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12. It works (mostly!)

December 1st, 2019

This page in brief ….

In the previous eleven posts in this series, we have seen that many different aspects of life (the universe, human life, the history of Jesus and human experience) all seem to make more sense if there is a creator God, than if there is not.

In this final post, we look at the ultimate road test – how does belief in the christian God work out in life. Is it good for the believer, and the world, or is it bad?

While this may not prove that belief in God is true, we would certainly doubt belief was true if it led to bad outcomes.

The information on this page comes from research by secular psychologists and neuroscientists. Links to references are at the end.

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Do we need God for life to have real meaning?

March 22nd, 2017

I’ve been reading a little about meaning in life. Psychologists tell us we need to have meaning and purpose in life for our psychological wellbeing. With a sense of meaning, we are more likely to be happy, have a positive sense of our own identity and be more resilient under stress

But what gives our lives meaning? What part does God play in this? And how do non-believers find meaning?

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Atheists and christians – does it have to be war?

January 8th, 2017

I have several times blogged on how christians and atheists relate to each other on the internet, because I think courtesy is better than rudeness, and attitudes on both sides can be improved.

So I was interested in christian author Benjamin Corey’s thoughts on this.

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Hugh Mackay on why people stop going to church

September 29th, 2016

I am currently reading Hugh Mackay’s book, Beyond Belief, which addresses the question of how people find meaning in life with or without religion.

Hugh is probably Australia’s leading social researcher and commentator, regularly appearing on talk shows and in newspaper article. He is neither a christian nor an atheist, probably best described as having an interest in a vague and positive spirituality, which he sees as the way of the future.

I don’t agree with everything he says, and I think sometimes his own opinions and beliefs may be speaking more than his social research, but the book has lots of good research behind it and lots of interesting things to say.

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Christianity – the good and the bad?

July 10th, 2015

CATHEDRAL

The good and harm done by christianity is a topic of much discussion and argument, and I have written on it many times (e.g. Does religion poison everything? and Do religious believers have better health and wellbeing, like, really?).

Keith Parsons is a US philosopher and atheist who writes about the philosophy of religion, and actively engages with christian belief via The Internet Infidels website and the Secular Outpost blog. Keith has made his assessments of christianity in two posts on Secular Outpost, and they are worth checking out.

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Does religious belief make you more moral: a case study in misusing data?

September 30th, 2014

Salvation Army helping

Initial note

This is unfortunately a sometimes negative post, and slightly longer than usual. I’m sorry about that. I have tried to be fair and positive, but I think it was important to address this issue.

Both christians and non-believers seem to want to prove that their belief makes for a better society and the opposing viewpoint is harmful. And so both sides look to research to bolster their conclusions. Trouble is, the research isn’t always unanimous, and sometimes it can be downright misleading.

As a case in point, Gregory Paul has published several papers in academic journals that claim to show religious belief leads to low prosociality. But the often-quoted claims are not backed up by rigorous analysis (as we shall see).

So what is the current academic consensus?

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Ways we can try to find happiness, but in the end they don’t seem to work

September 22nd, 2014

Party

I’ve long been interested in the science of what makes people happy, and what doesn’t, and have written about it often on this blog and website. It’s a subject of important research, and new studies and reports are appearing all the time.

Here’s the results of some significant studies that have been reported in the last few years. This post: what doesn’t deliver lasting happiness as much as we’d like. Next post: what works.

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Do atheists beget atheists?

June 29th, 2014

Sign: there's probably no God

I find statistics on religion to be interesting, and helpful in understanding what is going on in the world. In previous posts I have outlined:

  • The major religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism) are growing in numbers worldwide, but (Religion statistics), but only Islam and Pentecostal Christianity are growing in percentage terms.
  • Almost half of christians today are converts, with high growth rates in countries in Asia, Africa and South America that are not traditionally christian, but declining numbers in the once-christian west (Are many christians converts?).
  • The current view of sociologists of religion is that religion is unlikely to die out or even decline greatly worldwide (Is religion dying out? Is this inevitable in the modern world?).

Belief is one side of the coin. How is unbelief going? Some survey information from the US is interesting.

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Is religion dying out? Is this inevitable in the modern world?

April 16th, 2014

I’ve seen it many times. A confident statement by a committed atheist that religion is dying out. It is inevitable. Modernisation, especially science, has made it impossible for the virus of faith to survive much longer.

Scandinavia is a peaceful paradise and almost godless, and shows that once society rides itself of God, prosperity and happiness follow. Well known atheist blogger and scientist, Jerry Coyne, has faith in this:

I believe with all my heart that some day America will end up like Scandinavia: virtually godless. I won’t live to see it, but I’m confident it will happen, and the trend is in that direction.

Many religious leaders see the same trends with concern but others disagree. God is still in business, they say, people are still being converted, and true religion is on the cusp of a comeback.

Everyone has a point of view and most of us have bias. Many of us fall victim to wishful thinking when we consider matters close to our hearts. Who has got it right? What do statistics and the experts say?

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