Does Christianity Lead to a Better Society?

Studies have compared believers and atheists on lots of issues—compassion, mental health, happiness, intelligence, quality of marriages, and even antidepressant consumption. I have little interest in the game where the Christian and atheist each present studies to show how their group is superior in this or that social category. My interest lies more in which worldview is more accurate.

Nevertheless, we often hear that Christianity leads to a better society—or, perhaps more often, that the loss of Christianity leads to a worse society. God is furious about our acceptance of homosexuals or abortion or whatever, so he allows the 9/11 attack or Hurricane Katrina or the latest school shootings.

But this is a claim that we can test.

Researcher Gregory Paul used public records of social metrics such as suicide, lifespan, divorce, alcohol consumption, and life satisfaction to compare 17 Western countries (the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and 12 European countries). He concluded:

Of the 25 socioeconomic and environmental indicators, the most theistic and procreationist western nation, the U.S., scores the worst in 14 and by a very large margin in 8, very poorly in 2, average in 4, well or very well in 4, and the best in 1. …

Because the U.S. performs so poorly in so many respects, its cumulative score on the [Successful Societies Scale is lowest,] placing it as an outlier so dysfunctional relative to the other advanced democracies that some researchers have described it as “sick.” (p. 416)

The metrics in which the U.S. ranks worst out of the 17 countries are homicides, incarceration, under-5 mortality, gonorrhea, syphilis, abortions, teen births, marriage duration, income inequality, poverty, and hours worked.

But it’s #1 in God belief, prayer, belief in heaven and hell, and in rejection of evolution! That’s not much consolation to the Christian, however, because this study destroys the notion that religious belief is correlated with societal health.

What causes what?

Why do we find this correlation of secularism with social health? And in what direction should a society move to improve social health?

Conditions in America are decent in spite of the strong influence of Christianity, not because of it. From a related article by Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman, here are the secrets to making a secular society:

It is to be expected that in 2nd and 3rd world nations where wealth is concentrated among an elite few and the masses are impoverished that the great majority cling to the reassurance of faith.

Nor is it all that surprising that faith has imploded in most of the west. Every single 1st world nation that is irreligious shares a set of distinctive attributes. These include handgun control, anti-corporal punishment and anti-bullying policies, rehabilitative rather than punitive incarceration, intensive sex education that emphasizes condom use, reduced socio-economic disparity via tax and welfare systems combined with comprehensive health care, increased leisure time that can be dedicated to family needs and stress reduction, and so forth.

As a result the great majority enjoy long, safe, comfortable, middle class lives that they can be confident will not be lost due to factors beyond their control. It is hard to lose one’s middle class status in Europe, Canada and so forth, and modern medicine is always accessible regardless of income. Nor do these egalitarian cultures emphasize the attainment of immense wealth and luxury, so most folks are reasonably satisfied with what they have got. Such circumstances dramatically reduces peoples’ need to believe in supernatural forces that protect them from life’s calamities, help them get what they don’t have, or at least make up for them with the ultimate Club Med of heaven.

The U.S. is the anomaly among its peers. Why does its large, educated, comfortable middle class cling to belief in a supernatural creator? Paul and Zuckerman say that it’s because they are insecure: salaries and jobs are under pressure from companies eager to cut costs, health insurance has been uncertain, social pressure to keep up with the Jones increases debt, and so on. A single extended illness can cause bankruptcy.

They also reject the popular hypothesis that America’s separation of church and state has encouraged a vibrant mix of Christian denominations that have kept Christianity strong. They cite Australia and New Zealand who both have a strong separation of church and state but far less religiosity.

What use is faith?

They conclude that a healthy society eliminates the need for faith.

Every time a nation becomes truly advanced in terms of democratic, egalitarian education and prosperity it loses the faith. It’s guaranteed. That is why perceptive theists are justifiably scared. In practical terms their only … hope is for nations to continue to suffer from socio-economic disparity, poverty and maleducation. That strategy is, of course, neither credible nor desirable. And that is why the secular community should be more encouraged. …

The religious industry simply lacks a reliable stratagem for defeating disbelief in the 21st century.

So perhaps many of us have it backwards. This is not a contest between religion and secularism that will determine the quality of society. Rather, the quality of society will determine whether religion or secularism will thrive. In a dysfunctional society, religion helps pick up the pieces, but in a society where life is secure, religion withers away.

