reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

10/01/2005

Belief In God Is Killing Us, Study Shows

In Tuesday's edition of The Times (London), Ruth Gledhill utilized her column to report the following:

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.
Gledhill cites a research study, recently published in the Journal of Religion and Society, that compares largely secular societies such as Great Britain and Japan with the United States, which is heavily populated by active Christians. The study supposedly shows a direct link between "belief and worship of a creator" and social ills.

Apparently, neither Mrs. Gledhill nor the studies author, Gregory Paul, remember this basic rule of logical proof: correlation does not prove causation.

In other words, just because the Mississippi River water level drops in direct proportion to peanut sales in the surrounding towns and cities does not prove that the citizenry is drinking from the river to quench their salty-peanut-induced thirst. Rather, a more thorough examination of the facts shows that peanut sales increase during baseball season (it's not baseball without peanuts), baseball season runs from mid-May through August, and the Mississipi River water level always drops during the summer.

According to Dr. Albert Mohler :
"[This study] proves nothing, since an almost limitless number of unrelated factors could explain the differences claimed by the study. Here's how to stack a deck for a false argument. Collect unrelated statistics and pass them off as proving causation. A decline in steel production may be an item of interest, but it doesn't have anything to do with a rise in asparagus eating among retirees."
What are your thoughts regarding this new study? How would you respond to Mr. Paul's assertion that "the widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted?" More importantly, what is the real contributing factor to the claimed moral inferiority of the United States?

UPDATE: Christian blogger and statistician Scott Gilbreath posts a devestating critique of both Ms. Gledhill's article and Mr. Paul's study. Read it here.