Those Brits do pick on religion…

Does Religion Do More Harm Than Good?, courtesy of galbinus_caeli.

A quote of a quote of the original study, regarding religious belief in developed, democratic countries…
“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, (venereal disease), teen pregnancy, and abortion,” while “none of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction.”

First off, I hate that they dropped “pro-evolution” in there. Religion and Evolution are not opposites.

Secondly, is this an increase-in-preachers-causes-increase-in-criminals sort of false correlation? (or, if you prefer, decrease-in-pirates-causes-increase-in-global-warming) Perhaps is there selective data being reviewed? Dunno.

As the author of the article mentions, all of these issues are more likely to happen with the economically disadvantaged and countries with stronger belief in a higher power tend to have fewer social programs (at least, fewer governmental social programs).

My instinct is to resist the blow to religion. In a country where there are few social programs and a harsher form of poverty, I would hypothesize a tendency to look towards satisfaction in the afterlife when satisfaction in present life seems unattainable. Thus, poverty and its accompanying ills beget religion, rather than the other way around.

And Britain is “post-Christian”? Who knew?

Book Log – Don’t Know Much About The Bible (re-read)

Don’t Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the
Good Book but Never Learned
by Kenneth C. Davis

This is a re-read.

Recently, I was asked by my sister-in-law to be the godfather to my
nephew, Frankie Richie (or Frichie, as I like to call him). There was
some consternation about the request… I’m notorious on that side of the
family for my nontheism. I think mostly they were worried I would be
offended; It certainly isn’t because of concern that I wouldn’t step up to
guiding the boy spiritually. I don’t see any of the other kids’
godparents giving Bible lessons.

But I’m taking this seriously. While I’m going to let the kid make his
own decisions about what he believes, I will certainly make sure he’s got
all the data at hand.

This book is a great read. It really brings out the interesting thoughts,
quandries, contradictions, and interpretations of the bible. It talks
about how it was collected, what was left out, when everything was written
and by whom (as far as we know at this point, anyway).

I’d like to learn more about the Gnostic Gospels and how they fit in…
how credible were they as “authentic” records of the times and why were
they left out? Don’t Know Much documents the split of the early
church, and how much of Paul and other’s writings are condemnations of the
Gnostic take on Christianity. But in retrospect, are the Gnostic Gospels
just as valid as the canonized ones? Had Paul not been such a good
marketing director, would we be singing hymns about hot Mary-on-Jesus
action?

Also, I’d love to have a conversation with a fundamentalist and find out
how they rectify the contradictions in the Bible. I mean, just a few
pages into Genesis, there’s already conflicting accounts going on. The
Gospels could have used a committee meeting to make sure they were all on
the same page as well. Often with any debate, there are grey areas and
both sides make good points, but I don’t see how a fundamentalist has a
leg to stand on.

Moral/Ethical Question #1

Inspired by Michael Shermer’s How We Believe:

You have a house with a garage around back. The garage door is painted white.

For one reason or another, the paint on the door starts to flake off. Eventually, it flakes off in such a way that if you look carefully, you can see a shape that could be interpreted to look like the Virgin Mary or, possibly, a penguin.

Your neighbor, who is a devout catholic, sees this and declares it a miracle. He calls up the Catholic Miracle Hot Line, and the next day there are 5,000 people clamoring to see your garage door, many with severe ailments hoping to be healed. The major networks all have news vans set up on your lawn, and 15,000 – 20,000 people are expected to arrive over the next week.

Do you:

A) Shoo everyone away and finally get around to painting the garage door like you’ve meant to for some time.

B) Sit back and wait for the furor to die down, then paint the door.

C) Put up a sign that says “See the Virgin Mary, $15”

D) Put up a sign that says “See the Virgin Mary or, possibly, a penguin, $15”

E) Put up a sign that says “See my garage door, $15”

F) Something else.