Some things are just too coincidental to actually be coincidental and we can find the connection if we look hard enough. In "From mere coincidences to meaningful discoveries," Thomas L. Griffiths and Joshua B. Tenenbaum said, "By attending to coincidences, we have the opportunity to discover that our beliefs are false, and to develop more accurate theories. Our sensitivity to coincidences is not just a source of curious tales and irrational conclusions – it is one of the cognitive capacities that makes causal discovery possible, both in science and everyday life."
I would like to point out three interesting facts about the United States compared to other industrialized countries because they are interconnected and not mere coincidence, in my opinion.
First, "Americans ages 16 to 65 fall below international averages in basic problem-solving, reading and math skills, with gaps between the more- and less-educated in the USA larger than those of many other countries."
Second, "the United States remains among the most religious nations in the world, according to a worldwide study by the University." It also happens to be the most religious nation in the industrialized world.
Third, "evolution is less accepted in the U.S. than any other Western countries."
This is no coincidence -- these things are interconnected. "People who are more religious score worse on varying measures of intelligence…. The three psychologists have defined intelligence as the "ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience…. Among the thousands of people involved in these studies, the authors found that gender or education made no difference to the correlation between religiosity and intelligence; however, age mattered. The negative correlation between religiosity and intelligence was found to be the weakest among the pre-college population. That may be because of the uniqueness of the college experience, where most teenagers leave home for the first time, get exposed to new ideas, and are given a higher degree of freedom to act on them. Instead, in pre-college years, religious beliefs may largely reflect those of the family." I would like to point out that such critical thinking does not occur when people attend "faith-based colleges."
In "Religion and Higher Education: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," Darren E. Sherkat says the following: "Religion, and especially fundamentalist Christianity, can have a negative effect on going to college…. Beginning in high school, sectarian Protestants and biblical fundamentalists have been shown to be less likely to take college preparatory coursework. Predictably, students who avoid taking courses like biology, chemistry, calculus, and British literature in high school are less likely to successfully complete college. Early family formation and strong norms against female labor force participation also hinder conservative Christians' educational attainment…. The increasing proportion of religious conservatives on college campuses has brought problems in the classroom and in residential life, particularly in secular universities. Sectarian and fundamentalist Christians often come to college with little or no preparation for understanding or tolerating ideas which confront their beliefs, or interacting with people who do not share their opinions. The focus on religious explanations for all manner of phenomena in fundamentalist communities does not conform to the standards of secular education…. In many disciplines, the scripturally based orientations prevalent among conservative Christians may give them a considerable disadvantage in coursework because it lowers the complexity of thought. Young fundamentalists are convinced that they know the 'Truth' and that perspectives which deviate from the scripted narratives of their tradition are not only false, but potentially heretical. Critical argumentation about issues in politics, history, ethics, or sociology is difficult for fundamentalist Christians, since they believe that biblical pronouncements are not only necessary explanations, but also sufficient."
Why is it that I believe that many of the issues we are experiencing in U.S. politics and in our society today are due to the religious beliefs held by many of our politicians or the way in which those beliefs negatively affect their ability to think? As I have said before, "People are entitled to their beliefs. However, a line must be drawn when the beliefs of one person or a group of people harm another person or group of people." The fact that many of our politicians are clearly unable to "reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience" is harming this country and its citizens. Maybe it's time we take religion out of politics. Maybe we should consider this next time we find ourselves voting. To quote Arianna Huffington, here's to "Third World America!"