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God & Societies

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems. [...]

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world. “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. “The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

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. He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy. The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested. [...]

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added. [source]


While these findings are not surprising, the conclusions may not be so obvious as this article makes it sound.

In this case, the dominant US religious views is still at a blue level in Spiral Dynamics terms. It is authoritarian, absolutist, ethnocentric, etc. It is not surprising that blue level approaches are less effective in taking care of citizens than the orange (and partly green) level memes more dominant in Western Europe.

But this does not mean that religion as a whole, in all its forms, is a dysfunctional element in a society. In our current culture, orange, green and second tier religions may indeed be very beneficial, both to individuals and society as a whole.

Orange religions tends to co-exist peacefully with science, either seeing the two as dealing with separate realities or embracing science more fully. Green religions tends to be more fully bio-centered. And second tier "religions" use a more integral approach, looking at the relationships among the various western and eastern philosophies and spiritual traditions, the various forms of science, and how they all fit in with each other. By the way: at second tier levels, the word religion may not be so appropriate anymore. It is more likely to take the form of integral philosophy, practice and social engagement.

One expression of orange/green/second tier religion that comes to mind is the Universe Story, with its science-based and deeply meaningful and inspiring view of the Universe and our role as expressions of it.

The Universe story in itself can take either of these meme expressions, whether it is orange (emphasizing science with added spice), green (emphasizing our deep connections with the universe and the Earth) or second tier (emphasizing the evolutionary and holarchical aspect).

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