The Proof is in the Pudding

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The Proof is in the Pudding

Where I work I am accountable to meet certain metrics. We review these values periodically and set goals at a quarterly basis to try and meet and/or improve these values. If we don't meet our objectives, we are obligated to identify a valid reason or we take a hit on our bonuses and even potentially get RIF'd (Reduction In Force).

I often see debate around here regarding the benefits of Christianity on our society and the potential harm Atheism has on our morality. If this is the case it should be quite apparent by gathering a few key metrics. The first question I asked is where do we expect to see this influence of Christianity and the obvious answer was the United States.

United States

* Christian: (78.5%)
          o Protestant (51.3%)
          o Roman Catholic (23.9%)
          o Mormon (1.7%)
          o other Christian (1.6%)
    * unaffiliated (12.1%)
    * none (4%)
    * other or unspecified (2.5%)
    * Jewish (1.7%)
    * Buddhist (0.7%)
    * Muslim (0.6%)

Christianity accounts for 78.5% of the population, that would seem to qualify this nation as a Christian majority.

I then looked for a sample of the least Religious nations to compare it against and came up with these choices: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Czech Republic, Finland, and France.

Now what metrics do we need?

If we are trying to look at the influence of Christianity and it's influence on our moral choices, I figured we would start with crime, homicide rates in particular, then I looked at marriage, or more specifically divorce rates to get an idea on how we are doing. Finally what about our kids? So let's look at teen pregnancy and abortion.

Here are the values I was able to pull.

Homicide Rate Per 1000:

Sweden               .02/1000
Denmark              .01/1000
Norway                .01/1000
Czech Republic    .01/1000
Finland                .02/1000
France                 .01/1000
US                      .05/1000

 

Divorce Rate Per 1000:

Sweden              4/1000
Denmark             2.7/1000
Norway               2.2/1000
Czech Republic   2.9/1000
Finland               2.7/1000
France                2/1000
US                      4.1/1000

Teen Pregnancy and Abortion Per 1000:

Sweden             P: 7.7/1000     A: 17.7/1000
Denmark            P: 8.2/1000     A: 15.4/1000
Norway              P: 13.6/1000   A: 18.3/1000
Czech Republic  P: 20.1/1000    A: 12.4/1000
Finland              P: 9.8/1000      A: 9.6/1000
France               P: 9.4/1000      A: 13.2/1000
US                     P: 55.6/1000    A: 30.2/1000

Now I fully understand numbers don't always tell the whole picture and there are obviously a number of additional contributing factors but when you own 78% of the population and have influence in every aspect of a nation, since the get go, are you not obligated to own up to some of these results? Is Christianity not doing it's job? Is there some barrier or influence impeding it's ability to take hold?

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. - William S. Burroughs


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Actually the phrase is "The

Actually the phrase is "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."


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Ciarin wrote:Actually the

Ciarin wrote:

Actually the phrase is "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

I have never heard that. I always hear 'the proof is in the pudding.'

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Yah, Ciarin has this

Yah, Ciarin has this one right. Unless it is alcoholic pudding, where proof can mean something different. Except that you would still have to eat it to matter, so even then, the “proof” would be in the pudding.

 

Mind you, I have never heard of such a recipe but there is some rule of the universe that if booze can be put in it, it will be. I guess that I will have to try making a batch and see what happens. Since albumin does not coagulate below about 60c, I think that the pudding will have to be made extra thick and the booze will have to be added after it cools.

 

We now return you to your regular thread...

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Ciarin wrote:Actually the

Ciarin wrote:

Actually the phrase is "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

That's the original purist version that has since been mutilated into the now common phrase"The Proof is in the Pudding". The proverb goes back to the 1300s and was popularised by Cervantes in his Don Quixote of 1605 in it's original form, the phrase I am using began somewhere in the 1920s in the US and is now in common usage.

But I hear what you are saying...

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. - William S. Burroughs


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who cares?and, why not reply

who cares?

and, why not reply to the question put forth by the OP?


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 Quote:who cares?My guess

 

Quote:
who cares?

My guess is very, very few people.

Quote:
and, why not reply to the question put forth by the OP?

I can do that.  This isn't the first time this kind of thing has been brought up here.  I'll throw out a few more general statistical trends for you from previous discussions:

* Atheists are a disproportionately small part of the prison population

* Atheists who marry atheists are significantly more likely to stay married than any combination of theists marrying theists.

* Atheists are more likely to practice safe sex.  (This is an extrapolation from data regarding abstinence only education, and the assumption that most atheists are generally more sensible about comprehensive sex ed than theists.)

The bottom line for me is this:  No single statistic can "prove" that theism doesn't work, but taken as a whole, the overwhelming lack of any empirical demonstration of Christianity's moral superiority is glaring.  I've never seen any empirical link between a concrete indicator of morality and societal adherence to Christianity.  All I've seen is the random anomaly that can be explained more parsimoniously by something other than Christianity.

On the other side, we see a clear pattern of atheist societies consistently exhibiting healthy societies.  While every society has its problems, the overall pattern is clear -- atheist societies are generally less dysfunctional and more egalitarian than Christian societies.

The pudding is good to eat.

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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neptewn wrote:Where I work I

neptewn wrote:

Where I work I am accountable to meet certain metrics. We review these values periodically and set goals at a quarterly basis to try and meet and/or improve these values. If we don't meet our objectives, we are obligated to identify a valid reason or we take a hit on our bonuses and even potentially get RIF'd (Reduction In Force).

I often see debate around here regarding the benefits of Christianity on our society and the potential harm Atheism has on our morality. If this is the case it should be quite apparent by gathering a few key metrics. The first question I asked is where do we expect to see this influence of Christianity and the obvious answer was the United States.

United States

* Christian: (78.5%)
          o Protestant (51.3%)
          o Roman Catholic (23.9%)
          o Mormon (1.7%)
          o other Christian (1.6%)
    * unaffiliated (12.1%)
    * none (4%)
    * other or unspecified (2.5%)
    * Jewish (1.7%)
    * Buddhist (0.7%)
    * Muslim (0.6%)

Christianity accounts for 78.5% of the population, that would seem to qualify this nation as a Christian majority.

I then looked for a sample of the least Religious nations to compare it against and came up with these choices: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Czech Republic, Finland, and France.

Now what metrics do we need?

If we are trying to look at the influence of Christianity and it's influence on our moral choices, I figured we would start with crime, homicide rates in particular, then I looked at marriage, or more specifically divorce rates to get an idea on how we are doing. Finally what about our kids? So let's look at teen pregnancy and abortion.

Here are the values I was able to pull.

Homicide Rate Per 1000:

Sweden               .02/1000
Denmark              .01/1000
Norway                .01/1000
Czech Republic    .01/1000
Finland                .02/1000
France                 .01/1000
US                      .05/1000

 

Divorce Rate Per 1000:

Sweden              4/1000
Denmark             2.7/1000
Norway               2.2/1000
Czech Republic   2.9/1000
Finland               2.7/1000
France                2/1000
US                      4.1/1000

Teen Pregnancy and Abortion Per 1000:

Sweden             P: 7.7/1000     A: 17.7/1000
Denmark            P: 8.2/1000     A: 15.4/1000
Norway              P: 13.6/1000   A: 18.3/1000
Czech Republic  P: 20.1/1000    A: 12.4/1000
Finland              P: 9.8/1000      A: 9.6/1000
France               P: 9.4/1000      A: 13.2/1000
US                     P: 55.6/1000    A: 30.2/1000

Now I fully understand numbers don't always tell the whole picture and there are obviously a number of additional contributing factors but when you own 78% of the population and have influence in every aspect of a nation, since the get go, are you not obligated to own up to some of these results? Is Christianity not doing it's job? Is there some barrier or influence impeding it's ability to take hold?

I think the answer to this question is that Christianty isn't doing what a lot of people think it's doing. Namely, the assertion that "America is a Christian nation" is true in statistics only.

But there are a lot of other factors that have an impact on the statistics you mentioned. I'll take them in the order you discussed them, and speak with regard to Norway, which the country I'm most familiar with.

Homicide Rate

Has anyone else noticed all of these murder-suicides in the U.S. over the past couple of months? The story is almost the same every time - the father in a family with kids gets into financial trouble and kills his family and himself. In Norway, like other Scandinavian countries, income taxes are extremely high. But those taxes allow the government to pay for all of the expensive things that U.S. residents have to save up money for - healthcare, higher education and retirement. Financial pressure is much greater on U.S. residents, and even though it's note the sole driver of homicide rates, it is certainly significant in tough economic times.

Divorce Rate

The divorce rate is lower in Norway partially because the marriage rate is lower. The marriage rate is lower because the government treats domestic partners largely the same as married couples. And again, financial pressure - also a driver of divorce - is much lower.

Teen Pregnancy and Abortion

I don't know the current state of sex education in Norway, so I can't speak to that. But I suspect the abortion rate is much lower than the U.S. due to the availability of nationalized medicine and the national employee benefits system which allows mothers and fathers to split up to 12 months of time off after the birth of a child (and still get their jobs back).

 

So it's not so much that Christianity isn't working - it's that socialism does work. And it's amusing in the U.S. that the right thinks socialism is such a dirty word. They speak of it as if socialism and democracy are mutually exclusive. Norway is a constitutional monarchy - essentially a democracy with a figurehead royal family. It has regular elections like every other democracy.

 

Nobody I know was brainwashed into being an atheist.

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ifywar wrote:who cares? I

ifywar wrote:

who cares?

 

I do. I like pudding.

 

Quote:

and, why not reply to the question put forth by the OP?

 

What's the question?

 

Just because people are Christian doesn't neccesarily mean that they are moral? That seems self-evident.

 

 

 

 


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I blame it on abandonment of

I blame it on abandonment of responsibility.

 

It's human nature to shove the fault on other people. I think Christianity only encourages this by creating an entity that controls events, allowing people to feel even further powerless in their situation (by shifting responsibility) and therefore more likely to act out.

 

Theism is why we can't have nice things.


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 Quote:What's the

 

Quote:
What's the question?

If Christianity is genuinely conducive to improved morals, why aren't Christian cultures empirically more moral than non-Christian ones?

The idea is that morality is empirically verifiable.  We can count the number of murders, thefts, sexual crimes, etc, and we can track the spread of STDs, etc, etc.  Why do Christian cultures not only show up better on empirical studies, they seem to do worse?

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:What's

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

What's the question?

Just because people are Christian doesn't neccesarily mean that they are moral? That seems self-evident.

But the OP goes beyond that, the data actually suggest that widespread Christian belief makes people less 'moral', which is a much more serious problem for Christians to accept or explain.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:But the OP

BobSpence1 wrote:

But the OP goes beyond that, the data actually suggest that widespread Christian belief makes people less 'moral', which is a much more serious problem for Christians to accept or explain.

 

 

Well, Canada pretty much mirrors the U.S religion wise, and yet we have a much lower murder/crime rate.

 

 

 


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 Quote:Well, Canada pretty

 

Quote:
Well, Canada pretty much mirrors the U.S religion wise

It does?  Does Stephen Harper have weekly consultations with conservative religious leaders to help him determine public policy?  I'm not being sarcastic.  I really don't know.  Is your government made up 100% of professed Christians?  (I know... we have one atheist in Congress... what a coup...)  Who is the Canadian equivalent of Pat Robertson, or Ted Haggart, or John Ashcroft?

