Article

Why Religion Is Unable to Minimize Lethal and Nonlethal Societal Dysfunction Within and Between Nations

Gregory S. Paul

in The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Violence, Homicide, and War

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738403
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199738403.013.0025

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Why Religion Is Unable to Minimize Lethal and Nonlethal Societal Dysfunction Within and Between Nations

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The widely held premise that godly religion is important if not critical to maximizing the socioeconomic success of societies while suppressing criminal violence and war is undergoing growing historical and scientific scrutiny. Research indicates that theism is not reliably efficacious even when moderate or progressive, and often contributes to societal dysfunction and war when it is conservative or reactionary in nature. Theism cannot be part of the solution because theism is popular only when socioeconomic conditions are sufficiently defective to compel the majority to relieve their chronic anxiety by petitioning supernatural forces for aid and protection. The most successful and pacific societies in history have been the most nontheistic modern democracies, in part because a high level of secure prosperity always suppresses mass religion. So rather than being universal and integral to human psychology, religious supernaturalism is superficial and elective, and it is poorly developed even in some hunter-gatherers. The best human option is atheistic liberal democracy.

Keywords: religion; secularism; atheism; violence; war; societal dysfunction; societal success

Article.  27653 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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