Thursday, September 6, 2018

Combat and Prayer

Some conventional wisdom confirmed:
Learning to cope with man’s mortality is central to the teachings of the world’s major religions. However, very little is known about the impact of life-and-death trauma on religiosity. This study exploits a natural experiment in military deployments to estimate the causal effect of traumatic shocks on religiosity. We find that combat assignment is associated with a substantial increase in the probability that a serviceman subsequently attends religious services regularly and engages in private prayer. Combat-induced increases in religiosity are largest for enlisted servicemen, those under age 25, and servicemen wounded in combat. The physical and psychological burdens of war, as well as the presence of military chaplains in combat zones, emerge as possible mechanisms.
Is a decline in the amount of death the average person experiences a major driver of secularization?

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

"Is a decline in the amount of death the average person experiences a major driver of secularization?"

I would think so. Religion is fundamentally about trying to find order and peace in the face of the unknown and the unjust.

You're born a serf or a slave, and the brutal injustice of the world gnaws away at the back of your mind? All you need is religion, reassuring you that there's some greater plan and purpose to it all!

Why is your life intolerable endless suffering? Well, because it's a test to see if you're worthy of having a joyous second life after you die, or if you're not worthy and will be punished for all eternity! You are worthy, right?

Why do some people get born into wealth, power, and royalty, and get to lord over others? Well, because of divine right, of course! Your god chose them to rule! It's all part of his plan! What's his plan? A mystery! Don't question it!

Why did your child die in infancy? Obviously your merciful god chose to spare them a life of suffering and bring them straight to heaven! It's not a terrible, tragic, inexplicable misfortune - it's actually a blessing, if you think about it!

Why did the rains not come this year, and the crops withered and died? Because god is angry at us! What is he angry about? Uhh... let's cut open this chicken and fiddle with the entrails to find out! Aha! Apparently it's because certain people disagreed with the views of the ruling authority - who, we will remind you, were chosen by god to be the ruling authority! They're basically gods themselves!

Similar questions go through the heads of soldiers in warzones. Why did that bullet hit my buddy instead of me? Why was I the only person in my squad who survived that explosion? Oh god, I killed all those people - am I still a good person? Why is all this even happening? Is this fighting really as chaotic and pointless as it seems, or is it actually happening according to some plan, for a good reason that can justify all these horrors? Jesus, please tell me that it's not as bad as it seems...