Holes In Kelly's Main Page Argument "Atheism Correlated With Societal Health"

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Holes In Kelly's Main Page Argument "Atheism Correlated With Societal Health"

Next time you cite statistics on the number of atheists in a country, take them from an unbiased source, not an atheist website! The source uses numbers that are painfully inflated in a glaringly obvious way. Here is the list you presented:

1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
Totally the reverse of what is true. Where did they pull these numbers from? Here are some numbers from the CIA factbook "
Lutheran 87%, other (includes Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) 13%" atheists were not stated explicitly but I assume they are part of that 13%.

 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sw.html

Wikipedia also verifies these numbers. (High number of Lutherans) "The majority (78%) of the population belongs to the Church of Sweden, the Lutheran church separated from the state in 2000. Other Christian denominations in Sweden include Roman Catholic (see Catholic Church of Sweden), Orthodox, Baptist, and other evangelical Christian churches (frikyrkor = "free churches&quotEye-wink. Some of the Sami practise Animism. There are also a number of Muslims, Buddhists and Jews in Sweden." The numbers are indeed different, but they fall in the same range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Sweden

Here's one more if you aren't convinced. "According to recent estimates, about 84% of the population belong to the Church of Sweden." http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Sweden-RELIGIONS.html

2. Vietnam

True. The majority of people do consider themselves non-religious here, but Vietnam isn't necessarily the most socially stable country, with significant amounts of poverty.

3. Denmark
     "
Evangelical Lutheran 95%, other Christian (includes Protestant and Roman Catholic) 3%, Muslim 2%" This means that Atheists would occupy around 1-4% of the population given a resonable margin of error

 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/da.html

In a 1999 EVS poll,[1] Danes were asked to identify the nature of their belief in God.

  • 21% said "A personal God"
  • 31% said "A spiritual force"
  • 19% said "I don't know what to believe"
  • 23% said "I don't believe there is a God"
  • 6% did not respond

These results clearly differ, but still are a far cry from the supposed near 85% rate of disbelief. Remember, this is a poll, so not quite as representative as a demographic representation. Also, keep in mind that "I don't know what to believe is not necessarily agnosticism, but it could be "i don't know whether or not God is spiritual or personal but still believe."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Denmark

4. Norway
     "
Religion in Norway is overwhelmingly Protestant (Evangelical-Lutheran) with 82.9% belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway which is an established religion."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_in_Norway

5. Japan

Harder to say exact figures, because the majority of the population is either Buddhist, Shinto or a combination of the two. Buddhists can either believe in God or not.
    

6. Czech Republic
     This is also correct, with about 59% falling into the atheist, agnostic or non-believer categories. Problem is that this country is not a good example of any of the things you spoke about "societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, and low illiteracy rates, as well as high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality." not really a shining example, although not horrible relative to other post communist states.

7. Finland
    
Evangelical Lutheran 89%, Greek Orthodox 1%, none 9%, other 1% nowhere near the minimum roughly 50% it would have to be to pass #10. http://atheism.about.com/library/world/AJ/bl_FinlandIndex.htm 

8. France

This one is also right... although the around 50% stat is probably pretty high, depending on how rigorous your standards for what you define as catholocism. The majority are catholics but there are degrees of how serious they are.
    

9. South Korea
    Also high levels of non-religion. Moderately good societal health (excellent when compared to North Korea though).

10. Estonia (up to 49% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)

Fairly high levels of skepticism, but much lower than 49%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonia. Again, this is not the country that you would want to point to as a shining example of atheism. 

Also, much bigger than the very inaccurate data that you present is the very fundamental statistical fallacy that you commited. It is called the correllation/causation fallacy. Just because two things are correlated DOES NOT mean that they necessarily caused each other, as you seem to believe. Case in point...the number of cars in a city is directly correlated with the number of murders per year. That is a very fundamental fallacy of logic. What I am neglecting are the other factors that change when I increase the number of cars, namely population. You are clearly forgetting that a number of countries in Africa became religious due to the work of missionaries. So in reality, poor living standards preceded the Christian and Islamic beliefs in those countries.Please read this article, it should clarify this fallacy for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation


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You are using Wikipedia as

[Mod edit: I was wrong.]


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If you actually read that

If you actually read that thread, I said it wouldn't matter if all those were actually atheist. They're good because they're good people, not because they're atheist. And that goes to any good Theist country too.

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: If

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

If you actually read that thread, I said it wouldn't matter if all those were actually atheist. They're good because they're good people, not because they're atheist. And that goes to any good Theist country too.

 


Which thread are you talking about, Pineapple?

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Yeah, but Hitler was a

Yeah, but Hitler was a Christian, and so is every member of the KKK. And the Nazi Pope. I think he's Catholic. Jamie Hyneman is an atheist, and Adam Savage even kicked around the idea of doing bible myths, but decided against fanning the controversy. So, y'know, atheism wins.


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Nero wrote:

Nero wrote:
Cpt_pineapple wrote:

If you actually read that thread, I said it wouldn't matter if all those were actually atheist. They're good because they're good people, not because they're atheist. And that goes to any good Theist country too.

 

Which thread are you talking about, Pineapple?

 

You know the thread about the sewage space monster that eats little children.

 

 

Or the thread that he was talking about in this topic.

 

 

 

Take your pick.


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Quote:   For your

Quote:

 

For your impolite address and the poor source selection, I am flushing this turd right now.

Careful, while I think you are correct regarding the use of wikipedia as a source being generally spat upon, that and "impolite address" are not valid grounds for throwing a thread out. If you wish to see the sort of fine examples of what can be done with the English language, the sort of things that truly deserve to stay here forever, you should have a look at our mailbag. Trollville is for borderline incoherent semi-morons who are looking for no debate, and have some sort of fetishist obsession with USING CAP LOCKS and whose prose is generally limited to:

u r so stoopid LULZ!!!!111111!

Or, if the person can at least  get his fingers on the keys, the other possible reasons for sending the thread to the last circle of forum hell are:

-Plaigarism 

-Refusal to debate. If you want to see a thread I am seriously considering junking, you should read the infuriating exchange in the thread "what faith you" by mephiboseth

-Ranting

And this thread does not exude any of the necessary qualities by which a thread is thrown to the wolves, it cannot go in trollville. This guy is not a troll. Actually, he is a rare gem. 

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Free Thinking Theist -- more

Free Thinking Theist -- more reading, less posting. I've got 5 reasons for you to shut up for a while. And 5 more on my other hand. Go read The Origin of Species, and come back when you're through posing wacky challenges.

Edit: Damn, it's back in the regular forum. Disregard.


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deludedgod

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

 

For your impolite address and the poor source selection, I am flushing this turd right now.

Careful, while I think you are correct regarding the use of wikipedia as a source being generally spat upon, that and "impolite address" are not valid grounds for throwing a thread out. If you wish to see the sort of fine examples of what can be done with the English language, the sort of things that truly deserve to stay here forever, you should have a look at our mailbag. Trollville is for borderline incoherent semi-morons who are looking for no debate, and have some sort of fetishist obsession with USING CAP LOCKS and whose prose is generally limited to:

u r so stoopid LULZ!!!!111111!

Or, if the person can at least  get his fingers on the keys, the other possible reasons for sending the thread to the last circle of forum hell are:

-Plaigarism 

-Refusal to debate. If you want to see a thread I am seriously considering junking, you should read the infuriating exchange in the thread "what faith you" by mephiboseth

-Ranting

And this thread does not exude any of the necessary qualities by which a thread is thrown to the wolves, it cannot go in trollville. This guy is not a troll. Actually, he is a rare gem. 

 


I bow to your greater experience.

"Tis better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven." -Lucifer


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magilum wrote: Yeah, but

magilum wrote:
Yeah, but Hitler was a Christian, and so is every member of the KKK. And the Nazi Pope. I think he's Catholic. Jamie Hyneman is an atheist, and Adam Savage even kicked around the idea of doing bible myths, but decided against fanning the controversy. So, y'know, atheism wins.

 

 

Did you know Darth Vader was an atheist?

 


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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

magilum wrote:
Yeah, but Hitler was a Christian, and so is every member of the KKK. And the Nazi Pope. I think he's Catholic. Jamie Hyneman is an atheist, and Adam Savage even kicked around the idea of doing bible myths, but decided against fanning the controversy. So, y'know, atheism wins.

 

 

Did you know Darth Vader was an atheist?

 

I'm pretty sure that he was an agnostic deist, actually.

"Tis better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven." -Lucifer


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Free Thinking Theist?

Free Thinking Theist?

More like Thoughtless Cherry Picking Theist


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Isn't a free thinking theist

Isn't a free thinking theist kind of like a married bachelor or an intelligent moron?


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Alright, folks, no more ad

Alright, folks, no more ad hom. I admitted that I should not have moved the thread.


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I'm still waiting for

I'm still waiting for someone to challenge me on the facts. And by the way, wikipedia is not a bad source if used in conjunction with other sources, such as the CIA factbook, and the country's webpage, as I have done. On the other hand, I would consider an atheist website to be much worse than wikipedia for citing stats about atheism.


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magilum wrote: Yeah, but

magilum wrote:
Yeah, but Hitler was a Christian, and so is every member of the KKK. And the Nazi Pope. I think he's Catholic. Jamie Hyneman is an atheist, and Adam Savage even kicked around the idea of doing bible myths, but decided against fanning the controversy. So, y'know, atheism wins.

You're completely right, Hitler was a Christian...publicly. He was born into a Catholic family, but he never publicly renounced his faith. Many believe he did so to please the church while in private mocking them. He admired Jesus but despised the Church's teachings about him. He saw Jesus as more of a powerful leader fighting against the Jews than a man of peace of love. Not to mention the fact that his whole genocidal "final solution" violated the whole "thou shall not kill" deal. I guess he also missed the part about loving thy neighbor.

Let me ask you, if I tell everyone that I am a fan of the Dodgers, but I cheer every time that they lose and do everything the opposite of how a normal Dodgers fan responds, isn't that sending mixed messages?


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MattShizzle wrote: Isn't a

MattShizzle wrote:
Isn't a free thinking theist kind of like a married bachelor or an intelligent moron?

Why do atheist think that they have a monopoly on the term "Free Thinking?" Since when were you the only people allowed to freely come to your own conclusions and think critically? I intentionally chose that name for the purpose above.


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

magilum wrote:
Yeah, but Hitler was a Christian, and so is every member of the KKK. And the Nazi Pope. I think he's Catholic. Jamie Hyneman is an atheist, and Adam Savage even kicked around the idea of doing bible myths, but decided against fanning the controversy. So, y'know, atheism wins.

You're completely right, Hitler was a Christian...publicly. He was born into a Catholic family, but he never publicly renounced his faith. Many believe he did so to please the church while in private mocking them. He admired Jesus but despised the Church's teachings about him. He saw Jesus as more of a powerful leader fighting against the Jews than a man of peace of love. Not to mention the fact that his whole genocidal "final solution" violated the whole "thou shall not kill" deal. I guess he also missed the part about loving thy neighbor.

Let me ask you, if I tell everyone that I am a fan of the Dodgers, but I cheer every time that they lose and do everything the opposite of how a normal Dodgers fan responds, isn't that sending mixed messages?

 

Please look through the other 5,000 Hitler threads for info and let's not bring it up again here hmmmm?

 

 

 


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I agree, the whole hitler

I agree, the whole hitler thing was a complete red herring. Let's agree to disagree on that one atheists.


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deludedgod

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

 

For your impolite address and the poor source selection, I am flushing this turd right now.

Careful, while I think you are correct regarding the use of wikipedia as a source being generally spat upon, that and "impolite address" are not valid grounds for throwing a thread out. If you wish to see the sort of fine examples of what can be done with the English language, the sort of things that truly deserve to stay here forever, you should have a look at our mailbag. Trollville is for borderline incoherent semi-morons who are looking for no debate, and have some sort of fetishist obsession with USING CAP LOCKS and whose prose is generally limited to:

u r so stoopid LULZ!!!!111111!

Or, if the person can at least  get his fingers on the keys, the other possible reasons for sending the thread to the last circle of forum hell are:

-Plaigarism 

-Refusal to debate. If you want to see a thread I am seriously considering junking, you should read the infuriating exchange in the thread "what faith you" by mephiboseth

-Ranting

And this thread does not exude any of the necessary qualities by which a thread is thrown to the wolves, it cannot go in trollville. This guy is not a troll. Actually, he is a rare gem. 

 

Thanks for backing me up on this one. 


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

MattShizzle wrote:
Isn't a free thinking theist kind of like a married bachelor or an intelligent moron?