For the moment, let's assume that you're correct and Canada is sharing first place among first world post-industrial nations as the most religious country.  This isn't particularly relevant to the question in the OP.  I've already pointed out the dilemma (as has Bob Spence).  If Christianity does inspire and facilitate better morals, Christian countries ought to do better than secular countries on empirical data, and they do not.  The fact that one Christian country does better than another doesn't address the question at all.

 

 

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Quote: Does Stephen Harper

Quote:
Does Stephen Harper have weekly consultations with conservative religious leaders to help him determine public policy?

He hasn't taken it quite that far yet, no. Though he has appointed a Minister of Science who feels that evolutionar theory is a 'religious matter'.

*facepalms*

 

Anyway, Canada's overall crime rate is actually higher per capita that the United States. Our rates of violent crime continue to be lower (though, because of a large decline in violent crimes in recent years in the States, the gap is no longer as large), but violent crime is only a relatively small portion of overall crime.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

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Quote:Who is the Canadian

Quote:
Who is the Canadian equivalent of Pat Robertson, or Ted Haggart, or John Ashcroft?

In all seriousness, Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day are probably our closest political analogues (though neither are quite as bad).

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Quote:Well, Canada pretty

Quote:
Well, Canada pretty much mirrors the U.S religion wise

...Really? We had two atheists running in the last election - Stephane Dion and Gilles Duceppe - and the latter remains competitively in the runnings.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
Well, Canada pretty much mirrors the U.S religion wise

It does?  Does Stephen Harper have weekly consultations with conservative religious leaders to help him determine public policy?  I'm not being sarcastic.  I really don't know.  Is your government made up 100% of professed Christians?  (I know... we have one atheist in Congress... what a coup...)  Who is the Canadian equivalent of Pat Robertson, or Ted Haggart, or John Ashcroft?

For the moment, let's assume that you're correct and Canada is sharing first place among first world post-industrial nations as the most religious country.  This isn't particularly relevant to the question in the OP.  I've already pointed out the dilemma (as has Bob Spence).  If Christianity does inspire and facilitate better morals, Christian countries ought to do better than secular countries on empirical data, and they do not.  The fact that one Christian country does better than another doesn't address the question at all.

 

 

 

To my knowledge none of the MPs, or MPPs are atheist.

 [edit]

Apperantly Dion [FORMER leader of the Liberal party] is an atheist, yet Kevin has not provided proof.

 

[/edit]

 

 

These stats can most certaintly be used to show that Christianity does not guarentee morality.

 

 

However, to Bob's assertion, I can think of many counter examples, not just Canada.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_European_Union#Religiosity

Greece. [0.007/1000 murder rate, 81% Theist]

Cyrpus [2 murders, 90% Theist]

Portugal [0.02/1000 murder rate, 81% Theists]

 

 

 

As you can see, Greece and Cyprus DO do better than Denmark/Sweden in the murder moral department.

 

 

The point is, be VERY careful as to what you pull from stats. I am sick and tired of both Theist and atheist abusing stats.

 

 

 

Kevin R Brown wrote:

...Really? We had two atheists running in the last election - Stephane Dion and Gilles Duceppe - and the latter remains competitively in the runnings.

 

 

What exactly does that prove?

 

Two atheist ran for election, therefore Canada isn't 77% Christian?

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:These

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

These stats can most certaintly be used to show that Christianity does not guarentee morality.

However, to Bob's assertion, I can think of many counter examples, not just Canada.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_European_Union#Religiosity

Greece. [0.007/1000 murder rate, 81% Theist]

Cyrpus [2 murders, 90% Theist]

Portugal [0.02/1000 murder rate, 81% Theists]

As you can see, Greece and Cyprus DO do better than Denmark/Sweden in the murder moral department.

The point is, be VERY careful as to what you pull from stats. I am sick and tired of both Theist and atheist abusing stats.

There will be other factors, as acknowledged in the OP, which means that individual cases will vary quite a lot. The proper way to see if there is a significant trend is to try and pick a good range of different crime stats and different countries, and do some sort of averaging, not just hunt around and pull out some which go the other way. It was a poor selection if you wanted to argue against my point even then, all you showed was that in a set of countries all with similar levels of religiosity to the US had a lot of variation in crime stats, which has already been acknowledged. Your own response here is arguably a clearer example of abusing statistics.

It would have much better for your point if you gave a list of countries at the other end of the religiosity scale with similar or worse crime stats than the US.

Other studies I have looked at, which have gone into the study far more thoroughly that the OP, do tend to show that if there is any overall trend, it is negative, although not solid, as with any statistical analysis. I probably should have made it clear that I was not basing my comment purely on the OP stats. 

The point remains, that as we look from case to case, there is certainly no consistent correlation, which strongly suggests that religious belief has no consistent positive effect, at the very least, even if the assertion of a negative correlation is more open to debate.

It is not a question that religion does "not guarentee morality", that would probably overstate even the moderate Christian's position, it is that Christianity make very strong claims about the moral benefits of belief in Jesus, and the real world evidence is against it. Which suggests that for every individual example a Theist can give of an individual changing their behavior positively due to adopting Christianity, there are in many situations, enough people in society going the other way to offset the overall beneficial effects.

Any negative effects would be a real problem for the believers, let alone being anywhere near enough to offset the positive benefits. 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:Your own

BobSpence1 wrote:

Your own response here is arguably a clearer example of abusing statistics.

 

 

I wasn't using the stats to argue anything other than stats can be used both ways. The stats in the OP argue against Theism being required for morality, as the above stats can be used to argue against the opposite.

 

It's like trying to show that Pepsi causes people to drive red cars, or that lack of pirates causes global warming.

 

Does A cause B? Does B cause A? Does C cause both A and B? Is A irrelevant to B?

 

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

It would have much better for your point if you gave a list of countries at the other end of the religiosity scale with similar or worse crime stats than the US.

