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In a column last week, I commented on the findings of a self-described “social scientist” published in the responsible-sounding Journal of Religion and Society that suggested strongly that Europeans are much better off than Americans because of their lack of faith.
Gregory Paul, the author of the study, wrote:
Many Americans agree that their church-going nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly skeptical world. In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD (sexually transmitted disease) infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.
He concludes that the evidence accumulated in a number of studies suggests that religion might actually contribute to social ills.
“The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator,” he wrote.
So often, news reports pick up on these “research papers” as if they have some real weight, credibility and reflect a genuine and sincere search for truth. And, so often, we learn they are little more than opinion pieces by activists with an agenda.
Such is the case with Gregory Paul and his “academic” paper widely picked up by news media around the world.
It turns out Gregory Paul is not a “social scientist” at all. He is a free-lance dinosaur paleontologist and illustrator.
You know his work if you saw the movie “Jurassic Park.” It was Paul who was responsible for the use of the term “raptor” to describe the vicious beasts who chased everyone around in the film.
Of course, none of that work necessarily discredits his findings. But one credit on his resume surely compromises his objectivity.
He is a member of the speakers’ bureau for the Council on Secular Humanism.
I won’t give you my definition of the organization. But I will allow the organization to define itself:
The Council for Secular Humanism is North America’s leading organization for non-religious people. A not-for-profit educational association, the council supports a wide range of activities to meet the needs of people who find meaning and value in life without looking to a god. Its activities range from magazine publishing to campaigning on ethical issues, from conferences to support networks, from educational courses to conducting secular ceremonies, from local groups to international development.
“Secular humanism is a way of thinking and living that aims to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best in life,” the group explains. “Secular humanists reject supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. They affirm that we must take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live. Secular humanism emphasizes reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation.”
Paul makes presentations on the Ten Commandments, the rise of secular humanism and serves as “in-house dinosaur paleontologist” for the Baltimore secular humanists.
He has also written a futuristic book that describes the rise of immortal cyber-humans.
But, again, he’s no social scientist – except in his own mind.
He’s an activist with an agenda. And his activism doesn’t end with promoting evolutionary theories and questioning God.
He also questions the right to bear arms as well as the “right to religiosity,” as he characterizes it.
As Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”