Do you want a religious society or a healthy one? You can’t have both.

Celebrate life: live better, help often, wonder more.
— Motto of the Sunday Assembly

Photo credit: Ben Millett

About Bob Seidensticker
  • http://batman-news.com Anton

    There are no atheists in shitholes.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Deep, man!

    • Mudhammutt (DaveUcannotta)

      Now that’s just profoundly….profound!

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Dear Lord! I’ve … I’ve seen toast like that as well!

        And I thought I was the only one. It can’t be a coincidence!

  • JohnH2

    “Do you want a religious society or a healthy one? You can’t have both.”

    Yes, you can have both and I would hardly call Japan and Europe ‘healthy’ societies as they pass laws paying people to have kids and promote propaganda on TV to try and encourage children because they are facing declines in population (Japan already is declining), an inability to pay for the future costs of their social programs, and are threatened with a loss of their cultures. Being suicidal is not generally considered healthy, especially when it is the society itself that is suicidal.

    • Niemand

      In a world with 7 billion people, why is declining fertility a problem? Just increase immigration and it’s problem solved.

      • purr

        Aha! but that IS the the problem!

        There aren’t enough white babies and the dreaded brown people are being used to fill the gaps!!! Why are white women so selfish????

        Yeah, that’s what I hear on every anti-abortion thread on every right-wingnut site that I have the displeasure of reading. They only care that enough white babies aren’t being born, because heaven forbid the english speaking world will be overtaken with non-christian brownies!!!

        • JohnH2

          Sorry, but the problem is not limited to ‘white’ peoples at all. Also, projections now show that the global population will probably peak in the 2050’s and then drop to probably half of what it is today by the end of the century.

        • purr

          And that is a bad thing why?

        • JohnH2

          “”If projections are right, then in 2050 Italy will have
          15 million fewer people than today, which means we won’t have enough young people to pay for welfare system, pensions, health and so on, “” From the BBC article linked above.

          Government pension systems across the world are in serious trouble because of this, among the many other problems it will (and is already) cause.

        • purr

          So infinite population growth on a planet with finite resources is the answer?

        • JohnH2

          I really don’t understand disciples of Malthus still appearing centuries after we were supposed to have all starved to death. I bet you believed in peak oil too?

          Sure the earth is finite, but cutting our population in half in 100 years has nothing to do with us running out of resources.

        • purr

          Don’t have to be a disciple of Malthus to have common sense.

          Let me guess, you’re one of those people who believes that human ingenuity will just *magically* solve everything, all the time?

          Oh, and are you implying that we will *never* run out of oil?

        • JohnH2

          Sometime, probably 200 years or more in the future, we will run out of oil. However, for most of history oil was a problem, something that lowered property values and which wasn’t really useful for much. As usage rises above what can easily be extracted then other technologies, many of which we already know a little bit about, will become viable and we will shift so that our cities aren’t covered in meters of horse manure.

        • Armanatar

          Extraction technology isn’t the real bottleneck though; extraction is usually possible, it’s just a matter of cost. The bottleneck is the actual amount of oil that exists, regardless of how expensive it is to get. We consume about thirty billion barrels of oil per year. We know of about one point two trillion barrels worth not yet used, and even with everything being poured into exploration, we only find fifteen to twenty billion barrels worth every year. Even with the most generous estimates and assuming we don’t actually find it all by some point sooner, we’ve got 120 years. If discoveries dry up, it’s more like forty. This is just having oil, mind, with no thought given to cost of exploration or extraction, both of which will only go up more and more. So at best it’s our grandkids’ problem, and at worst it’s ours. Both cases have a much shorter shelf life than, say, the sun (4.5 billion years, last I checked). Just saying.

        • JohnH2

          In terms of straight proven oil reserves sure; but there is also unproven and unconventional reserves and that is assuming that usage doesn’t change as the cost of extraction increases.

          If we want to get crazy and turn our planet into Venus and then some, there are also the gas giants and some of their moons.

          But Solar arrays are certainly cheaper and easier to get at than mining the gas giants.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What–so “peak oil” just ain’t gonna happen? We’re going to be able to burn oil at today’s rate for the next two centuries with negligible increase in prices?

