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Societies without God are more benevolent

Andalublue

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A really interesting and iconoclastic column from Nick Cohen in today's Observer.

Societies without God are more benevolent | Nick Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer

Less religion = less violence, less crime, less abuse.

The article is in part based on the studies of the interviewee in this clip...

YouTube - Phil Zuckerman - Society without God

He doesn't argue that religion causes social disorder or violence, crime and abuse, nor does he argue that the Scandinavian societies he studied are as successful, happy and functional as they are because they are so, relatively, Godless. What he argues is that the traditional religious trope that a functioning society requires a strong faith in God in order not descend into chaos and social dysfunction, is plainly and demonstrably false.

Would anyone here argue that society cannot function properly without a religious base?

P.S. Here's an interview with Phil Zuckerman that goes into more detail on his Scandinavian study.

 
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DarkWizard12

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It depends specifically on the people worshipping vs. the people in athiesm, doesn't it? Was the USSR or Communist China any less violent than the crusaders? Or was the north any less racist than the south during the civil war? Or is the buddhist people in nepal any less peaceful than the quakers or Amish?
 

Andalublue

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It depends specifically on the people worshipping vs. the people in athiesm, doesn't it? Was the USSR or Communist China any less violent than the crusaders? Or was the north any less racist than the south during the civil war? Or is the buddhist people in nepal any less peaceful than the quakers or Amish?
Not sure what point you are making. The point of the Zuckerman study was not to say that atheistic societies are unlikely to be dysfunctional or incapable of extremes, but that it is not essential for a society to be strongly religious in order to be functional, that, in fact, currently the societies that are the most functional, peaceful and law abiding are mostly those that are most secular and irreligious.
 

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These articles really are kind of worthless. Any way to actually do this is to find a society where religion was never created in the first place. Everything else has religion integrated into the society especially atheistic parts of Western Europe and America. Atheist in these communities are not independent of the historical past and presents of their nations.

"In many US courtrooms, judges restrict or deny child custody rights to atheist parents." and "Atheism and secularism, Zuckerman continued, are also correlated with higher levels of education and lower levels of prejudice not only against women and gays, but people from other ethnicities as well. For good measure, atheists were less likely to beat their children and more likely to encourage them to think independently." I do find these statements to be utter crap. A persons religion is not the first thing a judge thinks about when assigning custody of a child. And alternatively, if Europe is the standard of atheistic benevolent societies as this article implies, then they need to only look at their national pass-times to see how tolerant of other ethncities they are

YouTube - Beautiful Game Turned Ugly: Racism in Europe's Soccer Arenas

I actually have no problem with the video.
 
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DarkWizard12

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Not sure what point you are making. The point of the Zuckerman study was not to say that atheistic societies are unlikely to be dysfunctional or incapable of extremes, but that it is not essential for a society to be strongly religious in order to be functional, that, in fact, currently the societies that are the most functional, peaceful and law abiding are mostly those that are most secular and irreligious.
ah, I see, I misunderstood.

But then the study is somewhat faulty. No society exists that is completely without religion. Pretty much 90% of all human history was made with religion involved. This isn't to say you can't have an atheistic society, but even the most atheistic society has to have an understanding of religion to understand history and other cultures around them.
 

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ah, I see, I misunderstood.

But then the study is somewhat faulty. No society exists that is completely without religion. Pretty much 90% of all human history was made with religion involved. This isn't to say you can't have an atheistic society, but even the most atheistic society has to have an understanding of religion to understand history and other cultures around them.
Well, another way to look it is isn't with regard to "atheistic societies" but rather where a society as a whole is secular but individuals are allowed their personal religious philosophies. By this I mean where a society has people that are religious, but even those religious people don't want the government to make decisions based on religious ideals.
 

Andalublue

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These articles really are kind of worthless. Any way to actually do this is to find a society where religion was never created in the first place. Everything else has religion integrated into the society especially atheistic parts of Western Europe and America. Atheist in these communities are not independent of the historical past and presents of their nations.

"In many US courtrooms, judges restrict or deny child custody rights to atheist parents." and "Atheism and secularism, Zuckerman continued, are also correlated with higher levels of education and lower levels of prejudice not only against women and gays, but people from other ethnicities as well. For good measure, atheists were less likely to beat their children and more likely to encourage them to think independently." I do find these statements to be utter crap. A persons religion is not the first thing a judge thinks about when assigning custody of a child. And alternatively, if Europe is the standard of atheistic benevolent societies as this article implies, then they need to only look at their national pass-times to see how tolerant of other ethncities they are

YouTube - Beautiful Game Turned Ugly: Racism in Europe's Soccer Arenas

I actually have no problem with the video.
Your YT link is pretty irrelevant. The cases highlighted were from two of the most religious countries in Europe, not the secular, non-religious countries Zuckerman and Cohen were discussing. The Catholic church exercises enormous political power in both Spain and even more so Italy.

The child custody cases are rare, but they have occurred. Just Google 'atheists denied custody'.

The point isn't to say that the countries discussed are totally without religious traditions, just that these are the least observant nations on Earth, but that this does not prevent them from being functional as many right-wing commentators would and do argue.
 

Andalublue

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Well, another way to look it is isn't with regard to "atheistic societies" but rather where a society as a whole is secular but individuals are allowed their personal religious philosophies. By this I mean where a society has people that are religious, but even those religious people don't want the government to make decisions based on religious ideals.
That's right. The articles and interviews were not discussing 'atheistic' societies, but societies where religious observance is perfectly permissible and certainly not discouraged (as in the state communist countries mentioned) but not much observed through personal choice.
 

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That's right. The articles and interviews were not discussing 'atheistic' societies, but societies where religious observance is perfectly permissible and certainly not discouraged (as in the state communist countries mentioned) but not much observed through personal choice.
So then would you say the article talks more about religiously tolerant societies vs religiously intolerant societies? If so then, it's kind of a given. The arabian countries are some of the most violent countries in the world, as well as the most intolerant towards different religions.
 

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So then would you say the article talks more about religiously tolerant societies vs religiously intolerant societies? If so then, it's kind of a given. The arabian countries are some of the most violent countries in the world, as well as the most intolerant towards different religions.
Not necessarily. A society can be religiously tolerant but still be affected by religion. In fact, I would categorize the U.S. as that kind of society considering how important religion is with regards to government.

An example for what I meant was the Scandinavian countries where people are individually religious but they don't let religion affect public or government policies. Despite advocating a secular government policy style, they still have various religious institutions. They just don't let religious institutions have a major voice in government policy.
 

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Your YT link is pretty irrelevant. The cases highlighted were from two of the most religious countries in Europe, not the secular, non-religious countries Zuckerman and Cohen were discussing. The Catholic church exercises enormous political power in both Spain and even more so Italy.

The child custody cases are rare, but they have occurred. Just Google 'atheists denied custody'.

The point isn't to say that the countries discussed are totally without religious traditions, just that these are the least observant nations on Earth, but that this does not prevent them from being functional as many right-wing commentators would and do argue.
If you think the racism problem in Europe is limited to "more-religious" countries, then this defeats your argument. All of Europe is exceptionally more secular than America. You are just moving the boundary here of what is secular enough. "Well these European countries are the most racist so they have to be more religious. We are just not going to count them in our poll." That is a bias. This list indicates that Spain is up there on the list of most chariable countries:List of most charitable countries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. So which is it? Do you count them in your list of secular countries who give and not count for the secular countries high in racial acceptance? The site shows that Italy and France are right up there too and the video and the race riots of 2005 show us just how far these countries are in accepting others. Do these countries come on and off the list depending on how you want the data to come out? There are issues in Belgium, Germany and else where. The fact are that racism, support of women rights, and gays isn't really associated with religion. These things are associated with political culture.

Further, the atheism rate in America is 16% now even at low estimates not the 2% in the article (1990? really who uses stats from 1990 in today's internet world). To say these atheists are not getting divorced would go against common sense considering America's divorced. So to systematically take the extremely rare cases and apply them to make a generalizable statement is just wrong both scientifically and ethically. Atheism plays little to no role in the custody battles on court decision and this doesn't happen as a matter of policy.

