Does religion make you happier? It may depend on your wealth

religion and happiness by wealth

If you live in a poor country, it’s likely that being religious will give you a boost in your happiness. If you live in a wealthy country, it’s likely that your happiness will not be affected by religion, but if anything you may more depressed/sad if you are religious. Also of note (in retrospect quite obvious) is the fact that secular people in wealthy nations report being significantly more happy than religious people in impoverished nations.

Gallup polls asked respondents from each of the world’s 32 poorest countries and 31 richest countries “did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday” and sorted responses into groups based on subjects religiosity to inquire whether happiness level correlates to religion.

On a related note “Gallup Polls in 143 countries reveal that among countries where average annual incomes are $2,000 or less, 92% of residents say religion is an important part of their daily lives. By contrast, among the richest countries surveyed — those where average annual incomes are $25,000 or more — that figure drops to 44%.”

Secular teenagers are not ethically inferior to those who grow up in a religious home

Even though it is usually expected that teenagers growing up secular would be ethically inferior to their religious counterparts, numerous sociological studies show this is untrue.

Dr Phil Zuckerman, a prominent sociologist, writes that

1. “When teens mature into “godless” adults, they exhibit less racism than their religious counterparts, according to a 2010 Duke University study.”

2. “Many psychological studies show that secular grownups tend to be less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults.”

3. “Secular teenagers are far less likely to care what the “cool kids” think, or express a need to fit in with them, than their religious peers.”

4. Secular people tend to prioritize “rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of “questioning everything” and, far above all, empathy.”

Furthermore, according to Vern Bengston, a USC professor of gerontology and sociology, who has over has overseen the Longitudinal Study of Generations, which has become the largest study of religion and family life conducted across several generational cohorts in the United States, there are “High levels of family solidarity and emotional closeness between parents and nonreligious youth, and strong ethical standards and moral values that had been clearly articulated as they were imparted to the next generation. Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents in our study. The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose. [Emphasizing] rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of “questioning everything” and, far above all, empathy.” (1)

Why does education tend to make people less religious?

scientists survey

We can certainly agree that there are genuinely thoughtful and brilliant people on every side of this debate, and we are all just trying to figure out the answers together.

Yet, studies have shown that every year of education “reduces the propensity to attend religious services at least once a month by about 14 percentage points.” (1)

So *why* does education tend to make more people less religious?

Is that not counter intuitive? If we can be certain this world was created by God, should not those who study the natural world, or logic/reason, be even more inclined to believe? Yet we see the opposite.


Religious violence can be the result of overly aggressive generalization

Religious violence is wrong, regardless of who is involved, but the reasons are often more difficult that simple hate, often it involves money and politics, for example consider the situation of Pentecostals in India.

Butler University professor of religion, Dr. Chad Bauman recently visited India to understand the violence against Pentecostals. He writes: “A lot of the hostility to Christianity that’s found in India today is related to their evangelism and what’s seen as a predatory form of evangelism that targets vulnerable and marginalized people. It’s also seen as an evangelism that’s funded to a considerable degree from abroad, and that is true—about $1 billion a year goes from the United States to India to mission and service organizations.”

Bauman said Christians are seen by some of the more conservative elements of Indian society as a threat to tolerance and secular society “because they don’t respect other people’s faiths… Christians are seen to be intolerant,” he said, “and so the question is: To what extent can Indian society tolerate these aggressively evangelistic Christians before the secular fabric of the nation falls apart?

“Of course, in an irony that one sees sometimes in the American treatment of Muslims, some Hindus respond to that challenge by themselves acting in extremely intolerant ways towards India’s Christians, including, occasionally, with violence.”

Atheist are the most hated group in the US

PF_14.07.16_interreligiousRelations_totalRatings1While prejudices exist in all groups, according to one study, the worst kind of prejudice and animosity exists against the non-religious.

If you are religious, and you see two people, an atheist and a member of your religion, doing the same *exact* action, you will always rate the atheist worse.

Philosopher Paul Draper writes: “The most robust prejudice correlated with religiosity is prejudice against atheists. [In a study by Jennifer C. Wright] Christian and atheist actors were portrayed in one condition as performing IDENTICAL immoral actions. Those actors portrayed as atheists were appraised significantly more negatively than those actors portrayed as Christians.

In another condition, atheist actors portrayed as performing supererogatory [morally good] actions were regarded as less praiseworthy than their Christian counterparts performing IDENTICAL actions.”

This is consistent with other ratings given by the US public, as seen in this 2014 Pew survey.


Does the Bible undeniably teach marriage is a monogomous union between one man and one woman?

Biblical scholars Dr. Robert R. Cargill, Dr. Hector Avalos, and Dr. Kenneth Atkinson, say this is due to “a lack of biblical literacy.”

We wish to clarify that the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type of marriage deemed acceptable by the Bible’s authors.

The fact that marriage is not defined as only that between one man and one woman is reflected in the entry on “marriage” in the authoritative Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000): “Marriage is one expression of kinship family patterns in which typically a man and *at least* one woman cohabitate publicly and permanently as a basic social unit” (p. 861).

In fact, there were a variety of unions and family configurations that were permissible in the cultures that produced the Bible, and these ranged from monogamy (Titus 1:6) to those where rape victims were forced to marry their rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) and to those Levirate marriage commands obligating a man to marry his brother’s widow regardless of the living brother’s marital status (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Genesis 38; Ruth 2-4).

Others insisted that celibacy was the preferred option (1 Corinthians 7:8; 28). In fact, during a discussion of marriage in Matthew 19:12, Jesus even encourages those who can to castrate themselves “for the kingdom” and live a life of celibacy. Ezra 10:2-11 forbids interracial marriage and orders those people of God who already had foreign wives to divorce them immediately.” (1)

Perhaps this meme, though oversimplified, is relevant

Nations and cultures are more diverse than merely “secular vs religious”

There is a broad spectrum of religious/secular nations and cultures, its impertinent to brush all with the same brush.

• Y-AXIS TOP: (Secular values) less preference on religion and traditional authority, and are more accepting of abortion and divorce.

• Y-AXIS BOTTOM: (Traditional values) religion, traditional family values, parent-child ties, and nationalism. Those with these values tend to reject abortion, gay equality, and divorce.

• X-AXIS LEFT: (Survival values) emphasize economic and physical security and are linked with ethnocentrism and low levels of tolerance for outsiders.

• X-AXIS RIGHT: (Self-expression values) give high priority to growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians, and gender equality.