Religious leaders constantly assert without religion to both guide and rule people there will be chaos, so in order for their to BE order, religion of some sort is practically a societal requirement. This is one of the most pernicious myths that organized religion insists on promoting despite overwhelming evidence that secular societies are the most well off along a range of social indicators. I have made the case that the advanced secular democratic societies all enjoy a better quality of life.
“>Journal of Religion and Society: Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies
Excerpt: “The data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developing democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards. The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.”
“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
The problem is that believers are innoculated against listening to anyone who is apostate or advancing the secular position. Radio mouths have incessantly harped on the imagined evils of secular society.
Believers continue to hold to their propaganda that religion is all good all the time. Well, 9/11 should have disabused everyone that this is not the case. The homicidal maniacs that took over 3,500 innocent lives on a bright and sunny fall day would not have been able to sacrifice their own lives but for the ruinous dogma of an afterlife and worse the promise of a reward for defending their faith in such a wanton cruel fashion.
Secular people make no demands on their supporters to defend secular belief with their lives. They make no false promises of a blissful afterlife that soothes the pain of thinking about death. They make no appeals to supernatural agencies.
American Sociologist Phil Zuckerman spent several years living in Scandinavia to research his new book:
Here is a positive review of the book.
Spot on! From a Scandinavian perspective., December 25, 2008
By Bo Kristoffersson “BoHenry” (Stockholm, Sweden) – See all my reviews
I’m a Scandinavian, living and working in Stockholm, Sweden, and I read Mr. Zuckerman’s book from that perspective.
Obviously he is very well read on the issues of Scandinavian societies and on religion in general, but I have to say that given that he only spent a year or so in Scandinavia, I’m very impressed with his thorough understanding of the finer nuances of the Nordic countries and the mentality of its people (he mainly deals with Denmark and Sweden) – and his descriptions and analysis of people’s attitudes to religious and societal matters are interesting.
In his book he shows that societies can be sane, prosperous and humane without people having a God-fearing approach to life, and he also presents some interesting ideas and explanations as to why the Scandinavian societies have become so secular, and reversely, why the USA has become so religious.
His book and studies are clearly built on sociological research methods, but he carries a personal tone throughout the book which makes it very pleasant to read. And although some of the interviews in the book can be a bit lengthy at times, they provide a direct and valuable insight into the way the common Dane or Swede thinks on matters of religion, the church, life, death, etc.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in society and religion. And I also think it’s a valuable read for us Scandinavians, to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves on the matter of religion.
There is compelling evidence that income inequality may be the root cause of most societal problems. How inequality might tie into religiosity could lead to more answers. My speculative theory is that religion has a long and storied history of being a palliative for people, a way to keep them from rising up against their overlords. Karl Marx famously said that religion is the opium of the masses. In America during the days of slavery the churches tamped down Black discontent by promising the future reward of heaven for “good” behavior. Meaning behavior the slave lords approved of. Blacks were actually prohibited from learning how to read or trying to improve themselves. The evil ignorant people who owned them meant to keep them in ignorance and slavery forever. But, these same people considered themselves righteous Christians and met each Sunday to congratulate themselves on their wholesome attitudes.
Today, fundamentalist religion aims to keep children in ignorance. Children raised by despotic religious parents are to seek answers only in the bible. Childhood religious indoctrination produces a permanent underclass of ignorant people kept in a state of menial serfdom and easily manipulated by cults and extreme political ideologues, such as the Tea Party. Children have obedience and unquestioning respect for authority drummed into them. This fact has not been lost on unsavory clerics, politicians and corporations all grasping for money and power.
For compelling data about the effects of income equality read the work of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in their book, The Spirit Level published by Penguin Books. They will be appearing at the Edinburgh book Festival later this August.
“The rich developed societies have reached a turning point in human history. Politics should now be about the quality of social relations, how we can develop harmonious and sustainable societies.” Richard Wilkinson
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- Denmark, the very best place to grow old (thestar.com)
- In Lebanon, a Campaign to Get God Out of Politics (time.com)
- Phil Zuckerman: Imagine No Religion: Can a Society Be Successful Without It? (huffingtonpost.com)
- More Proof Atheists Are Smarter Than Theists… (anatheist.net)