RELIGION AND SOCIETY
The faith of the Singapore government in the effect of religious instruction in the schools, recorded, in the chapter epigraph, is shared by many people. All major religions stress such basic virtues as honesty and consideration
for others. These are necessary fur the ordetly conduct of human society, and religion may help people take such ideas seriously. Whether religious ideals can really be instilled by the schools may be open to question. It is also hard to prove whether or not religion really does produce moral behavior. Many research efforts have attempted to test the effects of professed religious beliefs and church activities upon personal behavior. Bouma reviewed dosen of such studies finding little evidence that religion had much effect on behavior in American society , and L.
lung's more recent research also found the evidence inconclusive [1980}. It is possible, however, that a religious presence in American society has some effect upon the cultural ethos, thus affecting the behavior of both
religious and the irreligious. Tllis is at least a reasonable assumption [Eastland, 1981] is the domain of religion, has been replaced by the secular, or that which is removed from the supernatural. Religious belief systems have been displaced by scientific knowledge, while the healing, educational, and social service work of the church has been taken over either by government or by nonreligious private groups. Comte  wrote of the ree stages of human thought: 'the theologcal (religious), the metaphysical (philosophcall, and the scientific (positive). The last
stage was the only valid one for Comte, and if religion survived at all, it would only be as a "religion of humanity" based upon science, "Sin" is selfishness, and "salvation" is attained by freeing oneself from selfishness,
while "immortality" consists of being remembered for one's loving service to humanity. Modern religious humanism is heavily indebted to Comte for its ideas. There is no doubt that scientific thinking has greatly affected traditional religious belief systems and' that many of the functions of religious institutions have been shifted elsewhere. Whether this means 'the end of religion or merely illustrates institutional change is a subject of debate.