In a paper last month in the online journal Evolutionary Psychology, Gregory Paul finds that countries with the lowest rates of social dysfunction—based on 25 measures, including rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, unemployment, and poverty—have become the most secular. Those with the most dysfunction, such as Portugal and the U.S., are the most religious, as measured by self-professed belief, church attendance, habits of prayer, and the like.Begley's article and Paul's paper are more about whether religion is hard-wired, genetic, and instinctive, but they raise an important issue for people like me, who grew up singing "Jesus is the answer for the world today." The question, I think, is one of cause and effect. Specifically, which is the cause, the functionality or the secularism, and which is the effect? Maybe more importantly, what is the causal relationship between religion and a dysfunctional society?
And, because I like Latin, let's not forget that great logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc.