Ask yourself, which of the following countries would you rather live in?
Bangladesh or Estonia
Niger or Sweden
Indonesia or Denmark
Democratic Republic of the Congo or Norway
Malawi or the Czech Republic
Morocco or Hong Kong
Somalia or Japan
Sri Lanka or England
Djboutti or Belarus
Egypt or Finland
Mauritania or Vietnam
Sierra Leone or France
Burundi or Australia
Afghanistan or Albania
Guinea or Russia
Zambia or New Zealand
Jordan or The Netherlands
Laos or Belgium
Myanmar or Cuba
If you find yourself largely picking the countries on the right hand side, there is likely a reason for that. The countires listed above represent the 20 Most Religious Countries on the planet and the 20 Least Religious Countries on the planet. Can you guess which side is which? If you guessed that those on the left represent the 20 Most Religious Countires, you are correct. One would think that the Creator of the Great All, be he represented by the Christian faith, the Muslim faith, the Hindu faith, the Bahai faith, the Jewish faith, etc., would bestow his blessing on those people who seek to follow his divine will. One would think that the Creator of the Great All would ensure that His people are rewarded for their faithfulness. As becomes rapidly apparent, even if one does not explicitly argue that extreme religiosity CAUSES societal misery, extreme religiosity certainly does NOT act as a panacea to prevent it. Indeed, the economic, political and social situations of Highly Religious and Highly Irreligious Countries could not be more diametrically opposed.
The top 20 Most Religious Countries on the planet contain somewhere on the order of 599,370,000 people according to the United Nations. The estimated per capita income of these countries varies between a high of $5,416 per person per year in Egypt to a low of $328 per person per year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Altogether, the approximately 600,000,000 people living in the 20 Most Religious Countires on the planet earn approximately $1.7 Trillion dollars. This averages out to aproximately $1,200 per person per year. While approximately the same number of people (604,555,000) live in the top 20 Least Religious Countries on the planet, their living conditions could not be more different.
The estimated per capita income of the 20 Least Religious Countires ranges from a high of $58,141 in Norway to a low of $2,785 in Vietnam. Altogether the approximatley 605,000,000 people living in the 20 Lease Religious countries on the planet earn approximatley $14.4 Trillion. This averages out to approximately $23,956 per person per year. In other words, those individuals living in the 20 Least Religious Countries on the planet earn almost TWENTY TIMES MORE per year than their counterparts in the 20 Most Religious Countries on the planet.
Again, the point is NOT that Religion necessarily causes societal, merely that Religion is wholly unnecessary for material well-being, that indeed, it is inversely correllated.
Not only do citizens of highly irreligious societies live lives of far greater material comfort, their lives are much longer. This is likely due to the alarming persistence of hunger and starvation in the 20 Most Religious Countries. The United Nations and the Global Hunger Index have conducted a statistical sampling of countries around the world. Of those countries where there was enough internal stability to conduct the sample, the 20 Most Religious Countries scored as follows: 1 was listed as having a moderate problem with hunger. 7 were listed as having a serious problem with hunger. 5 were listed as having an alarming problem with hunger. 3 were listed as having an extremely alarming problem with hunger. One can only assume that those countries too unstable to even conduct a proper sample are likely suffering even more.
Of the 20 Least Religious Societies, only 1, Vietnam was listed as having any problem with hunger, and it was listed as a moderate problem with hunger. Unsurprisingly then, the average life expectancy of a citizen in one of the 20 Most Religious Countries is 63.88 years. The average life expectancy of a citizen in one of the 20 Least Religious Countries is over 12 years longer, at 76.04.
In addition to lack of food and money, the citizens of highly religious societies suffer in innumerable other ways as well. Literacy in the 20 Most Religious Countries stands at approximately 59.12% of the overall population. Literacy in the 20 Least Religious Countries stands at approximately 98.3% of the overall population. The Press enjoys far greater freedom in the 20 Least Religious Countries than in the 20 Most Religious Countries as measured by the United Nations. Indeed, under the United Nations Human Development Index and Prosperity Index, composite measures of individual Nations' wealth, access to healthcare, longevity, personal freedom, political freedom, etc., consistently illustrate the very trend illustrated above - that Highly Religious Societies suffer in almost every conceivable way. the 20 Least Religious Countries scored almost twice as high as their highly religious brethren on the Human Development Index and nealry three times as high on the Prosperity Index. While these are composite measures and involve a certain degree of subjectivity as to how individual categories should be weighted, the overall trends are stark.
Even setting aside prosperity and material well-being, the health of a Nation can also be guaged by its ability to adhere to the law. All religions, especially those in the Abrahamaic tradition profess a deep fealty to the law. They place a great deal of importance on adherence to the social code of conduct. Indeed, the admonition to refrain from murder is one of the few tenets of religiosity that is shared not only by all faiths, but by all secular legal systems. If one were to take the position that Divinity is a necessary precondition for morality, it would necessarily follow that those societies that are consciously steeped in non-belief would be far more likely to engage in murder than those societies that follow the divine path. This is manifestly not the case.
Murder rates are notoriously difficult to obtain in states with significant internal turmoil and as a result of the ongoing strife in many of the 20 Most Religious Countries, only 12 even report basic government statistics. Of those, the average murder rate stands at approximately 9.7 people per 100,000. Given the civil unrest and outright warfare in many of those countries not reporting, countries like Afghanistan, Congo, Myanmar, etc., and given the strained resources of law enforcement in those countries that do, the actual murder rate is likely far higher. Even if one were to assume a murder rate of 9.7, however, such a rate is still nearly three times higher than that in the 20 Least Religious Countries whose combined murder rate stands at approximately 3.39.
By nearly any conceivable metric, Highly Religious Countries fare far, far, FAR worse than Highly Irreligious Countries. The point is NOT that Religion necessarily CAUSES societies to fail, causes hunger, poverty, disease, starvation, illiteracy, murder. The point is that Religion does NOT resolve those problems. The point is that those who argue that societies steeped in Religion are more just, more fair, more moral, are quite simply wrong. Theists, when presented with the irrefutable fact that the most Highly Religious Societies are uniformly unpleasant, especially when compared to the Most Irreligious Societies, respond that such comparisons fail to take into account colonialism, fail to take into account the importance of poverty, and reflect nothing more than the fact that as Countries grow wealthy and stable, they have the freedom to abandon faith and abandon God. That Atheism is a selfish and narcissistic response ot our material well-being.
Indeed. Because what the unmitigated success of godless societies indicates is that society does not need God. Society doesn't require God. Not for material well being. Not for health. Not for wealth. Not for literacy or education. Not to maintain social cohesion. Not to minimize crime. Not to minimize violence. What the incredible success of godless societies proves is that God is NOT necessary. That when we are accountable to one another, we are just as capable of functioning as a society as we are when we pretend that we are beholden to some manner of divinity.