You can listen to episode 51 of their podcast. It basically starts at 26:50. I highly recommend it as they make a lot of excellent points.
Of course, suffering was introduced because Adam and Eve ate the apple which was because God gave us free will. According to the tract, suffering is increasing lately, but is soon to end. This is what it said regarding the past century:
- the worst suffering ever
- millions murdered during the haulocaust
- over 100 million slaughered in wars (Mike adds that most of those were religious)
- crime and violence are rampant
- drug abuse is epidemic
- STDs continue to spread
- tens of millions die each year of hunger and disease
- family life and moral values have broken down everywhere
- no human government has the answers to these problems. not one of them has overcome aging, sickness and death
Of course they have no data to back up these bold assertions.
The tract then says, "All the evidence shows us that we are nearing the end of man's tragic experiment in independence from God. It has been clearly demonstrated that rulership from humans apart from God can never succeed. Only God's rulership can bring peace, happiness, perfect health and everlasting life."
47:56 - But there was a study published in the Journal of Religion and Society in 2005 titled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in Prosperous Democracies" by Gregory S. Paul.
Here are some highlights:
- positive correlation between pro-theistic factors and juvenile mortality is remarkable
- lifespans tend to decrease as religiosity rises
- rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain 3-600 times higher in the US than in less theistic pro-evolution secular developed democracies
- increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief, and negative correlation with increasing nontheism and acceptance of evolution. Claims that secular cultures aggravate abortion rates are therefore contradicted by quantitative data
- in general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in prosperous democracies
- none of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high level of measurable societal dysfunction
Gregory S. Paul stated in the paper that it is "not an attempt to present a definitive study that establishes cause versus effect between religiosity, secularism and societal health".
He authored a followup paper in 2009 titled "The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions" in the Evolutionary Psychology Journal. (pdf) which found "high religiosity is not universal to human populations, and it is actually inversely related to a wide range of socio-economic indicators representing the health of modern democracies."
Here is one result from the paper: "The uniquely low cumulative PRVSS score for the U.S. of 0.9 demonstrates that it is the least secular nation among those sampled, with Ireland the next most religious. At the other end of the scale some nations approach and exceed a score of 9. For the purposes of this comparative investigation the U.S. is characterized as religious, the rest of the 1st world nations as secular to varying degrees. Creationist opinion correlates strongly positively with the overall level of religiosity when the U.S. is excluded and even more so when it is included."
Recently I posted on HDC's Facebook page that Pope John Paul's blood was sent to Mexico so that people could venerate it and hopefully end the violent crime that has increased over there. This 2009 report addresses the issue of violent crime, specifically murders. It finds that the US, which as stated above is the most religious 1st world nation, has extremely high murder rates. The lowest murder rate levels are found among the most secular democracies. Mexico wasn't included in the study but is a highly religious nation, I believe one of the most Catholic in the world. And its level of crime and violence is also very high.
Phil Zuckerman wrote Society without God in 2009. Pippa Norris and Ronald Ingelhart wrote Sacred and Secular in 2004. Both had similar conclusions.
I can't remember where I saw it, but I read awhile ago that what it looks like is that with uncertainty comes superstitious thinking. So if you feel out of control you get more superstitious behavior. This is correlated with higher religiosity, which is why the US is so odd. It is highly religious but prosperous while most other prosperous 1st world countries are more secular. But the US seems to have a high level of uncertainty for people. It doesn't give people a sense of stability. If I can remember where I saw the studies that showed this I will add them here. If you know of them, please do leave a comment with links.
Where do you live in the world? How secular is your nation? How prosperous?