A new study is out and purports that religion is good for children because, amongst other things, it tends to make them bark on command. On the other hand, it was discovered that children raised without the threat of eternal damnation for failing to bark on command tended to have perfected their eye rolling technique by the age of six.
Seriously, this study seems to be flawed from a laypersons point of view. The second sentence of the article states that the alleged positive influence goes to the dickens if the parents have conflicting religious beliefs. So it seems to me that it is not the religious beliefs themselves, but the lack of conflict over them that is positive.
In fact, the more I sit here thinking about it, the more skeptical I am of this study. For starters, these conclusions appear to be based on the personal opinions of the adults regarding the children. And having grown up in a religious family, “well behaved” is often code for “pretty dang subservient when it comes to taking orders from adults” and often has nothing to do with the personal characteristics of the kid in question. A kid in religious circles can be a mean and domineering brat and still get referred to as “well behaved” if she’s properly obedient towards adults.
I also have to wander about the bias that may be present in the teachers when it comes to the children of atheists. Did the teachers know the religious beliefs of their parents and if so, was any personal bias accounted for? And how did their opinions stack up against the opinions of the atheist parents about their children? I think that would be interesting to see as I’ve yet to meet an atheist parent that appreciates blind obedience in their children.
All that aside, I can’t get over the feeling that this study is heavily biased towards putting a positive spin on religion no matter what the evidence may or may not say.