Monday, March 26, 2012

Economic Development Indicators, Religiosity, and Belief in Evolution

A round-up. Jerry Coyne just posted this little graph:

Previously he'd posted this:

In a prior post, I'd put that previous figure, as well is this one that I drew up myself (Y=failed state index, X=% reporting that religion was important in their lives):

Of course, there's a whole book about the success of secular societies, called Society Without God by Phil Zuckerman. In the End of Faith Sam Harris cites Stephen Pinker's data that the more religious American states are actually much more crime-filled (and have higher divorce rates), and it's well-known that atheism is under-represented among the U.S. prison population. Instead of looking at the aggregate if you want you can look at individual success stories; for example, I don't hear too many people complaining about the laziness, selfishness or general immorality of Japanese culture, one of the least religious countries on the planet. At my social and economics blog I show a graph from the world values survey that shows national values along secular-rational vs traditional and self-expression vs survival. The upper right and lower left corners are curiously more populated than the other two:

For all of these graphs, of course the caveat is that correlation doesn't equal causation. But they for damn sure make it a lot harder to argue that religion causes social and economic success! More and more, it looks like you have to choose between having a successful twenty-first century economy that can compete with East Asia, or being religious. Not a lot of creationism being taught in science and technology classes in Asia these days...and that scares culture conservatives a lot more than just about anything else you could tell them.

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