Field of Science

Atheist nations are more peaceful

The 2009 Global Peace Index has just been released. It's basically a ranking of how turbulent and warlike a country is.

They put it together by assessing 23 criteria, including foreign wars, internal conflicts, respect for human rights, the number of murders, the number of people in jail, the arms trade, and degrees of democracy (Guardian).

You can see a world map of peace at the Vision of Humanity website, and also take a look at country rankings for 2009, as well as earlier years.

New Zealand came top this year. Hmm, New Zealand is a pretty non-religious country. In fact, if you eyeball the rankings, the top few countries are all pretty non-religious.

What I've done in the figures here is to take data from the World Values Survey on the percentage of people in each country who say they are a committed atheist, and also on the percentage of people who say that they go to a religious service at least once a month.

Then I split the sample into two equal groups, based on their score on the Global Peace Index. The ones in the 'Peaceful' group are countries with a GPI score less than 1.8.

Sure enough, peaceful countries have more atheists and fewer regular worshippers. The difference is highly statistically significant (P=0.001 or less) - in other words it's real, not just a chance finding.

Now, there are several possible reasons for this. It could be that people living in turbulent countries turn to religion, or it could be that religion is not a good way to structure modern society. Or it could be that some other factor or combination of factors (democracy? free speech? education? government welfare?) generates citizens who are both peaceful and non-religious.

Whatever, it's another blow to the idea that secularization leads to social meltdown. Atheist countries are, in fact more peaceful.

Follow up post: Of Secularism and Correlations (also, what the word 'secular' means).

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work by Tom Rees is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

173 comments:

  1. It would be interesting to know the birthrates (or total fertility rates) in the peaceful nations. That way we can have an idea what the future holds. Are the peaceful populations growing, or the more violent ones?

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    1. tragically the more violent, in the case of countries, but theres other countries like japan that that have a lot of people in such a a little place, i think 129 million people.

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    2. Can anybody here mention a single country not at war one way or another ....
      Crimes vs. police is at war. Politics are war one way or another at all times
      Right and lefties are always at war,believers and Non-Believers are always against the fence....so please mention or please allow me to understand what peace are we talking about ....go to mexico there is a war going out there drugs...which must likely the so called peaceful countries are enjoying those drugs free of guilt ...or what I called guilty pleasures ...Lol

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    3. Jason, sounds like you didn't even read the first 2 paragraphs of the post?

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    4. Since the religious multiply at a ridiculous rate, I would assume the violent countries are multiplying more. Since we find new ways of making 3 jobs into 1 with new technology and jobs are not abundant, the smart way would to not multiply the population unless you want your children paying for A TON of peers welfare. And your grandchildren paying double what your children pay and so on and so on.

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  2. Correlation does not infer causation dumbass

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    1. And he admitted that when he said....

      "Now, there are several possible reasons for this. It could be that people living in turbulent countries turn to religion, or it could be that religion is not a good way to structure modern society. Or it could be that some other factor or combination of factors (democracy? free speech? education? government welfare?) generates citizens who are both peaceful and non-religious."

      That does not change the fact that countries with higher populations of atheists have fewer problems.

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  3. I'm an atheist. But I strongly disagree with the possibility that religion is the root cause of this violence. There is certainly a correlation. But here's the likely reasoning underneath:

    1. Problems attract people to religion. The violence is caused by something else(probably varies case by case), but religiousness is an effect.

    2. Furthermore, a lack of peace and stability will surely lead to a decrease in rates of education and wealth. Without these luxuries, it is next to impossible to challenge the accepted wisdom. As nobody would argue that religiousness is NOT the accepted wisdom, it makes sense that in countries without education, everyone is religious.

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    1. And your proof lies in......?

      Ah yes, nothing.

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    2. What she/claimed (insecurity drives people into religion) is backed up by a lot of scientific evidence.
      See, for example:

      Immerzeel, T., & van Tubergen, F. (2011). Religion as reassurance? Testing the insecurity theory in 26 European countries. European Sociological Review. doi:doi:10.1093/esr/jcr072

      Barber, N. (2011). A cross-national test of the uncertainty hypothesis of religious belief. Cross-Cultural Research, 45(3), 318–333. doi:10.1177/1069397111402465



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    3. Oh, and this should answer many questions about the direction of influence: Socioeconomic development and existantial security drive a shift from religious to secular values:

      Welzel, C., Inglehart, R., & Kligemann, H.-D. (2003). The theory of human development: A cross‐cultural analysis. European Journal of Political Research, 42(3), 341–379. doi:10.1111/1475-6765.00086

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  4. 1) This is a textbook example of how statistics can be massaged.
    It is a biased sample of countries. For example, it doesn't include many of the countries in the former Soviet Union, such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, where atheism was effectively taught in schools. North Korea, where atheism is enforced.

    2) Of the countries which are included, the ones with significant atheist populations: China and Russia for example, have provinces much bigger than the some countries included here. For example, the way this data has been massaged Burkina Faso counts just as much as China. :-D

    3) It is hard to separate these countries from their obvious histories, in which the supposedly "peaceful" countries aren't peaceful at all. For example, in Iraq or many of the African countries.
    The headline is that atheism is more peaceful. More peaceful than what? Christianity? Almost all the supposedly "peaceful" countries are those which have a Christian tradition. The example of a supposedly atheist country is New Zealand, which seems strange, because New Zealand is obviously mostly Christian. But there's not even an attempt to make any comparison.

    4) Correlation doesn't imply causation. Even if there was a correlation (which there doesn't seem to be, or at least, you can't tell from this data) then its unlikely that the small minority of atheists are actually responsible for the peaceful behaviours of the countries. In fact, what is more likely is that it works the other way around: that atheists benefit from the peaceful attitudes that others have towards them.

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  5. "Correlation does not infer causation dumbass"

    to that guy: correlation DOES in fact infer (as in to hint or suggest) causation.

    i think you meant to say that "correlation to not EQUATE to causation".

    the whole reason that correlations are illustrated is to SUGGEST/HINT/INFER causation.

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    1. So if we found that there's a strong positive CORRELATION between dog population and gdp per capita, then we can infer that in the more dog in a country will CAUSE gdp per capita to be higher??? Heck, the problem of the world is solved then, breed more dog....

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    2. The causation is probably the other way around, silly. High GDP-> more (social) pets.

      High GDP does not solve world problems anyway, it creates warfare for resources and unhealthy inequality.

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  6. the person you mentioned fertility rates, you hit it dead on. Islam is the fastest growing religion, and also the fasted growing population of Muslims. And they hardly have a track record for peace. So these numbers are greatly dependent on Islamic nations who are by far the most religious out of any other culture. None of these stats matter when Muslims average over 5 around children per family compared to the United States with 2.11 and Europe with less than 1.5 fertility rates. Do the math.

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  7. Christianity brought us the Crusades and the Dark Ages. It's time for it to die along with the rest of religions.

    People need to be free from the binds of a ruler.

    Also, in many cases, correlation can infer causation when there is MUCH written proof that religion causes violence (See Crusades.)

    Also, birthrates for Athiest nations are probably lower because they are more responsible and don't have a religious organization telling them to pop out as many little disciples as they possibly can.

    Time and time again, Religion has been the root of violence rather than a step to solve problems and create unity.

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    1. I could not agree with you more. When I was in high school my chemistry teacher said religion is what spurs technology because we need better weapons for war. Religion has been the root of wars, murder, and control since humans have been around.

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  8. In other news, FIRETRUCKS CAUSE FIRES OMG!!!

    ... You ever notice how many houses on fire have firetrucks outside of them? A statistically significant number, I'm sure.

    I think it's a hell of a lot more likely that people living in lives made uncertain by the threat of violence turn to religion as a means of comfort and something solid to hold onto.

    I'm really disappointed in you. Atheism, last I checked, is at its core about basing ones understanding of the world on hard evidence, rather than on wishful thinking. (And other comments here seem to indicate that my perception is pretty accurate, generally.) I'd expect a young earther to abuse statistics to advance their irrational beliefs, but I expect more from an atheist.

