised at the sudden popularity of atheist and agnostic books?

A Not really. When President Bush was first elected, I was at an Atheist Alliance convention and everyone was moaning. I said, "Listen, this is a good thing, this will open up the conversation about religion in a way it hasn't been before."

Q Atheist curmudgeons Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens lump religious zealots and moderates together. Do you?

A I agree with them that we shouldn't have to say please and thank you to religious people simply because they're religious, but I don't go as far as they do. The good things that come from religious observance are quite visible, but the ways in which it harms our discourse and our social fabric is frequently hidden under a surface of smiling piety that makes those problems difficult to address. Once you have overt harm that everyone sees -- like religious people flying planes into buildings, for crying out loud -- then the conversation bursts open and you're going to hear that annoyed tone.

Pamela Miller • 612-673-4290 • pmiller@startribune.com

The A-Team and we approve this message.

Religious Belief and Societal Health...

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 19, 2007 2:55 PM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Science of Religion
Date: Jun 18, 2007 10:47 PM

Skeptic Magazine
Vol 12 Issue 3, Featured Article
http://www.skeptic.com/the_magazine/featured_articles/v12n03_are_religious_societies_healthier.html

Religious Belief & Societal Health

New Study Reveals that Religion Does Not Lead to a Healthier Society

by Matthew Provonsha

It is commonly held that religion makes people more just, compassionate, and moral, but a new study suggests that the data belie that assumption. In fact, at first glance it would seem, religion has the opposite effect. The extensive study, “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religi-osity and Secularism in the Prosperous Demo-cracies,” published in the Journal of Religion and Society (http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html) examines statistics from eighteen of the most developed democratic nations. It reveals clear correlations between various indicators of social strife and religiosity, showing that whether religion causes social strife or not, it certainly does not prevent it.

The author of the study, Gregory S. Paul, writes that it is a “first, brief look at an important subject that has been almost entirely neglected by social scientists … not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health.” However, the study does show a direct correlation between religiosity and dysfunctionality, which if nothing else, disproves the widespread belief that religiosity is beneficial, that secularism is detrimental, and that widespread acceptance of evolution is harmful.

Paul begins by explaining how far his findings diverge from common assumptions. He even quotes Benjamin Franklin and Dostoevsky to show how old these common-misconceptions are. Dostoevsky wrote, “if God does not exist, then everything is permissible.” Benjamin Franklin noted, “religion will be a powerful regulator of our actions, give us peace and tranquility within our minds, and render us benevolent, useful and beneficial to others.”

To this day, the belief that religiosity is socially beneficial is widespread in America, especially amongst politicians, as Paul notes: “The current [at that time] House majority leader T. DeLay contends that high crime rates and tragedies like the Columbine assault will continue as long schools teach children ‘that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup of mud.’” But this view is not exclusively Republican, Paul explains, or even conservative: “presidential candidate Al Gore supported teaching both creationism and evolution, his running mate Joe Lieberman asserted that belief in a creator is instrumental to ‘secure the moral future of our nation, and raise the quality of life for all our people,’ and presidential candidate John Kerry emphasized his religious values in the latter part of his campaign.” Surveys show that many Americans agree “their church-going nation is an exceptional, God blessed, ‘shining city on the hill’ that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly skeptical world. ”This assumption flies in the face of the actual statistical evidence that Paul examined.

The study focuses on the prosperous democracies, because “levels of religious and nonreligious belief and practice, and indicators of societal health and dysfunction, have been most extensively and reliably surveyed” in them. Also, “The cultural and economic similarity of the developed democracies minimizes the variability of factors outside those being examined.” With a database of 800 million people, this study is far more reliable than results based on smaller sample sizes used in other such studies. The data are also current and extensive, collected in the middle and latter half of the 1990s and early 2000s from the International Social Survey Programme, the UN Development Programme, the World Health Organization, Gallup, and other well-documented sources.

For this study’s purpose, “dysfunctionality” is defined by such indicators of poor societal health as homicide, suicide, low life expectancy, STD infection, abortion, early pregnancy, and high childhood mortality (under five-years old). Religiosity is measured by biblical literalism, frequency of prayer and service attendance, as well as absolute belief in a creator in terms of ardency, conservatism, and activities.

Paul’s results are presented in nine charts. The first compares acceptance of evolution with various indicators of religiosity. From this Paul concludes that, “The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator and acceptance of evolution, plus the lack of a significant religious revival in any developed democracy where evolution is popular, cast doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science. Such an amalgamation may not be practical.” He adds: “When deciding between supernatural and natural causes is a matter of opinion large numbers are likely to opt for the latter,” and that, “Conversely, evolution will probably not enjoy strong majority support in the U.S. until religiosity declines markedly.”

All of the subsequent results that compare religiosity against dysfunctionality show a basic correlation between the two, though anomalies exist. Paul’s second figure (Figures 1 and 2 here) shows a positive correlation between religiosity and homicide rates.



The United States is a strong exception, experiencing far higher rates of homicide than even (strongly theistic) Portugal, while Portugal itself is beset by much more homicide than the secular developed democracies. Hardly a “shining city on a hill” to the rest of the world, Paul writes that, “The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly.” This deviates immensely from what most Americans consider to be common wisdom: that religion is beneficial. “But in the other developed democracies religiosity continues to decline precipitously and avowed atheists often win high office, even as clergies warn about adverse societal consequences if a revival of creator belief does not occur.”



Despite the best efforts of “pro-life” Americans, abortion rates are much higher in our Christian nation, and lowest in relatively secular ones such as Japan, France, and the Scandinavian countries (Figures 3 and 4). In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 5 and 6). This would seem to indicate that there is a positive correlation between religiosity and dysfunctionality, but what does that mean?




