Tom, at Epiphenom, reviews a study exposing the link between religious homogeneity (RH) & nationalism (N). The study concludes that countries where there is greater religious homogeneity, there appears to be greater nationalism. But as we all know, correlation does not equal causation. So below I have sketched four (of many) possible causality diagrams to match this correlation. I think the answer is probably something like number IV. What do you think?
Below the diagram, I offer some personal reflections (which I use the diagram to explain).
The study is very interesting and makes me wonder about “F”. Is “F” the utility of group bonding? And it makes me wonder about the function of big group (nation) vs. small group (family) bonding. All this made me reflect on a recent personal story:
My son is 11 years-old. It is only recently that I have we have discussed the nefarious sides of the USA. It was very disillusioning for him. He asked me, “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?” I said, “I didn’t want to take away all your good hopes and lofty feelings.” To which, he smiled.
You see, he has strongly not believed in God since he was very young. But with God, he could test right away that what people told he was not true — both empirically and logically. But that testing was harder with the nation. Recently we have watched some foreign films, a few documentaries and discussed the news (Libya). These have made him question the shining nationalism he learns in school and I have offered other ways to view nation states and politics. I could see the hope fade from his eyes. It was sort of sad. But he is also more excited about learning and forming stronger opinions of late. It is fun to watch this evolve.
It is clear to me how Nationalism is taught and how Religion can be taught. It is also clear about the naive hope both of these can offer — a feeling of righteousness and belonging all mixed together. The trick for my son is to discover healthy substitutes for these the cheap temptations of religion and nationalism. To do this, he must explore “F” which springs from parts of the mind that are not as easily observed.