    (I'm an agnostic, BTW -- so I have absolutely no dog in this fight.)

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    1. atheism and agnosticism arent mutually exclusive propositions. wow. even the smartest of us are getting dumber.

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    2. Atheism and agnosticism are the opposite of one another. Atheism has more in common with fundamentalists. Both believe in something that cannot be proved.

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    3. You are misled. Atheist do not believe in things that can't be proved. Agnosticism is a soft form of atheism, basically.

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  9. It makes sense. Atheists don't go around preaching hatred of others at every opportunity. From what I've seen of religion, any good that some perceive comes from their mass delusion is offset by the crimes committed by adherents. From the murders of physicians to massacres of millions. Any evil can be made moral; slavery was moral, murder when state sponsored (war, capital punishment) is moral-- there are even special prayers in support of murder in war. Atheists are governed by values, not morals, and it is always wrong [values] to enslave or murder another.

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  10. Belief system has nothing to do at all with violence. If any the root of all violence is "US = Humanity".

    Man's sinful nature causes wars, poverty and random acts of violence due to oppression caused by ourselves. You cannot escape the flaw design of man, the only way to repair the fault is to learn from history.

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    1. Why did your perfect god create men with design flaws?

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  11. Atheists like myself will have a 'gut-feeling' that there is truth in this article but that's because we want it to be true. As most of the above comments highlight the dimensions of the data here are too narrow to draw any significant conclusions. A more likely 'cause' of violence is the desire of people to gain power and influence, a trait which is found in all groups regardless of religion

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  12. This is very interesting data, and while it's clearly only a correlation, it smells right - and I'm sure causality could be teased out. The simple fact is, the biggest warmongers are fundamentalist religious nutjobs, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jew. The major world religions, almost without exception, make a sacrament of executing war upon religious foes. We are not yet so evolved & enlightened as a species as to have escaped our barbaric mythologies and fantasies of gods and eternal life.

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  13. or it could be because in peaceful nations, people aren't as afraid to differ from the norm and call themselves atheists.

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  14. Did you consider tolerance as a comparison. to peace level.

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  15. While these statistics are nice, I think it is a stretch to say 'Atheist nations" since 'Atheist nations' did not really exist more than a few 100 years ago and the ones that have existed in the last 100 years have been incredibly viloent and destructive (e.g. USSR, N.Korea)

    What you are really saying is nations with a larger % of resident athiests are more peaceful.

    1.) Does a small minority of athiests actually improve the peace of a nation?
    OR
    2.) Does a peaceful nation's % of ahtiesm increase because of the removal of reasons to turn to religion?

    An overall misleading title and post IMHO.

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    1. USSR had communism&4? year plans as their state religions.

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  16. I wrote this before I saw that Doug had already informed the angry poster:

    No dumbass you’re wrong - correlation does not PROVE causation but it does imply or infer causation.

    Yes, it is true that this kind of observational data usually has so many variables and plausible rival hypotheses that causation cannot be established.

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  17. I've known this since I watched Religulous with Bill Maher, and when bill mentioned in the end of the documentary, thats when I truly understood why most of the planet is so no peaceful. Majority of the planet are stupid, or having a low IQ like double digit instead of triple. Since the majority lacks in education and a brain, most of the planet will believe in anything even if it’s stupid or impossible, like religion. This article and study I believe is a big deal to having some real data in proving a bit in the non-believer theories, which is Religion causes violence and war.. PERIOD!

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  18. "Correlation does not infer causation dumbass"

    Not only does the post implicitly admit your point, but I think you mean:

    Correlation does not imply causation.

    Dumbass.

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  19. I've known this since I watched Religulous with Bill Maher, and when bill mentioned in the end of the documentary, thats when I truly understood why most of the planet is so no peaceful. Majority of the planet are stupid, or having a low IQ like double digit instead of triple. Since the majority lacks in education and a brain, most of the planet will believe in anything even if it’s stupid or impossible, like religion. This article and study I believe is a big deal to having some real data in proving a bit in the non-believer theories, which is Religion causes violence and war.. PERIOD!

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  20. "Correlation does not infer causation" is a flawed quote. In fact, correlation does infer causation.

    The correct quote is "Correlation does not imply causation", and this uses the mathematical definition of the word imply, which is "if circumstance p is true, then q necessarily follows" (where p implies q).

    Correlation is, in fact, a necessary but not sufficient condition for causation. Statistical correlations like this are an indicator that causation may be present, and should be further investigated.

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  21. For those of you who do not see the benefits of atheism: Do you admit that education and prosperity are linked?

    If you admit this, than you will also realize that there is a positive correlation with education and atheism.

    This is an example of a common-causal variable. (Variable C causes both A and B). A statistician would tell you that there is a GOOD correlation between atheism and peace.

    A poll of atheists would also hint at your causation, especially if you polled the people posting here.

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  22. The reason is that religion is often used by powerful people as a means of subtle control in large populations. Look to History for the evidence. The romans, the inquisition, the taliban etc ...

    In atheist societies there is more likely a personal interpretation of humanity/spirituality and collective that's more peaceful and pure.

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  23. interpretations on views or values ...√ for peace or x for violence

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  24. @all the people saying "correlation != causation"

    The author specifically mentioned that there a number of causes that might be involved in this factoid. I did not get the impression he was trying to infer anything. He is only pointing out the interesting factoid (as in a fact extracted from a greater context) that countries with larger atheist populations tend to be less violent.

    It is an interesting stat, but not really useful in any scientific way. The author is correct, however, that it does throw another monkey wrench in the face of theists who believe their way of life must be superior for no better reason than they believe it.

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  25. Its a fact that during the WEC (World Economic Crisis) more people turn to religion to help them cope with the ever increasing stress, this might imply that when people are doing well they tend away from religion. PS the title of this blog is very 1 sided :S

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  26. Atheist = Peaceful?

    The Soviet Union, North Korea, & People's Republic of China are certainly all peaceful.

    I would have to say, that Russia, having shaken off the Soviet system, Communism & Atheism, and returned to Orthodox Christianity, is certainly less of a threat to world peace & stability than the old Soviet Union ever was.

    You problem is that you are setting Atheism against religion, when Atheism IS a religion.

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    1. Atheism is not a religion, it is can form a part of a few religions or be a part of the beliefs of those without religion.
      Atheism did not cause communism's atrocities, it was a part of their communist beliefs, not a motivating factor. Just like Hitler was a Catholic but did not commit his atrocities in its name.
      On the other hand, I have never known atheists to blow up planes to further their cause, unlike a certain group of rabid fundamentalist Muslims.

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  27. Whether or not the correlation noted here suggests causation or not, the proposed causation cited (that atheism leads to social meltdown) could be refuted by this sort of data. Whether the data are accurate, and whether or not "atheism -> lawlessness" is a straw man position or not, are separate points.

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  28. Aithiest have a belief system...it doesn't encompass god/allah etc... but they believe in something...it in all reality is probably the biggest religion going...funny how they propel this dichotomy ..as if one or the other has to prevail...or one cant exist if the other veiw is held in someone else...sort of like the science v religion false fight...
    cheers...burp..

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    1. Fewer people are enlightened enough to be atheists than Christians or Muslims. Atheism is a lack of belief in god, which is reasonable since there is no evidence for him. If someone made a claim that there were pink talking fairies in their garden, and I rejected it, would you call me a deluded fanatic?
      But you are right on one thing - they can't both exist. Either people grow out of fairy stories their parents or teachers propagated onto their impressionable young minds or they continue to believe in them.

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  29. For those of you who're saying "atheism is a religion" and bringing up the Communists, etc... you're making a fundamental mistake.

    Atheism isn't a religion. It's many different "religions", which are as different from each other as they are from supernatural religions. Communism, Objectivism, secular humanism/scientism, probably others (arguably Buddhism is a-theistic, although it's still supernaturalist).