Why do atheist think that they have a monopoly on the term "Free Thinking?" Since when were you the only people allowed to freely come to your own conclusions and think critically? I intentionally chose that name for the purpose above.

 

"Freethinker" is synonymous with atheist/agnostic.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

MattShizzle wrote:
Isn't a free thinking theist kind of like a married bachelor or an intelligent moron?

Why do atheist think that they have a monopoly on the term "Free Thinking?" Since when were you the only people allowed to freely come to your own conclusions and think critically? I intentionally chose that name for the purpose above.

What is free thinking (2 words)? Is that were an individual lets his thoughts wonder randomly?

A freethinker (1 word) is a person who forms opinions on the basis of reason

 

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Sweden

This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. (tagged since August 2007)

 This look's unreliable  

 http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Sweden-RELIGIONS.htmlComment about this article or add new information about this topic:

 This also look's unreliable

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Denmark 

References

  1. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2005 - Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US Department of State
  2. ^ Denmark - From the CIA World Factbook.
  3. ^ Grundloven på let dansk, Folketinget, 2001
  4. ^ Kirkeministeriet

 4 is a site about the commonwealth grant-in-aid, not religious statistics

3 ? Grundloven at lightly danish Folketinget , 2001

1/2 US/CIA

 This look's unreliable 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_in_Norway

one of the references 

8 per cent of the population, were registered as members of religious and philosophical communities


The CIA source one might consider as not entirely reliable

Good point though, it would be nice to see official statistics from official statistics site's, to confirm or deny the validity of your assertions


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Did the CIA post the

Did the CIA post the correct figures on their web site?

http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_atheist.html

But what fucking difference does it make? The number of people who claim there's a god doesnt prove there is a god 

 

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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Source: Zuckerman, Phil.

Source: Zuckerman, Phil. "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns", chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005). These numbers do not agree with the data that i'm pulling from the country's official statistics either. They are highly inflated.


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aiia wrote: Did the CIA

aiia wrote:

Did the CIA post the correct figures on their web site?

http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_atheist.html

 

 

Sweden 8,986,000 46 - 85% 4,133,560 - 7,638,100

 

 46%-85%????

 

What kind of statistic is that?

http://www.adherents.com/adh_faq.html#OriginalSources

 

 

 

Now of course this begs the question of where the CIA gets theirs from.

 

 

 


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By the way, can we get over

By the way, can we get over my name? Yes I chose Free Thinking Theist. It is not Freethinking theist so that the difference is more apparent. Free Thinking to me is the capacity to come to one's own conclusions on the basis of rational thought and not coersion. I see no connection between "free thinking" and random thoughts. This is yet another red herring. How about addressing the main issue, point number 2 being that she made a fundamental error by essentially equating causation with correlation. Who gives a shit if religious disbelief and societal health are correlated, again, it does not mean that one causes another.


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:
Source: Zuckerman, Phil. "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns", chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005). These numbers do not agree with the data that i'm pulling from the country's official statistics either. They are highly inflated.
Prove the stats are inflated

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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CIA Fact Book

CIA Fact Book discrepancies

World: 

Religions:Definition Field Listing
Christians 33.03% (of which Roman Catholics 17.33%, Protestants 5.8%, Orthodox 3.42%, Anglicans 1.23%), Muslims 20.12%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.89%, Sikhs 0.39%, Jews 0.23%, other religions 12.61%, non-religious 12.03%, atheists 2.36% (2004 est.)

 

China:

Religions:Definition Field Listing
Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%
note: officially atheist (2002 est.)

 

If China's population is 1,321,851,888 (July 2007 est.) and the world's population is 6,602,224,175 (July 2007 est.) that means 20% of the people are atheist not 2%

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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aiia wrote: CIA Fact Book

aiia wrote:

CIA Fact Book discrepancies

World:

Religions:Definition Field Listing
Christians 33.03% (of which Roman Catholics 17.33%, Protestants 5.8%, Orthodox 3.42%, Anglicans 1.23%), Muslims 20.12%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.89%, Sikhs 0.39%, Jews 0.23%, other religions 12.61%, non-religious 12.03%, atheists 2.36% (2004 est.)

 

China:

Religions:Definition Field Listing
Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%
note: officially atheist (2002 est.)

 

If China's population is 1,321,851,888 (July 2007 est.) and the world's population is 6,602,224,175 (July 2007 est.) that means 20% of the people are atheist not 2%

 

Mainly because:

 

(2004 est.)

 (2002 est.)

(July 2007 est.)

(July 2007 est.) 

 

Your dates don't match up. 


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Quote: I'm still waiting

Quote:
I'm still waiting for someone to challenge me on the facts.


Arrogance will get you nowhere when you're trying to run with a foot in your mouth.

Quote:
Next time you cite statistics on the number of atheists in a country, take them from an unbiased source, not an atheist website! The numbers were painfully inflated in a glaringly obvious way. Here is the list you presented:


An atheist website? You really have no idea of what you're talking about. The research was conducted by Phil Zuckerman Ph.D., an Associate Professor at Pitzer College whose areas of expertise include Sociology of Religion and Classical Sociological Theory. The research Kelly uses is the same research found in the book, "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism." If the research is of a quality that Cambridge University, the second best university in the entire world, will accept it then I sincerely doubt your "it's a biased source" argument will hold up to any amount of scrutiny. In fact, on the very first page (I'm not talking about "Page 1," I'm talking about the first sheet in paper inside the book) says Phil Zuckerman is one of "eighteen of the world's leading scholars" on the subject. Furthermore, the website is "a traveler's weblog," not an atheist website. I can't even fathom where you got the idea that an atheist website was involved at all.

Quote:
1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
Totally the reverse of what is true. Where did they pull these numbers from? Here are some numbers from the CIA factbook "Lutheran 87%, other (includes Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) 13%" atheists were not stated explicitly but I assume they are part of that 13%.

