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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Many phenomena frequently attributed to the effects of religiosity (or to its absence) are, in reality, attributable to secular mechanisms. This can be observed in the domains of personal well-being and prosociality. Despite the commonly held theory that religious beliefs produce benefits such as greater morality and mental health, these associations are actually driven by nonreligious underlying mechanisms. This chapter examines claims made about religion’s benefits. Are there really “effects” of religion in these social domains that are quite distinct from secular effects? There are many reasons to doubt whether religiosity and spiritual belief are special and irreplaceable factors responsible for the benefits of living social lives. There are better reasons to conclude that only secular factors and natural causes explain prosociality and personal well-being.

Keywords: secularity, prosociality, well-being, morality, mental health, religion, spirituality

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