Friday, March 23, 2007

THE GREAT DIVIDE!

Journalist Gwynne Dyer recently wrote a piece about a recent BBC poll that revealed that 82% of Britons believe that
Religion does more harm than good.

In Briton, 33% of the people (excluding recent Immigrants) identify themselves as religious compared to the USA where the level is around 85%.

The more Religious a country is
the LESS that it puts towards Social Services.


The higher the rates in Belief/Worship of a Creator
the HIGHER the rates of Homicide, STDs and Teen Pregnancy.

For instance the American ‘Bible Belt’ (Midwest/Southern Region) apparently has higher per capita rates of Homicide, Mortality rates, VD, and Teen Pregnancy. One other interesting point mentioned was that Abstinence practicing boys are far more likely to impregnate their partners.

At the end of his piece Dyer wrote,
"Thank God they didn’t do survey on the correlation between strong religious belief and war.”

Another interesting BBC survey that I came upon in my TIME magazine revealed that


51% of Americans now view their country as having a NEGATIVE influence on the world.

Thirty per cent believed it was Positive and 19% were Neutral.

The USA was categorized as one of the least admired countries along with Russia, North Korea, Iran and Israel.

Jumping back to the first report, Dyer speculated that Godless “all alone under an empty sky” countries decide that they must band together to help one another whereas in America a large percentage of the people believe that ‘transforming lives’ will be taken care of by a higher power and that it is not the responsibility of the State.

The American system of Health Care is certainly a testament to that theory and the fact that they pay Teachers so poorly is another point of contention.


When you think of the most ‘Religious’ Societies around the globe...
do you think that these statistics and theories have any merit?

31 comments:

  1. I've read reports that fairly conclusively demonstrate that religious types are more prone to support reactionary policies (like pre-emptive invasions) and that states with a larger identification as "Christian" tend to be more violence, with more crime, drug use and unwanted pregnancies, sure, that's been demonstrated enough that it's hard to doubt.

    It is a wide number of people's opinion -- learned opinions -- that Christianity has been intentionally used to pacify disenfranchised populations. Y'know, give the slaves Christianity, tell them that a better place awaits them when they die (BUT that suicide is a sin) and there's less reason to rebel in this world. Not just "religion is the opium of the masses" Marx or "religion is a hysterical addiction" Nietzsche, either, but very mainstream historicans and sociologists talk about the connection between Christianity (and several other religions, such as Buddhism) and powerlessness. In Christianity and Buddhism, rather than focusing on making a person's life materially better in this world, they focus on accepting the pain and suffering in this world for hope of a better tomorrow (heaven or nirvana), and that such religions are, themselves, responses to political and social impotence.

    Atheists can make mistakes, however, unchained to a dogmatic set of teachings, it's a lot easier for atheists to adapt. I don't think there's scientific or historical evidence for it, but it is my general sense of things. Atheists might believe strongly in something. They might believe irrationally in something (I'm sure we've all seen that). But they don't have an organized system of irrationality specifically propping up their senseless belief that a religious fantasy book is more real than their own senses, reason and the consensus of others. I think that sort of flexibility will tend towards overall improvements in atheism at a rate far in excess of anything a religion can muster.

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  2. yes it does. Termendously. look at the Middle east, even America and India and so on. The problem is when there was no information crossings, no TV or radio, people had a smaller circle of religious learnings and teachings. But then with the advent of these, the circle grew, clashed and are destroying each other. The clash of the civilizations are clashes or religion rather than culture or language.

    The more religious a society is, the less the people matter and the more the stone idols and scriptures mean to the people. Blindly following something for the better afterlife shows how insecure and stupid humans are in not being able to solve worldly problems and wanting to escape the easy way.

    And no religion and society that doesnt respect women and colored people are worth our respect or worth existing.

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  3. absolutely correct, and proven in the everyday life of one of my best friends. she works for Child Protective Services here in the States. religion, poverty, powerlessness and child abuse all join hands in a ring.

    while chris bradley makes his point in a manner which inspires my admiration, i have to point out that those same religions have another side which props up the paradigm...a side which the oppressed class never sees. the rich do not have to listen to how much they suck and how undeserving they are sunday after sunday. neither do they sit in uninsulated storefronts on folding chairs.
    'all equal under God'? uh, no. not even a little.

