Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Billy Graham: Religion and Prosperity

QUESTION: I saw a survey the other day claiming that some of the most prosperous countries in the world are also the least religious. Do you think that’s true? Why is it? – Mrs. J.U.
For the most part this is very true. The main outlying exception being the USA. Why is that? There are a couple main reasons that I suspect this is the case.
ANSWER: I don’t know how accurate a survey like this is; I certainly can think of some exceptions, including the United States. Although secularism and materialism have made serious inroads into our society, the majority of Americans still believe in God and regularly attend a place of worship.
Sorry to burst your bubble Billy, but America isn't facing secularism making inroads into society. America was founded as a secular nation for crying out loud. And while America is the one obvious exception, a closer look will show that America may be rich overall, but is actually a bad example when we look on a more individual basis.

As for the accuracy of these studies, I have found that they are usually done with a large sample size and are actually pretty accurate. A 2014 study ranked the top most prosperous countries as such:

1) Norway (22% believe in God)
2) Switzerland (44% believe in God)
3) New Zealand (43.47% Christian)
4) Denmark (28% believe in God)
5) Canada (67% Christian)
6) Sweden (18% believe in God)
7) Australia (61.1% Christian)
8) Finland (33% believe in God)
9) Netherlands (28% believe in God)
10) United States (70.6% Christian)

But why do I feel the fact that many of the least religious nations are actually more prosperous that the USA? Education. Our education system is woeful, and further behind other nations than it really should be. For some reason , it seems our lawmakers typically want to take money away from education rather than trying to address the problems that cause us to usually rank around the 27th position in national rankings against the rest of the world.

And one thing that many statistics have shown is that the more educated a person is, the higher the likelihood is that they don't believe in a god. If the lest educated believe the most, that should really tell you something about that belief.

Earlier I mentioned that the USA isn't that great of an example. Why is that exactly? Income equality. Let's take a look at the GINI coefficient of that top ten again. 0 = total equality and 100 = total inequality.

1) Norway (GINI of 25)
2) Switzerland (GINI of 29.6)
3) New Zealand (GINI of 36.2)
4) Denmark (GINI of 24.8)
5) Canada (GINI of 32.1)
6) Sweden (GINI of 23)
7) Australia (GINI of 30.3)
8) Finland (GINI of 26.8)
9) Netherlands (GINI of 30.9)
10) United States (GINI of 45)

What this shows us is that while the USA may be prosperous as a nation, there are many many more individuals that are not prosperous than in the other nations in the list. So if countries that believe in God less tend to be more prosperous and more equal, while the most religious parts of the USA are also the most impoverished, either God has terrible aim when he's smiting, or not believing just got even more attractive.

-Brain Hulk

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