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An amazing new study in the journal Evolutionary Psychology has found that the countries with the highest levels of happiness and prosperity are also the least religious and most secular:

From Dostoyevsky to right-wing commentator Ann Coulter we are warned of the perils of godlessness. “If there is no God,” Dostoyevsky wrote, “everything is permitted.” Coulter routinely attributes our nation’s most intractable troubles to the moral vacuum of atheism.

But a growing body of research in what one sociologist describes as the “emerging field of secularity” is challenging long-held assumptions about the relationship of religion and effective governance.

In a paper posted recently on the online journal Evolutionary Psychology, independent researcher Gregory S. Paul reports a strong correlation within First World democracies between socioeconomic well-being and secularity. In short, prosperity is highest in societies where religion is practiced least.

Using existing data, Paul combined 25 indicators of societal and economic stability — things like crime, suicide, drug use, incarceration, unemployment, income, abortion and public corruption — to score each country using what he calls the “successful societies scale.” He also scored countries on their degree of religiosity, as determined by such measures as church attendance, belief in a creator deity and acceptance of Bible literalism.

Comparing the two scores, he found, with little exception, that the least religious countries enjoyed the most prosperity. Of particular note, the U.S. holds the distinction of most religious and least prosperous among the 17 countries included in the study, ranking last in 14 of the 25 socioeconomic measures.

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  1. schu says:

    One of the reasons that I like to post on this board is the thought stimulation that it provides. Of course freedom stimulates thought, and often thought stimulates action. If we are not forced into one mold, or forced to march in lockstep we develop new and sometimes good ways. But I really think that you author has his own axe to grind and has shifted his questions and warped his statistics to prove his own point. Not quite as bad as Ann Coulter does, but close.

  2. [...] to RELIGION. The societies who enjoy the highest standards of living and happiness are the LEAST RELIGIOUS. As a country founded upon the principles of separation of church and state, one of the most [...]

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