 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sw.html

Wikipedia also verifies these numbers. (High number of Lutherans) "The majority (78%) of the population belongs to the Church of Sweden, the Lutheran church separated from the state in 2000. Other Christian denominations in Sweden include Roman Catholic (see Catholic Church of Sweden), Orthodox, Baptist, and other evangelical Christian churches (frikyrkor = "free churches". Some of the Sami practise Animism. There are also a number of Muslims, Buddhists and Jews in Sweden." The numbers are indeed different, but they fall in the same range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Sweden

Here's one more if you aren't convinced. "According to recent estimates, about 84% of the population belong to the Church of Sweden." http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Sweden-RELIGIONS.html


The 78-85% figures are drastically skewed. Well, "skewed" is to state it too lightly, I think. In Sweden, the mere act of being born before 1996 qualified you as a member of the [Lutheran] Church of Sweden. If I were born in Sweden, for example, I would be classified as a Lutheran even though I am an irreligious negative atheist. Since 1996 they stopped using birth as a qualifier but they merely shifted to having infant baptism the qualifier. If a child was born in 2006, baptized in 2007, the child would be counted as a Lutheran at only one year old.

Obviously, that doesn't make much sense. What in the world is a religious one year old? I would claim that all children of that age are irreligious because even though they might show agreement with the position it will not be because they understand the complex doctrines involved, they merely nod to appease their parents. Of course, religious children or irreligious children should not be considered in any statistical sampling of the population, especially when that research is to be combined with other research about societal health.

The CIA is merely using the skewed data that's provided to them by the Church of Sweden. As such, the CIA's use of the information should not be considered a sign of statistical validity, as indicated by the obvious invalidity of the statistics.

Quote:
2. Vietnam

True. The majority of people do consider themselves non-religious here, but Vietnam isn't necessarily the most socially stable country, with significant amounts of poverty.


Poverty rates is only one of the factors under consideration. Other facts are homicide rates, infant mortality rates, illiteracy rates, educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality. I don't recall the figures for Vietnam on any of these factors, but I suspect it's not a place of high individual and societal security. However, the conclusion provided was about organic atheism, not coerced atheism, being correlated with societal health. Societies with coerced atheism, or had such a thing in their recent history, are probably societally ill.

Further, an exception to a rule doesn't define the rule.

Quote:
3. Denmark
  "Evangelical Lutheran 95%, other Christian (includes Protestant and Roman Catholic) 3%, Muslim 2%" This means that Atheists would occupy around 1-4% of the population given a resonable margin of error

 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/da.html


In a 1999 EVS poll,[1] Danes were asked to identify the nature of their belief in God.
21% said "A personal God" 
31% said "A spiritual force" 
19% said "I don't know what to believe" 
23% said "I don't believe there is a God" 
6% did not respond 

These results clearly differ, but still are a far cry from the supposed near 85% rate of disbelief. Remember, this is a poll, so not quite as representative as a demographic representation. Also, keep in mind that "I don't know what to believe is not necessarily agnosticism, but it could be "i don't know whether or not God is spiritual or personal but still believe."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Denmark


The same problem with the Church of Sweden applies to the Danish National Church. If you were dunked in water without soap in a religious building, you are considered a Lutheran until you specifically ask to be removed from the list. I would wager that many do not apply for removal because it generally doesn't make one bit of difference to their daily lives to do so.

Furthermore, the article discussed the least religious countries, not the countries with the highest rates of atheism. It is quite possible for their to be high amounts of theism with low amounts of religion. Further, atheists can be religious too, as I'm sure any knowledgable Theravada Buddhist, Taoist, Jain, etc. will be happy to tell you. The issue is not about the acceptance of some vague god concept but of an organized belief system.

Quote:
4. Norway
  "Religion in Norway is overwhelmingly Protestant (Evangelical-Lutheran) with 82.9% belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway which is an established religion." 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_in_Norway


The same problem with the other Lutheran churches applies here also. According to the statistics on the Church of Norway website, in 2004 the new "members" to the Church of Norway consisted of 77.3% of the children born within the country for merely being dunked in water. (source) I'm not impressed.

Quote:
5. Japan

Harder to say exact figures, because the majority of the population is either Buddhist, Shinto or a combination of the two. Buddhists can either believe in God or not.


I agree it would be fairly difficult to pin down and there isn't much research in this area. I would argue that 64-65% disbelieve in a "personal" god based on [1] and [2], but I can't really say anything about impersonal god concepts.

[1] Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Ingerhart. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. New York: Cambridge University Press.
[2] Demerath, N. J. 2001. Crossing the Gods. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Quote:
6. Czech Republic
  This is also correct, with about 59% falling into the atheist, agnostic or non-believer categories. Problem is that this country is not a good example of any of the things you spoke about "societal health, such as low homicide rates, low poverty rates, low infant mortality rates, and low illiteracy rates, as well as high levels of educational attainment, per capita income, and gender equality." not really a shining example, although not horrible relative to other post communist states.


On page 57 of "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" it states:

When recognizing that countries containing high percentages of nonbelievers are among the healthiest and wealthiest nations on Earth (Paul 2004), we must distinguish between nations where nonbelief has been forced upon the society by dictators ("coercive atheism&quotEye-wink and nations wherein nonbelief has emerged on its own without governmental coercion ("organic atheism&quotEye-wink. Nations marked by coercive atheism -- such as North Korea and former Soviet states -- are marked by all that comes with totalitarianism: poor economic development, censorship, corruption, depression, and so on. However, nations marked by high levels of organic atheism -- such as Sweden or the Netherlands -- are among the healthiest, wealthiest, best educated, and freest societies on earth.

Quote:
7. Finland
  Evangelical Lutheran 89%, Greek Orthodox 1%, none 9%, other 1% nowhere near the minimum roughly 50% it would have to be to pass #10. http://atheism.about.com/library/world/AJ/bl_FinlandIndex.htm


Lutherans again. I won't bother repeating myself again, again.

Quote:
8. France

This one is also right... although the around 50% stat is probably pretty high, depending on how rigorous your standards for what you define as catholocism. The majority are catholics but there are degrees of how serious they are.


According to "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" the percentage of atheists, agnostics, and nonbelievers in a "personal" God in France is 43-54%. The 54% figure is from 2001 [1], the 43% figure is from 1999 [2], while the latest study (that I could find in "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism&quotEye-wink, in 2004, says 44% [3]. The very rapid jump in the 2001 figure is very interesting. I wonder if the statistics were during and/or after the attacks of 9/11 or any terrorism attacks in their own land? (Please pardon my ignorance of France.) Of course, it could be the result of a smaller sample size, or even a combination of the two, but it's an interesting jump nonetheless.

[1] Froese, Paul. 2004. "After Atheism: An analysis of Religious Monopolies in the Post-Communist World." Sociology of Religion 65, no. 1: 57-75.
[2] Davie, Grace. 1999. "Europe: The Exception That Proves the Rule?" In Peter Berger (ed.), The Descularization of the World. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, pp. 65-83.
[3] Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Ingerhart. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Quote:
10. Estonia (up to 49% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)

Fairly high levels of skepticism, but much lower than 49%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonia. Again, this is not the country that you would want to point to as a shining example of atheism.


The Eurostat Eurobarometer poll in 2005, according to Wikipedia, states that 26% "do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force." The figures provided by "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" include 49% saying they do not believe in a personal God while 11% identify themselves as atheists, both statistics are from a publication in 2004 that talk of statistics gathered from 1999-2002. The questions being asked to disparate to confusing to be easily merged into a coherent picture. I really don't have a clue as to what percentage of Estonians in 2005 would fit in the atheist, agnostic, disbeliever in a "personal" God system that "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" uses. I guess I'll have to remain agnostic on Estonia, hehe. Anyways, Estonia does have a history involving the Soviet's totalitarianistic "coercive atheism" that I discussed earlier, which probably would explain much of its societal ills.

Quote:
Also, much bigger than the very inaccurate data that you present is the very fundamental statistical fallacy that you commited. It is called the correllation/causation fallacy. Just because two things are correlated DOES NOT mean that they necessarily caused each other, as you seem to believe. Case in point...the number of cars in a city is directly correlated with the number of murders per year. That is a very fundamental fallacy of logic. What I am neglecting are the other factors that change when I increase the number of cars, namely population. You are clearly forgetting that a number of countries in Africa became religious due to the work of missionaries. So in reality, poor living standards preceded the Christian and Islamic beliefs in those countries.Please read this article, it should clarify this fallacy for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation


The data that Kelly quoted seems on-the-mark on most issues, perhaps all if we say the 49% figure for Estonia is accurate. The statistics that you provided were much more innacurate than the ones she provided. I also don't see any reason to think Kelly forgot that correlation does not equal causation. She didn't argue anything about causation, nor did the article she quoted. You are, as far as I can tell, beating a strawperson.

Stultior stulto fuisti, qui tabellis crederes!


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What is the point of

What is the point of bringing all of those positive societal effects up if they are only correlated? Clearly she insinuates that they are casuative in relationship because of the reaction. Correlation really has no significance. In short, so what they're correlated, being atheist does not suddenly make you a better citizen, more free, and less likely to commit crimes.


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Her actions do not imply

Her actions do not imply she was implying a causation argument. She could've simply meant that it shows societal health, and by implication morality, is compatible with irreligion and that this can be scientifically supported.

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magilum wrote: Yeah, but

magilum wrote:
Yeah, but Hitler was a Christian, and so is every member of the KKK. And the Nazi Pope. I think he's Catholic. Jamie Hyneman is an atheist, and Adam Savage even kicked around the idea of doing bible myths, but decided against fanning the controversy. So, y'know, atheism wins.

LOL

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MattShizzle

MattShizzle wrote:

"Freethinker" is synonymous with atheist/agnostic.

Funny because it seems to me that everyone here rides on some kind of bandwagon, atheist or theist. How freethinking are you really?


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I think perhaps a

I think perhaps a comparrison of church atendance figures would be useful.  The number of people that regualrly atend church is, I think, a good way of measuring the general level of support a religion actually has. Surveys on God belief or religion are misleading as many people really don't give it much thought and just say "christian" when in fact they never go to church and never practice their supsoed religion. These people are not really christians in my book they are in fact practicing atheists.

So lets have a little look at church atendance.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/rel_chu_att-religion-church-attendance

Norway and Denmark have about 5% church atendance the USA has about 44%. Case closed Norway and Denmark are far far less religious than the USA. 95% of the population are actually practicing atheists in that they don't go to church.

 

 


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lgnsttefrst

lgnsttefrst wrote:
MattShizzle wrote:

"Freethinker" is synonymous with atheist/agnostic.

Funny because it seems to me that everyone here rides on some kind of bandwagon, atheist or theist. How freethinking are you really?

 We'll know in hindsight. Smile Perhaps we thought we were free as theists, then again as agnostics and atheists, then again as operating thetans, then bodhisattva, carnies and Belgians. I'm in a bad state, because I'm certain I'm right, and pitying the theist population. Even if I am, it's not helpful. The feeling of intellectual honesty, assuming you haven't detached yourself from it, is confusing and headachy and hard to maintain before giving way to old tribal habits.


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:
What is the point of bringing all of those positive societal effects up if they are only correlated? Clearly she insinuates that they are casuative in relationship because of the reaction. Correlation really has no significance. In short, so what they're correlated, being atheist does not suddenly make you a better citizen, more free, and less likely to commit crimes.

 

I'm glad you guys picked up my slack on this one. I am oppositionally defiant when it comes to answering the threads that are some kind of personal challenge to me. Post threads on topics, if you like, don't call out one specific member. It's annoying and seems terribly arrogant to me--as if I have nothing better to do than debunk your nonsense.

It's clear from this post right here that you didn't read past the first post because I stated in my second post that "Atheism can be shown to have a high correlation to societal health" and even point out the difference in the former communist countries. At any rate, good job cherry picking and next time, try to find the most recent data as it tends to be more accurate. For example, the most recent study done in the US, which is the first one to have both "atheist" and "agnostic" as a choice (I won't go into that vast misconception, but anyway), 18% of the 2000 respondents were without belief in a god. Compare that to other surveys with different wording that came back with results like 3%. Is the data inflated, or is it just a better, more accurate, study? Go learn about statistics and research methods and try again.


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I think Visual_Paradox's

I think Visual_Paradox's posts settled this issue. Many citizens are listed somewhere as "catholic" or "lutheran" et cetera, because they were baptized, but who are in fact atheists. I once saw a study that said that 7x% of Germany's population is catholic... now I happen to live in Germany and know this is not the case. In my class there is only one theist (we're 26), but many of them are considered "catholic" by such studies, because they were baptized as children.

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The o.p. should have

The o.p. should have brought his/her issues up in the actual thread this was in reference to.  The only reason I'm not merging the threads is because it'll screw up the post order.  Next time it happens with this o.p. I'll avoid that problem by simply deleting his thread.

And since it's not written in the board rules (but mods are well aware) and it tends to happen often.... "call outs" of specifical people, anybody as thread starters are frowned upon.  We generally don't kick for doing it, but it's definetly a notch against you.

Your post would've been abundantly more appropriate in her thread. 

