Pew global survey: Nations’ wealth inversely proportional to religiosity

posted at 2:46 pm on October 26, 2007 by Allahpundit

Yahweh vs. Mammon in the world series of love. If you’re wondering how they measured religiosity, let me quote:

Religiosity is measured using a three-item index ranging from 0-3, with “3” representing the most religious position. Respondents were given a “1” if they believe faith in God is necessary for morality; a “1” if they say religion is very important in their lives; and a “1” if they pray at least once a day.

A few of the lefty bloggers have been kicking this around, wondering which is the cause and which the effect. Hitchens et al. would doubtless say that religion causes, or at least contributes to, poverty; I think it’s the opposite. An interesting subsidiary question is which of those positions represents the more forceful atheist argument.

Exit question: If Hitch is right, how do we explain the very conspicuous outlier here?

wealth-religion.png


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Comments

I love how the US and Kuwait are just like “dee-dee-dee doin our own thing!”

MadisonConservative on October 26, 2007 at 2:48 PM

Exit question one: If Hitch is right, how do we explain the very conspicuous outlier here?

Obviously, we’re the only ones praying to the right God.

Savage on October 26, 2007 at 2:49 PM

Which causes which? Does religion cause market failure, or does market failure cause religion?

If religion caused market failure there’d never be a way out. Atheism really got its time to shine during the Industrial Revolution when people had more money than ever before. I don’t think religion forces us to make less money. Less money makes us religious.

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 2:49 PM

Church of the Low-Cost Pentecost.

flipflop on October 26, 2007 at 2:51 PM

It’s a cute little outlier there…with it’s insinuations and all.

StoutRepublican on October 26, 2007 at 2:54 PM

Less money makes us religious

Exactly. Atheism is the intellectual indulgence of the well-to-do culture.

jihadwatcher on October 26, 2007 at 2:56 PM

2 thoughts: Missionary work (and the result spread of religious activity) was part of the old world of empires. However, the transformation of civilization such as we saw in India by Great Britain, had not taken effect before the World Wars. Thus industrialization and the increase in personal prosperity was interrupted, and now halted essentially in Africa, etc thanks to the global warming hoax.

Second, I don’t think you can draw hard conclusions of a cross-section. This sort of thing needs linear study – Europe was once much more religious then it is now. And it was comparatively extremely wealthy then also.

Spirit of 1776 on October 26, 2007 at 2:58 PM

When you’re poor, you can’t afford the truth. It’d give you nothing to look forward to.

Allahpundit on October 26, 2007 at 2:58 PM

This depends on which religion we’re talking about. Franciscan Monks?

joe shmoe on October 26, 2007 at 2:58 PM

When you’re poor, you can’t afford the truth. It wouldn’t give you anything to look forward to.

Conversely, if you’re rich, why not think that you did it all yourself?

joe shmoe on October 26, 2007 at 3:00 PM

Pew obviously believes all “religions” are equal. If this represents the “quality” of Pew’s analysis, who would ever take them seriously again?

Maxx on October 26, 2007 at 3:02 PM

When you’re poor, you can’t afford the truth. It’d give you nothing to look forward to.

I honestly don’t even know what this means. Some of the greatest intellectual contributions in the history of the world were by the poor.

Spirit of 1776 on October 26, 2007 at 3:04 PM

Interesting graph. Also completely meaningless.

Note the wide disparity in income in Europe but very close levels of religiosity. Thats where the curve flattens out. Note that Africa and the Middle East are both poor and religious. What do they have in common? Could it be rickets? No. Sand? Getting closer……

So some cultures are rich and some are poor and some are nominally Christian and some are more Christian and some are Islamic.

Give this graphmaker a Nobel Prize!!

HerrMorgenholz on October 26, 2007 at 3:04 PM

This depends on which religion we’re talking about. Franciscan Monks?

joe shmoe on October 26, 2007 at 2:58 PM

Aren’t a religion :p but you got a good point. Some religions are more likely to be wealthy than others. The Industrial Revolution started in the Christian West. Why did no other civilization figure this out?

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 3:05 PM

Kuwait is explained by the oil it’s floating on.

Retread on October 26, 2007 at 3:08 PM

AP you should post the immigration table at that link, interesting no?

zane on October 26, 2007 at 3:11 PM

Exit question: If Hitch is right, how do we explain the very conspicuous outlier here?