 

 

I probably could.

 

But if I really wanted to be a stuck-up bitch, I would have pointed out the suicide rates of Denmark, Sweden and Finland compared to the U.S. But that would have been ummmmm abusing stats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Quote:I would have pointed

Quote:
I would have pointed out the suicide rates of Denmark, Sweden and Finland compared to the U.S.

...I'm confused as to why you think high suicide rates would count against the overall ethical trend of a country?

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Kevin R Brown wrote:Quote:I

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Quote:
I would have pointed out the suicide rates of Denmark, Sweden and Finland compared to the U.S.

...I'm confused as to why you think high suicide rates would count against the overall ethical trend of a country?

 

I could use it to "prove" that atheism causes suicide. I of course don't believe this, but the same statistical data is there as in relation to crime rate and atheism.

 

 

 

 


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Quote:I could use it to

Quote:
I could use it to "prove" that atheism causes suicide.

...I think you missed my point.

 

Let's say that atheism could be causally linked to suicide.

So what? How is suicide a form of unethical behavior?

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:I

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
I wasn't using the stats to argue anything other than stats can be used both ways. The stats in the OP argue against Theism being required for morality, as the above stats can be used to argue against the opposite.

 

It's like trying to show that Pepsi causes people to drive red cars, or that lack of pirates causes global warming.

 

Well, that is valid on it's face but only to a very limited degree. Let me use part of your own case but taken from probably better data.

 

The fact is that my step father was a market researcher all of his life so he spent quite a bit of time pouring over raw data. There are lots of things that show up in raw data that probably don't mean anything at all. One of his favorite examples was a correlation between pet food and jarred pasta sauce.

 

It has been known for decades that people who buy dog food are more likely to buy Ragu brand pasta sauce and that people who buy cat food are more likely to buy Prego brand pasta sauce. As I say, that has been evident from the data for a very long time and it does not change much from year to year. The thing is that this doesn't actually mean anything of any substance (apart from the fact that it is probably a waste of money to mail free coupons for Prego to dog owners).

 

Similarly, your grabbing of a very small slice of statistical information also proves only your point that statistics can be abused. If you really want to do an AvT style comparison, you would need to look at far more than a country or two. Also, you would need to match out a number of other factors to control for them.

 

Speaking of the other factors, the USA is a really big place. If you want to compare us fairly, then it should not be to one or two places in Europe but rather to Europe as a whole. If you want to look at individual countries, then do feel free to pull statistics for the 50 states individually.

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:I wasn't

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

I wasn't using the stats to argue anything other than stats can be used both ways. The stats in the OP argue against Theism being required for morality, as the above stats can be used to argue against the opposite.

I agree stats can be used to prove anything and can also be misinterpreted. Trust me I have seen companies spend millions of dollars and man hours trying to decipher stats. I have argued the point myself on many occasions with my rep and job on the line. I am not holding to this data as a Christian to the bible.

I am simply saying.. I don't see any apparent benefits worth bragging about that indicates Christianity is a better moral substitute over Atheism, in fact I noticed the opposite seemed to be the case. This was my first swipe at the stats and experience tells me these things need to be adjusted for accuracy.

If someone would like to further make this claim than lets agree upon a population and some metrics to evaluate.

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 Again, Pineapple, you've

 Again, Pineapple, you've missed the point completely.  Neither I, nor Bob, nor presumably the OP is trying to "prove" that Christianity is "bad" or that it can't or doesn't ever coincide with decent moral people.  Statistical trends do not prove principles so much as they raise good questions.  The question that you have still not addressed is this:

Given the trend across political, cultural, and geographical lines showing a distinct lack of correlation between Christianity and better morals than non-Christians, why should we believe Christians when they say their religion promotes better morals than other belief systems?

 

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Kevin R Brown wrote:Quote:I

Kevin R Brown wrote:

Quote:
I could use it to "prove" that atheism causes suicide.

...I think you missed my point.

 

Let's say that atheism could be causally linked to suicide.

So what? How is suicide a form of unethical behavior?

I didn't say suicide is unethical, I said it would be an example of abusing stats.

 

 

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

It has been known for decades that people who buy dog food are more likely to buy Ragu brand pasta sauce and that people who buy cat food are more likely to buy Prego brand pasta sauce.

 

hehe I'll have to remember that.

 

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

 

Similarly, your grabbing of a very small slice of statistical information also proves only your point that statistics can be abused. If you really want to do an AvT style comparison, you would need to look at far more than a country or two. Also, you would need to match out a number of other factors to control for them.

 

That was my only point. That stats can be abused. That's it. I wasn't saying Theism/atheism causes morality/immorality.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

Given the trend across political, cultural, and geographical lines showing a distinct lack of correlation between Christianity and better morals than non-Christians, why should we believe Christians when they say their religion promotes better morals than other belief systems?

 

 

 You shouldn't. As I've said in my first post, that it's self-evident that Christianity does not guarentee morality and I said it again in my third post.

 

 

I wasn't responding to the OP I was responding to this:

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

But the OP goes beyond that, the data actually suggest that widespread Christian belief makes people less 'moral', which is a much more serious problem for Christians to accept or explain.

 

 

In retrosepect I should have just quoted geirj's post and just have said that there were factors that make it difficult to make a call either way rather than just being snarky with it.

 

 

 


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 Quote:Hambydammit

 

Quote:
Hambydammit wrote:

 

Given the trend across political, cultural, and geographical lines showing a distinct lack of correlation between Christianity and better morals than non-Christians, why should we believe Christians when they say their religion promotes better morals than other belief systems?

 

 

 

 

 You shouldn't. As I've said in my first post, that it's self-evident that Christianity does not guarentee morality and I said it again in my third post.