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  4. Interesting correlation BUT I think there's a more accurate way of measuring these things: education or, more precisely, lack thereof. There's no question that in many cases the more fundamentalist the religious beliefs the lesser the education -- especially broad-based, globally-focused, humanistic education. I see exactly the same prejudices and politics and social opinions reflected among uneducated, non-religious (OK -- let's call a spade a spade: "trailer park trash" :) Canadians as southern Christian fundamentalist Americans. The link is not religion but lack of education.

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  5. while chris bradley makes his point in a manner which inspires my admiration, i have to point out that those same religions have another side which props up the paradigm...a side which the oppressed class never sees. the rich do not have to listen to how much they suck and how undeserving they are sunday after sunday. neither do they sit in uninsulated storefronts on folding chairs.

    Oh, I agree! I wasn't trying to say I had all the answers, and I fully agree that religion serves as a prop to the ego of the wealthy and powerful, too. How much of American Christianity is telling the "haves" that they deserve to have it? A WHOLE lot.

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  6. The link is not religion but lack of education.

    This is true to an extent, but not all educations are equal. I've, recently, even, had several discussions with extremely well educated Christians. Christians tend to be narrowly educated but a fair measure of them are well educated without their limits.

    I don't think it's enough to say "more education", alone, but to judge between good educations and bad ones. F'rex, I'm sure that we're in agreement that the point of education should be to free a person's mind to think for themselves, not to unalterably bind them to a specific point of view forever. The type and intent of the education matters a lot.

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  7. Sorry chris I don't mean to interrupt..

    I just wanted to let you know that most of the people who drop by here could give a tinker's cuss about discussing religion and in fact about half of them are christians or theists of some sort.
    Although my views are well known I generally try to be firm, informative, fair minded and make an honest effort to listen to all points of view in the hope of encouraging open debate...

    most of the time I am merely flippant, fun, and glib and generally have my 'hat handed back to me' at the end of the the discussion..
    c'est la vie!

    I appreciate that you are being mindful of this..

    Just so you know..

    carry on.

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  8. Homey - that's "knitter's cuss."

    Just thought I'd hand your hat to ya.

    -the godless one

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  9. reyspoutine4:20 PM

    it's all pretty tribal isn't it, like a sunday afternoon football game, us against the world.
    unless you have no money, then you're off the island.

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  10. homo escapeons,

    Dood, I wish I could be flippant and glib! I am occasionally humor deficient. ;)

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  11. I can't understand how a country that is so religious can spend so little on the social services. Is there a correlation? Quite possibly. But it doesn't seem to makes sense does it?

    There has to more some other factor in play.

    I guess one correlation we could come up with is religiousness and liberalism. Or lack there of.

    I'm guessing that is probably the root cause of it.

    Look at that, I just solved the mystery ;)

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  12. does anybody remember that old ad campaign for sandwich spread " do YOU believe in peanut butter?"


    just thought i'd mention it.

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  13. grumbuler10:38 PM

    Sorry HE, but if it comes down to statistics, I'm equally skeptical. I trust man-made stats
    (supporting or opposing) about the
    same as so-called "Church Doctrine"
    and roughly as ethically sound. I
    find that statistics are too often
    a cheap raiment for some poor
    bastards myopic theories, and that
    religion is (rightly?) belabored
    as yet another Sado-masochistic
    relationship, made to disguise any
    manner of earthly perversions.
    Not much of a choice, eh? In
    both cases, some body of followers
    is whisked into a passion or ability to suspend disbelief in the
    name of exclusivity, too often, for
    somewhat common ulterior motives.
    To blindly accept science as a panacea requires equally strong
    convictions, and a strong inclination to accept truths that
    cannot be disputed by adherents. An eerie behavioral parallel exists, if we step back and assess
    them as dispassionately as possible.
    BTW - health care, like steak,
    is consumed as much for the sizzle
    as the flavor. The overwhelming
    desire is for sizzle down here, but
    the delivery is still more myth than meat. Tastes vary, I guess.

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  14. he, i didn't read chris bradley's comments, but is he interloping your darlin' blog? what a chuckle...

    as an american, i am sad sad sad that the good old u s of a has lost its moral standing. this is an international loss, and a scary one at that. just another reason for each of us to do good whenever we can...

