Atheists often like to say that there are more Christians in prison than atheists and then conclude that there is a correlation between religion and crime. This of course is a false equivocation fallacy and a poor understanding of the principle in science that Correlation does not imply causation. Moreover, it shows ignorance of the law of numbers in statistics which states that the larger a sample is, the more it reflects the mean of the whole population better. Therefore, if there are more Christians in prison than atheists, this is because there are more Christians overall in society. Similarly, there are more African Americans in prison than any other racial group. An ignorant racist bigot would then possibily conclude that Black people are bad or commit crimes by nature when in fact, this is not so. Atheists are not immune from such bigoted ignorance as well in regards to their bias against religion.
A study by the University of Manchester further shows that religion does not increase crime. In fact, it lowers criminality. The study led by doctorate candidate, Mark Littler showed that people who went to worship or church were linked to lower levels of criminality. Littler stated, “This research implies that the act of visiting a place of worship may trigger a significant reduction in the likelihood of involvement in certain types of criminal and delinquent behaviour.”
The study used survey data from 1,214 people ranging from 18 to 34 years old. It included data on delinquencies such as littering, skipping school or work, the use of illegal drugs, transportation fare evasion, shoplifting, music piracy, damage to property and violence against other individuals. Those who participated in religious services were less likely to commit crimes. This indicates that religion helps in the promotion of pro-social behavioral norms which keeps societies civil.
Littler stated: “These results suggest a more positive picture of Britain’s religious life than the doom and gloom you might read about it in the newspapers.”
Mark Littler is available for comment
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