What atheists are doing here is blinding themselves to their own behaviors and reality so that they can attack religion. Mind you, there are reasonable reasons to attack religion. Our history is horrible, we don't practice what we preach, we are hypocritical in harsh ways, we fail to understand our own religions. However, the education and benevolent arguments are not reasonable, factual, or appropriate. There is no evidence which supports any educational or moral high ground with either religion or atheism. They are fake arguments that atheists and theists use to make themselves feel better. They are the same argument that racists used to use when talking about Blacks in America for both sides. "We they are just uneducated. They can't help themselves." They are bullsh&t and we should all, if either of our groups were really more benevolent, would identify these beliefs as nothing more than fiction. But then again, schema and bias always win out here. These are self-premoniting beliefs which attacks one's enemies. And self-serving beliefs don't have to have evidence.
 
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hallam

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Sorry it should have been self-promoting in that second to last line.
 

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If you think the racism problem in Europe is limited to "more-religious" countries, then this defeats your argument. All of Europe is exceptionally more secular than America. You are just moving the boundary here of what is secular enough. "Well these European countries are the most racist so they have to be more religious. We are just not going to count them in our poll." That is a bias. This list indicates that Spain is up there on the list of most chariable countries:List of most charitable countries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. So which is it? Do you count them in your list of secular countries who give and not count for the secular countries high in racial acceptance? The site shows that Italy and France are right up there too and the video and the race riots of 2005 show us just how far these countries are in accepting others. Do these countries come on and off the list depending on how you want the data to come out? There are issues in Belgium, Germany and else where. The fact are that racism, support of women rights, and gays isn't really associated with religion. These things are associated with political culture.

Further, the atheism rate in America is 16% now even at low estimates not the 2% in the article (1990? really who uses stats from 1990 in today's internet world). To say these atheists are not getting divorced would go against common sense considering America's divorced. So to systematically take the extremely rare cases and apply them to make a generalizable statement is just wrong both scientifically and ethically. Atheism plays little to no role in the custody battles on court decision and this doesn't happen as a matter of policy.

What atheists are doing here is blinding themselves to their own behaviors and reality so that they can attack religion. Mind you, there are reasonable reasons to attack religion. Our history is horrible, we don't practice what we preach, we are hypocritical in harsh ways, we fail to understand our own religions. However, the education and benevolent arguments are not reasonable, factual, or appropriate. There is no evidence which supports any educational or moral high ground with either religion or atheism. They are fake arguments that atheists and theists use to make themselves feel better. They are the same argument that racists used to use when talking about Blacks in America for both sides. "We they are just uneducated. They can't help themselves." They are bullsh&t and we should all, if either of our groups were really more benevolent, would identify these beliefs as nothing more than fiction. But then again, schema and bias always win out here. These are self-premoniting beliefs which attacks one's enemies. And self-serving beliefs don't have to have evidence.
Well, you are making a fundamental error in your argument and in your interpretation of the OP.

This is not a discussion about atheism. The idea that I believe you believe you are debating is that there is something inherently superior about atheism and that countries where atheism is strongest are more functional. That's not what Cohen and Zuckerman are arguing, nor me. It's a much, much smaller point and one that is neither partisan nor prejudiced.

It's this, so please don't extrapolate to infer that some bigger theory is being proposed:

Many right-wing polemicists, writers and politicians argue that religion, usually of a Judaeo-Christian credo, is essential for the harmonious functioning of a good society. There is no lack of evidence to support that observation. Here's just one quote from one of the leading proponent of this position:
The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. And that's what's been happening.
-- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club television program, December 30, 1981
A Google search will provide you with as many as you like. This belief assumes that those who are either atheist, agnostic or simply non-religious cannot produce a good society, one that functions well, harmoniously and prosperously without a central theological foundation to that society. Simply, without God, society falls apart.

The argument of Cohen, Zuckerman and, here, me, is that such an argument is a fallacy. Societies that by observation and quantitative evidence appear to be the least religiously observant, in which the population shows the least interest in the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of theology, are some of the most functional, harmonious and prosperous societies on Earth, thus this claim that a strongly religious foundation to a society is necessary to prevent anarchy and social disintegration, is patently false. End of theory.

