social views

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)


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.


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.


More religious countries show less innovation

According to a recent Princeton study regarding the number of patents filed per person across the world, there is a strong correlation between religiosity and less innovation. (1)

As studies go, this is a very rigorous correlation study (that controlled for population, education, socio-economic factors, and more alternative reasons) though this does not 100% prove causation.


95% of the people living two centuries ago believed in fairies

As an illustration of the potent superstitious thinking prevalent for most of human history, consider that just a century or two ago, many people held a genuine belief in fairies. To put it more correctly, nasty little fairies who could attack your home or kill your cattle.

In fact, as many as 95% of people in Scotland believed in fairies even up to the 19th century! (According to an article in The Scotsman by Dr Lizanne Henderson, a lecturer of history at the University of Glasgow)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author who invented the Sherlock Holmes stories once wrote an article about fairies, in which he expressed sincere belief in them, and for evidence used the attached photo of the “Cottingley Fairies.” (The series of photos had been faked, but kept circulating as evidence of fairies for quite some time.)


Even C.S. Lewis, the famed Christian apologist once wrote about hearing of a cottage that was feared because it was purportedly possessed by fairies.


Contrary to most eschatalogical beliefs, the world is getting better


Contrary to popular religious beliefs that “the world is getting worse” the opposite seems to be true. We are living in the least violent period in human history:

For example, during the invasion of Asia/Europe by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, there were an estimated 40 million violent deaths out of a total of 400 million, that is 10% or ten out of every hundred people were killed.

During WW2, often assumed to be the most violent event in the history of the world, there were an estimated 66 million violent deaths out of a total population of 2.3 billion. That is 2.5%, in other words two or three out of every hundred people were killed.

And since WW2 things have been getting even better. See prof Stephen Pinkers fascinating talk on the decline of violence: