A new study from the Center For The Study Of Totally Obvious Things


A new study has "revealed" what non-believers – especially apostates like myself – have known for a long time: that people are drawn to religion primarily because of its social aspects rather than its theological ones:
"Our study offers compelling evidence that it is the social aspects of religion rather than theology or spirituality that leads to life satisfaction," said Chaeyoon Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study. "In particular, we find that friendships built in religious congregations are the secret ingredient in religion that makes people happier."
No. Really?

I've known people who converted to different denominations and even entire religions because they got married. I've known people who've casually bounced between denominations because they wanted a church with more youth programs. I can count on one hand the number of Christians I've met who can even articulate a coherent explanation of their theology. How many Christians even know what Calvinism is, what Protestantism is, or what the difference is between Biblical literalism and Biblical inerrancy? People don't come to the faith only after a rigorous study of comparative theology. They stick to what they've grown up with. It's primarily a familial and/or culturally instilled belief.

Of course they stick with it because of the social aspects. Dan Dennett has even studied atheists in the clergy who keep their non-belief a secret because of the devastating ripple effect it would have on the their social and family lives. Most believers have little to no knowledge of philosophical arguments, comparative religion, or the historical scholarship of the Bible. Ironically, one of the reasons it can be hard to talk to believers is because they don't take their faith seriously enough. We live in a nation full of cultural believers.


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