27 September 2005

Religion Not Beneficial.

Prayer doesn't help heart patients.

More generally, religion is correlated with poor performance on a variety of social health indicators at the national level.

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies. . . .Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular factors. No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly religious U.S. is an outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less theistic but otherwise socially comparable secular developing democracies. In other cases, the correlations are strongly graded, sometimes outstandingly so.


Correlation is not causation. But, you can't have causation without correlation. So, the claims that religion is generally a cause of societal health on any of the measures above simply cannot be squared with the facts. And, correlation is certainly a valid reason to consider the possibility that there are causal links involved.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

Thanks for both those links. That issue of the medical value of prayer is an interesting one with a lot of really poor studies being done; it's nice to see a good one.

The journal of religion and society article is a great read as well.