Phil Zuckerman, professor of secular studies at Pitzer College and author, most recently, of Living the Secular Life, has a great piece in the Los Angeles Times all about how turning to religion to stop violence doesn’t work.
The theory is simple: If people become less religious, then society will decay. Crime will skyrocket, violence will rise, and once-civilized life will degenerate into immorality and depravity. It’s an old, widespread notion. And it’s demonstrably false.
If it were true that when belief in God weakens, societal well-being diminishes, then we should see abundant evidence for this. But we don’t. In fact, we find just the opposite: Those societies today that are the most religious — where faith in God is strong and religious participation is high — tend to have the highest violent crime rates, while those societies in which faith and church attendance are the weakest — the most secular societies — tend to have the lowest.
It just gets better from there.
None of this is to say that religion alone causes societal problems or that atheism alone fixes them. But when secularism and societal well-being are tied together as closely as they are, it makes no sense to make the case that conservatives always do after a tragedy: That the solution involves more God in school and government.
(Thanks to Jaynee for the link)