    Some atheist religions are violent if they are in charge (Communism), others are not (secular humanism), others are as yet untried (Objectivism).

    The deciding factor is not supernatural belief or the lack thereof; it's fanaticism, which can attach to a godless philosophical ideal as easily as it can to gods.

    As Abraham Lincoln supposedly said: "Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man's character, give him power."

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    1. Communism isn't a religion, it is a political ideology. Humanism is a "world-view" which can be adopted by followers of other religions. According to the Collins English Dictionary, religion is a "system of belief in and worship of a supernatural power or god." So although believers in the many systems and ideologies you mentioned can be dogmatic, fundamentalist and tribal about them, they are not religions.

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  30. The blistering logic of "Hmm, New Zealand is a pretty secular country." makes me wonder if you know anything of New Zealand or it's history. Ever here of Christchurch NZ?

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  31. (Dr Anonymous, actually)

    This is bad science spun for rhetoric -- the kind that gives science a bad name amongst the public. Particularly the tag of "atheist nations". New Zealand is declared as an "atheist nation", which would normally connote that it has a predominantly atheist population, despite according to official government figures more than 50% of the population being Christian and atheism being a minority position. This is done with the deceitful goal that people only reading the headlines would see "atheist nations more peaceful" and not realise the author had fudged what "atheist nation" means in the article.

    If you were to analyse the figures without the politically-motivated spin, I suspect you would find the [hardly surprising] result that "peaceful" countries tend to be countries that tolerate religious diversity (I strongly suspect it's not only atheist figures that correlate, but minority faiths [for each country] in general).

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  32. The blistering logic of "Hmm, New Zealand is a pretty secular country." makes me wonder if you know anything of New Zealand or it's history. Ever here of Christchurch NZ?

    It's not what you don't know, it's what you "know" that ain't so.

    And in this case, what you seem to "know" (but ain't so) is that you seem to think that New Zealand is overwhelmingly non-secular. Did you actually look at the data source presented in the original post?

    Here, let me grab some data for you. From http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/, a few semi-randomly selected countries:

    Country, "Religious person", "Not a religious person", "Committed atheist"
    Mexico, 75.4%, 21.7%, 2.9%
    USA, 72.1%, 24.4%, 3.6%
    New Zealand, 49.8%, 43.3%, 7.0%
    Japan, 24.2%, 62.1% 13.7%
    China, 21.8%, 60.3%, 17.9%

    You can browse for a larger sample if you like, but you'll find that New Zealand is considerably more secular than average. It may not have been in the past. But it is now.

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  33. To Anonymous above with Atheist = Peaceful?

    Have you tried to count the countries that those horrible violent countries like the Soviet Union, China and North Korea invaded after the WWII and compare it to number of countries openly or covertly invaded by that bastion of freedom and peace, the US?

    It is an enlightening comparison. Try it.

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  34. The fact of the matter is that since the country has no religion that means people can't use it as a way to gain power. It's not the religion itself making all the dumb discriminations and violence of the past, it's the people that use it as an excuse for violence, and every religion is guilty of it at one point or another

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  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  36. To the anonymous poster two posts above:

    Read "The God that Failed" for an example why your suggestion seems to make no sense. It is a nice bit of anti-Communist propaganda that has the nice feature of being pretty convincing. One of its central themes is that Communism behaved as if it aspired to replace religion, not simply promote secularism.

    The problem with those violent nations seems to be "fundamentalism" in the sense that the authority of a single source is beyond reproach.

    In other words, as long as you are willing to take at face value without question that the ultimate authority rests in god, allah, yaweh, Jesus, the bible, the koran, David Koresh, Stalin, Hitler (oops Godwin violation!), The Communist Manifesto, the angel Moroni, L. Ron Hubbard, or other questionable source, then bad things happen.

    It is entirely unsurprising that regimes that reject any competing authority (ie, they forbid competition from gods and other political parties, etc) are more violent. Of course, secular societies that reject dogmatic authority through freedom of speech and democracy seem not to have that problem (see Scandinavian countries and New Zealand, for example).

    Or did you have an actual point that you failed to articulate?

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  37. "Correlation does not infer causation dumbass"

    The guy who wrote that doesn't know what infer means

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  38. I'm not particularly bothered by this article on the whole, but having lived in New Zealand all my life I felt a little bad about not knowing who to agree with on the "NZ is secular" vs "NZ is Christian" topic. So I did some googling (this is what I base most of my opinions on).

    Last census a little over 55% of NZ identified as Christian(This number has been steadily decreasing for a while now), and roughly 34% stated they had no religion (this number is on the rise).

    Not Quite the figures I was hoping for, but it is still nice to know we are peaceful.

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  39. In reply to whoever made the statement, "Atheism IS a religion..."

    Atheism is NOT a religion. It is the absence thereof.

    Religion, by its very definition, involves the belief in one or more deities, the supernatural, or a creator.

    Atheism is the rejection of all such concepts.

    Calling atheism a religion is like calling vegetarianism "eating a different kind of meat."

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  40. Atheist nations like Germany?

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  41. How many "Atheist" countries are considered a world power? How many of the violent religious countries are predominately Islam? This is stupid and does not mean anything... it pisses me off that diggers get this on the front page when it is bullshit to begin with... idiots... go back to your video games or whatever else you use to make up for the absence of pussy...

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  42. Atheism literally means "without theism" - it is not a religion, it is simply the lack of belief in a god.

    To quote Richard Dawkins: calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.

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  43. Just to allay some of the inevitable trash that the coming anonymous horde will inevitably peddle:

    Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R. as well as Mao's China and North Korea, Pol Pot, etc. are all, every single one of them, fundamentalist regimes. Period, full stop. They require complete submission to the authority of their texts, dogmas, and leaders and allow no questioning of it.

    So, before you start spouting off about "atheism kills, look at Hitler!", you are absolutely wrong. Fundamentalism kills, look at Hitler. Oh, and fundamentalism comes in Communism, Christian and Muslim flavors, too! You can get the variety pack at Apologists Are Us.

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  44. I am not an atheist, nor am I an active member of any religious group.

    I don't believe that religion, when practiced in the privacy of peoples hearts, has anything to do with with causing wars and other attrocities.

    What I do believe is that when the separation between church and state is removed or becomes a line drewn in water, religion becomes a tool for politics and will be used as such and corrupted for ends not justified by the religion itself.

    If this graph would be recreated it would probably support this view also.

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  45. I'm not so sure that the conclusion you have drawn is 100% accurate, but it does provide enough standing for a full survey on the matter. I'm an atheist myself and I have always believed religion is a big factor in wars and discrimination and so on, but as others as pointed out the evidence here is not rock solid.

    I do hope this article does insight a full scale investigation on the matter, but my inner pessimist tells me it won't. Religious groups hold too much power over the media. (Internet not included, thank goodness)

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  46. To "Ever here of Christchurch NZ?"

    The place was named after a town in the south of England and has nothing to do with Christ or a Church. Many towns and cities in the former colonies were named after places in Great Britain. New Plymouth and Oxford are another two examples from NZ.

    That said, I think this article makes a valid point. The author is not trying to persuade you in any way (we are all too mature and independently minded to be), he is just highlighting some interesting data gleaned from the research.

    Well done on an interesting read.

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  47. Since when is Atheism a religion? Here is the Wikipedia definition:
    "Atheism can be either the rejection of theism, or the assertion that deities do not exist. In the broadest sense, it is the absence of belief in the existence of deities.".

    Andrew commented that "A more likely 'cause' of violence is the desire of people to gain power and influence, a trait which is found in all groups regardless of religion".

    Where did that fact come from Andrew, can you site the source please? I am very curious and I find it hard to believe.

    I was raised in a christian religion and the repetitive nature of the teachings hard wire people to hate, harbour jealousy, be greedy etc. If people were not being taught these values in the first place, especially through the repetitive manner that many religions do. Would people be as violent, hateful, power greedy and so keep-up-with-the-Jones's, so to speak, as they are now?

