Another Study Supports the Value of Religion

From time to time, studies pop up which support the ridiculous assertions by atheists such as Christopher Hitchens that somehow religion is responsible for all of the evils in the world. Many of the posts on this weblog have demonstrated that such a view point is unsupported and that many of the studies start with poor assumptions. (See, as an example of our review of one study, Societal ills, absolute morality and charity and Does religion cause societal ills?)

Now the Family Research Council has released a brand new study by Nicholas Zill, Ph.D. and Philip Fletcher, Ph.D.entitled Intact Family and Religious Participation Are Associated with Fewer Developmental Problems in School-Age Children.

The study begins:

New analyses of data from a large-scale federal survey of child health and development show that children and adolescents are less likely to exhibit problems in school or at home if they live with both their biological parents and attend religious services regularly. For example, young people not living with both parents and not attending services regularly are five times more likely to have repeated a grade in school than those living with both parents and attending religious services weekly or monthly. Thirty-four percent of the former group had repeated a grade, compared with six percent of the latter. And 53 percent of the former group – versus 21 percent of the latter – had their parents contacted by the school because of conduct or achievement problems the youth was having at school. These differences hold up after controlling for family income and poverty, low parent education levels, and race and ethnicity.

An intact two-parent family and regular church attendance are each associated with fewer problem behaviors, more positive social development, and fewer parental concerns about the child’s learning and achievement. Taken together, the two home-environment factors have an additive relationship with child well-being. That is, children who live in an intact family and attend religious services regularly generally come out best on child development measures, while children who do neither come out worst. Children with one factor in their favor, but not the other, fall in between, scoring less well than those who have both factors going for them, but better than those who have neither factor in their favor.

Grade repetition, school contacts, and parental concern about child achievement are more strongly linked to a lack of an intact two-parent family than to a lack of religious participation. For problem behavior and social development, the strength of the association with religious attendance is about equal to that with family integrity. An intact two-parent family and regular religious participation are also associated with the parent reporting less parenting stress and a better parent-child relationship. These family functioning differences may help to explain the parallel differences in children’s well-being.

The study that can be found by following the link above contains many graphs which reveal the correlations that have been found in this area of societal concern.

Of course, as with all studies, there needs to be a deeper evaluation of the data. There may be assumptions in the data that are unwarranted and lead to wrong conclusions. Additional unidentified factors are always a concern. Also, it is important to separate out Christianity from all religion because there is a category error in trying to group all religion together in a single group since religions are so diverse and believe many different things. However, there is a rather clear connection in the data that demonstrates that in most cases a religious upbringing in a two parent family is good and valuable for children. The idea that religion is somehow evil becomes less and less plausible every day.


adude said…
"Many of the posts on this weblog have demonstrated that such a view point is unsupported"

BK, I don't believe that you can accurately say that. It clearly has some emphatic support from those that believe it can be supported. You might suggest that it is "unsupportable", but then we're just using it in the manner that quasi-positivists use their brand of Ignorantium. What I believe is more supportable is that they have been unsuccessful in establishing that atheism is significantly less a subjective worldview (in practice) than any other deistic-theistic POV.

Thus facts brought to bear to show Hitchens method as a "simplism" or a summary behavior, help establish that skepticism can properly be leveraged in the opposite direction.
Goliath said…
When will you people learn that correlation is not the same as causation?
BK said…

Good points.


Uhhhhh...we've actually made that point numerouse times in the past. When will atheists learn it?
BK said…
Actually, Goliath, there is something interesting in your response. Certainly, there are correlations between church attendance and good behavior. You seem to admit that. Your response is simply to discount the correlation by saying that it isn't the same as causation. That's granted. However, if you are going to say that it is only a correlation, can you suggest an additional factor that would be the cause of the correlation if it isn't a combination of church attendance and a two-parent family? I mean, if you are going to dismiss the possible combination, it seems incumbent upon you (as I always take it as being incumbent upon me) to state what unstated factors may be causing the correlation that are not actually causal.
Goliath said…
Your pathetic attempt to shift the burden of proof will not succeed.

Please learn the difference between "I can't find it" and "it doesn't exist."
Steven Carr said…
Religion does not cause ills.

So let us here no more Christian myths about Hindus trying to murder Christians.

Religions bring people together
inductive reasoning is based on correlations. when you see a pattern of correlations you can infer that causation exists. for example, if you observe that x occurs when y exists, or that x exists under a certain state of affairs y, you can infer that y causes x.

at the very least, you can't simply say, "you're wrong," and leave it at that. if you're going to assert that it's nothing more than a correlation, you need to support your position.
BK said…
Ah...Steven. I almost missed your irrelevant chatter. Obviously, you need to learn to read a little better if that's the best response you can come up with because I certainly never said that religion never causes ills, and I specifically said that grouping Christianity with other religions under one big umbrella of "religion" is a clear category error.

But I always welcome your input. It reminds me of what we are constantly dealing with.
BK said…
Goliath, I think that Weezie has expressed what I was thinking. And I think that your comment is very ironic because, once again, it is skeptics who seem to have the bigger problem understanding the difference between "I can't find it" and "it doesn't exist" -- at least in my experience.
J.L. Hinman said…
BK when will you learn that special pleading is ok in the case of atheists? Is' always valid for atheists to infer causality from correlation and never for ;Christians. it's always valid for atheists to do special pleading and never Christians.

that's the nature of the dibs they put on spherical pleading.
J.L. Hinman said…
Bill you guys are always telling me not to screw around with people on message boards because they have nothing to say and all they do is make stupid assumption lionizing their own view points and spweing hatred at Christianity.

why are we talking to these guys? it's time you take your own advice.

MLK did not sit down with the klan to try work out their differences.

Go lie keeps saying over and ove "under no circumstnaces would I ever believe" why do you keep treating him as a serious discussion partner when he's admitted he's not one?
Goliath said…
"at the very least, you can't simply say, "you're wrong," and leave it at that. if you're going to assert that it's nothing more than a correlation, you need to support your position."

I need do no such thing. You people are the ones who are claiming that a certain correlation is equivalent to a causation. Again, your pathetic attempt to shift the burden of proof will not succeed.

BK, I am not a strong atheist. I have never claimed that no gods exist, and I doubt I ever shall.
J.L. Hinman said…
I had a feeling that would not be chosen as favorite quote of the month at the atheist conference.
Goliath said…
Which conference would that be, exactly?

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