Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Lord Winston, Robert to his friends, is a clever chap. He is a world renowned surgeon who has since become a presenter of various scientific programmes of varying quality. A year ago he came and talked to us at Cambridge about 'Science and Religion', saying some reasonably sensible things. It seems he has a new TV show and book out soon that investigates why we are religious. He thinks it is a good thing that must have helped man survive. This should be pretty obvious. If religion was as bad as the anti-Christians suggest, they should think that evolution would have got rid of it! I'll be interested in what Lord Winston has to say and how it fits with the book I am reading at the moment, Andrew Newberg's Why God Won't Go Away.

George Monbiot who, unlike Lord Winston, is a nutcase, had an amusing article in the Guardian today. He's picked up on some badly flawed research that claims to show that religion is bad for morality. It claims that the more Christian a country, the higher the incidence of teenage pregnancies and murder. Monbiot, of course, is dancing around with this like a kid with a lollipop because its exactly what he wants to hear. Sadly, it's rubbish and proves that it is easy to lie with statistics. You can read the actual article here. Take the United States out of the equation and there is pratically no correlation. In fact, take the most deprived communities in the US out of the equation, and I expect the correlation disappears as well. So we are trying to make a case from a single example. Why does the US have a high homicide rate, a high abortion rate and a high teenage pregnancy rate? Good questions. Almost as good as why the religious Irish and Italians seem to have lower rates and the secular British have higher rates. I expect you need to look for political and economic answers to these questions rather than try and pin the blame on religion.

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