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  48. It's a stupid analysis. This doesn't correlate each other.

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  49. "The example of a supposedly atheist country is New Zealand, which seems strange, because New Zealand is obviously mostly Christian."

    I'm a New Zealander and I can assure you that New Zealand is NOT "mostly Christian". The vast majority of NZers don't think about religion or are atheist with a vocal minority being religious. We have an established church, which is a legacy of our colonial past not a reflection on current society.

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  50. "infer" does not mean "imply" dumbass

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  51. The problem is as someone said, education. Humanity is a young species, when you consider how old the universe is. For there to be world wide peace humanity, as a whole, needs to grow up and learn.

    Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Islamic, atheist, it doesn't matter what you are. You'll always want to make people believe in what you believe in. I ask, why?

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  52. Here you can see a War Risk Map:

    Up2Maps War Risk Map

    And other world map with freedom index by countries
    Up2maps Freedom Index

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  53. Simplest fact is religion by itself does not provoke voilence. People cause violence and then hide behind religion to make it look it's not their fault. It's the same thing as killing some stranger on the street, saying "friend of mine told me to do it" and then hoping friend will be blamed.
    People kill and hurt others in the name of God, love, freedom, patriotism, for money, for power, for information...
    Why don't we just take out all of this things and finnaly there can be peace and prosperity.

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  54. I found this article to be interesting but overly amazing. I think to sum up what people have said about causation is that the correlation (which is shown) indicates a RELATIONSHIP. While this is the case, it does not indicate the direction or if there are or are not any intermediate variables that affect the data. The data are such that the indicate this relationship which some have taken to mean causation. The fact of the matter is that there is no statistically significant test that has been done to show the direction of any direct causality. This is NOT to say it doesn't exist, but in the world of statistics (which are meant to progressively build upon one another), if there's no significant test, then it didn't happen, if you know what I mean.

    The correlation is interesting, but it would be nigh on impossible to detect causality with any real world significance.

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  55. What I find hilaroiuse is several times over I've read about how atheism dosent preach hate,Only relgion does,and how Christianity caused the dark ages and the Crusades.

    Well if Atheism dosent preach hate thn why have several people in this comment section alone called for the death of christianity so humnaity can "Move on".

    The dark ages were caused by the downfall of the Roman Empire and the Crusades,Well you cant really hold something against someone if it happened several hundred years ago,Well I dunno the holocaust and germnay,The US and the A-bomb((AMong other things)).

    Above some one said how there are fdiffrent forms of atheism and how each one is diffrent in approach to
    violence..thats the exact same tihng with relgion,Hw coudlnt you makethat connection.Never have I heard of Buddist Monks calling for the detah and land of some unfortunate country have I?.

    Violence would happen reguardless of relgion,Itscall human nature,And if relgion did not exist then modern life as we know it would not exist,I go even far enough to say civilisation wouldnt be as far with many think religion embarked people to settle down and cultivate the land((Thats farming to you and Me :P)).

    Here's the top 50 countries with the highest atheism percent.

    Now I dunno about you but allot of those countries hadlets say and unpleasant past wouldnt you agree,Of course Im not on about the whole lsit as that would be just unfair seeing as thats 50 out of the 195 countries in the world but the top ones ((excluding sweden))seemed to have very violent times both past and present.

    Ireland,a country with only 4%,but has the highest quality of Life.It also is a peaceful countries whos military is only used for Peacekeeping and defence((If it will ever be needed)),the reason I point this out to show how this graph is flawed,Violence does not come down to religion,it comesdown to past problems,culutre and genetics.

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  56. Well it does not surprise me that religious nations are less peacefull, with their stupid ideology of with us or against us... how can they be in peace?

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  57. Bringing more data to the table doesn't change anything. I think everyone can appreciate the different views portrayed here, but it is really a philosophical debate that cannot be answered with data, there are just too many variables involved. Maybe, just maybe, we need to consider that everything in a particular society down to even which soft drink they predominantly drink could be used to correlate war and hatred.

    Anything could contribute to hatred, and it is impossible to disprove that. So man up and just stop hating, everyone.

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  58. It's interesting, after reading the first couple dozen comments, how many people obviously didn't finish reading this post. The author is very clearly *not* making a claim of causation. He never even comes close, in fact.

    If you read the last two paragraphs, he actually states that there are several possible reasons for the reults of his data and specifically mentions correlation.

    His *only* claim is that the data does seem to be strong evidence against the claim that secularism (and by implication atheism) leads to social meltdown. That most certainly *is* a claim that many religious people would make. And this data is an attempt to provide a line of evidence against that claim.

    I'm sure there are valid criticisms of the data being presented. But I think all of the comments complaining about claims of causation are clearly way off base.

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  59. I agree somewhat, but also, no evidence having been found yet does not mean evidence against the opposite. Just because it hasn't been found, doesn't mean it won't.

    But yeah I agree that the author makes no mention of causation and that causation cannot be ascertained from this.

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  60. Thanks everyone for the comments - quite a response to this one.

    Firstly I'd like to say that this analysis of course says nothing about causation, and certainly doesn't mean that atheism makes for peaceful nations.

    What it does is support an accumulating body of evidence which shows that nations with high levels of non-religious people also tend to have better living conditions and generally be better places to live.

    It's probable that this is because if you face a lot of stress in your life, you turn to religion. It may also be that religion changes the nature of support the members of a society offer each other (i.e. direct charity rather than state welfare), which is less effective as a means of cushioning people from stress.

    But the main point is absolutely as mentioned by one of the posters above. It is definitely not the case that a society that loses religion will go bad. Quite the opposite. Good societies also tend to be non-religious (for whatever reason.

    Therefore, if you want to make a good society, you should not try to do it by making people more religious. It isn't what separates good societies from bad.

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  61. Assuming the stats as you've compiled them are correct, the most obvious interpretation is that counties that are democratic and pluralist are by definition less war like (that's why they're pluralists) and as such allow for atheism. Therefore you should do the same stats again, but this time also correlate democratic structure with violence and then democratic structure with atheism. If you get similar correlation / statistically significant difference - there's your answer (based on the limited data you have of course).

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  62. It is interesting that at least 3 of the top 5 nations on the list of peaceful nations have a Lutheran State Church and have not separated between government and religion. The fourth country only made the separation in 2000.

    Can I therefore claim that countries where the Lutheran Church is the state church are more peaceful than those that are not?

    Yes, but is the reason for the peacefulness due to the church?

    I know people that would answer that question with a YES, I know others that would say it is so in spite of the church.

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  63. Problem is that 'democracy' is a binomial so doesn't really provide much statistical power. I have done an analysis where I look at the importance of factors like income inequality, GDP etc. And these can explain a lot of the variance in religiosity (and the covariance with social problems like violence). It's due to be published in the Journal of Religion and Society, hopefully next month.

    Still doesn't prove cause and effect, of course. For that you would need long time series and/or an instrumented variable, neither of which are available for religiosity.

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  64. "It is definitely not the case that a society that loses religion will go bad. Quite the opposite."

    Have you ever heard the story of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden? You words above offered a hint of the familiar.

    "Therefore, if you want to make a good society, you should not try to do it by making people more religious. It isn't what separates good societies from bad."
    Why aim for a good society? Isn't it more illuminating to identify what it is that separates merely good societies from perfect societies? Or do you imagine some enterprise capable of applying Occam's razor?

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  65. As a person from the former Soviet block where the communist party proclaimed that the day will come when the last Christian will be shown on tv, I can witness what banning Christianity does to a country. There are no more rules, laws and freedoms that we are used to but it's hard to imagine living so freely in America thanks to our Christian founders. The grass is not always greener on the other side;)

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  66. I think the correlating factor is oppression.

    Nero was a Roman emperor who burned christians to light his parties. During his reign Christianity expanded farther and faster than any religion ever had before.