Am I (or they) trying to argue that strongly religiously observant countries like the US, Italy or Spain are dysfunctional? No. Not at all. Am I trying to argue that the countries dealt with in Zuckerman's study are more functional, harmonious and prosperous because they are the least religious? Nope. Not that either.

You seem to be setting up a strawman argument that because some of Europe has a problem with racism, therefore 'irreligious' Europe is less functional than the 'religious' US. If that is what you are arguing then it is a silly argument that presupposes too many things: that Europe (all of it) is less religiously observant than the US, which it is not; that the issue of racist behaviour is far more severe in Europe (all of it) than in the US, which is hard to prove and but debateable at the very least; and that the existence of racist behaviour in a small section of the population is a major determinant of social dysfunction. it is merely an example of socially dysfunctional behaviour, but if the absence of racially-based anti-social behaviour were a determinant of social dysfunction then we could surmise that there simply doesn't exist a functional society anywhere, because there isn't a nation on Earth where racially-based social unrest does not or has not occurred.

You seem to have interpreted my OP as another of those atheist vs. religious shout-fests. You have interpreted wrongly. I am not arguing that atheism is a superior moral philosophy to any religiously-based philosophy. Atheism is a valid philosophical position to take, and I know many religious people for whom their theology is both rational and considered. I find the arguments between zealous atheists and theists on DP to be occasionally amusing, often alarming and usually sterile - no one ever seems to approach them with an open, enquiring mind, but with an attitude of confrontation and competition. I don't buy into that attitude.

Oh, and FYI, I am not an atheist.
 
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hallam

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Well, you are making a fundamental error in your argument and in your interpretation of the OP.

This is not a discussion about atheism. The idea that I believe you believe you are debating is that there is something inherently superior about atheism and that countries where atheism is strongest are more functional. That's not what Cohen and Zuckerman are arguing, nor me. It's a much, much smaller point and one that is neither partisan nor prejudiced.

It's this, so please don't extrapolate to infer that some bigger theory is being proposed:

Many right-wing polemicists, writers and politicians argue that religion, usually of a Judaeo-Christian credo, is essential for the harmonious functioning of a good society. There is no lack of evidence to support that observation. Here's just one quote from one of the leading proponent of this position:

A Google search will provide you with as many as you like. This belief assumes that those who are either atheist, agnostic or simply non-religious cannot produce a good society, one that functions well, harmoniously and prosperously without a central theological foundation to that society. Simply, without God, society falls apart.

The argument of Cohen, Zuckerman and, here, me, is that such an argument is a fallacy. Societies that by observation and quantitative evidence appear to be the least religiously observant, in which the population shows the least interest in the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of theology, are some of the most functional, harmonious and prosperous societies on Earth, thus this claim that a strongly religious foundation to a society is necessary to prevent anarchy and social disintegration, is patently false. End of theory.
If it stops at the bold, I am fine agreeing to the bold. This is why I had no problem with the video. It did stop their. However, the article didn't stop here. The article went further and said "here is why secular/atheistic countries are better" and a few examples of this better behavior. The article doesn't support the bolded conclusion. the article support, the also false, opposite conclusion that strongly religious countries are full of anarchy and socially disintegrate. He says that the "secular", which he is using mean atheistic, are more advanced and that simply is not something one can base off of religion.

You seem to be setting up a strawman argument that because some of Europe has a problem with racism, therefore 'irreligious' Europe is less functional than the 'religious' US. If that is what you are arguing then it is a silly argument that presupposes too many things: that Europe (all of it) is less religiously observant than the US, which it is not; that the issue of racist behaviour is far more severe in Europe (all of it) than in the US, which is hard to prove and but debateable at the very least; and that the existence of racist behaviour in a small section of the population is a major determinant of social dysfunction. it is merely an example of socially dysfunctional behaviour, but if the absence of racially-based anti-social behaviour were a determinant of social dysfunction then we could surmise that there simply doesn't exist a functional society anywhere, because there isn't a nation on Earth where racially-based social unrest does not or has not occurred.

