Is religion necessary for a society to flourish? The research of Gregory Paul suggests the most secular, non-religious countries are also the most healthy. But not everyone is convinced. Critics have accused Paul of cherry picking the evidence that best supports his own views. But the critics fail to mention that other researchers have discovered the same relationship using different methods. Tom Rees from the Epiphenom blog, joins us on the show to discuss this research and to share the results of his own study which explored the connection between income inequality and religious belief within a society.
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If religion correlates with the illness of a society, what would religious people have to do in order to stay in power? Can you really say that religion is just a symptom but not a cause for the illness of a society? I do think not.
Are you familiar with the work of Peter Berger? I am reading "Religious America, Secular Europe?" I was going to email you about it when I was done. It takes a broader look at this question, suggesting that each European country has its own religious history. I felt you were trying to reach a conclusion before you had enough to go on. I hope you have some follow up on this.
"Flight of the Conchords" is from New Zealand... now take back what you said about Australians ;)
Yes, Flight of the Conchords are from New Zealand -- that was a line from their show about Australians. The fruit vendor refused to sell fruit to Bret because he mistook him for an Australian.
I just discovered 2 episodes (54 and 62) that my iTunes didn't download automatically apparently because they were released just after/before RD Extra's
I agree with verquer that religion may not be the symptom of illness of a society. If you look at cities such as Mumbai, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro etc, you will find that the poverty gap is very high, but religion is not at the top of most peoples minds. Parents know that to succeed in life, you need a secular education, not a religious one. There are only a limited number of religious institutions that offer employment and even they don't pay very well.
What I also find very interesting is that in developed welfare states like in Western Europe, religion is flourishing amongst immigrant communities. Somalis in Leicester, UK are more religious than in Somalia. Indian Muslims in many northern cities in the UK are also more religious than in India. The women wear the full veil and send their kids to religious schools. Maybe they find that they don't need to worry about earning a living so much (even unskilled jobs pay reasonably well), and they can concentrate on religion. I think it is even more complicated than that. The religious people spot the opportunity to use religion as a tool of power and status, and soon even teenagers find that they can use religion to achieve respect.
Maybe these immigrant communities are parasites of the host country (without meaning any racism). The law of evolution/memetics is, if something can happen and it benefits a replicator, it will. The cuccoo's brood parasitism survived the test of time.
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