    :)

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  15. 65% of me says that your right
    20% say your way of base
    15% say that I have been hanging around your blog and picking up nasty habits


    How ever 89% of the 65% that said you were right, actual think you are a nice person, the other 11% are not so sure.

    When you dig deeper, of the 20% and 15% that were negative to this post 95% thought that the 89% were spot on in their assesment.
    The other 5% had their mind on something else.....so in answer to you question?

    Errrr...What was the question?

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  16. Liked the post and some of the intelligent responses. I think that generally we use parents and (at a further remove) politicians to keep us in line. In times of dire hardship the Gods get called in.

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  17. Why is it that every time I hear the word Religion, I say to myself: "Thank God, I am not religious!"

    I agree 100%.

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  18. chris bradley,
    This is obviously a topic that you have spent a great deal of time analyzing. I agree that the prospect of postponing solutions in this world because it is supposedly all going to work out in the end is quite disheartening.
    If more attention was spent facing our immediate predicament without thinking that this is all a temporal testing ground to see where we are going to spend 'eternity' we would be much better off...but it ain't gonna happen...people like easy answers and they don't want to think that there isn't more to this life than what we can grasp with our senses.
    Youi and I have a lot of catching up to do...stay in touch.

    ghosty,
    Yes, yes and yes. It is so frustrating that we are still clinging to the ancient inventions when we are dealing with issues and technologies that our ancestors could not have imagined.
    We know so much more about ourselves than they did..although we have yet to outgrow many of our primitive tendencies.
    Perhaps small groups of forward thinking humans will be forced to congregate in designated countries and leave the rest to battle each other for supremecy. No wonder ALL futurists describe tomorrow as a place without our present belief systems.

    first nations,
    One of my new heroes is a sincere christian man who has taken on the televangelists and is demanding thatthey be accountable with the MILLIONS of tax free dollars that overflow in their coffers.
    Ministrywatch.org is a brilliant idea that has all of the uberwealthy televangelists very nervous..most of the BIG ones get an F on the repoort because they refuse to account for living in monster homes and fly in private jets..it absolutely makes me livid..it is the most disgusting, egregious violation of everything that christians are supposed to believe in and anyone making a contribution to one of these wankers should be convulsing in anger.

    shelley,
    Thank you for being so gentle..I love watching you get into a frenzy over the ridiculous antics of the Theocratists who would love to rule your country.
    Don't go changin',
    to try and please me,
    I love you just the way you are.

    reyspoutine,
    Welcome back Kotter!
    Yes..we humans love to wittle evryone down into groups so that we can estimate the risks.
    You would love that Ministrywatch site..you would not believe that hundreds of millions of dollars are unaccounted for and the leaders live like kings...I cannot help but think of their followers as metaphorical sheep having the wool pulled over their eyes.

    chris,
    Just relax and enjoy the journey a bit..here comes my two standard cliches...people are either charming or tedious and people don't care how much you know..they want to know how much you care...we can't change people's minds in one fell swoop (if ever)
    ..baby steps.

    philosopherblogger,
    See you did it! We canadians are always mystified by the you're on your own/do it yourself/carry your own load system below the 49th .
    I believe that it is this Pilgrim/Puritan hangover belief in manifest destinyu that god created the USA as the zenith of human development and that some americans believe this from the bottom of their toes..even in 2007.

    nations,
    Personally I cannot understand how all kids today are to Peanut Butter...when I was a kid EVERY kid had PB sandwhiches for lunch..I thnink that this signals the end of our species...if we can't handle the 'basic food groups' anymore what future is there for us? We're doomed.

    grumblinator,
    Lies, damned lies and statistics!
    You can back up anything with stats and bible verses taken out of context.
    That doctor turned senator , can't remember his name now...anyway he is taking all of the others to task for their pork barreling exploits and building art parks instead of dealing with the implosion of your treasury when all of the baby boomers retire, get sick and die....the US already borrows 3 billion dollars a day...healthcare is going to snap the backbone of your society.

    kj,
    That brief shining moment that was Camelot! Unfortunately the curtain is closing and it is just about time for last call on the American Empire...makes me just as nervous believe me...because now that 14 countries have nukes instead of two this world needs a nice policeman more than ever. tick tock tick tock...

    steve,
    I thoroughly laughed my arse off at how accurately you rplied..100%!
    How many things can any of us be 100% sure of....OK, most of us..OK some of us...a few of us???

    jammer,
    Is there a difference between having a father figure here on earth and one who is bigger than the universe?

    creme de la creme,
    It does free up a lot of your spare time doesn't it.
    Personally,
    I like not having to continually prove myself and my faith to others the most.

