The miles to go before I sleep...

  • Start teaching science at school and incorporate demo
  • Research, design, implement comprehensive teaching module on science, civic sense
  • Interview social change agents working @ ground level
  • Pilot peer-to-peer teaching programme

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Religion and Society

Recently, in one of my groups we had a discussion on a Times article.

In short, the article was reporting a research which concludes that

"...belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems."

It went on with comparison of US society (considered to be one of the most religious, at the same time, advanced nation in the world) with other less devout nations (in Europe mainly).

A few excerpts!

  • Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.
  • "US was the world's only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional."
  • “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”
  • "The US also suffered from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested."
  • Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries
Here is my take!

I think one key point is not discussed in the article (or not considered from the polls' conclusion).

How many of those crimes in the USA and other countries are related to religion?

To me, the conclusions are correct to a certain extent, but based on wrong data. Just because USA couldn't control crime as good as the others, how can we paint a religious picture to it? There are numerous other factors like easier access to guns and licences for guns, drugs and other things. Crimes and social ills (quoted by the article) are due to direct effect of such factors and not because of religion. Also, based on my experience at the US, the country is more religious not because they implement the moral values of the religion in day-to-day life, but more because larger portion of people attend the sunday masses regularly! That is it!

To be fair to them, they are also immune (to a large extent) to the negative side of the religion's effects like evil-superstitions, sticking to customs though they are obsolete or counter-productive (I mean to say that they are more open to new and positive ideas even if those ideas are outside the boundaries of Christianity. One good example may be Yoga!).

Now I feel the conclusions ofresearchearch are correct to a certain extent because, religion has been the reason for a lot (but not all) of crimes all over the world. And if you look close enough, no religion is an exception. I feel, the problem is applying religion in the society-level. (Doing things like some self-proclaimed guardians of Islam issuing fatwa against Sania for not wearing a veil while playing tennis.) and the govts heeding to it (I still don't get the idea behind separate set of laws for Muslims like "Talaak" and a whole bunch of other things). So, if a society has to be devout and at the same time less-criminal (because of religious factors) it has to apply religion at the personal level, and be tolerant to those who opt a non-religious or a less religious path. Otherwise, it is better off being atheistic.

What is your take?