Well, it's not self-evident, but there's no evidence that Christianity either promotes or guarantees morality that is any better than any other system.  There is potentially evidence that it may contribute to less moral societies.  Given these two premises, the only responsible position is the default -- the claim by Christians that humans need Christianity to be better moral people is false.

So you agree with us, right?

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote: the

Hambydammit wrote:

 

the claim by Christians that humans need Christianity to be better moral people is false.

 

 

Yes, as I've said several times.

 

 

The reason I said it was self evident, is because to take a complex issue like crime, and attribute to one thing or lack of one thing is obviously flawed especially when there are stats that go against your claim.

 

 

 


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 Quote:The reason I said it

 

Quote:
The reason I said it was self evident, is because to take a complex issue like crime, and attribute to one thing or lack of one thing is obviously flawed especially when there are stats that go against your claim.

I don't get why you don't get that nobody (well, nobody who's making any sense, anyway) is disputing this.  I also don't get why you don't get that this doesn't have anything to do with the question at hand.

This, Pineapple, is what I mean about how you don't express yourself well, and often don't seem to get the question.  You agree with us, and everyone is trying to tell you that you agree with us, and you don't seem to want to accept that answer, even though everyone here except you can see it plainly.

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote:I don't

Hambydammit wrote:

I don't get why you don't get that nobody (well, nobody who's making any sense, anyway) is disputing this.  I also don't get why you don't get that this doesn't have anything to do with the question at hand.

This, Pineapple, is what I mean about how you don't express yourself well, and often don't seem to get the question.  You agree with us, and everyone is trying to tell you that you agree with us, and you don't seem to want to accept that answer, even though everyone here except you can see it plainly.

 

 

 

Dammit Hamby, I wasn't disagreeing with the OP, I was disagreeing with Bob's assertion. That is why I posted those stats. That's what I was addressing when I was talking about abusing stats. I was agreeing with the OP and disagreeing with Bob's assertion.

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

I don't get why you don't get that nobody (well, nobody who's making any sense, anyway) is disputing this.  I also don't get why you don't get that this doesn't have anything to do with the question at hand.

This, Pineapple, is what I mean about how you don't express yourself well, and often don't seem to get the question.  You agree with us, and everyone is trying to tell you that you agree with us, and you don't seem to want to accept that answer, even though everyone here except you can see it plainly.

Dammit Hamby, I wasn't disagreeing with the OP, I was disagreeing with Bob's assertion. That is why I posted those stats. That's what I was addressing when I was talking about abusing stats. I was agreeing with the OP and disagreeing with Bob's assertion.

I presume the statement you disagree with was:

Quote:

But the OP goes beyond that, the data actually suggest that widespread Christian belief makes people less 'moral', which is a much more serious problem for Christians to accept or explain.

I assume it is my use of the word 'makes' there, implying that the Christian belief actually can have a nett negative effect itself, IOW you are accusing me of  the standard fallacious use of statistics that assumes 'correlation implies causation'. You have a point there, if that conclusion was purely based on the stats themselves. But taking into account the nature of the claim and the normal assumption of the relationship between beliefs and behavior, my statement is defensible, IMHO.

Note I did use the word 'suggest' which means I was not saying that the stats prove that Christianity makes people less moral, but it is a plausible conclusion from not just the stats in the OP, from from several other studies that have gone into this question far more thoroughly. Since Christians insist that belief makes people more moral, it is perfectly justifiable to call them out on this and suggest that they may have it backwards. 

Of course stats can be abused , but the studies on this seem to have been pretty carefully done, and the point remains, as Hamby and others agree, that these figures go beyond supporting the idea in your response to the OP, that "just because people are Christian doesn't neccesarily mean that they are moral? That seems self-evident."

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 Right.  Bob and I are

 Right.  Bob and I are both trying to explain to you that neither of us is asserting anything that you haven't implicitly agreed to.  Neither of us is using stats to prove anything.  We are saying that the stats raise a valid question because of what they seem to imply.

I think in a couple of days, I might compile an actual cumulative argument that Christianity does, on balance, have a causal relationship with Christians being less moral than non-Christians.  I think the argument can be made compellingly, but that's not what this post is about.

So yeah... one more time:

The point Bob and I are both trying to make is that we are not trying to use crime stats, or even cumulative stats involving moral acts, to "prove" that Christianity "makes" people immoral.  We are pointing out that the stats -- by themselves -- are compelling enough to demand an answer from Christians who claim that Christianity makes people more moral.  Do you see the difference?

There are three choices:

1. Christianity makes people less moral

2. Christianity makes people more moral.

3. Christianity has no effect, or no consistent effect, or no statistically significanat affect on people's morals.

Bob, the OP, and I are making the following observation:

Christians claim (2). 

Statistics belie this claim.

Therefore, either (2) is wrong, or there is a valid explanation for why the statistics belie (2).  Which is it, and if it is a valid explanation, what is the explanation?

Please note that for the claim (2) to be wrong, either (1) or (3) must be true, BUT attacking (2) is not the same as asserting either (1) or (3).  It IS self-evident that one or the other is true, so pointing that out is simply stating the obvious.

 

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Hambydammit wrote:I think in

Hambydammit wrote:

I think in a couple of days, I might compile an actual cumulative argument that Christianity does, on balance, have a causal relationship with Christians being less moral than non-Christians.  I think the argument can be made compellingly, but that's not what this post is about.

 

 

 

In order to do that you would have to explain the stats I posted, the same if a Christian claims that atheists are less moral would have to explain Denmark and Sweden.

 

I can pretty much guess what it is, but we'll leave that to the post.

 

Quote:

So yeah... one more time:

The point Bob and I are both trying to make is that we are not trying to use crime stats, or even cumulative stats involving moral acts, to "prove" that Christianity "makes" people immoral.  We are pointing out that the stats -- by themselves -- are compelling enough to demand an answer from Christians who claim that Christianity makes people more moral.  Do you see the difference?

