Does Christianity Lead to a Better Society? 

"Researcher Gregory Paul used public records of social metrics such as suicide, lifespan, divorce, alcohol consumption, and life satisfaction to compare 17 Western countries (the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and 12 European countries). He concluded:

Of the 25 socioeconomic and environmental indicators, the most theistic and procreationist western nation, the U.S., scores the worst in 14 and by a very large margin in 8, very poorly in 2, average in 4, well or very well in 4, and the best in 1. …

Because the U.S. performs so poorly in so many respects, its cumulative score on the [Successful Societies Scale is lowest,] placing it as an outlier so dysfunctional relative to the other advanced democracies that some researchers have described it as “sick.” (p. 416)

"Conditions in America are decent in spite of the strong influence of Christianity, not because of it. From a related article by Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman, here are the secrets to making a secular society:

It is to be expected that in 2nd and 3rd world nations where wealth is concentrated among an elite few and the masses are impoverished that the great majority cling to the reassurance of faith.

Nor is it all that surprising that faith has imploded in most of the west. Every single 1st world nation that is irreligious shares a set of distinctive attributes. These include handgun control, anti-corporal punishment and anti-bullying policies, rehabilitative rather than punitive incarceration, intensive sex education that emphasizes condom use, reduced socio-economic disparity via tax and welfare systems combined with comprehensive health care, increased leisure time that can be dedicated to family needs and stress reduction, and so forth.

As a result the great majority enjoy long, safe, comfortable, middle class lives that they can be confident will not be lost due to factors beyond their control. It is hard to lose one’s middle class status in Europe, Canada and so forth, and modern medicine is always accessible regardless of income. Nor do these egalitarian cultures emphasize the attainment of immense wealth and luxury, so most folks are reasonably satisfied with what they have got. Such circumstances dramatically reduces peoples’ need to believe in supernatural forces that protect them from life’s calamities, help them get what they don’t have, or at least make up for them with the ultimate Club Med of heaven."

"They conclude that a healthy society eliminates the need for faith.

Every time a nation becomes truly advanced in terms of democratic, egalitarian education and prosperity it loses the faith. It’s guaranteed. That is why perceptive theists are justifiably scared. In practical terms their only … hope is for nations to continue to suffer from socio-economic disparity, poverty and maleducation. That strategy is, of course, neither credible nor desirable. And that is why the secular community should be more encouraged. …

The religious industry simply lacks a reliable stratagem for defeating disbelief in the 21st century."

"So perhaps many of us have it backwards. This is not a contest between religion and secularism that will determine the quality of society. Rather, the quality of societywill determine whether religion or secularism will thrive. In a dysfunctional society, religion helps pick up the pieces, but in a society where life is secure, religion withers away.

Do you want a religious society or a healthy one? You can’t have both."

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Replies to This Discussion

This is great reading Joan. Will re-read when I get back from town.

I suppose it computes.  I mean, what is healthy about believing something that isn't true?

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