    Since Americans found religious freedom, the number of Christians here has been steadily dropping off. As latin American countries become free, more and more people become non-practicing Catholics.

    Oppressive countries are inherently have a higher degree of unrest. They are more likely to be involved in a civil war. Oppression also drives people to religion. In some cases it may be religion driving oppression, but that is not historically the case.

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  67. "New Zealand is obviously mostly Christian" -WRONG! I too have lived in New Zealand all of my life and I can't name a single person I know who goes to church. (Or mosque, or Synagogue, for that matter). And I have 150-odd "friends", if Facebook is anything to go by. Our most recent prime minister was a self-confessed Agnostic, and most likely a lesbian too. An anti-gay cult/church group called Destiny Church surfaced in 2004 with a protest against the legalisation of same-sex civil unions. They were met with ridicule from the vast majority of New Zealand, and not just because the media has a liberal/secular bias, but because we're relatively free of religious fanatics here and most of us laugh quietly at the problems of the rest of the world brought-about by narrow-mindedness and superstition. I find New Zealand culture cringe-worthy most of the time, but I have to admit that the overwhelmingly secular makeup of our people is something that I'm proud to be a part of.

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  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  69. And yes it's true that in the last NZ Census "a little over 55% of NZ identified as Christian" - but I would bet bottom-dollar that the majority of them don't go to church. A better statistic might be the number of bums on seats in church per capita? That would be a lot lower. New Zealand's official religion is probably Christianity, but that's just as relevant as our being part of the British Monarchy - in reality very few people are old enough to still actually care about either institution, and they're only still part of our official "identity" because it;s too much hassle to get rid of the naming rights.

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  70. Its really simplistic just to say that religion equates to violence, hmmm have we forgotten all the violence commited under communist regimes? The problem is we as a species are violent, and we need to accept that, we fight over land, resources, food etc etc. Remove religion and there would still be violence, its just human nature. I'm guessing none of these atheists have seen northern england on a saturday night lol God is well and truly shoved to the side as our barbarian tendencies come out through alcohol.

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  71. While correlation does not infer causation, this clearly shows that social instability and religiosity go hand-in-hand and I don't think the article ever implied otherwise.

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  72. I have to disagree with anyone that says religion has little to do with War or Violence. It may not be the root cause of the action, but it is usually manipulated in order to get the masses behind the cause. Military and govn't leaders will convince the pawns of the war that it is by the graces of god that they will be victorious, or that it is the word of good that they are spreading.
    With out religion there is nothing to get the generally ignorant masses to follow, therefore snuffing out a war before it starts

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  73. "There are no more rules, laws and freedoms that we are used to but it's hard to imagine living so freely in America thanks to our Christian founders."

    Lighthouses are more useful than churches. - Benjamin Franklin

    This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it. - John Adams

    Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man. - Thomas Jefferson

    What christian founders?
    Religion may not be the root source of violence, but it's more than obvious it's the main enabler. As a poster said earlier, seeking power is a human trait, so we obviously cannot remove that - but religion, religion can be removed - you removed the enabler, and you solve the problem.

    So you might say - "But man will find another enabler."

    This is with no doubt true - but i honestly believe that nothing could enable violence more than religion can... unless one invents some.. invisible form of politics that no one can disprove?

    Invisible Pink Unicorn - google it.

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  74. To the misinformed individual that said Christianity brought us the crusades, you may want to check your sources. Islam brought us the crusades. Muslim aggression towards Europe triggered the crusades--which in the beginning were very much a defensive war. This is really common knowledge. Just use Wikipedia or your favorite encyclopedia.

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  75. I wouldn't say religion is the main root of violence. Though I do feel it played a big roll. I mean think about all the holy wars, think about the crusades.People killed each other because of it. Hundreds of millions of people killed each other over it. They would sacrifice innocent people for it. I can think of a few religions were people wouldn't kill people, but then in return they were killed because of what they believed in.

    I think maybe thats why I hate religion.

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  76. Re: "Correlation does not infer causation dumbass."

    A fair point, aside form the ad hominem. But that's not really the point of the article, or the lesson the author wants us to take away. Whether correlation or causation, the data indicates that the common claim that securalization leads to destablization or violence are false. In other words, the claim that religion is the road to peace and stability seems to be not true (though I think evidence for this has been plentiful for a long time).

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  77. I highly doubt Atheism has anything to do with how peaceful a country is, the atheism is just a biproduct of economic and quality of life standards. In countries where you have a better quality of life and economic status people have more freedom to be atheist. When you have no food and no hope, the first thing you are going to do is turn to God. Saying atheism causes peace is like saying the prevalence of mansions caused economic stability.

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  78. GOD DOES NOT BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS!

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  79. yeah i'd like to chime in on the new zealand being mostly christian, first i heard, majority of NZer's are not active church members or believe in such, when moving to the US and surrounded by religions and churches and other political decisions swayed by church influence/outcry, i was shocked and felt very out of place.

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  80. This isn't exactly breaking news. The biggest wars in history were basically arguments of whose invisible, non-existent god had a bigger dick. Stupid religion.

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  81. Not really a surprise. Stupidity leads to religion (or the other way around). Stupidity leads to war for simple things like caricatures of religious symbols.
    Religion leads to dismiss science which leads to more stupidity and ignorance.

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  82. Ill be sure to relay this information to Stalin right away...

    I wonder how an atheist can even objectively define "Peaceful"

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  83. I think it's just greed!

    What about the problems within the Atheist countries like China? Laogai, animal right, human rights, prison camps, Tibet, Falon Gong, etc. They may not be fighting with other countries, but they have some serious problems within.

    I don't believe in "god," but I'm not an Atheist. I consider myself a Buddhist, but spiritual. The energy with my body is my "god" if you wish to call it that. Energy is my life force without it I wouldn't be alive. Basic Buddhism teaches us to do no harm, not to kill, it's not the Buddhism that advocates killing, it's the Human nature that causes the killing of just about everything. Buddhism also got absorbed into the diverse cultures because Buddhism is accepting of other faiths and teachings, so that's why we have divers Buddhist teachings. Though the basic stuff is to be non violent, some choose to ignore those basic teachings. Some don't even teach the eight fold path, they teach the teachings of the founder of that particular Buddhist sect teachings and very rarely even talk about Buddha's basic teachings.

    So, I'm saying in many cases it's not the faith, it's the people, it's human nature. Though, some religions call for Killing of others, this will just add to the human nature of people. Other faiths denounce violence, so the followers do their best to do not violence at all, and many are vegetarian as a result, but people have human nature that they have to constantly fight.

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  84. These numbers are completely bogus. I read this report and two of the things that make your country 'violent' is the availability of guns and size of military. A ridiculous correlation. Some of the most oppressive countries out there have massive gun control, so it's an unfair conclusion.

    I might also add that many of those listed high on the peaceful list are only peaceful because of the size of their larger allies' militaries. The only reason Auz/NZ can co exist with their Asian neighbors is and has been because of the might of the US Pacific Fleet.

    Crimes are relative. There are a heck of a lot more crimes reported and punished in the US than there are in Botswana, Egypt, Mozambique, Bosnia, Vietnam and the Ukraine. There is no way I would choose crime ridden Botswana over the US to live.

    You also can't say oppression is 'peace'. China has a brutal human rights record. Persecution is directed at govt opposition and those who dare practice their faith. Not peace; persecution.

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  85. "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

    I would be interested to see which countries are more peaceful based on how many people are vegetarians, or on how many people watch American Idol.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Lie_with_Statistics

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  86. I think the relationship between between religiousity and how peaceful a nation is might be due to diversity teaching people how to co-exist better. I would like to see a study that measures the distribution of beliefs (Is the population more varied in religions and lack thereof, or is there one or two large belief systems with some very small minorities?) and how that relates to how peaceful the country is. As Voltaire said, "If you have two religions in your land, the two will cut each other's throats; but if you have thirty religions, they dwell in peace"

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  87. Muspar, stay tuned. There is a measure of religious pluralism. I've done a multivariate analysis of the factors that are linked to religiosity. It's coming out in the journal of religion and society, hopefully next month.

    Anyway, it turns out that the more religious diversity there is in a nation, the more atheists there will be.

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  88. I wish anonymous had posted first that he was religious "buddhist" Anon said. I could have ignored his twaddle without readsing further. Here's the idea. Religion when you're in group is peacful. So Saudi Arabia is 'peaceful' When you're outgroup, religion is violent- hence 19 Saudi boys butcher aircrew and commit more mass murder for Allah.

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  89. alot of people here are pointing out that correlation ≠ causation, this is true, but people, please read the article! the last paragraph pretty clearly states that the writer knows this, and that the purpose of this article was only to show that atheism does not cause violence

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  90. there might be a delayed effect in supposed social meltdown until the last 'religious' generation dies and the new secular ethics are not enough to keep society in balance

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  91. What nation is an atheist nation? I have never heard of one. Anybody know?

    Also, atheism is a religion too.

    Causation is non-linear in nature and the possibility of proving a nation is more peaceful due to a specific worldview borders on the absurd. However, fun to discuss anyway.

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  92. It's hard to study the "religiosity" of nations. Different people and cultures interpret the words "god", "religion" , "faith", etc. differently and people often hold dishonest or contradictory views. For example, the majority of Americans believe that God created the earth in 6 days AND they believe and an ancient earth and evolution. Other cultures as just reluctant to discuss personal religious views.

    This study relies on people's self-reporting of how often they go to church (as a measure of religiosity). This WOULD be a good measure if people didn't consistently lie about going to church more often than they actually do. This lying is more prevalent in some countries that others. Americans lie about it to some extent, but in Ireland and in many other Catholic and Muslim churches where attendance is near-mandatory you find a LOT more people lie.

    However, what we CAN say quite definitively is that religious people certainly aren't LESS violent that atheistic people. This is important because it attacks one of the primary arguments for religion, that is encourages morality.

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  93. I can't take seriously any article (or comment on the article, for that matter) that equates "secular" with "atheist" (many Christians are secularist) or does not differentiate between religions/ideologies when forming conclusions in such studies.

    This article is just sophist claptrap.

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  94. And people always give Atheist's a hard time. If Atheist's are sinners in the eyes of Christianity, why is it that wars are fought over religion (such as Christianity)?

    This article just proves it!

    Quote of the Day: "Don't treat others as YOU would like to be treated. Treat them how THEY would like to be treated" - Jang Kalson

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  95. On secularization: this is the term used in the academic literature to describe the progressive loss of the important of religious beliefs in society. See, for example, Prof Steve Bruce's book, "God is dead: secularization in the West". Review here.

    The reason is that there is no verb for 'loss of religious belief' (de-religify???), so 'secularize' is employed instead!

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  96. The problem that I see with the article is that it conflates atheism with secularism. The two are not the same.

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  97. this is truly strange. How does any of this fundamentally alter your belief in God or lack thereof? Who cares if any of this is true or not. If somthing is going to be done about it it isn't going to come about by arguing or even talking about it, as if somehow either God or somone of equal importance is going to hear this banter and say 'golly I should fix this now.' many "religious" people have very little understanding of what the bible actually teaches about many of their doctrines mostly because they are not being taught to study it in a way that helps them have a personal relationship with whatever god they serve. It also seems that atheists will accept no other premise than what their own experiances have taught them. So instead of bothering yourselves with all of this why don't you all just wait until after your all dead and the either the atheists and god fearers will all become trees or when judgment day comes and all of us have some real problems..

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  98. Seems like another atheist trying to justify repeated attacks on religious people. Who cares if people believe in a God or not. Why do some people get so pissed off when someone believes in a God. And I don't care what statistics show, as numbers are so easily skewed, religion is not the cause of most violence and wars, money is.

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  99. Religion is not the cause of violence. The root causes which stem violence is the human traits. Greed, Corruption, Stubbornness, Pride, Envy, Jealousy, Decadence, Materialism and Egotistical leaders are the primary contribution in which wars have been fought. Religion was imposed to merely serve as a moral compass and to a certain extent created a free society in which modern western civilization was built upon. You take away inhibition from society and you will find yourself plunging back into the dark ages in which violence was the norm.

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  100. it's not so much religion causing people to become violent as much as violent people gravitating towards religion as a justification for their base tendencies.

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  101. Let's face it, if you don't believe in some sort of heaven and afterlife you are less likely to fly your plane into a skyscraper. It's a bad career move.

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  102. "Correlation does not infer causation dumbass"

    No, but it does give those certain religious people who claim secularism will lead to a breakdown in society a reason to STFU.

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  103. From the article:
    "New Zealand came top this year. Hmm, New Zealand is a pretty non-religious country. In fact, if you eyeball the rankings, the top few countries are all pretty non-religious."

    A few months ago another article was written in the same vein using Sweeden as the example.

    But here's the problem neither of these articles 'reports', etc took into account the spirituality of a country. Just because the majority of the population may or may not go to a specific church does not mean the country is atheist.
    I'm not a big believer/supporter of religion/church, but I'm not an atheist. So the wrong questions were asked and not enough of the correct ones.
    Not attending church does not equal atheism.
    Many of these countries have a lot and a history of spirituality.

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  104. Actually, the analysis was on people who call themselves 'committed atheists' - look at the top graph. Sweden is not just non-religious, there are also a lot more atheists there than average.

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  105. Why is it that religion bares the burden for all that is wrong in the world today? The morals of most have been thrown out and therefore their children have grown up with the same wavering morals. I am sure the statistics of inmates who grew up in a religious home instead of a non-religious one is staggering. Islam seems to be a rapidly growing belief system and a violent one at that. Anyone with beliefs that differentiate from theirs is an infidel and should be killed or enslaved. If all violence were just in Islamic nations and commited by Muslims, then I could see religion being the problem. What is sad is that this religion is on the rise as stated. Combine that with the declining morals of the rest of the world and lack of birthrates in other religions, what is the inevitable truth? Religion is not about being ruled, that is slavery. It is a guide to living the right way and treating people in a kind and descent way. The freedom of choice as humans and the ignorant interpretations of many cause the problems with religion. For the person who thinks that putting someone to death is wrong, I guess you do not have children! The very idea of keeping some child molestor/killer alive on tax payers dollars, is obsurd and questions your value of human life. I do not believe atheism, nor christianity are the root cause of the evil in the world today, it is the lack of moral values and backbone that is killing my nation and our world!

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  106. People tend to be very peaceful in Military Dictatorships... where anyone seen disagreeing is shot... Does that count as "peaceful"...? Geeez.

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  107. Oh for pity's sake, will you people PLEASE read the article all the way through? There shouldn't be any more comments about "correlation doesn't equal causation" or "atheism is a religion too" or "atheists do bad things too, look at Hitler!"

    The author DOES NOT SAY atheists are all peaceful, in spite of the need for a short and catchy title. He very clearly points out that there are many factors that could explain this correlation and that the only thing this bit of stats is good for is as a counterpoint to the claim that losing religion automatically leads to a violent cesspool of a society.

    And for the "atheism is a religion" folks, please return to high school English class. Atheism is, literally, "without theism" and that's it. It is a lack of belief in the supernatural. Period. It is not, necessarily, a dogmatic belief in no gods, in spite of the fact that some individuals might tack that belief on, it remains separate from the definition of "atheism".

    What the warlike non-theistic societies had in common with the warlike theistic societies is fundamentalist adherence to dogma. Dogma can be applied to many different systems, theistic, political, etc. That doesn't mean that the lack of religion was the cause of the trouble, it means the dogmatic fundamentalism was the cause of the trouble, which happens to be the same cause of trouble in those theistic societies that they are being compared to.

