If you click on the above article you will find it was written by a “data editor” in January of 2018. What brought it to my attention is US News and World Report trotted it out on April 26, 2020 on their Facebook page. Good Grief! Is there no REAL NEWS going on in the world right now?
I can almost believe the above headline which shows up in the tab when you bring up the article. But when you look at the article’s subtitle you can tell this is all hype.
“Most people think religion is the root of the world’s problems, according to a recent international study.”
The subtitle went from “experts say” and “tribal divisions caused by religion” to “most people” and “religion” in general.
I can almost buy “tribal divisions created by religion is harmful in global conflicts” but not “most harmful.” I’d say GREED is the most harmful in global conflict. But I certainly cannot agree “religion is the root cause of the world’s problems.” The Bible says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (NKJV).
Who are the experts in the article? Well, one is a professor of psychology at Normandale Community College. Yes, Normandale Community College, (sarcasm mode on) which of course is internationally well known as a top tier research “university” (sarcasm mode off).
Another expert in the article is an outspoken atheist, Sam Harris, (sarcasm mode on, again) who we should listen to because of his unbiased expert, scientific research and analysis (sarcasm mode off). Sam Harris calls himself a neuroscientist and philosopher. I don’t understand how neuroscience and philosophy make him an expert on religion and global conflict.
The other “experts” referred to frequently as “experts say” and “experts agree” are not named.
“In a recent Best Countries survey of more than 21,000 from all regions of the world, the majority of respondents identified religion as the ‘primary source of most global conflict today.’” I don’t know for sure but I suspect a “Best Countries survey” is not published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.
“And more than 80 percent of those surveyed said that religious beliefs guide a person’s behavior.”
When we look at the data, such as it is, we find what is touted as “most people” and “a majority of people” turns out to be 30% of those surveyed. Since when is 30% a majority? 80% say religious beliefs guide a person’s behavior. I certainly hope so. It’s not much of a religion if it doesn’t guide your behavior! It makes me wonder about the other 20% who think religion doesn’t guide a person’s behavior.
The question asked turns out to be, “What’s the primary cause of most global conflict today?” 30% answered “religious beliefs.” How does 30% choosing religious belief as the primary cause of most global conflict evolve into “most people think religion is the root of the world’s problems?” If you add the next two selections together, “Power = 23% ” and “Economy = 21%” you still have only 44% which is 1) more than the 30% for “Religious Beliefs” and 2) still not a “majority.” No one category comes close to a “majority” or “most people”.
Deidre McPhillips, “Data Editor”, might seem to find math a bit challenging. Let’s see. Isn’t a “majority” or “most” usually considered anything over 50%, and isn’t 50% greater than (>) 30%?
In my perception the claim this article seems to unsuccessfully try to make is religion, in general, causes people to be violent which is “the primary cause of most global conflict today.” Well, my religion teaches me to “turn to the other cheek” return good for evil, pray for those who persecute me or say all kinds of evil against me falsely, love my neighbor as myself, and as much as possible live at peace with everyone. I could go on and quote verse after verse but you can read the Bible for yourself.
Sure, you can read violent accounts in the Old Testament and in the Revelation to St. John the Evangelist where loads of people get killed, but my religion does not instruct me personally to do anything violent. My religion tells me to put on the whole armor of God and take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, but the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God will never physically harm anyone. The reason I’m told to put on the whole armor of God is not to be violent against any human being. It’s not even to defend myself against any human being. It is to enable me to stand against the schemes of the evil one. extinguish all his flaming arrows, and be able to stand my ground on the evil day.