He found that the most religious democracies exhibited substantially higher degrees of social dysfunction than societies with larger percentages of atheists and agnostics. Of the nations studied, the U.S. — which has by far the largest percentage of people who take the Bible literally and express absolute belief in God (and the lowest percentage of atheists and agnostics) — also has by far the highest levels of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
This morning I read an article in the NY Times
Middle-Class Family Life in Iraq Withers Amid the Chaos of War. This could almost be a case study of the religious-inspired violence described in the first article, except that the violence in question is of a more public variety.
I might have titled the first article "The Dark Side of Religion" instead of "The Dark Side of Faith". I think of faith as quiet and private, and religion and a public "me, too" or "us against them" sort of thing.
The third thing I'm contemplating today is the Intelligent Design debate. Frankly, I don't get it. How does it help God to bend logic in a high school science class? This sort of stuff is only neccesary if you think of God as sort of a mechanic, operating under the rules that humans (of the 19th century) can perceive; God running around cutting off one lineage, promoting another, through floods and famines, like a kid playing sandbox.
When I worked in Waikiki, the was a guy who walked the street everyday wearing a cape and a leopard-skin jockstrap, reading from a Bible at the top of his voice while passersby ignored him. I often wondered why he was taking those beautiful words and making them so ugly. God needs this? I wonder now about those Intelligent Design proponents. If God made the world, didn't he make the mathematics and time that make evolution work? My God is big, as big as I can think about and then bigger still.