 

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Visual_Paradox

Visual_Paradox wrote:


Quote:
1. Sweden (up to 85% non-believer, atheist, agnostic)
Totally the reverse of what is true. Where did they pull these numbers from? Here are some numbers from the CIA factbook "Lutheran 87%, other (includes Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) 13%" atheists were not stated explicitly but I assume they are part of that 13%.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sw.html

Wikipedia also verifies these numbers. (High number of Lutherans) "The majority (78%) of the population belongs to the Church of Sweden, the Lutheran church separated from the state in 2000. Other Christian denominations in Sweden include Roman Catholic (see Catholic Church of Sweden), Orthodox, Baptist, and other evangelical Christian churches (frikyrkor = "free churches". Some of the Sami practise Animism. There are also a number of Muslims, Buddhists and Jews in Sweden." The numbers are indeed different, but they fall in the same range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Sweden

Here's one more if you aren't convinced. "According to recent estimates, about 84% of the population belong to the Church of Sweden." http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Sweden-RELIGIONS.html


The 78-85% figures are drastically skewed. Well, "skewed" is to state it too lightly, I think. In Sweden, the mere act of being born before 1996 qualified you as a member of the [Lutheran] Church of Sweden. If I were born in Sweden, for example, I would be classified as a Lutheran even though I am an irreligious negative atheist. Since 1996 they stopped using birth as a qualifier but they merely shifted to having infant baptism the qualifier. If a child was born in 2006, baptized in 2007, the child would be counted as a Lutheran at only one year old.

Obviously, that doesn't make much sense. What in the world is a religious one year old? I would claim that all children of that age are irreligious because even though they might show agreement with the position it will not be because they understand the complex doctrines involved, they merely nod to appease their parents. Of course, religious children or irreligious children should not be considered in any statistical sampling of the population, especially when that research is to be combined with other research about societal health.

The CIA is merely using the skewed data that's provided to them by the Church of Sweden. As such, the CIA's use of the information should not be considered a sign of statistical validity, as indicated by the obvious invalidity of the statistics.


Maybe I can shed some light on this, since I'm from Sweden. Visual_Paradox is correct. Membership in the Church of Sweden is not the same as being religious. Most people in CoS are born into it, and don't care enough one way or the other to go through the hassle of leaving it. Before 1996, all people were automatically members of CoS at birth (unless specifically requested not to be). After 1996, if you have your child baptized, you will also make that child a member of CoS. Baptizing your child is a prevalent tradition, something people on average consider "something you should do", even if they don't believe a word of the nonsense coming from the priest. For example, even my cousin had her son baptized last year. My cousin doesn't believe any more than I do, she did it out of tradition. Most people only set foot in a church for baptisms, weddings and funerals, which are all set in a church by tradition, not religious conviction. Religious conviction would be better indicated by church service attendance, which is ridicously low, something like a few percent. Church service attendance is also decreasing, which I think is because that old people, who are on average more religious, die at higher rates.

The situation in the other Nordic countries are very similar. It's a very secular part of the world.


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Apologies for this being in

Apologies for this being in the wrong section, I will be sure to post it correctly next time. This was not intended to be a "call out" on Kelly in particular, but rather an argument against the assertion in general, that atheism is good for society. It was an open discussion for everyone, not meant for her in particular. Also thank you for indicating the difference between being a member of the Church and being religious, unfortunately the articles I read did not indicate this. I still doubt the figure of 85% not believing in God in Sweden. While I concede that the number is high, the range (something like 45-85%) tips me off that the number is not well known and the high end being unlikely. The reason why I believe that causation is indicated is that the title is "Reasons why atheism is good for society" Clearly atheism is only good for society if there is a causitive link between it and societal health, again, correlation is irrelevant. If I wrote an article "Reasons why cars are bad for society" and then cite that cities with more cars have more crimes commited, I am clearly infering a causation.

This thread was not intended to be rude in any way, that is why I reworded it. If I am mistaken I just ask for a simple clarification.


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This is all a red herring.

This is all a red herring. Whether Sweden has a high population of Theists or not is irrelevant.

 

What matters is not that they are atheist and have high societal health, it matters whether they have high societal health because they're atheists. Which is not the case.

 

Many, many things determine societal health, and I don't see anything in atheism that would cause it.


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cpt_pineapple wrote:

cpt_pineapple wrote:

Many, many things determine societal health, and I don't see anything in atheism that would cause it.

 

You could find that the deep sense of unworthiness promoted in some religions elevates stress, which is a recognised precursor to more serious problems.

Mr Pineapple, I agree broadly with your "people are people" stance. I would, however, add a little caveat. Consider religious intolerance to homosexuality at a political level. Without religion, you have a bunch of bigoted inividuals who basically have to admit that they don't like it. Add religion, and they have a validatory cause which is given far more respect than it deserves in my opinion.

Did we ever find out what the pineapple signifies by the way?

 

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   I did not intend to

 

 I did not intend to make this subject specifically about the exact percentage of atheists in the countries mentioned, that should have been more of a side note. I probably cited numbers that are low for atheists and you probably cited high numbers. It is probably somewhere in between our two figures. Whatever the numbers are, they do not need to be discussed further. What the main point I was trying to make is that atheism does not contribute to societal health. There is no established causitive link, with way to many external factors. Remember, poor struggling countries are often the destination of missionaries of numerous faiths. Countries in Africa and Asia with poor social health were like this before the missionaries arrived.

PillarMyArse wrote:

You could find that the deep sense of unworthiness promoted in some religions elevates stress, which is a recognised precursor to more serious problems.

This is quite untrue. Religions, if anything according to you guys offer an inflated sense of self worth. Being in the good graces of an all-powerful being and being destined for heaven as religious people believe can only serve to lift one's spirits. Remember, Christians and Muslims believe that they are loved, not hated by God and are worthy of this love.

 


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Quoting TFTT and

Quoting TFTT and Pillar"

PillarMyArse wrote:

You could find that the deep sense of unworthiness promoted in some religions elevates stress, which is a recognised precursor to more serious problems.

This is quite untrue. Religions, if anything according to you guys offer an inflated sense of self worth. Being in the good graces of an all-powerful being and being destined for heaven as religious people believe can only serve to lift one's spirits. Remember, Christians and Muslims believe that they are loved, not hated by God and are worthy of this love.

