Brian Flemming, Interviewed

Simon over at Bloggasm features an interview with Brian Flemming, director of the documentary The God Who Wasn’t There and co-founder of the Blasphemy Challenge.

Some excerpts:

Brian Flemming: I don’t see much difference between the beliefs of, say, Scientologists, and those of Christians. The space-alien theology of L. Ron Hubbard is no more or less ridiculous than the flying-dead-man theology of the Holy Bible.

Brian Flemming: …There is a correlation between standard of living and atheism — the more atheistic a country is, the healthier it is, in terms of overall lifespan, overall wealth, access to health care, stillbirth rate, children living with two parents and many other measures. Even within the United States, the people doing the worst by these measures are in the Bible Belt. The most religious communities in the U.S., for example, have the highest divorce rate.

As atheism increases, we’ll see others benefit as well. In terms of giving to the less fortunate, the highest rate of giving to other countries occurs in the most atheistic countries.

[tags]Bloggasm, atheist, atheism, Brian Flemming, The God Who Wasn’t There, Blasphemy Challenge, Scientologist, Scientology, Christian, L. Ron Hubbard, Bible, Bible Belt[/tags]

  • Richard Wade

    Correlation does not imply cause. Implying cause from correlation is the most common error in interpreting statistics. Flemmming implies here that atheism causes affluence. It could be the other way around, or it could be that both are promoted by some other factor. He doesn’t quote percentages. If the correlations are not very high, it could be random.

    The more storks in a European country, the higher the birth rate. By his logic, storks bring babies. More likely, higher birth rates mean more garbage, and storks are attracted to open garbage dumps. So in a way, babies bring storks.

    I’m not surprised that there is more atheism in countries and states with more education and less poverty. Those factors and probably others are most likely involved, but to jump to the conclusion of cause in either direction is way too big a leap. This should be studied much more to be understood.

  • Christopher Bradley

    I’ve roughly thought the same thing for a long time. I’m actually writing a novel right now were the premise is that Jesus wasn’t too terribly different from L. Ron Hubbard, or David Koresh, Jim Jones or the whole lot of self-proclaimed messiahs. I even have a fairly recent post about why I chose to write Jesus that way.

    So, no, in my opinion (which has some study behind it at this point), I don’t see much difference between various religions. ;)

  • QrazyQat

    The difference between the stories in the Bible and those of Scientology or Mormonism is that the people who wrote the Bible stories had an excuse for not knowing much about how the world worked — it was a couple thousand years ago and nobody knew all that much then. By Joseph Smith’s time this was not so valid an excuse; by the time L. Ron Hubbard wrote his stories the excuse was entirely invalid.

    But those who believe any of the stories have to face the fact that, although those who wrote them may have had an excuse for believing it then, those who read them now no longer have that excuse.

  • BigM

    Where does he get his statement about atheist countries giving the most from? I thought this for a long time, until I was challenged on it by some of my religious friends, and from what I could tell I was actually wrong. The United States gives far and away more charitable donations per capita than any other country, especially less religious countries in the EU like Sweden. Obviously this could be for reasons completely unrelated to religion (I’m thinking taxes is part of it), but I’m not sure how he can state “the highest rate of giving to other countries occurs in the most atheistic countries”.

  • Brett Keller

    Without looking at stats, I think this is how it goes: The rates of official foreign aid are higher in some European countries that have higher rates of atheism. Those are the rates of foreign “charity” per capita. The U.S. gives less per capita to foreign aid, but because of its larger population the U.S. typically gives more as a whole. As far as personal charity goes, I’ve seen different things, but it seems that Americans give more personally to charity, and that Christians tend to give more on average. Someone who’s less lazy can provide sources.