You seem to have interpreted my OP as another of those atheist vs. religious shout-fests. You have interpreted wrongly. I am not arguing that atheism is a superior moral philosophy to any religiously-based philosophy. Atheism is a valid philosophical position to take, and I know many religious people for whom their theology is both rational and considered. I find the arguments between zealous atheists and theists on DP to be occasionally amusing, often alarming and usually sterile - no one ever seems to approach them with an open, enquiring mind, but with an attitude of confrontation and competition. I don't buy into that attitude.

Oh, and FYI, I am not an atheist.
In order for me to be setting up a strawman argument, I have to be mischaracterizing the articles argument. I am not mischaracterizing Mr. Cohen's argument. He has made false claims. He said the the secular countries give the most aid. He then went on to say that these top countries are better at tolerance. This is false as my examples show. The man doesn't get to systematically count secular countries when they do good and systematically discount secular countries when they don't. The racism problem is Europe is rampant. It spans the entire continent, not just the "more religious" states in Europe. there are examples in France, Belgium, Scotland, even in Denmark and Sweden. I am sorry he can't make this statement "lower levels of prejudice not only against women and gays, but people from other ethnicities as well" and be accurate. News and current events disproves this. To then take extreme custody battles and somehow apply that to a general statement further reduces the articles credibility. Statements like these mean he is blinding himself so that these secular countries are all good all the time. I am not saying that secular countries can't be stable. No my statement was about the articles rosy colored glasses and to say that there is no justification for any country or religion (or anti-religion) to claim "more benevolence."
 

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If it stops at the bold, I am fine agreeing to the bold. This is why I had no problem with the video. It did stop their. However, the article didn't stop here. The article went further and said "here is why secular/atheistic countries are better" and a few examples of this better behavior. The article doesn't support the bolded conclusion. the article support, the also false, opposite conclusion that strongly religious countries are full of anarchy and socially disintegrate. He says that the "secular", which he is using mean atheistic, are more advanced and that simply is not something one can base off of religion.



In order for me to be setting up a strawman argument, I have to be mischaracterizing the articles argument. I am not mischaracterizing Mr. Cohen's argument. He has made false claims. He said the the secular countries give the most aid. He then went on to say that these top countries are better at tolerance. This is false as my examples show. The man doesn't get to systematically count secular countries when they do good and systematically discount secular countries when they don't. The racism problem is Europe is rampant. It spans the entire continent, not just the "more religious" states in Europe. there are examples in France, Belgium, Scotland, even in Denmark and Sweden. I am sorry he can't make this statement "lower levels of prejudice not only against women and gays, but people from other ethnicities as well" and be accurate. News and current events disproves this. To then take extreme custody battles and somehow apply that to a general statement further reduces the articles credibility. Statements like these mean he is blinding himself so that these secular countries are all good all the time. I am not saying that secular countries can't be stable. No my statement was about the articles rosy colored glasses and to say that there is no justification for any country or religion (or anti-religion) to claim "more benevolence."
Okay, you make some reasonable points. Cohen is a polemicist and his polemic can become simplistic, however he did not make the point that you seem to assume. He doesn't say that Europe generally is more secular than the US. You are claiming that, and it's not true. There are many European countries where religious observance is as strong: Italy, Poland, Greece and Turkey are just a few examples. There are also many where established religion plays a much more direct role in society and politics than in the US: again Italy, Poland, Spain, Ireland and the UK, where bishops actually have a guaranteed role to play in the upper house of parliament.

I think it is possible to claim that certain countries are more or less benevolent than others. This statement seems self-evidently true...
Sweden, the most secular country in the world, gives the highest proportion of its gross domestic product in aid. Of the top 10 aid donors, only the United States is a strongly religious country. Needless to add, the oil-rich and religion-saturated Iran and Saudi Arabia are nowhere near making the premier league of charitable nations, which should not be a surprise because Iran concentrates its overseas efforts on exporting terrorism, while Saudi Arabia uses its petrodollars to promote its brutal Wahhabi theology.
What's your problem with this?

And what is your evidence for this statement?
The racism problem is Europe is rampant. It spans the entire continent, not just the "more religious" states in Europe.
Can you back your statement up with evidence to show that levels of racial violence and discrimination are greater in Europe than in other societies?