    The difference is that the theistic societies are using their deity to excuse their behaviour while the atheistic societies are using their political and social beliefs to excuse their behaviour. Their belief that there is no god was *not* the reason cited for their behaviour, unlike the theistic societies in question, for which their belief that there is a god *is* the reason cited for their behaviour.

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  108. Governments always justify their wars in religious terms.

    This doesn't work in atheistic societies, so their governments have no choice but to behave.

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  109. "Christianity brought us the Crusades and the Dark Ages. It's time for it to die along with the rest of religions."


    Speaking of Dumb asses, this guy seems to know about as history as you can find on a bubblegum wrapper.

    Europe fell into the Dark ages because of the fall of the Roman Empire, caused by their decadence and greed. There was the Eastern, or Holy Roman Empire, which spread the Roman Catholic Church throughout Europe and brought an end to the Dark Ages.

    Understand Dumb Ass, The Church was what ended the Dark ages and without it we would still be in them.

    If you want to bash Christianity, at least read a Wikipedia page before you comment so you don't let everyone know what a dumb ass you are.

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  110. Look at the graph, the athiest scale is in single percent, the nonviolent nations have about 8.5% athiests, clearly that does not make them athiest nations. The attesnt services regulary scale is in 10% increments, so even in the non violent nations there are almost 4 times as many people that go to church regularly as there are athiests.

    The guy that posted this is using a classic tactic to lie in support of his thesis, manipulating how people look at the statistics. He knows he's doing this, and he knows his thesis is untrue, but he hopes readers will just look at the picture and believe him.

    If you want to see how peaceful a real athiest nation is, you need look no farther than the old USSR and the PRC. Between them and their client states they killed about a hundred million people in the middle years of the 20th century. 100,000,000 people.

    This author is a liar, and he expects that you, his readers, will be stupid enough to believe him.

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  111. Oh, and as for the correlation/causation arguments above. Not only does correlation not prove causation, but also the direction of causation here is totally made up. There is nothing here that makes one direction of causation more or less likely. You can as likely say that in nations that are peaceful, people are less likley to be religous. Perhaps there really are no athiests in foxholes.

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  112. Atheism=nihilism= moral/etics subjuctive nonexistant conceppts= Peaceful is not any indicator of good because it does not exist. (according to atheists)Free will, love and identity, existance- nullified by rules of cause and effec

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  113. religion is proven to followed by the masses which in most cases are of lesser intelligent peoples ... religious zealotry has been at the helm of many great disasters ... the crusades, the inquisition, the constant battles between christians, jews, and muslims are all evidence of such behavior. September 11th is a prime example ... im not sayin religion is indeed the root but it has always tied itself to greater amounts of violence throughout the ages ... i believe this lies in my first comment ... lesser intelligent people follow religion because of ignorance or lack of education and often use religion to excuse acts of violence and decadence ... in my honest opinion if you remove religion those same people have no other choice but to resort to following codes of values and ethnics especially logic therefore they become more honest to themselves and others ... i dont believer religion is the root to violence and/or decadence but it is no doubt a catalyst ... a catalyst in my honest opinion we should remove for the betterment of our race and even our planet.

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  115. To the one who wrote 4 points.

    1) What makes you think the sample is biased? It is not! All countries that you mentioned are included. None are excluded. Btw, the communistic past does not mean that countries are or were atheistic. It was just a surface ideology.

    2) The size of provinces does not matter at all. Population? How should it matter? I don't see any link.

    3) Countries with a christian tradition also have the most barbaric history. They are not Christian any longer and they are peaceful.

    4) Correlation does not imply causation! That's true! And it is clearly emphasised! READ ONCE AGAIN! Atheists are majority in the top countries! And everyone benefits from having peaceful attitudes.

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  116. Although an unfortunate (but not false) title, the data presented is still valuable.

    Please note that the author never claims that this proves that atheism causes peace. Indeed, please read the two last paragraphs, when he even acknowledges different possible explanations.

    Now, this correlation is indeed useful to prove **another** proposition wrong: that our ethics and morals come from scripture and, therefore, atheism (which rejects it) leads to immoral, selfish individuals. THAT is really proven wrong with these data.

    It is not an attack on religion. It is a defense of atheism.

    And, again, the title is not false.

    Please, read before commenting.

    Tom, good job (with the article and your comment, although they both fell in deaf ears).

    nachokb

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  117. Hmmm.... The only truly "atheist nations" in human history have been the communist nations like China and the former Soviet Union. I hate to break it to you, but these nations do not have stellar human-rights records.

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  118. For those who keep saying that the only truly "atheist nations" are the USSR and PRC, two comments:

    1) Tom's post clearly states what is meant by "atheist nation": nations of more atheists and fewer religious people than on average. This is a bottom-up measure, if you like, where the individual persons were asked about their religiosity. USSR and PRC last century were top-down atheist nations. The dictators there ruled that no one could be religious, and thus no one were. But fact remains that people kept believing, and today both Russian and the other former Soviet republics are highly religious, and the same goes for China.

    2) There are of course other factors that determine how peaceful a nation is than wether they have an above average percentage of atheists. The USSR and PRC were dictatorships, which is a whole other ball game. In terms of this kind of study, those two are clearly outliers, and really does not have any statistical significance in this type of study.

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  119. Peace is a subjective word. Atheists may say they have a peaceful nation but do they have a peace of mind?

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  120. Watch Free Online TV Unlimited said...

    Peace is a subjective word. Atheists may say they have a peaceful nation but do they have a peace of mind?


    The word "peace" can be objectively defined when talking of nations. Comparing nations in terms if peacefulness does not need to be subjective.

    So, Watch Free Online TV Unlimited (I mean, seriously!), do you acknowledge that atheist nations (as defined) are more peaceful?

    Whether they have peace of mind is a whole different question. you do the defining, please.

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  121. The comments are almost more interesting than the study itself. A lot of people are getting hot under the collar here.

    The issue of causation has already been answered. It does implicate a connection. To more fully make one, a drastically more direct study would be needed. Still, it does add to the overal case.

    In response to the idea that underlying reasons for conflict: poverty, low education, etc. are the root as opposed to religion. You've got half a point, but there's more: Religion can be part of that list. And most likely, it does help perpetuate conflict in a number of areas, or did you thik that whole "eye for an eye" edict was about hugs and puppies?

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  122. I think the question about whether or not people turn to religion during difficult times or religion causes difficult times is tricky. IMO its a vicious cycle involving both outcomes.

    Religious teachings can encourage violence, and also I don't know if any atheist here has had this experience, but after dropping the myths of religion and after life etc my life and the lives of people I love became MUCH more valuable to me, like I really want to take care of my life and live the happiest I can because I only have one of them... Whereas when I was religious i was more relaxed about this because it was like "oh well, the mystery man in the sky will surely take care of it all!" So I think in that respect if people could realise that there is no special place for all the people who are tragically taken by wars etc in this world there would be a lot more effort to make them stop.

    On the other hand, I also think people trapped in distressing and traumatising situations, like being the victim of a genocide, or a war, could make you find a great deal of comfort in the idea that someone is watching over you, or that there will be a safe and happy place for you when its all over.

    Its terribly sad, really, when you think about it.

    I certainly think that given the comfortable circumstances of my life, i.e. having good food, a loving partner, a safe place to live, shelter etc all make it much easier to be atheist.

    Best regards

    Candice

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  123. I am a Christian although I was raised as an atheist. I did not come to God because of fear, anxiety, problems. I began my journey to God when I was about three years old. I have never blamed anyone for any struggles or failures in my life. I never even blamed myself. I simply learned from the struggle. The more I moved along on my journey through life, the strong my love of and commitment to God became. When I was 13 I graduated from High School and set out on my own journey, never looking back. I have only see a couple of my 11 brothers and sisters once or twice in the past almost 50 years. I haven't seen my mother either, although I do call her weekly to let her know I love her.