It doesn’t, Hitch is full of crap, and you’re right, it is the exact opposite, with the notable exception of the US.

Bad Candy on October 26, 2007 at 3:11 PM

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 3:05 PM

what paid for the industrial revolution?

zane on October 26, 2007 at 3:11 PM

Interesting graph. Also completely meaningless

Amen. Absolutely nothing in this graph suggests causation. What’s the quote? “lies, damn lies, and statistics…”

sweeper on October 26, 2007 at 3:12 PM

sweeper on October 26, 2007 at 3:12 PM

88% of statistics are made up…

zane on October 26, 2007 at 3:13 PM

Just when you think you’ve read the stupidest ‘study’ to emerge from the hindquarters of some smarmy know-it-all good-for-nadas…*sigh*

Every second of your life that you waste pondering this graph is a second not spent drinking beer… ;-)

Ochlan on October 26, 2007 at 3:14 PM

Perhaps it has to do with the relative secularity of governments rather than the religiosity of each nation’s population. Kuwait’s people are very religious, but Kuwait’s government is among the most secular of that region, isn’t it? Our government is quite secular, what with our Constitution’s insistence upon separation of church and state, but our people are quite religious. Maybe prosperity is enhanced by keeping religion out of government and vice-versa.

aero on October 26, 2007 at 3:14 PM

How ’bout, when you live a really hard life, you realize that you can’t control or don’t control anything? you realize that life isn’t some narcissitic pleasure ride where everything is handed to you on a silver platter. You realize you control nothing and your life is of very little consequence. But you also realize that there are bigger truths out there than what the “world” or the Powers-That-Be dictate. And you realize how utterly insignificant you are to everyone but the Big Guy.

PS, Allahpundit, ballsy move using the “Y” word. Perhaps it’s some sort of old training mechanism or childhood something-something, but I’ve never said that word. Even in my questioning religion phase when I was a self centered college student.

mjk on October 26, 2007 at 3:15 PM

what paid for the industrial revolution?

zane on October 26, 2007 at 3:11 PM

Christian capitalists? I don’t see the point you’re getting at. If you’re saying that only the West had the resources necessary that’s not true. The U.S. has a ton of coal, iron, copper, and tin, that was hardly mined until European settlers came along. I know up here in the U.P. Native Americans never mined their copper or iron.

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 3:17 PM

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 3:17 PM

Imperialism paid for the Industrial revolution. If the East had colonised the west in the 17th and 18th century, it may have happened in the east.

zane on October 26, 2007 at 3:19 PM

According to this graphic, Kuwait and Africa are more “religious” than America. Obviously Islam and voodoo counts.

Maxx on October 26, 2007 at 3:19 PM

I expect some nasty blow back, but here goes. When people are hopeless — utterly, permanently hopeless — that their particular life situation is unlikely to change — ever — they naturally embrace religion and/or superstition as their last best hope to be delivered from their misery. Of course Africa scores highest in “religiosity.” That continent is all but lost. Life there promises misery visited upon greater misery, ad nauseam. Their only hope can be in a merciful God, or a better existence in the hereafter. This also explains why African American slaves so readily embraced American-style Christianity. We’ll never be free, but maybe we’ll be saved.

I fully expect Western Europe to “get religion” when the deal they’ve made with the socialists turns their world into the hell that’s coming as well.

As to the US, well, we’re different. American style Christianity has managed to morph itself into a religiosity that requires good works of those who have so much. Therefore, while we are a land of plenty, and should therefore be abandoning our religion (until we need it again), we have given it a new job: helping the less fortunate and spreading the word of God through charity. We lead the world in our religious charity efforts and giving. We also live in a country that is bent on making the most successful suffer great guilt and remorse for their success, so religion provides an outlet to assuage that guilt.

As to Kuwait? I think they just want to make sure they’ve said their proper thanks for all that glorious oil.

Rational Thought on October 26, 2007 at 3:20 PM

There are actually more explanations available than AP and commenters are mentioning.

1–Religion makes people poor.
2–Poorness makes people religious.
3–Un-religiousness makes people wealthy
4–Wealth makes people un-religious.

AP focuses on 1 and 2, but I think there’s great persuasive power in 3 and 4, especially from a Christian perspective.