Except that in order to be loved by God and in the good graces of the all-powerful being, the believer has to consider him/herself absolutely worthless without their Sky Daddy. It's hard to think of yourself as worthy of the love of a God and valueless scum at the same time. Don't you think that would cause a little stress? 

Don't believe me? Read the Bible and check out a few hymns. 

 

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I'm not going to argue

I'm not going to argue statistics, but correlation can mean something. What it means isn't necessarily straightforward, but it shouldn't be approached with the presupposition that it's meaningless. Take the high concentration of atheists in science and academia. Does knowing more lessen the desire for the supernatural? Does not believing in a wrathful deity remove a fear of higher learning? I don't think anyone's saying that a perfect society will coalesce around atheism. I think it's more like Marx's view of religion: that its adoption is a sign of social ills, of discontentment, decline, decadence. The most uneducated, ignorant, bigoted and amoral states in the union are often also the most devout. So, the canary didn't get rid of the noxious gas, but you welcome his chirping.


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PillarMyArse

PillarMyArse wrote:

cpt_pineapple wrote:

Many, many things determine societal health, and I don't see anything in atheism that would cause it.

 

You could find that the deep sense of unworthiness promoted in some religions elevates stress, which is a recognised precursor to more serious problems.

 

You could also find stats like this elevates speculation 

 

Quote:

Mr Pineapple, I agree broadly with your "people are people" stance. I would, however, add a little caveat. Consider religious intolerance to homosexuality at a political level. Without religion, you have a bunch of bigoted inividuals who basically have to admit that they don't like it. Add religion, and they have a validatory cause which is given far more respect than it deserves in my opinion.

 

I put religion in the same category I put political parties.

 

For example, the group of bigoted indivduals could form a political party out of it. 

 

 

 

Quote:
 

 Did we ever find out what the pineapple signifies by the way?

 

What do you mean signify? 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: This

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

This is all a red herring. Whether Sweden has a high population of Theists or not is irrelevant.

 

What matters is not that they are atheist and have high societal health, it matters whether they have high societal health because they're atheists. Which is not the case.

 

Many, many things determine societal health, and I don't see anything in atheism that would cause it.

Correlation != Causation

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qbg wrote: Cpt_pineapple

qbg wrote:
Cpt_pineapple wrote:

This is all a red herring. Whether Sweden has a high population of Theists or not is irrelevant.

 

What matters is not that they are atheist and have high societal health, it matters whether they have high societal health because they're atheists. Which is not the case.

 

Many, many things determine societal health, and I don't see anything in atheism that would cause it.

Correlation != Causation

 

 

What am I correlating exactly? 

 


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lgnsttefrst

lgnsttefrst wrote:
MattShizzle wrote:
"Freethinker" is synonymous with atheist/agnostic
Funny because it seems to me that everyone here rides on some kind of bandwagon, atheist or theist. How freethinking are you really?


Freethinker shouldn't be considered synonymous with atheist/agnostic. I think many deists would qualify as freethinkers. John L. Armstrong is, from my perspective, a freethinker. I think freethinker is more synonymous with "a person who doesn't give assent to faith-based creeds."

Does everyone here ride on some kind of atheist or theist bandwagon? Yep, just as surely as paintings either ride on the symmetrical or asymmetrical bandwagons. Every single person on this planet qualifies as either an atheist or a theist. Fitting into one of the only two categories or bandwagons doesn't necessarily mean one isn't a freethinker.

kellym78 wrote:
I'm glad you guys picked up my slack on this one.


No problem Smiling

kellym78 wrote:
For example, the most recent study done in the US, which is the first one to have both "atheist" and "agnostic" as a choice (I won't go into that vast misconception, but anyway), 18% of the 2000 respondents were without belief in a god. Compare that to other surveys with different wording that came back with results like 3%. Is the data inflated, or is it just a better, more accurate, study?


Yes, those "you can choose atheism and agnosticism but not both" polls get under my skin as well. Agnostic atheists and agnostic theists will be completely puzzled by that false dichotomy as to how they should respond. Some agnostic theists will choose agnostic, thus inflating agnosticism without correspondingly inflating theism while other agnostic theists will choose theist, thus inflating theism without correspondingly inflating agnosticism. The same line of reasoning applies to agnostic atheists. There's so much data-skewing occuring in these kinds of surveys/polls that I usually throw them in my mental-trashcan.

KSMB wrote:
Maybe I can shed some light on this, since I'm from Sweden. Visual_Paradox is correct. Membership in the Church of Sweden is not the same as being religious. Most people in CoS are born into it, and don't care enough one way or the other to go through the hassle of leaving it. Before 1996, all people were automatically members of CoS at birth (unless specifically requested not to be). After 1996, if you have your child baptized, you will also make that child a member of CoS. Baptizing your child is a prevalent tradition, something people on average consider "something you should do", even if they don't believe a word of the nonsense coming from the priest. For example, even my cousin had her son baptized last year. My cousin doesn't believe any more than I do, she did it out of tradition. Most people only set foot in a church for baptisms, weddings and funerals, which are all set in a church by tradition, not religious conviction. Religious conviction would be better indicated by church service attendance, which is ridicously low, something like a few percent. Church service attendance is also decreasing, which I think is because that old people, who are on average more religious, die at higher rates.

The situation in the other Nordic countries are very similar. It's a very secular part of the world.


Thank you for adding your own input and clarifying my post by stating "unless specifically requested not to be." I intended that to be a part of the post but forgot to type it. Your point about tradition is a valid one but I would also like to add that regular ol' peer pressure could be involved as well. Perhaps the grandparents, who are Lutherans, had pressured the child's parents into baptizing the child.

Also, you owe me your services in cleaning my keyboard. I spit my tea all over it when I read your signature. Damn you all to Hell, and stuff Sticking out tongue

the_free_thinking_theist wrote:
Apologies for this being in the wrong section, I will be sure to post it correctly next time. This was not intended to be a "call out" on Kelly in particular, but rather an argument against the assertion in general, that atheism is good for society. It was an open discussion for everyone, not meant for her in particular. Also thank you for indicating the difference between being a member of the Church and being religious, unfortunately the articles I read did not indicate this. I still doubt the figure of 85% not believing in God in Sweden. While I concede that the number is high, the range (something like 45-85%) tips me off that the number is not well known and the high end being unlikely. The reason why I believe that causation is indicated is that the title is "Reasons why atheism is good for society" Clearly atheism is only good for society if there is a causitive link between it and societal health, again, correlation is irrelevant. If I wrote an article "Reasons why cars are bad for society" and then cite that cities with more cars have more crimes commited, I am clearly infering a causation. 

