Loren:That is an exceptionally careless approach to research. You don't do science by cherry-picking the literature.
Meta: I'm not "cheery picking." If you knew more about social sciences you would understand that. I was a sociolo9gy major, I have a BA degree in sociology. I studies social research methods. It is you who does not understand good social science research. The studies I use are done by real sociologists, and psychologists in secular programs in major universities. They are not pastors emailing their flock and asking how happy they are. Nor have I merely presented a patch work of what is out there. There really is a huge body of work, very diverse, scientific, demon rating the validity of religion. what I gave in this post is a good (although not complete) summary of the entire body of research. What I left out is a whole of bunch of studies in the 90s that say the same things. I just haven't had time to add them yet.
The main thing is there are no counter studies. None! the one's you offer do not apply at all. They are on totally different subjects. I also notice a couple of things about your attacks:
(1) you have no data of your own
(2) you don't make any proper methodological arguments. Just saying "there's some book where some says some study is bad" wont cut it.
(3) You don't name any specific study even when you try to document problems (just referring to a book with no specifics is not documentation).
Loren:In the Beyond Belief 2006 conference, someone toward the end of it reviewed a lot of therapeutic-religiosity studies and found their methodology to be rather defective, like counting meditation as religious practice.
Meta: wrong! you have to be careful here. There are three different things that go under this ruebrick. Often atheists think they are answering my point but they are actaully are talkinga bout a totally different kind of study:
(1) RE studies like Nobel, Wuthnow and Hood are fine studies. Their methodology is as good as any in the field (which psychology of religion). They are done my major peopel (Maslow is one fo the true greats, as is Hood). They have cross cultural validation and logitudenal, controls ect ect. These are kind I mean. They stud mystical experince, "peak experience" religious consciousness.
What you call "Therapeutic religiosity studies" is totally different, and it can be a couple of different things:
(2) prayer studies.(I said there were three different things, my studies, and these these other two are the kind you are talking about).
(3) correlations between religion and health. All three of these things are different. In addition to these there are others such as Larsen's lit search of social science journals that correlated religious demographics with social pathology.
There are good studies among all three kinds. 2-3 are not the kind to which my post refurred, but of them, many of the kind in 2 are bad, but not in no.3.
In addition to this are some very bogus studies on psychic powers and prayer which measure growth of plants prayed for and things. But I'm not even considering these worth talking about.
Of the kind I speak of, in no 1, there are some negative findings, but they are discussed in the good studies such as Noble's study. The negative findings relate to short term. My argument is that the long term effects are good. Some short term effects are negative but the long term effects are not.
Loren:There are studies that suggest a negative correlation between religiosity and social health, comparing several nations. The more affluent and peaceful ones tend to be less religious.
Meta:You mean the Zuckerman "study" and the Paul "study." They should be called the "Zuckerman propaganda. That "research" is total bull shit. This is part of a trend toward atheists on the net trying to produce their own bogus social science. They are always done by people who have no training in social sciences, and consequently they always make elementary mistakes of the kind one learns to avoid a sociology sophomore. I have a page on Doxa showing why these kinds of studies are invalid. Such is the the case with both Zuckerman and Paul.
Loren:And even within the US itself, the richer areas tend to be less religious than the poorer areas, and the higher the income, the less the religiosity. Low-income people tend to believe in an Authoritarian God, active and judgmental, while high-income people tend to believe in a Distant God who is neither -- when they believe in one at all.Meta: That is totally ridiculous. Atheists need to stop trying to use social sciences in such a blatantly distorted and ignorant way. Talk about "cherry picking!"
I live in Dallas. Do you understand that Dallas is the buckle of the Bible belt? Well it's also rich guy territory. Before Bill Gates the richest man in the world was H.L. Hunt, he not only lived here, and his sons (who go to First Baptist downtown) but his world wide head quarters was here. He was the first billionaire int he world. Thacher's grandchildren live here, they go to Highland park high school. Dallas has one of the highest concentrations of wealth of any area in the world, and it's internationally known for that. It also has three of the major seminaries in the world, including the largest in the world (Southewestern, Baptist run, fort worth). The flagship of the methodist fleet and one of the top liberal seminaries (Perkins at SMU, where I got my Masters degree) and Dallas Theological Seminary (major fundamentalist evangelical).
Your steriotypes of what people believe are laughable. There is no real data to support hat clap trap. those are theories that are not backed by data. They also don't translate into any sort of cogent response to my argument becasue they have nothing to do with disproving the validity of religious experince.
Loren:As to "mystical" and "spiritual" experiences, they are an issue separate from most forms of formal religion, and I agree with Sam Harris that such experiences can be a useful form of psychological technology. And my favorite part of Richard Carrier's "From Taoist to Infidel" is where he described a great mystical experience that he had once had.
Harris is basically a mystic. I've heard him describe his own views on mystical consciousness in terms that are almost exactly like Schleiermacher's feeling of utter dependence. What you are missing is the fact that this sort of consciousness forms the basis for all religious belief. In the ninetieth century outmoded structural functionalism was used to expalin how religion came about. That is no longer done because it's just out of date and didn't take into account the rich data on religious experince. Social science now views the origin of religion the formation of a the sense of the numinous which is the basis of mystical experince. So this mystical consciousness lies at the heart of all basic religious beliefs.
Core of Organized Religion
The Mystical Core of Organized Religion
Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B., is a monk of Mount Savior Monastery in the Finger Lake Region of New York State and a member of the board of the Council on Spiritual Practices. He holds a Ph.D. from the Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna and has practiced Zen with Buddhist masters. His most recent book is Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer (Ramsey, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1984).
"If the religious pursuit is essentially the human quest for meaning, then these most meaningful moments of human existence must certainly be called "religious." They are, in fact, quickly recognized as the very heart of religion, especially by people who have the good fortune of feeling at home in a religious tradition."
b)What all Religions hold in Common.
Thomas A Indianopolus
prof of Religion at of Miami U. of Ohio
"It is the experience of the transcendent, including the human response to that experience, that creates faith, or more precisely the life of faith. [Huston] Smith seems to regard human beings as having a propensity for faith, so that one speaks of their faith as "innate." In his analysis, faith and transcendence are more accurate descriptions of the lives of religious human beings than conventional uses of the word, religion. The reason for this has to do with the distinction between participant and observer. This is a fundamental distinction for Smith, separating religious people (the participants) from the detached, so-called objective students of religious people (the observers). Smith's argument is that religious persons do not ordinarily have "a religion." The word, religion, comes into usage not as the participant's word but as the observer's word, one that focuses on observable doctrines, institutions, ceremonies, and other practices. By contrast, faith is about the nonobservable, life-shaping vision of transcendence held by a participant..."
Smith considers transcendence to be the one dimension common to all peoples of religious faith: "what they have in common lies not in the tradition that introduces them to transcendence, [not in their faith by which they personally respond, but] in that to which they respond, the transcendent itself..."(11)