The Bible passage AP alludes to–that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven– sounds to me like Jesus was describing theory 4. In other words, there may be something about being wealthy that causes people to lose focus on what’s “right”.

Theory 3 would have some interesting repercussions for everyone.

It might be proof that pursuit of wealth is incompatible with religiousness inherently, and give credence to certain religious creeds or even socialists who think pursuit of wealth is “evil”.

And for atheists, it might be the most persuasive argument of all. Throw down the shackles of faith and come with me to the land of wealth and prosperity.

Nessuno on October 26, 2007 at 3:22 PM

So ridiculous. Liberal journalists are also comparatively less wealthy than others in their own societies. What are we to conclude from that?

JiangxiDad on October 26, 2007 at 3:24 PM

Maxx on October 26, 2007 at 3:19 PM

Actually, Africa has some of the most conservative Christians on the planet. Not all tribal religion and voodoo. Quite a huge missionary effort went into Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries.

nailinmyeye on October 26, 2007 at 3:28 PM

A far too simplistic test, for one there’s no quotient for freedomosity.

Basically though, if your poor, you want religion, to cope your misery.

Speakup on October 26, 2007 at 3:33 PM

zane on October 26, 2007 at 3:19 PM

That only enhances my point. Why didn’t the other cultures do this? If they could they would. Why was there no desire for exploration or colonization? Or did they not have the equipment necessary?

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 3:35 PM

Allahpundit said: When you’re poor, you can’t afford the truth. It’d give you nothing to look forward to.

Truth?

So what is there to look forward to when your rich? You can’t rent a Uhaul and take your stuff along with you to heaven or hell.

Of course if you believe that when you croak you just wink out into oblivion and that during your short, meaningless existence the accumulation of wealth is all that matters, then I could understand believing in the adage that whoever dies with the most crap is the winner.

Nothing personal – just making a general observation.

Rod on October 26, 2007 at 3:37 PM

So how come the US is off the graph?

bnelson44 on October 26, 2007 at 3:40 PM

Is that not just a plot of freedom vs prosperity? Whether the dominant religious faiths (or non-faiths) of those countries naturally lead to free markets, industry, ingenuity?

Those who think it’s just a plot of religion vs prosperity are making the mistake of conflating all religions as being the same. The US outlying putting paid to the notion.

jdpaz on October 26, 2007 at 3:45 PM

I don’t see a correlation myself. It looks like the statisticians fit a trendline to some scattered buckshot.

HeIsSailing on October 26, 2007 at 3:46 PM

Hitchens et al. would doubtless say that religion causes, or at least contributes to, poverty; I think it’s the opposite.

Me thinks you are correct.

MB4 on October 26, 2007 at 3:47 PM

88% of statistics are made up…

zane on October 26, 2007 at 3:13 PM

The real figure is 56.3%

what with our Constitution Supreme Court’s errant insistence upon separation of church and state

fixed

urbancenturion on October 26, 2007 at 3:53 PM

This graph is pure garbage.

Many African nations were not poor following independence. Uganda and Rhodesia, for example, had abundant natural resources and thriving acgricultural sectors. Unfortunately Uganda and Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) also had the misfortune of being ruled by Afro-Marxist thugs Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe.

Mike Honcho on October 26, 2007 at 3:56 PM

Actually, Africa has some of the most conservative Christians on the planet. Not all tribal religion and voodoo. Quite a huge missionary effort went into Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries.

nailinmyeye on October 26, 2007 at 3:28 PM

I’m not doubting that, but assuming Africa is still predominantly Christian, how does that make it twice as religious as the U.S.A. ? And before you answer, the point I was trying to make with my comment is that there is something seriously wrong with Pew’s method of measuring “religiosity” …. (whatever that is).

Maxx on October 26, 2007 at 4:03 PM

As to Kuwait? I think they just want to make sure they’ve said their proper thanks for all that glorious oil.

…with hopefully some thanks to the U.S. for fighting for their freedom and their oil, rather than letting Iraq take it.

calbear on October 26, 2007 at 4:13 PM

And before you answer, the point I was trying to make with my comment is that there is something seriously wrong with Pew’s method of measuring “religiosity” …. (whatever that is).

Agreed. Fully. Without reservation.

A hunch, and that’s all it is, is that most African Christians, at least the one’s I’ve known (which isn’t, admittedly, a huge number), would be all about the three in that survey, while many North American Christians might be a one or two. The everyday prayer question I think would reveal a disparity. I don’t know.

nailinmyeye on October 26, 2007 at 4:17 PM

I’m kinda curious where Israel lie on this graph.

JasonG on October 26, 2007 at 4:35 PM

Er *lies.

I’m a douche.

JasonG on October 26, 2007 at 4:35 PM

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Wealth does not equal happiness. Security perhaps. But not happiness. Why is it that we have so much depression and anxiety in our country today, despite our wealthiness? The further away from God we are. . . . . the fewer blessings we will receive. This is what I gather from this poll.

Vaporman87 on October 26, 2007 at 4:41 PM

Love a graph that takes a snapshot in time and tries to declare cause/effect from it.

Wealth makes people have less kids and less religion. They become self-centered and narcissistic, losing desire to spend their wealth on children or humbling themselves to something greater than themselves. They begin to believe that they are the most advanced creature, and that God is just a dream for the poor.

The USA is different due the founding of the country being lead by God, the leaders being wealthy & religious and the populace coming here seeking primarily freedom to worship God. Wealth followed due to the values & beliefs of the dominate religion here, Christianity.

Atheism is an intellectual self-deception caused by pride and a false sense of superiority.

Side point:
Natural resources were mined by the Native Americans, in fact STEEL weapons have been discovered here in the Americans that date back to BC/early AD – yet those ancient peoples’ civilizations deteriorated into tribal hunter gatherers using stones and skins.

They had religion, they lost it, their society disappeared. Pretty much the common story for all nations around the world throughout History.

Voidseeker on October 26, 2007 at 4:48 PM

Correlation does not imply causation.

Google it.

Ortzinator on October 26, 2007 at 5:02 PM

Why doesn’t Allahpundit simply create a sister site called “Atheist Air,” where he could shunt all his blather on issues of a religious nature.

Were he to do this, the content quality of “Hot Air” would markedly improve.

clark smith on October 26, 2007 at 5:10 PM

As I’ve asked before, what is god? Isn’t the answer prerequisite to our knowing whether there is or isn’t a god?

Kralizec on October 26, 2007 at 5:19 PM

Obviously, we’re the only ones praying to the right God.

Savage on October 26, 2007 at 2:49 PM

They should plot religiosity and subsequent change in wealth rather than just wealth. When the US was laying the groundwork for its current wealth, it was much more religuous than now. These days the US is just trust babies making goofy websites: Facebook is is now valued the same as Ford. Most of the profits for the SP500 come from overseas.

Once they find a vaccine for malaria, Africa will take off because of its resources and the exposure its people have had to the effects of lack of a morality.

pedestrian on October 26, 2007 at 5:19 PM

Or is it the Christian work ethic that is showing through ?

William Amos on October 26, 2007 at 5:24 PM

Religious people are less likely to seek wealth.

csdeven on October 26, 2007 at 5:54 PM

Additionally, Americans try to find a happy medium between religiosity and wealthiness.

csdeven on October 26, 2007 at 5:55 PM

Guy needs a basic math class…

The far right of the graph, where America is the ONLY data point, shows a continueing declining trend… when America, the only data point, should bend the line back up.

Romeo13 on October 26, 2007 at 5:58 PM

It’s not just the religion, it’s the type of religion.

East Asia:
Shinto = wealthy
Buddhism = not so much

Europe:
Protestant = wealthy
Christian Orthodox = not so much

Southwest Asia:
Judaism = wealthy
Islam = not so much

Anyone want to convert to voo-doo?

jaime on October 26, 2007 at 7:00 PM

I don’t know what this means. Its a bunch of crap…

Babs on October 26, 2007 at 7:22 PM

Allah,

I’m sure the question runs both ways. But I’d argue that religiosity is in fact driving poverty in an indirect sense.

Notice that civilizations marked by either Islam or Marxism have lower GDP than Western Europe or the US which have a Christian heritage.

I’d suggest what’s behind this chart has more to do with the view of capitalism. It’s difficult to have a thriving modern economy without entrepreneuship (which Marxism disallows) and/or money lending (which Islam disallows).

Christianity had a similar restriction early on but it was largely dropped during the renaissance when something like modern banking spread through Europe.

We’re outlying not despite our religiosity but at least partly because of it. As we become more atheist and socialist in our outlook, we’ll slide back toward the rest of Europe in GDP as well.

John on October 26, 2007 at 7:55 PM

Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following:

“This is the solemn pronouncement of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot!So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent!Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me. I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

VinceP1974 on October 26, 2007 at 7:55 PM

Remove all those praying 5 times a day to a fake god, then lets see the numbers.

shooter on October 26, 2007 at 8:24 PM

Hard to put in your 40 when ya have to stop and pray 5 times a day. Not to mention that religion stifles abstract and critical thinking.

TheSitRep on October 26, 2007 at 8:56 PM

There also could be direct corelation with omega3 fatty acid intake.

TheSitRep on October 26, 2007 at 8:58 PM

Jesus said it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God–pride, self-reliance hinder faith & trust.

jgapinoy on October 26, 2007 at 10:05 PM

Obviously, we’re the only ones praying to the right God.

And not to the left (leftist) god.

vulcannomad on October 26, 2007 at 10:14 PM

I believe you will find that all down through history, religion has made its greatest gains during times of great strife and struggle. People who feel hopeless need something to latch onto, to know that it will get better. And so the promise of an afterlife and a land of milk and honey for the righteous is a big draw. The message of this life of trial and tribulation to be followed by paradise turns out to be a big seller to folks with no hope.

Unfortunately, that message is soon lost after affluence comes around.

conservnut on October 26, 2007 at 10:50 PM

Rational Thought:

“Therefore, while we are a land of plenty, and should therefore be abandoning our religion (until we need it again), we have given it a new job: helping the less fortunate and spreading the word of God through charity.”

Welcome to the new job, same as the old job.

“When you’re poor, you can’t afford the truth. It’d give you nothing to look forward to.”

It’s entirely conceivable to me that the poor are nominally more religious, because the churches in both poor countries and poor areas of rich countries are often the only institutions whose benefits are available to the poor. In such circumstances they tend to play a central role in social, not just religious, interactions. Not only do churches sponsor a great many of non-worship related activities, they also provide the only facilities for a wide range of community actiivities, especially in rural areas. If you can’t read the yellow pages or fill out a job application (or figure out how & whom to vote for!), you ask someone at choir practice for help. Friday night potluck doubles as survival tool.

In some places, you would literally have nothing to look forward to without the Church. If you’ve got aids in Africa, believing in the local Nuns would just be simple common sense. In fact, I believe the Catholic Church currently cares for something like 25% of the entire aids population worldwide. That may not make a believer out of you, personally, but it ought to tell you something. Maybe when you’re poor and/or oppressed, the only thing left to believe in that won’t disappoint you, the only thing worth believing in, is the church, because when everybody else is gone, they’ll still be there. And I say that as someone whose scores an absolute 0 on Pew’s religiosity scale.

But I digress. Gotta love this line in the Survey PDF:

Oil-rich and predominantly Muslim Kuwait is another country with a much higher level of religiosity than its economic situation would predict.

Causation is such a bitch, ain’t she? Up next, plotting atheism against the distribution of natural resources. If you’re troubled by folks doubting American “exceptionalism” though, there’s a real silver lining here. This chart is should make an excellent visual aid.

JM Hanes on October 26, 2007 at 11:29 PM

This data doesn’t tell you anything.

Run this statistic. The GDP per capita of non-oil producing Muslim nations compared to the rest of the world. Real data.

What religion it is makes the difference. False gods lead to bad economies.

Mojave Mark on October 26, 2007 at 11:31 PM

Aw shoot! Stuck in moderation! With apologies for a potential dupe, I’m giving it a second shot with an asterisk it never occurred to me to use.

Rational Thought:
“Therefore, while we are a land of plenty, and should therefore be abandoning our religion (until we need it again), we have given it a new job: helping the less fortunate and spreading the word of God through charity.”

Welcome to the new job, same as the old job.

“When you’re poor, you can’t afford the truth. It’d give you nothing to look forward to.”

It’s entirely conceivable to me that the poor are nominally more religious, because the churches in both poor countries and poor areas of rich countries are often the only institutions whose benefits are available to the poor. In such circumstances they tend to play a central role in social, not just religious, interactions. Not only do churches sponsor a great many of non-worship related activities, they also provide the only facilities for a wide range of community actiivities, especially in rural areas. If you can’t read the yellow pages or fill out a job application (or figure out how & whom to vote for!), you ask someone at choir practice for help. Friday night potluck doubles as survival tool.

In some places, you would literally have nothing to look forward to without the Church. If you’ve got AIDS in Africa, believing in the local Nuns would just be simple common sense. In fact, I believe the Catholic Church currently cares for something like 25% of the entire AIDS population worldwide. That may not make a believer out of you, personally, but it ought to tell you something. Maybe when you’re poor and/or oppressed, the only thing left to believe in that won’t disappoint you, the only thing worth believing in, is the church, because when everybody else is gone, they’ll still be there. And I say that as someone whose scores an absolute 0 on Pew’s religiosity scale.

But I digress. Gotta love this line in the Survey PDF:

Oil-rich and predominantly Muslim Kuwait is another country with a much higher level of religiosity than its economic situation would predict.

Causation is such a b *tch, ain’t she? Up next, plotting atheism against the distribution of natural resources. If you’re troubled by folks doubting American “exceptionalism” though, there’s a real silver lining here. This chart is should make an excellent visual aid.

JM Hanes on October 26, 2007 at 11:50 PM

When Even if you’re poor rich, you can’t afford the truth Truth. It’d give you nothing to look forward to. It can not be bought at any price — since it is a free gift found in God’s abundant grace.

Allahpundit on October 26, 2007 at 2:58 PM

There. Fixed that for ya’. No need to thank me. Just bein’ neighborly.
My collie says:

Isn’t spurious correlation fun? Just look at that meaningless graph!

CyberCipher on October 27, 2007 at 1:42 AM

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

– Matthew 6:19-33

The atheist can only see two options: Religiosity causes poverty or poverty causes religiosity. Consider that to a person of sincere faith, wealth or poverty is irrelevant, because this world is fleetingly temporary in the face of eternity. If blessed by God with resources, the more one’s ability to help others, but also the greater the temptations to pursue the appetites of the flesh, which neither serves nor pleases God.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

– Philippians 4:5-13

Paul makes it clear that whether rich or poor, if one’s aim is Godly service, it’s all good. The phrase “be careful for nothing” means to not worry, especially over things that are better left in God’s hands. If He can take care of the flowers of the field, He can take care of those who honor Him.

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

– Mark 10:17-25

If Jesus told a poor person to sell all they had in order to follow him, they could do it easily, because there is so little change affected in their lives. But someone who has become entangled by the things bought through their riches has a hard time letting go, even when they come seeking eternal life. Are money, and the things gotten with money, your servants and tools, or are you theirs?

Finally, the real pointlessness of the graph is the presumption that ALL religiosity is crafted the same way. The author purports to demonstrate a complex system as a simple parabolic curve, while ignoring the most significant variables involved. That is NOT valid science, and even so, like much other “science”, it discards the metaphysical.

It is very true that many people gain religion through severe negative events in their lives, whether poverty, or tragedy, or punishment. Everyone has heard stories of “jailhouse conversions”. But of course, God’s hand couldn’t have crafted those circumstances in order to bring that soul to Him, could He? When you begin a study by discarding possibilities that don’t suit your preconceptions, you cannot present an honest conclusion.

Freelancer on October 27, 2007 at 4:24 AM

In other news, storks have been seen less and less in urban areas, thus causing birth rates to decline in those areas.

Also, my elephant repellent works, because I haven’t seen any elephants in my house after spraying it.

angryoldfatman on October 27, 2007 at 12:29 PM

Damn it! This might cause those righties to bring out that “American Exceptionalism” thing again.

dostrick on October 27, 2007 at 1:32 PM

jaime on October 26, 2007 at 7:00 PM

Thank you for mentioning Asia. It was noticably absent of mention in the graph there. It’s like only whites, blacks, and Middle-Eastern races exist there. WHO CARES about almost half the world’s population, am I right?

angryoldfatman on October 27, 2007 at 3:47 PM

This is / was an exceptionally interesting discussion. I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m usually too late to participate actively, but would like to thank all for your polite discourse, relevant points and pleasant humor. Even on THIS topic.

Rugged Individual on November 5, 2007 at 6:39 PM