Often here at TA an argument is made that if only we dumped all religion and everyone was secular without belief in doG, we would all be farting petunias.  Less war, less viciousness, evolution leads us naturally to cooperation, etc.

I admire the goal and the idealism.   As everyone knows, however, I'm on the other side of the argument, because I don't think that argument is scientifically or historically sound, nor particularly rational given the available evidence.  I'm a practitioner of religion, though, not a researcher in the field.

This month's Atlantic, however, has a very cogent piece based as close as I can tell on real data and research by the folks that do this stuff.  Correlation is not causation, and all real social science work is correlative because it's impossible to conduct true experiments.  Nonetheless, it's really quite illustrative, and supports the concerns that I have occasionally offered here much more clearly than I ever have.  It's also quite timely, and seems to accurately reflect my sense of what has been going on with the politics of my state and nation, particularly in our rural areas. 

The piece is: 


I'd be curious, after you have read and digested it and preferably after you set aside knee-jerk responses, whether it helps you understand the concerns I have been raising.  The trends here in the U.S. are quite concerning.  Dismantling religion without having a better theory to replace it with seems increasingly dangerous, since the rest state humanity is likely to return to is a much uglier version of tribalism.

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At this point...flabbergasted doesn't describe the feeling after reading this. I was hoping the ducking and dodging was finally over. I find it ironic that you ask us to fully read an article before responding to this tired argument you've given before. Considering you haven't done any of us the courtesy of picking up a book we've recommended to you about open society theory you are rather bold asking us to do you the same courtesy. Luckily we do our homework. We live in an open society which is well theorised. You've made this stupid claim that it doesn't exist several times and what would be nice is you picking up one of those books and reading about the thing you claim doesn't exist. That or come back in six months and repeat this tired garbage again.

There were a lot of references in this article to things like "people who stopped attending church felt less happy and more socially isolated", that sort of thing. It's hardly surprising if the church was their main social circle. Belle has alluded to the very same effect in her own life. I personally think many people get an awful lot out of attending church and having a social group they feel included in. I just think these benefits have nothing to do with God or Christianity specifically. What I mean is that I used to be part of an amateur theatre group and since having children have had to take a break from it. I feel a sense of loss about that and enjoyed the feeling of belonging that the group gave me. I don't see how the fact that everyone is socialising in order to pray to God makes that group any more special or beneficial than my theatre group. The only extra thing it brings with it is some tiresome dogma we could all live without.

That may be the case, depending on location and denomination.  In most cases, attending a religious service involves very little "socializing".  A few minutes before or after the service.  Maybe.  

As a suburban Catholic, mass is something I do for an hour each weekend with a group of about a thousand other people.  It doesn't at all have the same social connections as a small amateur theater group where you know everyone and are engaged in a longer-term common endeavor like putting on a play.  

I'm very sad to hear that. I think the Greeks have the right idea. Everyone attends church so they can have a good catch up and a gossip. The rest of the time they pay attention to whichever Christian dictates they feel are appropriate (in other words they ignore ones like no sex before marriage and no divorces).

secular without belief in doG

I'm not convinced you know what secular means... (or maybe you're paraphrasing someone who doesn't?). One can be a secular believer. Secular, in this context, just means you are tolerant of others religiosity or lack thereof, and accept that your own religiosity is no more or less important than anyone elses.

Regardless of the benefits of religion, those benefits have no impact on whether or not the religious claims are truthful. Maybe if you want religion to continue to be a force in this world, you should start a religion which doesn't assert as fact things which aren't proven facts, and which encourages critical thinking rather than the sheeple mentality which so obviously, to me, marks most religions as some manner of scam.

AHA!  Thank you, I get it.  You all are tripping over my use of "secularism" in the title.  Honestly, it was just a throw-away title I dropped quickly just to shoot this off.  I was really more interested in the article.   

Ignore my (mis)use of the term if it gets in your way.

On the flipside, I confess I get distracted by the pejorative use of "sheeple" and the misuse of "facts", particularly since both have become commonplace with the current U.S. administration and its supporters.   I'm not sure that's who you want to identify yourself with.

You all are tripping over my use of "secularism" in the title.

Yes, turns out words have meanings, and using them incorrectly will cause people to misunderstand you.

I confess I get distracted by the pejorative use of "sheeple"

Regardless of your distraction, the (admittedly modern) word has a meaning, and one can use it without the expectation of being grouped with others who use it.

the misuse of "facts"

Perhaps you could point out my alleged misuse?

current U.S. administration and its supporters.   I'm not sure that's who you want to identify yourself with.

I certainly don't... and don't believe I did...

Yeah without Catholic morality we are in real trouble. They know where to put their money.

Yeah, strong arming the poor for their cash is the right thing, yet somehow even as the religiosity of America falls, so does the crime rate....what will we do !!??

what will we do !!??

Commit more crime to maintain a steady crime rate and validate Dr Bob's post?

Could I finally be allowed to eat live puppies already please? And when can we get started with our hyper-liberal thought control? And for the love of God...why can't the police start policing people with bad fashion sense? 

Trinny and Susannah for the fashion police

Should men who wear all sports clothes at bars and clubs in the downtown area be given an on-the-spot-fine or a night in the clinker?


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