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  19. I wish I had something intellectual or even funny to say about this but sadly I don't - who is this god person anyway?

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  20. Religion has had a lot of positives, creation of order, most of our morality is driven by judeao christian ideals (even if not practiced), heirachy throughout history, feaudal system is based on a similar caste system... Organised religion contributes regularly to society in terms of food drives, and woorking with the poor.... There are a lot of good parts to religion...

    It is infact a Good "idea"....an idea is fairly innocuous....


    However...When an idea becomes a belief things get complicated, people will die and kill for a belief.. and this is where the problem lies.. perpetuating years of hatred because of a belief, arguing over whose gods got the biggest dick.

    Statistics are ficcle things, it comes down to wording, you can make a correlation between religion and STD for example, but it is short sighted, it misses other factors, such as socio economic factors in the same region... (possibly) unrelated to the religion of the region whihc is almost hereditary... Take all stats with a grain of salt:)

    You can have your blog back now...,

    Aidan

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  21. ziggi,
    You just did..on both accounts.

    aidan,
    You're alive! I am hearing what you are saying. Statistics schmatistics..you can back up anything with the right amount of tweaking.

    I couldn't begin to imagine what the world would be like without the aid of the many religious organisations that provide aid and comfort to the needy and the poor. Certainly governments completely depend on these groups to pull in the slack since they have continuosly cut back.

    The current pissing match between the two largest monotheistic tribes is troubling but not unexpected...cross your fingers and hope for the best..there is always the next generation.

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  22. post number
    1,2,3,4..........100...123....157...lost count...on religion...and HE says I talk about it all the time.

    MEN!

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  23. gautami,
    Alright already I'm just a no-goodnik!
    So now you've ixnayed my talkin' about
    SEX,
    now RELIGION..
    what's next POLITICS?
    I've already done the WEATHER!
    I'm screwed...unless...
    hey, everybody loves puppy pictures!

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  24. I do not stop you from writing about anything. I just have my say...if you prefered I didn't...say it!!!

    Men!
    My, my, they ARE sensitive...

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  25. There has been a slow and steady rise in paganism for the last thirty years or so, a movement that until lately has been largely underground and and quiet. Pagans, having seen the effect of Christianity and other such monotheism, have turned inward to the devine within us, embraced it, and have recognized the divine in all things. The HELL (a Christian term) with this "suffer now, be rewarded later" crap. WE are responsible for this planet, which is our only home and has sustained us since the first microbe nudged the second and said "come here often?". It is up to US, as the assholes on top of the chain, to start taking responsibility for ourselves and our planet, or we deserve whatever hell we create here for ourselves and all living things. There IS no God to blame or pray to, so it's time to wake up and get real or go quietly into that night.......

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  26. gautami,
    Waaa!
    Waaa!
    I'm glad that you say whatever you mean. The reason I jump back to religion so often is because it is at the very root of everything that is wrong with our world...it is the single most divisive issue.

    Michael,
    Hey! It is an interesting avenue. I can see it's appeal. I am still bafffled somewhat by the supernatural aspect as I have a hard time reconciling the thought that there is anything spiritual about us. I would like to learn more about that but my empirical anchor keeps catching on the bottom.

    I do appreciate the freedom that we have to explore all avenues to explain our existence...we had better have a good reason for who we are..we have a lot to answer for down here.

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  27. Hi HE,

    This is a bygone post now and we could chat a long while on this broad topic. I like your question to me, there. It's interesting. Yeah, I would say my Dad (love him) exists whereas God might and might quite probably not, at least if he does he probably isn't an old man. God is the over-riding patriarch who judges and rules and all that. Religion, tssh...

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  28. my daughter is presently taking a class on (get ready) theoretical physics and says that out there on the mathematical edge, religious ideas and science are shaking hands.
    the spiritual as the ultimate physical? as I'm literally barely able to add two numbers without using my fingies, do you have any imput on this one? is it simply a matter of language being unequiped to describe certain phenomena???
    as long as we're being all frivolous and shit, i mean.:)

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  29. can you please put up a link to the BBC survey? I'm extremely interested to read it.