There are three choices:

1. Christianity makes people less moral

2. Christianity makes people more moral.

3. Christianity has no effect, or no consistent effect, or no statistically significanat affect on people's morals.

Bob, the OP, and I are making the following observation:

Christians claim (2). 

Statistics belie this claim.

Therefore, either (2) is wrong, or there is a valid explanation for why the statistics belie (2).  Which is it, and if it is a valid explanation, what is the explanation?

Please note that for the claim (2) to be wrong, either (1) or (3) must be true, BUT attacking (2) is not the same as asserting either (1) or (3).  It IS self-evident that one or the other is true, so pointing that out is simply stating the obvious.

 

 

Since Bob seemed to have clarified, I will just dismiss his speculation as such, rather than just snark it out.

 

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:In order to do that

 

Quote:
In order to do that you would have to explain the stats I posted, the same if a Christian claims that atheists are less moral would have to explain Denmark and Sweden.

I'll do that right now in a sentence or two.  Some Christian nations have better stats in particular crimes than other Christian nations.  Some atheist nations are behind Christian nations in certain areas.  These are all within the acceptable realm of statistical deviation.  The overall trend when considering the widest possible indicators of social function is that atheist countries are generally less societally dysfunctional than Christian countries.

See all those words like "generally" and "trend"?  Those are indications that I'm not pointing to a proof, but a suggestion of a real correlation.

We've been through this before.  Just a few hours ago.  I will not attempt to use stats to prove anything.  We all agree.  Stats do not prove anything.  Get it?

Pineapple, you know what a cumulative argument is, right?  That's where none of the individual arguments, in and of themselves, can prove anything, but taken together, they form a compelling case, since they all point in the same direction.

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote:I'll do

Hambydammit wrote:

I'll do that right now in a sentence or two.  Some Christian nations have better stats in particular crimes than other Christian nations.  Some atheist nations are behind Christian nations in certain areas.  These are all within the acceptable realm of statistical deviation.  The overall trend when considering the widest possible indicators of social function is that atheist countries are generally less societally dysfunctional than Christian countries.

  

 

 

I would expect to see LOTS of calculations as to how you can rationalize this one. And that is preciously what I would have to see to be convinced. Calculations with enough data.

 

For example, with Sweden and Portugal we have the same murder rate/1000 and a MASSIVE deviation of Theism.

 

 

Another example, the majority of the world's population is Theist, therefore it would be expected out of statistical probability that the most immoral country [the one with the most murders for example] is populated mostly by Theists.

[edit]

 

Or should I say more clearly, that there may not be enough data for the atheist side, and it'll be like comparing the morality of people with red hair [a small percentage] in America to the rest of the world. So of course a few redheads will be more moral than non-redheads, and with small data that will make a huge difference, so you would need more data to show a correlation of readheads being more moral than non-redheads.

 

[/edit]

 

 

Or your other arguments had better be kickass.

 

Quote:

Pineapple, you know what a cumulative argument is, right?  That's where none of the individual arguments, in and of themselves, can prove anything, but taken together, they form a compelling case, since they all point in the same direction.

 

 

This assumes that the individual arguments are valid. I think you need to re-think what counts as "acceptable standard deviation"

 

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:For example, with

 

Quote:
For example, with Sweden and Portugal we have the same murder rate/1000 and a MASSIVE deviation of Theism.

Right.  That's why nobody is relying on murder rate per thousand.  Nor are they concerned that there are individual deviations.   We've done this before, Pineapple.  If one were to give a massive statistical analysis, one would have to take into account the mean of each crime/morality statistic for all theists countries and atheist countries.  It would also have to take into account religious devotion -- is a country religious in name or practice?  Britain is much less of a practicing religious country than the United States, even though Britain technically doesn't have separation of church and state. 

I did not say that I would be doing this work.  I'm not qualified to do so.  I am, however, able to point to the various studies that have been done, and have been referenced many times on the site, and make the following claim:

There is no reliable pattern of statistics indicating that countries dominated by practicing Christians are any more societally functional than those dominated by atheists.  There is a significant amount of data suggesting that institutionalized Christianity may be correlated to an increase in societal dysfunction in a statistically significant number of countries.

This claim in itself does not prove anything, as I have repeatedly said.  However, if it supports other premises in an argument, it's valid.

 

 

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So if that pans out, is the

So if that pans out, is the religion causing the social disfunction or is the social disfunction causing the religion?

 

 [edit]

 

[delete edit]

 

 

[/edit]

 

 

 

 


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 It's a good question, and

 It's a good question, and I'm not sure of the answer.  My best guess is that because religion predates most of our particularly complicated societal dysfunctions, we can guess that some dysfunction is the chicken and religion is the egg, but I wouldn't want to go out on a limb and say that for sure.

To be honest, I think it would be overly simplistic to suggest that it's as simple as a basic cause-effect.  Religion and societal dysfunction developed side by side, along with agriculture, industry, and all our other advances.  It seems obvious that there must be rather complex interactions between them all.

Just hypothetically speaking, if we suppose that the first "proto-religion" was nature spirits, we can imagine that the first proto-theists might have taken up irrational practices to appease the nature spirits... maybe sacrificing too much of their stores of food, or something like that.  Perhaps, somewhere down the line, some shaman decided that a particular nature spirit was nasty, and wanted human blood.  We can see how a dysfunctional societal practice could arise from religion.  I have no idea if something exactly like this happened, but it's just illustrative of a point.

Remember, I'm not an anti-theist.  I'm an anti-irrationalist.  I oppose any system of thinking that is not based on scientific, logical critical thinking.  To me, it's not particularly important if religion is singularly responsible for societal ills.  I'm certain it's not.  It's just a big glaring boil on the butt of a lot of societies, so it's easy to pick on.

