Saturday, February 11, 2006
Why Religion is Not Always A Great Thing
It's not so much that people concerned about God don't get rich, it's that rich people are not concerned about God.
Religion provides (or can provide, at least) a mollifying influence on matters addressed by game theory, like the Prisoner's Dilemma applied to all of life. You can be honest at life, or you can "cheat" when you can get away with it: lying or stealing or other bad stuff that builds you up and puts others in society down a little. Rationally speaking there is no reason you should not cheat. But if you're religious, then you risk retribution from some sort of cosmic justice system, even if you are fully safe from an earthly one.
I don't think any purely secular value system can provide the world with this sort of a notion. It shifts the weights of the options of the decision- so that lying/cheating/stealing will always harm you more than they help you.
Now, this isn't meant to demonstrate unequivocal religious superiority of some sort- it's just a little consideration.
Give me that old time religion old time religion!!!
So where does that leave most of the countries you named? I would guess the reasons for their status are quite complicated & "most atheistic" is not necessarily the primary component.
A large percentage of these nation's people are religious, and that probably doesn't represent the prime component either.
If I was to venture a guess as to what might be one of the deciding factors of these countries status, it would be WW1 & WW11. How Australia & Iceland fit in, don't have the foggiest.