Saturday, September 16, 2006

Morality, life's blessing and religion Part 3 The blessings of God

At this point I have to start finding statistics we can use for the states. This can be fun! I mean that sarcastically. We are looking at almost half the states in the Union so it’s a lot of work. I will first look at what I call the “Blessings of God” statistics. And the first one here is how blessed are the people of these states in material goods. Many fundamentalists argue that the people of God will prosper while unbelievers will not. is it true?

You will find the per capita income of the states for the last 25 years here.

I will simply make lists and allow you to draw your own conclusion. The first list is our per capita list. The Secular States are all in capital letters. I will put the names and figures into a spread sheet and sort accordingly and we shall see how things falls.

State Income per capita

Louisiana $24820
Mississippi $25318
Arkansas $26874
South Carolina $28352
Kentucky $28513
Alabama $29136
Oklahoma $29330
MONTANA $29387
North Carolina $30553
Tennessee $31107
Georgia $31121
MAINE $31252
OREGON $32103
Texas $32462
VERMONT $33327
WYOMING $36778

So from this list ten of our 11 Jesusland states fall in the bottom half of the survey when it comes to per capita income. Only the sparsely populated secular state of Montana does likewise. And of the Jesusland states only Texas, which is oil rich, falls into the top half with regards to income. If Jesus bestows prosperity on his followers he seems to be messing up. The Jesusland states are poorer, not wealthier, than the Secular States.

My next survey is not a statistical one. So if you don’t like it then skip it. It is one based on the idea that Jesus sends natural disasters and punishments on unbelievers while rewarding his own people. Is this true? I spent most my life in the US so I’m aware of which states suffer what kind of disasters. I will list the kind of disasters that hit the US now and then and their general severity in regards to damage to lives lost and property damaged or destroyed. Here are the main problems:

1. Earthquakes, with high potential damage, most low to moderate.
2. Tornados, high potential damage and frequent.
3. Hurricanes, high potential damage especially property, generally low to moderate in lives lost but high potential.
4. Flooding, moderate to high property damage, low to moderate in lives lost.
5. Drought, low to moderate property damage confined really to farmers, low lives lost.
6. Blizzards, low damage low in lives lost.

Ranking these is difficult. Most earthquakes take no lives and do little damage but they have huge potential to harm both. Yet the really big quakes don’t hit often. Tornados come frequently and kill more people than earthquakes in most years. A really massive quake could change that. So I’m going to have to go with average years not exceptional years. A lifetime risk study could be done however but is too time consuming for this blog. So here is how I rank them in severity

Hurricanes #1
Tornados #2
Flooding tied for #3
Earthquakes tied for #3
Drought #4
Blizzards #5

Now how to quantify this? I will give them 1 to 5 points. A hurricane is 5 points, tornado 4 points, flooding and earthquakes 3 points, drought is 2 points and blizzards are 1 point. Some states suffer from more than one form of natural disaster and will get multiple points. Again I will go by the typical year. Texas usually doesn’t get earthquakes or floods so even if that happens now and then it won’t be counted against them.

Of course this part is rather subjective and I admit it. Adjust it if you think necessary and see what you get if you want. Remember disaster here is natural disaster not man-made. I won’t add disaster points to Texas for George Bush or to Arkansas for Bill Clinton. Here is how our list of states turned out when sorted in my spread sheet. The state name is followed by the disaster they experience and the disaster points attributed to them.

Texas hurricanes, tornados 9
Louisiana hurricanes, flooding 8
Mississippi hurricane, flooding 8
Oklahoma tornados, drought 6
South Carolina hurricanes 5
Alabama hurricanes 5
North Carolina hurricanes 5
Georgia hurricanes 5
CALIFORNIA earthquake, drought 5
Kentucky some flooding 3
Tennessee flooding 3

MONTANA drought 2
WYOMING drought 2
MAINE blizzards 1
OREGON minor quakes, relatively safe 1
NEW HAMPSHIRE blizzards 1
VERMONT blizzard 1
Arkansas pretty safe 0
WASHINGTON relatively safe 0
RHODE ISLAND relatively safe 0
NEW JERSEY relatively safe 0
MASSACHUSETTS relatively safe 0

Our eleven least “blessed states, or most cursed by Jehovah states, include ten Jesusland States and one Secular State, California. The five most disaster prone states are Jesus states and the five safest include four secular states. The average Jesusland state has a natural disaster rating of 5.18. The average secular state has a rating of 1.18. Now notice that for Oregon I did not give them the full 3 points for earthquakes. They feel them but not being on the San Andreas fault itself they get them far less frequently than California and they are usually much milder. One could argue the rating for earthquakes should go up while the hurricane rating is lowered. The general relationship, however, will stay pretty much the same. The Jesusland states are still more prone to disasters than the secular states.

Of course I don’t think this is because some divine being is blessing the secular states. Nor do I believe it has anything to do with how religious or secular a state may be. This merely disproves the “God’s blessing” theory of Christians.

Now I have one more set of numbers I can think of, off the top of my head, that I’d like to search out for this category. That is life expectancy per state. God supposedly blesses believers with long lives, the Bible says so, Christians believe it. This also quantifies a lot of other factors such as diets, general health, health care, etc. If Jesus pours blessings on his followers his people ought to live longer than those in secularist states. So what is the average life expectancy per state? Again, I don’t know, but I’ll search for it now.

After much searching I finally found the statistics of average life expectancy on the basis of state. It is found at the site of the Centre for Disease Control here.

Here is what we find:

Mississippi 73.7
Louisiana 74.4
Alabama 74.6
South Carolina 74.9
Tennessee 75
Arkansas 75.1
Oklahoma 75.3
Kentucky 75.3
Georgia 75.3
North Carolina 75.8
Texas 76.7

MAINE 77.6

All the Jesusland states have a lower life expectancy at birth than do the Secular States. The average life expectancy in the 11 Jesusland states is 75.1. The Secular States have an average life expectancy of 77.9 years. In other words the people in more religious states die, on average, 2.8 years sooner.

One Christian web site says: “ I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find that God does want many of His people living long lives down here on this earth - and that this is a particular blessing that He can grant to us if we meet certain conditions under the New Covenant that we now have with Jesus.”

But as I’ve argued before Jehovah has bad eyes. He wants to punish sinners in the French Quarter of New Orleans but misses them and instead destroys fundamentalist churches all across the South. Here he wants to bless his people in Jesusland and instead he misses them and it’s the people in the more secular states who live the longest. Poor guy sure has trouble finding the right target. If long life, prosperity, good health, safety from disasters and the such comes from God then he’s short-changing his followers. I don't think it does. Each has other explanations that make more sense.

I will be looking at more of the supposed results from believing in a god in future postings. These first three parts I will post in opposite order. The blog page reads down so you will get part 1 on top followed by part 2 and part 3. But the other parts will be added on top as they come in. Blog set-ups are fine for postings that don’t relate to one another but if they are multipart postings on the same topic you end up with the end at the beginning and vice versa.


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