This thread was not intended to be rude in any way, that is why I reworded it. If I am mistaken I just ask for a simple clarification.


You probably shouldn't put too much weight behind the title of a story, article, or post. Usually there is a limit to the amount of textual characters you can use, which means you may have to use a shorter title that might not accurately reflect the story, article, or post. As someone familiar with character limits on titles and thusly the need to mutilate titles, and sometimes the need to sensationalize titles, I tend to just gloss over them and not pay much attention to them. After looking at the title, I concur with you that the implication of causality was a part of the title. I still maintain that Kelly didn't imply a causality argument in the post itself, which is not similarly restrained by small character limits and thusly not similarly susceptible to mutilation, so it isn't really fair to say that Kelly was intentionally trying to argue about causality.

Regarding the Swedes, "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" says: Norris and Ingerhart (2004) found that 64 percent of Swedes do not believe in God. According to Bondeson (2003), 74 percent of said that they did not believe in "a personal God." According to Greeley (2003), 46 percent of Swedes do not believe in God, although only 17% self-identify as "atheist." According to Froese (2001), 69 percent of Swedes are either atheist or agnostic. According to Gustafsson and Pettersson (2000), 82 percent of Swedes do not believe in a "personal God." According to Davie (1999), 85 percent of Swedes do not believe in God.

The in-text citations are to these studies:

* Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Ingerhart. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. New York: Cambridge University Press.
* Bondeson, Ulla. 2003. Nordic Moral Climates. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction.
* Greeley, Andrew. 2003. Religion in Europe at the End of the Second Millennium. New Brunswick, J.K.: Transaction.
* Froese, Paul. 2004. "After Atheism: An Analysis of Religious Monopolies in the Post-Communist World." Sociology of Religion 65, no. 1: 57-75.
* Gustafsson, Goran, and Thorleif Pettersson. 2000. Folkkyrk och religios pluraism - den nordiska religiosa modellen. Stockholm, Sweden: Verbum Forlag.
* Davie, Grace. 1999. "Europe: The Exception That Proves the Rule?" In Peter Berger (ed.), The Descularization of the World. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, pp. 65-83.

My Thoughts:

It seems that the 46% figure (Greeley 2003) stands alone with its small figure. All of the other studies show the figure to be at least 18 percent higher. This leads me to think Greeley 2003's study probably involved a small sample size, or the poll asked questions in an ackward manner that might have led to flawed statistics, or perhaps a combination thereof. I don't have the studies at hand so I cannot prove this, but it seems probable from the information I do have at hand. The newest studies not from Greeley (2003), Norris and Inglehart (2004) and Bondeson (2003), show 64% to not accept a God at all and 74% don't accept a personal God. This would lead me to believe that ~64% would qualify as atheist or agnostic (~69% in 2001) while ~10% are deists, pantheists, or something close to those positions between 2003-2004. I think the societal health study was primarily concerned with those who don't accept personal Gods--those gods that insist on certain moral codes--so 74% probably is the most accurate, relevant, figure.

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
This is all a red herring. Whether Sweden has a high population of Theists or not is irrelevant.

What matters is not that they are atheist and have high societal health, it matters whether they have high societal health because they're atheists. Which is not the case.

Many, many things determine societal health, and I don't see anything in atheism that would cause it.


I neither agree nor disagree with what you said. It's true that atheism itself doesn't prescribe any specific moral code so atheism cannot be credited for prescribing a moral code that leads to healthy societies. However, what the study does indicate is that there is a positive correlation between the societies that are healthy and the citizens of those societies not accepting god-given codes of ethics.

This lends credence to the arguments atheists and deists make about god-prescribed morality tending to stagnate and fall behind, and thus the societies those people operate tend to stagnate and fall behind, while the people who derive their ethical code from the facts they observe, and are thus willing to change their ethical code should evidence warrant the change, tend to have healthy, progressive societies. It should also be noted that the countries with former Soviet occupation lend credence to that argument as well. The communists generally regarded their politio-ethical code as infallible, just as Christians and Islamists regard their own. None of these groups generally allow the ethical code given to them by their leader to be changable or flexible. The vast majority of countries operated by people with inflexible moral codes tended to not advance toward societal health.

In a way, this does vindicate atheism though. The majority of atheists, perhaps even all of them, regard their own ethical code is something they had built, perhaps with help from predispositions brought about by biological evolution, and are willing to alter their code of ethics should evidence comes along. It is this aspect of atheists that would seem to increase the odds of societies being healthy. I would also argue that the study also vindicates deism and pantheism in a similar way.

the_free_thinking_theist wrote:
There is no established causitive link, with way to many external factors. Remember, poor struggling countries are often the destination of missionaries of numerous faiths. Countries in Africa and Asia with poor social health were like this before the missionaries arrived.


I agree there is no established causitive link, but I think one can be teased out of the figures (as I illustrated above). And you are right about many of the countries in Africa and Asia. It should be noted, however, that the missionaries could be holding them back to a certain extent. The missionaries trying to enforce abstinence-only sex education and teaching that the Africans shouldn't use condoms, for example, is probably doing a lot of damage to the societies. A similar argument could be made about charity organizations in America, mostly run by Christians, damaging the societies. When the charity organizations send food to the people it essentially deprives the farmers of income so the farmers, who didn't require charity before, will now require charity to support themselves. And, of course, it doesn't help the farmers thrive when their customers are dying at an abnormally high rate because of AIDs because of the work of missionaries. If missionaries and charity organizations left Africa alone, the societies there would probably become healthier at a much quicker pace.

magilum wrote:
I'm not going to argue statistics, but correlation can mean something. What it means isn't necessarily straightforward, but it shouldn't be approached with the presupposition that it's meaningless. Take the high concentration of atheists in science and academia. Does knowing more lessen the desire for the supernatural? Does not believing in a wrathful deity remove a fear of higher learning? I don't think anyone's saying that a perfect society will coalesce around atheism. I think it's more like Marx's view of religion: that its adoption is a sign of social ills, of discontentment, decline, decadence. The most uneducated, ignorant, bigoted and amoral states in the union are often also the most devout. So, the canary didn't get rid of the noxious gas, but you welcome his chirping.


I agree.

Stultior stulto fuisti, qui tabellis crederes!