Just found this little gem in where the ever expanding field of economics is expanding.

The whole article is essentially a bit of a complaint that those who have legitimate arguments for a type of God - think Einstein or Habermas' God definitions - gets crowded out (a term which has been Wiki-hijacked by religious anti-healthcare neo-cons!). The other main argument is that religion doesn't seem to be as deeply rooted in society as one might think, it does not immediately predict social progress. The remainign arguments are all pretty good, but the scope of the article shows where the main pressure points are for the author.

There's a lot of interesting stats in the article, including an interesting table of the determinants of religious behavior. I especially like the statistic which shows that most Christians are Christians because of Jesus. Isn't the correct answer to that question God..?. 

Anyway, the conclusion is pretty striking: People join religion for rational reasons, and it should be modeled using economics.



As a side note: It made me remember a survey I held while in college in the US. One of the question was religion, and the college being around 40% exchange students, I was pretty meticulous in labeling religions. Interestingly, among the around 50% of Americans who identified themselves as believing in a personal God, around 25% of those didn't choose "Protestant (any denomination)" and chose "Other, please specify", and they specified Protestant denominations...

Not even college appears to be a cure for a case of the common religious stupidity.


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Comment by oneinfinity on June 10, 2011 at 9:46pm

i didn't read the article, but I do find the idea that people join religion for rational reasons interesting and counter-intuitive since it seems to me that the assumption is that people are the religion they are, for the most part, because of the culture that they grow up in and because of being indoctrinated into whatever religion that is from an early age (which you note that the article finds to not be so much the case as one would assume.) 


Also, your side note reminded me of a conversation with my mom not so long ago. We were talking about "Christianity" and I said something about Catholicism and she said, "Catholics aren't christians." O_O   (she goes to a Methodist church.)


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