I guess I should be making that clear.  I don't suggest that religion is the only cause of rampant societal dysfunction.  I suggest that regardless of what started what, people who believe irrational things -- including religion -- do more irrational things than people who believe rational things.  That seems kind of... obvious.

 

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Bingo. You haven't even

Bingo.

 

You haven't even established causation yet, you're speculating on a complex issue.

 

 

 

Quote:

I guess I should be making that clear.  I don't suggest that religion is the only cause of rampant societal dysfunction.  I suggest that regardless of what started what, people who believe irrational things -- including religion -- do more irrational things than people who believe rational things.  That seems kind of... obvious.

 

 

Speaking of causation, are they irrational becuase they're religious, or are they religious because they're irrational?

 

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Bingo.

You haven't even established causation yet, you're speculating on a complex issue.

Quote:

I guess I should be making that clear.  I don't suggest that religion is the only cause of rampant societal dysfunction.  I suggest that regardless of what started what, people who believe irrational things -- including religion -- do more irrational things than people who believe rational things.  That seems kind of... obvious.

Speaking of causation, are they irrational becuase they're religious, or are they religious because they're irrational?

It seems to me that people adopt religious views for a range of reasons. If they are religious from an early age, it is normally picked up from their parents and others around them in the same way they pick up all sorts of other ideas. Rationality as such is typically not a major factor, either way. IOW they don't consciously reason their way into religion.

What we would normally describe as irrational beliefs are those consciously justified by clearly faulty reason or even despite strong, valid counter-arguments. But this does not mean that they are necessarily adopted or justified by strictly irrational thought processes. They may be applying a properly rational process of thought to a series of false assumptions, inaccurate data. It would only be fair to accuse them of irrationality if they will not accept well-supported evidence which contradicts their assumptions, especially if they employ fallacious arguments to justify their rejection of the presented evidence. As long as they don't make clearly fallacious arguments or assumptions, it may become a matter of judgement just how much 'irrationality' is involved.

Beyond early childhood, the less people are disposed to apply strictly rational methods of thinking, the more likely they are to adopt beliefs which are poorly supported in rational terms.

As for the idea that religion may 'cause' people to be or become irrational, it is better described by the observation that the strong attachment people have to their beliefs for emotional and other reasons makes it hard to for them to accept rational arguments against their beliefs, which means they have to come up with 'justifications' for rejecting such arguments, which in turn makes it easier to ignore or reject rational arguments in other areas.

So it can work both ways, even in the same person. It can be a vicious cycle - the attachment to religion motivates people to find 'reasons' to reject 'inconvenient' rational arguments, which in turn makes it easier for them to accept irrationality in their beliefs, and so become more firmly attached to those beliefs.

 

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My point was that all you

My point was that all you guys have is a single [I don't know how strong] correlation then massive speculation on a complex and multi-variable issue.

 

And I have every right to dismiss it as such. There are far too many unknowns for you to make the case.

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:My point was that

 

Quote:
My point was that all you guys have is a single [I don't know how strong] correlation then massive speculation on a complex and multi-variable issue.

No, pineapple.  We don't just have a single correlation.  We have various correlations of varying strengths, each of which singly and in conjunction corroborate the conclusion predicted by both logic and cognitive psychology.

 

 

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:My point

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

My point was that all you guys have is a single [I don't know how strong] correlation then massive speculation on a complex and multi-variable issue.

And I have every right to dismiss it as such. There are far too many unknowns for you to make the case.

I should have made it clearer in my last post that all those other points I was making were not based on that statistical study, but drawn from a background of reading and listening to many articles, books and discussions on the issues, quite independent of that particular set of statistics, which are just one part of a body of data which include other statistical studies, plus all kinds of other ways in which human psychology and behavior, individual and collective, is investigated.

As Hamby said.

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Hambydammit wrote:No,

Hambydammit wrote:

No, pineapple.  We don't just have a single correlation.  We have various correlations of varying strengths, each of which singly and in conjunction corroborate the conclusion predicted by both logic and cognitive psychology.

 

 

 

No Hamby, until you answer this:

 

Quote:

Speaking of causation, are they irrational becuase they're religious, or are they religious because they're irrational?

 

Logic and cognitive psychology would predict that irrational people believe in irrational things. If that is the case, you're argument fails, religion isn't making them irrational, they're irrational to begin with.

 

 

For example, if you look at the Eurobarameter poll, that says that not a lot of Europeans believe in God, you'll also see a good number of them believe in a spirit or life force. Is this belief rational?

 

 

 

 

 


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 Quote:Logic and cognitive

 

Quote:
Logic and cognitive psychology would predict that irrational people believe in irrational things. If that is the case, you're argument fails, religion isn't making them irrational, they're irrational to begin with.

Have you studied cognitive psych?  Do you know about false core beliefs and their impact on social functioning?  It sounds like you haven't and don't.

Let me draw you a picture of the cognitive model:

1) Children learn "reality."  This becomes more or less fixed as a permanent cognitive algorythm.

2) These algorythms are intuitively trusted by children, who are predisposed genetically to believe their parents above anyone else.  When an algorythm becomes so deeply entrenched that it becomes unconscious, it acts essentially like a filter, through which reality passes before it gets to the conscious mind.

3) After a filter becomes unconscious, as the child ages, everything will unconsciously go through the filter, and the person will make whatever sense is to be made through that filter.  

That's really all you need to know, in a nutshell.  I'll give you an example of how cognitive therapy works.  I'm using a specifically non-religious personal issue I dealt with peripherally (a friend went through therapy, and related all this to me) so that you can see how it works without your unconscious filter kicking in.

Laura (not her real name) hated, hated, hated to do any kind of housework.  This is not your normal laziness.  This is a knockdown dragout fight if her boyfriend asked her to do something simple, like clean up the dishes after he cooked, put up her own laundry, or simply not leave her stuff anywhere and everywhere it happened to land around the house.  It was a huge problem.  Oh, and forget cleaning the bathroom, cooking, sweeping, or any other chores like that.  Simply not going to happen.  Two hour fight.  No housework.

