Atheists and leading a proper life….

20 Feb

So today I had a short confrontation with my religions professor. After class she made a comment about how not believing in god gives you license to do whatever you want. I pointed out that this was not true, and wrote her the following letter, pointing out statistics of Atheists in prison, and divorce rates, along with religiosity’s correlation to the Human Development Index. The only license not believing in god gives you is the license to sleep in on Sunday….

Here it is:

Religion                                    % of Divorce
Jews                                                     30%
Born-Again Christians                 27%
Other Christians                             24%
Atheist/Agnostic                           21%


As for the prison statistics: (in 2001)

76.6% – Christian                                                <———*
19.1% – No Religion/Refused to Answer
1.3% – Jewish                                                     <———-
0.7% – Other/Not Specified
0.5% – Muslim/Islamic                                         <———-
0.5% – Buddhist
0.4% – Atheist                                                    <———-*
0.3% – Hindu
0.05% – Native American
0.04% – Bahai
0.027% – Sikh
0.026% – Scientology
0.01% – Santeria
0.005% – Rastafarian

Source: American Religious Identification Survey, The Graduate Center, New York  

If you remember, one class I pointed out that there was a correlation between countries with low religiosity, and higher scores on the Human Development Index. I was referring to as study done by Dr. Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California. Here is his article about his study:

It is pretty long, so here are some excerpts:

“If this often-touted religious theory were correct-that a turning away from God is at the root of all societal ills-then we would expect to find the least religious nations on earth to be bastions of crime, poverty, and disease and the most religious nations to be models of societal health. A comparison of highly irreligious countries with highly religious countries, however, reveals a very different state of affairs. In reality, the most secular countries-those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics-are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations-wherein worship of God is in abundance-are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute.”

“The 2004 United Nations’ Human Development Report, which ranks 177 countries on a “Human Development Index,” measures such indicators of societal health as life expectancy, adult literacy, per-capita income, educational attainment, and so on. According to this report, the five top nations were Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands. All had notably high degrees of organic atheism. Furthermore, of the top twenty-five nations, all but Ireland and the United States were top-ranking non-believing nations with some of the highest percentages of organic atheism on earth. Conversely, the bottom fifty countries of the “Human Development Index” lacked statistically significant levels of organic atheism.”

“Concerning international poverty rates, the United Nations Report on the World Social Situation (2003) found that, of the forty poorest nations on earth (measured by the percentage of population that lives on less than one dollar a day), all but Vietnam were highly religious nations with statistically minimal or insignificant levels of atheism.”

“Regarding homicide rates, Oablo Fajnzylber et al., in a study reported in the Journal of Law and Economics (2002), looked at thirty-eight non-African nations and found that the ten with the highest homicide rates were highly religious, with minimal or statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism. Conversely, of the ten nations with the lowest homicide rates, all but Ireland were secular nations with high levels of atheism”

“In sum, countries with high rates of organic atheism are among the most societally healthy on earth, while societies with nonexistent rates of organic atheism are among the most destitute. The former nations have among the lowest homicide rates, infant mortality rates, poverty rates, and illiteracy rates and among the highest levels of wealth, life expectancy, educational attainment, and gender equality in the world.”

As you can see, lack of god does not lead to free tickets to commit whatever crimes you want. If you recall, earlier in class I pointed out that the 10 commandments did not make killing, stealing, lying, and adultery wrong, they were wrong before they were ever written down in stone. Dr. Richard Dawkins goes into the evolutionary reasons for morality in his books “The God Delusion” and “The selfish gene”.  To save you a trip to the library I found a very short video of Dawkins explaining evolution’s role in shaping humanity’s innate moral.

I’d also have to ask, if hypothetically life without god gives a person license to do anything, why don’t we see Atheists flying planes into buildings, or bombing abortion clinics, or stealing millions from gullible people like televangelists, or going on shooting sprees through the mall?

One Response to “Atheists and leading a proper life….”

  1. Losun December 9, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    I was trying to access your sources pages from the provided links and was redirected to a Microsoft Outlook site asking for proper credentials (of which I am not a subscriber). Any ideas?

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