I think I'll maintain that religiously observant societies are no more likely to be functional or benevolent than highly secular societies, and that indeed the most functional and benevolent (those in Zuckerman's study) are the most secular and least religious. I think to go further is to engage more in rhetoric than reality, so I won't.
 

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Russia. Pretty godless. Pretty gosh-aweful mess too. Russian mafia...
 

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Okay, you make some reasonable points. Cohen is a polemicist and his polemic can become simplistic, however he did not make the point that you seem to assume. He doesn't say that Europe generally is more secular than the US. You are claiming that, and it's not true. There are many European countries where religious observance is as strong: Italy, Poland, Greece and Turkey are just a few examples. There are also many where established religion plays a much more direct role in society and politics than in the US: again Italy, Poland, Spain, Ireland and the UK, where bishops actually have a guaranteed role to play in the upper house of parliament.

I think it is possible to claim that certain countries are more or less benevolent than others. This statement seems self-evidently true...

What's your problem with this?
Well you count Spain and the UK as a religious country and compare it to the US. Spain and the UK is one of the top 10 so there is inconsistency there between what you say is a secular national and what Cohen says is a secular nation. If only the US is religious, then Spain, the UK are secular to Cohen.

Further, I will always fight that Japan is actually one strongly religious country as well but Cohen, in his ignorance of Japanese culture, says they are secular. Japan just isn't religiously Christian or even Western. And Westerners always define religiosity in terms that mirror Christianity or Islam. However, a quick study of Japanese culture shows that how they have structured religions, which this structure is different from the west, which are followed strongly by the Japanese. The Ise grand shrine ritual shows this it just takes 20 years to see it.

So what we have from the list of is that 4 countries are religious (to me and using your standard) and 6 are secular. So that kind of doesn't support his point if we move Japan to the religious category and take your countries as religious as well. Again, I am just pointing out there there is real inconsistency here. Thinks about this. Lets use Japan as religious and your religious countries and the US; if we stop at 6, religious countries are more likely to be top aid countries.

And what is your evidence for this statement?

Can you back your statement up with evidence to show that levels of racial violence and discrimination are greater in Europe than in other societies?
I think the news articles i have shown so far demonstrate my point already but there is also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_Europe; Europe and Central Asia | Amnesty International Report 2010 (Even sweden was found to have a rise in racially motivated crimes). Again, this is not stick measuring contest. But to say the top secular countries are more accepting of people of other ethnicites is wrong factually.

I think I'll maintain that religiously observant societies are no more likely to be functional or benevolent than highly secular societies, and that indeed the most functional and benevolent (those in Zuckerman's study) are the most secular and least religious. I think to go further is to engage more in rhetoric than reality, so I won't.
Again, i would ask who do you count as highly secular countries? If you don't count those countries listed above, i would ask what do you mean by functional? Is this a term skewed to mean "countries that are the least religious?" If so then I am forced to agree simply because of how you operationalize that term. However, if you mean it differently, then I would the the US, UK, Ireland, and Japan as fairly functional countries which is enough to say that maybe this claim isn't correct.
 
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Hallman -
Again, i would ask who do you count as highly secular countries? If you don't count those countries listed above, i would ask what do you mean by functional? Is this a term skewed to mean "countries that are the least religious?" If so then I am forced to agree simply because of how you operationalize that term. However, if you mean it differently, then I would the the US, UK, Ireland, and Japan as fairly functional countries which is enough to say that maybe this claim isn't correct.
It isn't correct. You're absolutely right, Hallman. This is utter none sense, and I'm not surprised some media outlet gave this guy a minute in the light. He couldn't possibly control for this claim, the variables to accurately deduce anything meaningful statistically, is astronomical. I am shocked that someone even posted this and tried to defend it as even remotely plausable.. :)


Tim-
 

Andalublue

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Well you count Spain and the UK as a religious country and compare it to the US. Spain and the UK is one of the top 10 so there is inconsistency there between what you say is a secular national and what Cohen says is a secular nation. If only the US is religious, then Spain, the UK are secular to Cohen.
Sorry, I don't understand the point you are attempting to make.
I think the news articles i have shown so far demonstrate my point already but there is also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_Europe; Europe and Central Asia | Amnesty International Report 2010 (Even sweden was found to have a rise in racially motivated crimes). Again, this is not stick measuring contest.
That's certainly how it is coming across.


Again, i would ask who do you count as highly secular countries? If you don't count those countries listed above, i would ask what do you mean by functional? Is this a term skewed to mean "countries that are the least religious?" If so then I am forced to agree simply because of how you operationalize that term. However, if you mean it differently, then I would the the US, UK, Ireland, and Japan as fairly functional countries which is enough to say that maybe this claim isn't correct.
What does 'operationalize' mean in this context?

I think you are trying to rope me in as an apologist for the full content of Cohen's article. I made it clear in previous posts that I believe the following:
I think I'll maintain that religiously observant societies are no more likely to be functional or benevolent than highly secular societies, and that indeed the most functional and benevolent (those in Zuckerman's study) are the most secular and least religious. I think to go further is to engage more in rhetoric than reality, so I won't.
I also think I made it pretty clear that the countries I am referring to when I mention 'the most secular' are those Zuckerman dealt with in his study. If you are trying to read more into my position than the quote above, then you ARE misrepresenting it and you are trying to set up some kind of strawman argument.
 
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What societies have existed without God? The only thing I can think of is Communism, and even then people have worshiped in private.

Maybe what the commentator is trying to say is that organized religion is problematic? In which case I would agree because it has little to do with loving thy neighbour or God anymore.
 

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What societies have existed without God? The only thing I can think of is Communism, and even then people have worshiped in private.

Maybe what the commentator is trying to say is that organized religion is problematic? In which case I would agree because it has little to do with loving thy neighbour or God anymore.
He's trying to stir up debate, that's his job. He's a strange blend of old-style Trotskyite turned neo-con, very much in the mould of Christopher Hitchens. He wants to attack the notion that in order for society to work and be harmonious, it has to be based around a basic religious morality. That notion, propounded by the likes of Robertson, Coulter, Hannity et al, is clearly and demonstrably false, but in attacking it, Cohen goes over the top in trying to demonstrate the opposite. It was worth the read however, in order to be introduced to Zuckerman's study of the more secular societies.
 

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He's trying to stir up debate, that's his job. He's a strange blend of old-style Trotskyite turned neo-con, very much in the mould of Christopher Hitchens. He wants to attack the notion that in order for society to work and be harmonious, it has to be based around a basic religious morality. That notion, propounded by the likes of Robertson, Coulter, Hannity et al, is clearly and demonstrably false, but in attacking it, Cohen goes over the top in trying to demonstrate the opposite. It was worth the read however, in order to be introduced to Zuckerman's study of the more secular societies.
If anything, the author could say that "no-longer" is society bound by any basic religious morality, but he couldn't make the claim that it wasn't always necessary. In truth, this "losing my religion" new world order is yet to bear out. Moving away from God is actually very new, contextually. Not to mention that I find it highly dubious to even control for states that lack religeous precepts, and those that do. Do you have any links to the data-set, and just how they defined the irreligeous states used to compare against those that are religious? Furthermore, I would need to look at all the variables for more narrowly defining the relative health of the nations involved. In other words, what makes something good, and what makes something bad.


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If anything, the author could say that "no-longer" is society bound by any basic religious morality, but he couldn't make the claim that it wasn't always necessary. In truth, this "losing my religion" new world order is yet to bear out. Moving away from God is actually very new, contextually. Not to mention that I find it highly dubious to even control for states that lack religeous precepts, and those that do. Do you have any links to the data-set, and just how they defined the irreligeous states used to compare against those that are religious? Furthermore, I would need to look at all the variables for more narrowly defining the relative health of the nations involved. In other words, what makes something good, and what makes something bad.


Tim-
Google Phil Zuckerman, I'm sure you'll find the links you seek.
 

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What societies have existed without God? The only thing I can think of is Communism, and even then people have worshiped in private.

Maybe what the commentator is trying to say is that organized religion is problematic? In which case I would agree because it has little to do with loving thy neighbour or God anymore.
Why is there this association of communism with religious beliefs?

God-fearing/believing/following people/cultures can be communistic
Just like a non-god fearing/believing/following people/culture can be democratic

Your political structure or economic system does not relate to your religious following or tolerance.
 
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