The Opiate of…The Capitalists?

A recent edition of The Economist graphed popular belief in the theory of evolution on a country by country basis and noted that, with one exception, belief in evolution tended to follow prosperity. The exception to this finding was, of course, the United States. While the Scandinavian nations were listed as those with the greatest percentage of the population [75% and over] believing in evolution, believers in evolution in all of the western European nations surveyed exceeded 60%, while only 38% of Americans believed in evolution as a true description, and over 45% of Americans surveyed believe in Biblical versions of human creation, as opposed to evolution.

I looked at the numbers slightly differently. To me, it appeared that, in those nations where belief in evolution was highest, the social and political infrastructures were more “socialistic,” in that health care and income security were near-universal, whereas in the United States, there is greater variation in both income and in health-care security than in all the other industrialized nations surveyed. Put more bluntly, this suggests that people turn to religion when they perceive their lives as less certain or economically secure.

This correlation might well suggest that the more “free-market oriented” and less economically regulated a nation’s economy is, the more religious its population tends to be. This might well lead to other disturbing corollaries. Do the arbitrary nature of most deities and the rules of their faith come from a culture’s economic inequality and social uncertainty? Or does the arbitrariness of religion essentially justify income inequality? Certainly, there seems to be a correlation, because the nations where the people have democratically rejected gross income inequality also seem to be the ones who have turned most from religion.

Could it be that religion is really a covert apologist for inequality? And that Marx just might have had it right?