Monday, August 8, 2011

Response to Barber part 2: His article "the Human Beast"


This is Barber's own summary of his "study." It appears in the atheist prapaganda blog psychology today.

He begins with a summary of where atheism is big and where it's not so that he can make a correlation.

Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries, particularly the social democracies of Europe. In underdeveloped countries, there are virtually no atheists. Atheism is a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Why do modern conditions produce atheism? In a new study to be published in August, I provide compelling evidence that atheism increases along with the quality of life (1).

First, as to the distribution of atheism in the world, a clear pattern can be discerned. In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (2). Belief in God declines in more developed countries and atheism is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.

As we saw from the Greely study "The Demand for Religion" when we break down the stats for Northern Europe we find actual atheism is very small. Most of what is passing for atheism is soft core or 'agnostic.' He says Sweden is 64% non believers but it's really misleading because what he's calling "unbelievers" are not necessarily atheists. Only 10% are strong athesits and most of them are "softest core" meaninng agnostic.

In the second column, "Soft Core" Atheists include those in the third column and those who, while they reject God do not completely reject life after death (they accept the third response on that question – there is "probably not" a life after death. This latter group might be considered to be on the far fringes of the religious market place.

The "Softest Core" Atheists in the third column include those in the first two and those who can fairly be called agnostics (the second response to the God question) because they do not completely reject the possibility of the existence of God. They might be considered as hovering a little closer to the religious market place.

It is only in former communist countries (which Sweden is not) that over 10% are strong atheists. Softest core atheist can believe there might something like God. This is another case of atheist inflation (blowing up their figures and stretching things to appear they have a much larger movement than they do).

Then turns to the question why would lower belief be correlated with better affluence?

The question of why economically developed countries turn to atheism has been batted around by anthropologists for about eighty years. Anthropologist James Fraser proposed that scientific prediction and control of nature supplants religion as a means of controlling uncertainty in our lives. This hunch is supported by data showing that the more educated countries have higher levels of non belief and there are strong correlations between atheism and intelligence.
Now of course the alleged "correlates" between atheism and intelligence are pure bull and have been disproved over and over again. Round one was disproved over a 50 year period were 16 studies showed no correlation, or that religious people are smarter (which I take to be indicative of correlation). Only six (6) studies supported the correlation and all were done before 1960. They all had terrible methodologies and much smaller samples than the one's done after 1960 that consistently showed no correlation until Francis three studies in the 90s. Francis work caped the first round and the field decided there is no correlation. The atheist propaganda machine came back on it, becuase the real burning drive to be an atheist is the need to feel superior to make up for the poor self esteem.(part 2 here). The second wave is a much more bogus attempt because they haven't bothered to gather their own data.

The second wave is lead by Lynn, Harvey and Nyborg. Nyrbog is a crack pot who thinks that women are genetically inferior and has racist leanings (his study IQ differences favor males was investigate and received reprimand form the university). They didn't gather their own data and have been roundly criticized for trying to draw together a huge among of interdependently gathered data with no unified scheme of standards for accessing IQ. Barber just dashes off the references to them as though they are a done deal. He seems to accept them uncritically. Their arguments are reminiscent of the Bell Curve and they seem to be trying to imply, especially the Psychology today Blog crowd, that atheism is an advance in evolution and atheists are a tiny elite, you would think they would be happy to accept the small status of their numbers. When one considers the most educated group in America, professors, one finds their ratio of belief nearly fits that of the general public. He also asserts that atheists are better eduated, see Atheist Watch for refutation.

Barber falls back upon James Fraser's (1854-1941) assertion that religion is about security and that rise in control of nature would supplant religoius belief. Of cousre one could make the same kind of prediction about scientifically minded people. Science is a means of calming the fears of people who are seeking control over nature because they fear it. They also make no attempt to analyze the probablity that allaying fear is the proper job of human psychology and that his is not invalid nor does it demonstrate some kind of outmoded in religion. No mores than the need to find food or hunt is displaced by the need to go to the supermarket. As Maslow predicts when the lower order needs are met then we move up the hierarchy to work on higher level needs. That's why all the major theological movements of the 20th century were about existentialism and process thought.

At this point Barber begins lauding his own work:

In my new study of 137 countries (1), I also found that atheism increases for countries with a well-developed welfare state (as indexed by high taxation rates). Moreover, countries with a more equal distribution of income had more atheists. My study improved on earlier research by taking account of whether a country is mostly Moslem (where atheism is criminalized) or formerly Communist (where religion was suppressed) and accounted for three-quarters of country differences in atheism.
Of course I showed the inadequacy of Barber's work last time. The assertion increases for countries with well developed social system is again, right out of Zuckerma (one of the only three footnotes Barber makes in this article) and it's hilarious because he has totally overlooked the fact that that the social welfare state of Sweden was built by Christians in the nineteenth century!

Overview of the national situation

Ninna Edrardh Beckman
Page 1

Welfare and Values in Europe:
Transitions related to Religion, Minorities and Gender
Overview of the national situation
by Ninna Edgardh Beckman
Page 2

Based on its very low figures of religious attendance and traditional religious faith, Sweden has a reputation of being one of the most secularised countries in the world. True as this might be, what the image conceals is the strong and complicated role that religion still plays in Sweden, not least through history and culture. The modern history of Sweden has its foundation in national homogeneity, grounded in the principle of one people and one faith. This principle is closely connected to the Lutheran majority church, to which nearly 80% of the Swedish population still belongs, even though formally state and church were separated in 2000. The recent presence of other world religions and official policies tending towards multiculturalism adds new religious aspects to Swedish culture. Religion thus continues to play an interesting role in Sweden, behind the seemingly straightforward image of a country on its way towards complete secularisation

The Swedish welfare state was built after the Second World War, based on the idea of ‘the home of the people’ (folkhemsidĂ©n). The basic principle of the model is that the state and local authorities guarantee the basic needs of all citizens. This principle is based on strong values of solidarity and shared responsibility. Decades of success for the system have since the 1990s been replaced by growing problems with keeping up the high level of benefits and services, a development, which is increasingly questioning also the values underpinning the whole welfare structure. Immigration is one factor, among many, challenging the system and immigrants have also been among those most affected by emerging new forms of poverty

(this source is not off the net. It's in downloaded PDF form. one can find the link to it in this Google search:)

Series: Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics
Edited by Kees van Kersbergen
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Philip Manow
Universität Konstanz, Germany

This book radically revises established knowledge in comparative welfare state studies and introduces a new perspective on how religion shaped modern social protection systems. The interplay of societal cleavage structures and electoral rules produced the different political class coalitions sustaining the three welfare regimes of the Western world. In countries with proportional electoral systems the absence or presence of state–church conflicts decided whether class remained the dominant source of coalition building or whether a political logic not exclusively based on socio-economic interests (e.g. religion) was introduced into politics, particularly social policy. The political class-coalitions in countries with majoritarian systems, on the other hand, allowed only for the residual-liberal welfare state to emerge, as in the US or the UK. This book also reconsiders the role of Protestantism. Reformed Protestantism substantially delayed and restricted modern social policy. The Lutheran state churches positively contributed to the introduction of social protection programs.

• Radical revision of established knowledge in comparative welfare state studies based on a combination of country case studies and comparative accounts • Introduces a new perspective on why and how religion shaped modern social protection systems and gives a new comparative account of the formation of different welfare state regimes • Systematic inquiry into the role of the state–church conflict for social policy in advanced industrial societies


1. Religion and the Western welfare state: the theoretical context Philip Manow and Kees van Kersbergen;

2. Western European party systems and the religious cleavage Thomas Ertman;

3. The religious foundations of work-family policies in Western Europe Kimberly J. Morgan;

4. Italy: a Christian democratic or clientist welfare state? Julia Lynch;

5. Religion and the welfare state in the Netherlands Kees van Kersbergen;

6. A conservative welfare state regime without Christian Democracy? The French Etat-providence, 1880–1960 Philip Manow and Bruno Palier;

7. Religion and the consolidation of the Swiss welfare state, 1848–1945 Herbert Obinger;

8. The church as nation? The role of religion in the development of the Swedish welfare state Karen M. Anderson;

9. The religious factor in US welfare state politics Jill Quadagno and Deanna Rohlinger;

10. Religious social doctrines and poor relief: a different causal pathway Sigrun Kahl. Contributors

(contributors include:Philip Manow, Kees van Kersbergen, Thomas Ertman, Kimberly J. Morgan, Julia Lynch, Bruno Palier, Herbert Obinger, Karen M. Anderson, Jill Quadagno, Deanna Rohlinger, Sigrun Kahl).
Barber makes several undocumented assertion based upon steriotype.

Even the psychological functions of religion face stiff competition today. In modern societies, when people experience psychological difficulties they turn to their doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. They want a scientific fix and prefer the real psychotropic medicines dished out by physicians to the metaphorical opiates offered by religion. No wonder that atheism increases along with third-level educational enrollment (1).
Of cousre what he's missing is the fact that there's a huge industry of Christian counseling and psychology. A large portion of it is admittedly worthless, especially when connected with Churches. Yet a large portion of it is scientific and valid. when people go to a psychiatrist rather than a minister there's a good chance his education is going is to have some cross over with religoius training. There's also a large number to go to ministers in addition to "shrinks." Christian based ministry is going to reflect the views of the chruch offering it. Of course if you go to a fundamentailst chruch thier counciling will reflect fundmenalism. They will not be engaged with the acadmeic nature of the field in a significant way. If one goes to a liberal Church one will find counselors who are so engaged. One might also consider the track record of alleged secular scientific counseling. I have a close family member who has been involved in the mental health care industry for some time. I wouldn't give two cents for their ability to help anyone.

Barber sums it up:

The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs.
His happy little world of secular mental health is a sham, shattered by reality. We have 40 years of abuse, sexual crimes, abuse against civil liberties, warehousing rather than treating patients and so on. one of the symptoms of these atheist love letters to secular society is the rose colored glasses through which they dismiss all of societies problems on the pretense that secular answers solve everything.

Barber's title implies a jaded sort of superiority over the common man; the human beast, we need superior elite shrinks and social sciences to tell us what to do. This might start us wondering at an atheist movement in bogus social scinece that includes people with Nyborg's notions of genetic superiority and Barber's apparent desire to do social engineering.

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