          It’s a miracle–praise the Lord!

        • MNb

          Of course Italy is an excellent example of a non-secular country. Btw the big problem in Italy is the unprobably generous pension system, enabling many civil servants to retire as early as 50. This has been known for at least two decades. Just compare: as a Dutchman I will only retire at 68. So thanks for showing that the religious (namely catholic) country of Italy is less healthy in your own definition than the secular Netherlands.

        • JohnH2

          MNb, considering as how the Catholic church teaches that contraceptives are sinful then I think we need to seriously question how ‘religious’ Italy really is. I think we are also thinking of very different things when referring to a religious society.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Again, I’m missing your point.

          Yes, I understand the problem with pensions. But China adopted its one-child policy how long ago? 30 years? We could look to them to see what economic crises it’s going through. Off the top of my head, not so much.

          But what’s your solution? Just more and more kids? Do you not see that this solves a problem with an even larger problem?

        • JohnH2

          “crises it’s going through”

          Wait another 30 years.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          China’s one-child policy has been in effect for 35 years and they’re kicking our ass economically. The economy isn’t burdened by pensions yet.

          Don’t just brush aside my concern–show me that we shouldn’t expect to see the problem show up this early.

        • JohnH2
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Good point. The article says, “This historically low dependency ratio has been extremely beneficial for China’s unprecedented period of economic growth.”

          What it doesn’t say is when China should expect the benefit to turn into a liability.

          But the China example doesn’t seem to help my point. I still maintain, though, that your saying that countries must increase fertility is head-in-the-sand thinking.

        • JohnH2

          China will be older than America as early as 2020 and older than Europe
          by 2030. This will bring an abrupt end to its cheap-labour
          manufacturing. Its dependency ratio will rise from 38 to 64 by 2050, the
          sharpest rise in the world. Add in the country’s sexual
          imbalances—after a decade of sex-selective abortions, China will have
          96.5m men in their 20s in 2025 but only 80.3m young women—and demography
          may become the gravest problem the Communist Party has to face.

          http://www.economist.com/node/21533364

          head in the sand? It appears that despite years (decades even) of coverage of the issue of the problems that are being caused by the demographic dividend coming due you weren’t even aware of it. So which one of us had our head in the sand as to the issues facing society?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And to avoid the unfortunate consequences of your policy, you avoid discussing them?

        • JohnH2

          What unfortunate consequences would those be?

        • smrnda

          I don’t know if I’d say China is ‘kicking our ass economically.’ Yeah, there are some wealthy people rising in China, but you can only go so far with an economy built on cheap labor.

        • Niemand

          That assumes that life expectancy doesn’t increase. Life expectancy will only not increase if we choose to commit suicide. We are on the cusp of being able to cure or chronically treat a whole lot of diseases associated with aging. If we want more people, we don’t have to keep making babies to die quickly, we can make the currently living live longer.

        • JohnH2

          That just pushes back the problem if the total fertility rate stays below 2.1.

        • Niemand

          If the fertility rate is 2 and the mortality rate is 1.9, then the population will increase. We know how to make babies. It wouldn’t be that hard to learn to make babies in bottles. I have little concern about humanity dying out because we can’t be bothered to reproduce any more.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like a good thing for human population to be well under the carrying capacity of the earth. Am I missing something?

        • smrnda

          Demographic decline is only a problem if you view per-worker productivity as fixed. The problem is that per-worker productivity is most certainly *not fixed* and can increase drastically.

          There is a problem in that caring for the elderly is a rather labor intensive activity, but one thing that can improve things is to have healthier elderly people. the other issue is that funding pensions is just moving numbers from one column to another. Are there *actually resources* to care for the elderly or not?

        • Jason Wexler

          Careful, this is getting dangerously close to my radical ways of thinking about these demographic problems.

      • Surprise123

        The problem is less a rising population than a rising population with expectations of the good life, and little patience for modest or ecologically sound living.

    • MNb

      ” I would hardly call Japan and Europe ‘healthy’ societies ….”
      Oh John, I have pain in my belly from laughing. Sure, there is a lot wrong in The Netherlands as well, but you pull these laws simply out of your big fat thumb. My country has a welfare system called Child Benefit. The system was introduced in 1951, by Christian Democrats. Since then the Dutch population has been doubled. About the same applies to other European countries. Since 1995 this system has been gradually modified with the goal to discourage large families. With current Dutch unemployment a controlled decline in population is not a problem but a benefit.

      “are threatened with a loss of their cultures”
      Been listening too Geert Wilders too much lately? Eighty percent of the Dutch population consisting of cheeseheads like me and a more strict immigration policy than the USA that is not likely to happen this century.
      Nothing as funny as bigot American ignorance.

      • JohnH2
        • MNb

          Pssst John – I wrote that the neighbouring countries have a similar Child Benefit system as well. Just read it back. Because they totally do. France introduced it as early as late Nineteenth Century. Belgium in 1928. Germany has had a more generous Child Benefit system than The Netherlands for decades.
          Oh – and did you know that the RCC – thoroughly christian as you may know – has had a big influence in Italian politics since at least WW-2? Secular marriage: not possible. Abortion: prohibited, almost exactly like you bigot christians would like to see it.
          That’s a lot of facts you didn’t know until now, John. Consult more and better sources, I’d say. It might cure your ignorance.

          “they pass laws paying people to have kids”
          So the one European country (Italy) who does (and thus “unhealthy” according to you) is thoroughly christian while those who have had such laws for decades (The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France) are all secular.
          How is your big fat thumb going, John? Getting thinner already?

        • JohnH2

          If the laws were to actually work then they could turn something unhealthy into so something healthy, they don’t appear to be working very well.

        • MNb

          Oh oh oh John – several of your perceived problems are not as big as you think, others are very similar to American problems and none of them show that the European societies that survey in BobS’ article mentioned are less healthy than the USA, with the possible exception of racism (I don’t know how big the problem of racism in the USA is nowadays).
          Yeah, I got it. Greek society currently is unhealthier than the USA and Hungary probably too (high suicide rates). What exactly does that tell about the countries with which the USA were compared with? Germany, France and the UK, to mention the three of the four most important?

        • JohnH2

          Ah, yes, peaceful secular Europe:

          Generally, do you believe that racism and anti-Semitism are on the rise in France?

          With regard to racism, obviously. Look how slow the politicians were to react to the insults hurled at the Keeper of the Seals. With regard to anti-Semitism, I’m afraid the situation may not be any better, and I’m shocked to hear more and more young Jews wondering if they’re still welcome in a country that tolerates Nazi salutes in front of the deportation memorial or the Jewish school in Toulouse, where four children were killed because they were Jewish. We have to stop this spiral of hate. Above and beyond the “shows,” we have to call out the hosts of the websites of Dieudonné and Soral. And, because all this is also a profitable little business with trademarks and petty disputes among rights holders, we also have to hit these guys in their wallets.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernardhenri-levy/anti-semitism-in-france-t_b_4546142.html

          The arrest was the start of a risky crackdown on a party steeped in street violence and neo-Nazi rhetoric, whose surging support since last year symbolizes how Europe’s economic crisis has fueled the Continent’s most radical forces. From Spain to Finland, extremes of left and right,
          regional separatists and antiestablishment populists are on the march. Golden Dawn, once a fringe group known for stiff-arm salutes and Holocaust denial, rose to nearly 15% support in opinion polls by this fall.

          http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579219983801909944

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m missing your point. You’re saying that anti-Semitism exists in Europe and so are concluding what now?

        • JohnH2

          “exists in Europe”

          Is on the rise in Europe with their economies having not done that great recently, cuts to social services happening or looming, and more and more immigrants (primarily islamic) who are really the ones having most of the babies.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m still missing your point.

          No one is saying that Europe is a paradise, just that it’s better than the U.S., at least based on the 25 metrics measured in this study. If you think that important metrics showing that Europe ain’t that great were ignored, show us.

          What I hear you saying is, “Just wait! I see storm clouds on the horizon!” which isn’t especially helpful.

        • JohnH2

          I thought I already linked to quite a large number of articles; do you need more?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          More for what? I’m not seeing what your point is. Tell me.

          All I’ve seen is “Europe has anti-Semitism.” What have I missed?

        • JohnH2

          Seriously? I point out that Europe is aging, its economies are failing, their vaunted social programs are being dismantled, racism is on the rise (through out Europe), and radical parties of all types are growing enormously and unexpectedly in power, (also illegal immigration and radicalization of Islamic immigrants are also on the rise) and your response is what is the problems with Europe?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Yeah, but Europe has problems, too.” OK, got it.

        • MNb

          There goes my belly again, this time because you are enormously exaggerating the facts. What’s more – they don’t compute with the numbers on homeless people above.
          1. Aging Europe is not really a problem, certainly not now with the high unemployment rates.
          2. Germany, the UK and the Scandinavian countries are doing well; France is recovering and so is Ireland. The big problem countries are Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – not exactly the biggest economies in the EU.
          3. Alas, yes. It has been since at least 9/11 though. Integration of ethnic minorities largely has failed. But are the USA doing better in this respect? Rodney King perhaps?
          4. Eh no. Radical parties are on the decline (though still too big) in both Denmark and The Netherlands. In several countries they have become more moderate while growing. Greek fascism is a huge problem though.
          5. Radical parties are in power only in Hungary and Slovakia, not exactly the most important countries again.
          6. As far as illegal immigation is on the rise in Europe it’s because legal immigration has become almost impossible. Also I fail to understand how illegal immigration shows that European societies are unhealthy – quite the conrary I’d say. European societies apparantly are as attractive for Africans and Asians as the USA and Canada for Latin-America.
          7. Immigration from islamic, with the notable exception of the turmoil period of Arab spring, has been slightly on the decline last 10 years or so. Moreover there are no signs these islamic immigrants are more radical than before. Islamic radicalization is an internal problem in Europe. But I suggest to do a body count – how many victims have these radicals exactly made in Europe last 10 years?

        • JohnH2

          MNb, read more either business articles or demographic articles: The UK is doing pretty good, Scandinavia is fairly unique, France is recovering from the recession, but is still very much facing serious problems in the near term, Germany is expected to be heavily hit by the aging problem.

          Rodney King was 21 years ago, in case you missed it we have an black president. The supposed ‘racist’ Republicans have more ethnic minority governors than the Democrats, and race wasn’t the issue that disqualified Mr. Cain in the republican primaries.

          ” more moderate while growing” – I can’t quite place my finger on where this sentiment was expressed before in the last century, oh well, must not be that important.

          ” many victims have these radicals exactly made in Europe last 10 years?”
          At least 15 that were reported in US presses within the last week.

        • smrnda

          On racism in the states, white people have been in the news for shooting unarmed Black people a lot lately. It’s still fashionable for politicians to argue that Black people are entirely to blame for their own problems, and the Republicans are quite happy to find Black candidates provided they’re willing to make that case and to argue that it’s not white racism but a *culture of poverty* that causes problems among the Black population.

          The US, when we look at measures like child poverty and such, looks almost third world. Yes, Europe is not perfect, maybe they’ll have to make some changes to sustain their way of life, but we have *nothing to show for ourselves* in terms of us having a way of life that works, unless your only issue is the right to tote around guns.

          If the US was in a better position, we’d have some grounds to criticize other nations, but overall, we’re doing so badly that we’re like a drunk in a ditch yelling at passer-bys about irresponsibility.

        • smrnda

          I want to say, this is kind of true, with the worst offenders taking place in the nations with the lowest levels of economic security – that’s why you have Neo Nazis in Russia agitating for the repression of homosexuals and the Golden Dawn Neo Nazis in Greece. Anti-Roma sentiment has been rather strong of late, but it’s a prejudice that I feel never really went away.

          At the same time, I think decent economic programs would probably eliminate the power of these bigots, but a problem is that Europe’s economic policy is really run by *some countries* (France, Germany) far more than others.

        • MNb

          Pssst John – I immediately admitted that The Netherlands and Europe in general have lots of problems too. I only argued that
          1. Fertility rate is not one of them;
          2. Your example Italy is a thoroughly catholic country, where the RCC has enormous political influence, hence in your own logic backing the conclusion that religious societies are not healthy.
          Now you’re shifting the goalposts.

        • JohnH2

          I dispute your conclusion of 2, the Church may have political influence, but doesn’t appear to have any large impact on how people actually live their lives in Italy. I was under them impression that we were talking about religious society, not religious government, the two are very different. State churches still exist in many of the highly secular European countries, while in more religious America the constitution enshrines the separation of Church and State.