    I don't need people, never have. As for God, I sometimes raill against Him but that doesn't mean I don't love and fear Him.
    As for the idea that "atheistic countries" are more peaceful is just baloney. Clearly you have never been to a country you are classifying as 'atheist'. Usually those are socialst countries where it is MANDATED that the citizens not (openly) worship God. And yet they DO worship God, how could they not? There IS a God and I know it from my life. Everything good that has ever happened to me was the result of my working my way through an adverse situation... with the help of God. There are no 'coincidences'. There is only 'intelligent design' and God, who Guides and Loves His Children.

    As for religion being the 'root cause' of violence, ah! you are so blind to believe that! The DEVIL is the root cause of everything evil. But not all adverse situations are EVIL. Some exist so that one can learn and grow through working one's way through the negative situation.

    I say, every day!, "Thank You God for everything thing you have given me, everything you have taken away... and everything you have left me."

    That's reality. That's Absolute Truth, that's GOD.
    I once wrote a poem wherein I declared
    That man was running from a God
    He once Dared face --
    Don't look over your shoulder now!
    God's gained a pace,
    And I'm afraid He doesn't know
    HOW the game is played...
    or that He's in a Race.

    God Bless you Lost Souls, may you find your way Home before you are too late.

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  124. to me... when I look at the map... it looks like the peaceful countries tend to be away from the equator. So, I think of violence as either a correlation to weather or magnetic pole attraction. Point being, they may have nothing to do with each other.

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  125. Ben: astute, but actually there probably is a connection. Nations further away from the equator have lower parasite and disease burden, and so have higher GDP growth. Higher GDP => more civilised societies => more peace (and less religion).

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  126. If one steps back and note the behavior of supposidly 'Atheist' countries, one cannot walk away from the fact that the greatest amount of in country killing occured in these countries. From Stalin(Russia) to Mao(China) to Polpott(Viet Nam), we see athiest countries killing left and right. That smacks in contradiction to the articles premise, and makes them no better at valuing human life than any other stats.
    However, if you look at how a country tolerates opposing viewpoints, a pattern emerges where countries with large athiest populations can thrive alongside religious populations, and that country will have a better track record for human rights. This then more a function of how a culture values life and liberty as opposed to their epistemological viewpoint. Large popluations of free thinkers will naturally gravitate to such a culture.
    Of course, it is necessary for such a tolerant group to decide on a secular set of laws to govern by, as opposed to religious law to work, but does not infer by its nature a pure atheism.

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  127. Religion doesn't preach to go on war or fight. But some people use these thing to their favor. Religion to me is nothing but a book written by someone and followed by many fools who are unwilling to use their brains. My Blog : earn money chao!

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  128. How about Atheist countries like Communist China? Also, the former Soviet Union was officially Atheist and also very violent. For example, they starved to death between 9 and 14 million Ukrainians from 1932-1933. (Read The Harvest of Sorrow by Conquest)That doesn't seem very peaceful to me.

    Progress! Bob Johnson
    http://www.deism.com

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  129. Religion is indeed the root cause of violence and hatred around the world. And it's always the fundamentalists that are at the top of each religion, dictating policy to all the followers of the church. If we were to pull religion away from these fiends, then they wouldn't have anything to hide their bigotry and mental illness behind. And to those people mentioning countries like North Korea and China...well, That's where political fundamentalism comes in. Fundamentalism is the real problem, starting with religion and trickling down into politics.

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  130. A very deceiving survey. I take it "Peaceful Nation" means a "Nation not involved in a tradition war" with soldier, guns and tanks. Maybe a better title for this survey should have been "Religious Affiliation of Nations at War".

    Not being at war, in no way, means "peaceful". There and persistent international tensions, as well as civil unrest that should also be taken into account for gauging the level of outright "peace" within any country.

    If there is racial and socioeconomic civil unrest, no country is at peace. No citizen has a truly peaceful night's sleep.

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  131. No, that's not what is meant by "Peaceful Nation". Read the second paragraph.

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  132. Thats' interesting.But which nation is atheist?!

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  133. Yeah, only that survey is complete bunk. Russia is ranked below Saudi Arabia and North Korea? It's US propaganda. Of course it's going to rate its allies higher. Also, I believe you mean secular nations, not atheist nations. I'm happy to live in a secular nation. I would not want to live in an atheist nation. Please check your facts better.

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  134. A country where number of atheist people are large then there are very few chances of religious disturbances.
    Criminal Background Check

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  135. great work! i wish these facts would be publicised worlwide.

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  136. I would rather see a dot graph correlation with a trend line than an arbitrarily divided binary bar graph. The way you are presenting this makes it seem simply propagandist. I don't disagree with your conclusion, but I want to see more detail.

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  137. Religion causes intolerance and conflict between people. This is pretty obvious.

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  138. There you go. Religion is the opium of the people

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  139. Athiest nations are the most peaceful? This is the lamest and stupidest arguement yet for athiesm. The Soviet Union. Stalin killed 20 million of his people. Pal Pot in Cambodia. North Korea starves their people to death. China in Tibet and elsewhere. Cuba's people are mostly Catholic, but the Castro brothers and other higher-ups are all atheist. What great role models they are for the atheist community. Hitler certainly wasn't a Christian. Alot will argue that he was an ocultist, but he was more of an antheist. Another great role model for atheist. And the list goes on. Athiest nations are the most peaceful - what a joke!

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  140. I don't know that Atheist nations are more peaceful. On my opinions, we need religion as our guide to live a better quality respectful life.

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  141. lol New Zealand has one of the highest rape rates in the entire world, as does Sweden.

    Atheist countries also have very high levels of nationalism and racism.

    This is because atheists are not peaceful people, they are like uncivilized animals, they rape everywhere they go and always try to cause racism.

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  142. to whoever said: "Correlation does not infer causation dumbass" - the author never said that it did, nor did he imply it. and if you read the follow-up post, he specifically says that. perhaps you should read and fully understand the article before you make obvious "commentary" about it.

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  143. lol...all the peaceful atheist countries are also the most racist countries on Earth.

    Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, etc...are all the most racist countries

    I guess in an atheist's mind daily racism is peaceful

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  144. How many of those 'atheist countries' are actually cultural-christian countries?

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  145. Is suicide rate factored in? Places like Sweden and Japan may be externally "peaceful", but really quite violent if suicide is considered. And they are high on the Atheistic rankings too.

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  146. Like Bertrand Russell writing, these atheist countries slay the dragon which hide the threshold of new age, the age which is more peaceful, more prosperous. I am committed atheist and also I don't believe in gods or God. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and other religions will be perished when people will find out the truth.

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  147. Interesting that China with one quarter of the worlds'population, approximately 500 million non-religious citizens and an atheist government isn't exactly peaceful.Expansionist goals in the South China Sea, the invasion of Tibet,a war with Vietnam,military action along the borders with India.

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  148. Do these 'atheist countries are more peaceful' guys always leave out HISTORY and modern communist regimes like, oh I don't know, North Korea?

    I believe any 'study' done that shows atheist countries are more peaceful are willfully ignoring the last 100 years of atheistic regimes, communism, MODERN catastrophy countries like North Korea, and also suicide rates - Japan is nice and peaceful, and tragically depressed and suicidal country, low crime though!. How peaceful.

    BS, BS, and BS. These studies are the very definition of narrow bias.

    Now I have to add a sentence to make sure conscience wise the athiest moderating these comments might actually let this comment through - let's see, will you allow this comment? Or delete it like a coward? Up to you.

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  149. Communism, as it was implemented by Stalin& Mao, was basically a religion. Today's semi-capitalist China is quite peaceful compared with similar sized empires.

    "The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001... 41% of the world’s total military spending....China 8.2%". Now relate those numbers to population.

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  150. Faith-Based Organization all over this planet go into the most hostile, least hospitable places on Earth. They go there taking food, medical supplies, clothes etc. to bring humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands every year and many lose their very lives doing so. Perhaps someone can inform me how much Humanitarian Aid these Atheist countries or Atheist groups give.

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