If you sat down with Laura and reasoned through how irrational her behavior was, and how destructive it was to her relationships, she understood what you were saying, but insisted it didn't apply to her because she was cooler than most girlfriends, and more than made up for her housework issues in other ways.  (I spoke to her boyfriend at length.  He assured me she was quite mistaken in this respect.)

To make a long story short, in cognitive therapy, it became obvious that Laura had grown up watching her father essentially force her mother into indentured servitude around the house, forbidding her to get part time work, and never helping at all.  She had learned that housework was demeaning.  Here, then, was the cognitive core belief that had become unconscious, but which had so altered her perception of reality:  Housework is demeaning.

Of course, there was horrible cognitive dissonance because she insisted that her boyfriend do the housework.  Wasn't she then demeaning him?  No, of course not, she would say.  It was his house she was living in, so it wasn't demeaning for him to clean his own house.  (Curiously, when she lived with her brother in a house she signed the lease in, she didn't clean either, but then... irrational core beliefs will do that to a person.)

I'm sad to say that Laura still doesn't clean up after herself.  Though the cognitive therapy helped her identify her false core belief, and though she realizes that she is acting irrationally, she has failed in her efforts to overcome her viceral reaction to being asked to clean or cook.  Her childhood indoctrination has been stronger than logic.  

Now, this is not a rant about religion.  The story I just told is absolutely true, and it's a great example of the predictions made by cognitive psychology, namely:

People who adopt false core beliefs, particularly as young children, will often have moderate to extreme difficulty as adults making rational decisions and experiencing appropriate emotions when faced with an environment which contradicts the false core belief.

Based on this prediction, we can extend the prediction to religion, which is by definition a false belief since it is non-scientific.  Though we cannot predict which person will have which problem, we have no difficulty predicting that many people will have significant problems when the cognitive dissonance of reality conflicts with their false core beliefs.

It is well and thoroughly documented that this kind of difficulty causes high levels of stress, reduced self-esteem, socialization problems, and other psychological disturbances.  People with high stress, reduced self-esteem, and problems with socialization are undeniably statistically more likely to commit crimes than those who are relatively stress free, have good self esteem, and are well socialized.

There's your prediction, straight from the psych textbook.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Cpt_pineapple
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Hambydammit wrote:Have you

Hambydammit wrote:

Have you studied cognitive psych?  Do you know about false core beliefs and their impact on social functioning?  It sounds like you haven't and don't.

 

Yes I do and did.

 

Quote:
It is well and thoroughly documented that this kind of difficulty causes high levels of stress, reduced self-esteem, socialization problems, and other psychological disturbances.  People with high stress, reduced self-esteem, and problems with socialization are undeniably statistically more likely to commit crimes than those who are relatively stress free, have good self esteem, and are well socialized.

There's your prediction, straight from the psych textbook.

 

 

 

 

But religion is positively correlated with high self-esteem, and also positivey with socialization Now do you see how this kinda fails?

 

 

 

 


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Interesting point. Though

Interesting point. Though there is this:

Quote:
But a survey that lumps all religious students together can be deceiving, Masters said. Each religion mandates different behaviors. Baskerville-Burrows jokingly called her religion "Whiskeypalian," while McQuitty warned Baptist students against consuming alcohol and having premarital sex.

Masters said the survey should've grouped students by their motivations for joining religious organizations.

"Students whose beliefs are central to their lives have higher self-esteem," Masters said. "But students who seek religion because they don't have any friends generally don't enjoy that advantage."

He added that the connection between students' beliefs and self-esteem doesn't necessarily involve religion. Non-religious students, he said, are no more prone to depression than students involved in religions organizations.

"The key point seems to be how grounded people are in their beliefs," Masters said. "If an atheist has a core value system, I would suspect he'd be just as healthy as a student in a Christian group."

Seems more like a case for the positive aspects of cognitive filters, rather than religion in and of itself. "Religious belief" is such a broad category (I would arguably, as a card-carrying [so to speak] Unitarian Universalist, be a part of the "religious" category) that saying "religious belief" is positively correlated with high self-esteem is ultimately a pretty meaningless statement.

Interesting article anyway.

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crazymonkie wrote:Seems more

crazymonkie wrote:

Seems more like a case for the positive aspects of cognitive filters, rather than religion in and of itself. "Religious belief" is such a broad category (I would arguably, as a card-carrying [so to speak] Unitarian Universalist, be a part of the "religious" category) that saying "religious belief" is positively correlated with high self-esteem is ultimately a pretty meaningless statement.

Interesting article anyway.

 

 

I didn't post that article to claim that people need religion for self-esteem or anything really.

 

I just did it to show that  Hamby's prediction of low self-esteem and socialization is wrong.

 

 

 


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I'll be interested to see

I'll be interested to see Hamby's response.

This was a peer-reviewed study, I think, so he should be able to get a hold of it. And there should be responses, unless it *just* came out.

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Hambydammit
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 Quote:But religion

 

Quote:
But religion is positively correlated with high self-esteem, and also positivey with socialization Now do you see how this kinda fails?

No, it doesn't.  I didn't follow the link, but if it's the same study that's been floating around for quite some time, it was woefully incomplete.  What it essentially showed was that within a particular subset of religious people, the self-reported levels of general happiness and stress were lower with regard to social acceptance and things like "direction in life."

What it didn't address were a wide variety of cognitive dissonances caused by religious belief, particularly with regard to things like sexual identity, morality, and centric worldviews.  I noticed that homosexual Christians were not separated as a group and polled about their sense of sexual self worth, nor were women in the Mormon church polled about their sense of self-determination.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
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