The question is one of causation, and there is no clear answer. Whether religion leads directly to dysfunctionality, or religions merely flourish in dysfunctional societies, neither conclusion from this study flatters religion. The first tells us that religion is a hindrance to the development of moral character, and the second that religion hinders progress by distracting us from our troubles (with imaginary solutions to real problems). This study is complicated enough that I do not think that we can draw definitive negative conclusions about religion. But we can at least conclude, contrary to popular belief in this country, that it is not a given that religious societies are better, healthier, or more moral. What we can be clear about from this study is that highly religious societies can be dysfunctional, whereas by comparison secular societies in which evolution is largely accepted display real social cohesion and societal well-being. As is always the case in science, more data and additional research will help clarify our conclusions.

The A-Team and we approve this message.

Richard Dawkins reads the new preface to The God Delusion

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Rational Response Squad - Tennessee
Date: Jun 20, 2007 6:03 AM

From: LeftofLarry (ANTI-THEOCON)
Date: Jun 20, 2007 4:51 AM

From: Jussi K. Niemelä
Date: Jun 20, 2007 7:47 AM

Richard Dawkins reads the new preface to The God Delusion (paperback)

FOX and CBS Say Yes to Sex, No to Condoms

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 20, 2007 9:11 AM

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Planned Parenthood
Date: Jun 19, 2007 1:19 PM

The New York Times reported this week that FOX and CBS are refusing to air a condom commercial. The reasons? FOX believes that ads for condoms should not focus on pregnancy prevention. In a letter, FOX writes, "Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy." Meanwhile, CBS defended its rejection of the ad, stating that it "did not find it appropriate" for the network. Call me crazy, but in my mind condoms are used for two reasons that are equally important: to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and to prevent unintended pregnancy. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that preventing unintended pregnancy IS a major public health issue.

Tell FOX and CBS executives to stop the hypocrisy and air ads that protect public health. Take action here:

http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/condom_ad

In 2005, 70 percent of all television shows and 77 percent of prime-time shows contained sexual content. FOX and CBS shows are no exception. From Temptation Island and The O.C. (a show that broadcasts an average of 6.7 sex scenes an hour) on FOX and Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on CBS, both of these networks have been making millions on sex. It's the height of hypocrisy that FOX and CBS routinely broadcast erectile dysfunction ads and sex-saturated, prime-time programming, but refused these condom ads.

Preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are top public health priorities. Television networks that pride themselves on public service should take every opportunity to educate the public about safer sex. By rejecting the ad, FOX and CBS have made the wrong move for public health. As major networks, FOX and CBS have an obligation to promote responsible decision making and commonsense public health solutions, including using condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Tell FOX and CBS executives to stop the hypocrisy and air ads that protect public health. Take action here:

http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/condom_ad

We need as much support as we can get -- please repost this bulletin!

Christian Condoms

The A-Team and we approve this message.

Evolution is not a lie from Satan (my video response)

from The Secret Delusion

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The Secret Delusion
Date: Jun 20, 2007 12:00 PM

From: Brian the Dilettante

Many of you may have seen the video that was posted yesterday, entitled:

Proof evolution is an evil lie from satan (the devil)

For those of you who missed it, here it is again...

A great many people on Youtube seemed to think that this video was pure genius. For this reason, I decided to put my two cents in with a video response.

Note: Please forgive the congestion in my voice. My allergies have been horrible today. It seems that my "intelligently designed" immune system mistakes something as benign as pollen as a hazardous substance!)

-------------------------------------------

www.fundamentallyflawed.com

Students May Soon See Video Explaining Atheism

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 20, 2007 7:57 PM

Barbara

Posted on OhioAtheistsDiscussion@yahoogroups.com

[OhioAtheistsDiscussion] Students May Soon See Video Explaining Atheism
Friends,

Public high schools around the country will soon receive video presentations about atheism to show students .

The videos, produced and distributed by a group in Colorado, are intended to show students that atheists and other non-believers aren't as strange as they might think.

Students May Soon See Video Explaining Atheism

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So you're an Atheist? Robot Chicken

So you're an Atheist?

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Jesus gets freaky!....lol

Jesus gets freaky!....lol

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Fish Squirrel, South Park

Fish Squirrel

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CALLING ALL CHRISTIANS

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Ω
Date: Jun 20, 2007 1:46 PM

Yeah... Don't torch my house fuckos.

Don't be aroused
By my confession
Unless you don't give a good goddamn about redemption
I know
Christ is coming
Well so am I
And you would too if the sexy devil caught your eye
She'll suck you dry
And still you'll cry
To be back in the bosom
To do it again
She'll make you weep
And moan and cry
To be back in the bosom
To do it again
Pray! - Shall I go blind?
Pray! - 'Cause nobody ever survives
Praying to stay in your arms just until I can die a little bit longer
Saviors and saints
Devils and demons alike
She'll eat you alive
Jesus is risen
It's no surprise
Even he would
Martyr his momma to ride to Hell between those thighs
The pressure is building
At the base of my spine
If I gotta sin to see her again then I'm gonna lie and lie and lie
She'll make you cry
I'll sell my soul to be back in your bosom
Gladly, now please suck me dry
And still you'll cry
To be back in the bosom
Do it again
Pray! - Shall I go blind?
Pray! - 'Cause nobody ever survives
Praying to stay in her arms just until I can die a little bit longer
Saviors and saints
Devils and demons alike
She'll eat you alive
My pulse has been rising
My temples are burning
The pressure is so overwhelming and building
So steady and heavy
I'm ready to blow
What is she - What is she - What is she waiting for?
Pray! - Pray 'till I go blind
Pray! - Sometimes nobody ever survives
Praying to stay in her arms just until I die a little longer
Saviors and saints
Devils and demons alike
She'll eat you alive

The darkness of godlessness lets wisdom shine.