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  30. Jammer,
    The powerful imagery of a Father Figure was really pushed well past the point of good taste by the fledgling monotheists in the Middle East. The very notion of such a stern taskmaster doesn't dovetail well with our modern understanding of human psychology...as a weapon to keep the crowd controlled it worked fairly well until we we peeked behind the Wizard's curtain a couple hundred years ago.

    first nations,
    The startling mathematical complexities that people are inventing to combine space and time are far beyond my grasp. I mean even string theory has me sucking my thumb in the corner.

    I can appreciate that there should be a comprehensible avenue to unite the seen and the unseen but I'll have to wait until they dumb it down..and there is a lot of stuff down here that we need to fix...
    I mean the Boomers haven't even legalized Marijuana yet?

    chaucer's bitch,
    The information was in my Time mag but I am certain that the two that I quickly googled under BBC Survey were a one click away.

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  31. Ok so this post is a few months old but I have nothing better do, and I just can't resist commenting...

    More harm than good eh? Britain is a very secular place, and not many people are really clear of exactly what it is people (or even themselves) believe anymore. The Western world has this weird obsession with stamping religion out as though it directly threatens the welfare of its citizens. Take France, for example, which caused such controversy with its policy of banning the muslim veil (and furthermore refusing to allow the girls to wear bandanas instead?????). Personally, I don't get it. And this is why.

    Secularism is a VERY modern thing. Today it is hard for us to accept a government mixed up with religious bias because we are all INDOCTRINATED into the view that the state and religion should be kept separate. The reality is that religion has always gone hand in hand with politics and government. As an objective moral code, God-given and infallible, it stands to reason that religion should form the basis of society and ethics (if you believe in God, obviously). So until very recently religion was directly responsible for the development of the society we live in today.

    And yeah, times in the past were pretty harsh. Caused by religion? Nah. Caused by misuse of power, to which religion is particularly prone. The problem lies in the fact that Western religions such as Christianity (to stick with the Bible belt example in the post) are not democratic. Obviously - God is pretty much in charge. Since the structure of the church mirrors this principle it naturally follows that one guy should lead whilst the others follow. This doesn't mean that Christianity is a blind religion - members of the church and critics have always maintained a healthy dialogue throughout its history, and even now parts of its doctrine are still being ammended and adapted to suit new knowledge of the world we live in. But, stick one guy in charge and he's gonna be tempted to take it all for himself isn't he? Unless he's genuine. It requires a lot of trust.

    A lack of democracy means that the wrong person can end up at the top. Fundamentalist religions, in my view, are hysterical religions. They are the product of miseducation - or no education - coupled with a charismatic, if misguided/greedy/crazy, leader. The more you threaten these people, the louder they will shout. They are also the product of a society that places too much emphasis on RELIGION as a separate thing from society. Through reifying religion and separating it from the very body from which it grew, the religious elements of society take on a character and form that may eventually bear little or no meaning for a society that has since moved on. By making religion something you can take out of context and fiddle with - ie. by separating STATE from RELIGION rather than accepting that the state IS partially religious - western thought contrives only to turn religion upon its head, making it something you either are or are not; can be or can't be; follow or don't follow. This leads to the separatism seen in Bible Belt communities, where people are hostile to atheistic thought as a guard dog is to an intruder.

    A better example cannot be found outside of India. In pre-colonial times religiosity in India was largely folkloric and syncretic, and - above all - an integral part of society and politics. Not until the introduction of western ideas of religion as a category do we see any real attempt to separate India's plethora of beliefs into distinct categories - Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam etc. 1875 is a particularly noteable year, involving the foundation of dalit, Hindu and Muslim separatist groups within months of each other. Only when Religion is seen in this reified manner does it REALLY cause damage - communal violence in India has been a problem ever since.

    It seems to me that religion is not the creator of its own faults. Rather the shape of western thought serves to corrupt an otherwise sensible phenomenon necessary for the evolution and preservation of society. In fact, a conscious effort to stamp out religion generates EVEN MORE trouble than if we just left it alone to get quietly on with its own business. When anyone is backed into a corner they bite. If you over-secularise a society you only end up alienating its religious population, leading to anger and "religious" violence and protest. 'Cause lets face it - people ARE religious. For as long as there are religious people in the world, their concerns should be proportionately represented within their society.

    Sigh. And I call myself an atheist...

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