          For 1, I argue that it is directly related to the other problems.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          I don’t know about the rest, but abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978. Were you speaking about the past?

        • MNb

          S**t – sometimes I get my facts wrong too, especially when I don’t check them first. You’re right – abortion has been largely prohibited in Spain and Ireland at least until recently.

        • smrnda

          In a sense, the US pays people to have kids too, because we also have benefits you get if you are a parent. They just tend to be shittier in the US.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        (What’s a cheesehead? In America, I think of people from Wisconsin.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Huh? Population growth is a big moral issue to you on the level of STDs, abortions, murders, suicides, unwanted pregnancies, and the like?

      • JohnH2

        The survival of society itself is very much a big moral issue, and which is deemed more important by far than murders and suicides at least.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What? Where did the question of the very existence of society come into it?? I thought we were just talking about a population correction.

    • Surprise123

      It’s possible, as I wrote above, that wealthy societies make atheism a possibility, and that when societies are low on resources or under attack, religion conserves social energy by providing clear signals on what and what is not acceptable vis-à-vis social roles. Much as military hierarchies provide clear cut roles when the mass mobilization of soldiers is needed during war.
      Please note that these ideas were inspired by an article exploring the idea that atheism is possible only in wealthy, secure communities by connerwood on the “Science of Religion” blog, here on Patheos.com.

  • MNb

    “Conditions in America are decent in spite of the strong influence of Christianity”
    As a Dutchman I would like to rephrase this: in spite of the strong influence of religious institutions. In The Netherlands the Christian Democrats have been in government longer than the communists in the Soviet-Union: from 1917 until 1994. The Dutch constitution (from 1948 on) guaranteed though that all politicians had to be secular. The first open atheist and socialist to enter Dutch parliament was Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis in 1888. So christian politicians always have been largely independent from the churches they were members of, even the ones that came from our Bible Belt (the Netherlands have one too).
    Today I was looking for some famous female Dutch politicians. To my surprise the lesbian (though not openly) social-democrat Ien Dales appeared to be an active member of the Dutch Reformed Church.
    Another remarkable result – and this connects to your previous article – is that a thoroughly right wing government (Christen Democrats and the conservative VVD) legalized abortion in 1980.
    If you ask me the American political system with only two parties and electoral colleges (resulting in the “winner takes all principle”) causes this kind of problems. Though I must admit that the speed with which gay marriage got legalized contradicts this.

    “Every single 1st world nation that is irreligious”
    That’s sloppy. Even in The Netherlands nowadays, a thoroughly secularized country, there are only 14% atheists and 14% agnosts.

    “These include handgun control ….”
    All Dutch christians support this too. In fact control goes further and includes all kind of weapons. It’s a non-issue and that can’t be attributed to relitiosity.

    “reduced socio-economic disparity via tax and welfare systems ”
    In The Netherlands the thoroughly secular conservative party VVD (they call themselves liberals; incorrectly so imo) does everything to stimulate this disparity.

    So frankly I think “christianity makes the USA an anomaly” a case of correlation-causation confusion. Scandinavia, Western-Europe, Spain, Italy, the UK and Australia all have strong social-democrat parties, which all stimulated secularization. Such a party is missing in the USA. Result: in every single European country Obama would be considered moderately right wing.

    “They conclude that a healthy society eliminates the need for faith.”
    Given the dominance of religiosity in The Netherlands this conclusion is only right when stressing the word need. The decisive factor imo is that way too many American politicians are theocrats to some extent and that in American society church charity plays the role of the welfare bureaucracy in other countries. People can’t afford to leave church simply because the financial risk is too high. Bertold Brecht already said it: first the grub, then the morality.

    Your conclusion still stands: you can’t have both a healthy and religious society. Christian Democrats who were attached to church – the catholics in Italy and Ireland notably – have done quite some harm as well.

    The funny thing is that religious folks have an interest with secularization as well. State-church separation in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavion countries always has been far less strict than in the USA. In a city (Amsterdam) where a statue of the atheist Domela Nieuwenhuis was erected on former church ground in 1931 (!) no secularist will worry if the city board sponsors some religious display as well.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Given the dominance of religiosity in The Netherlands …

      What do you mean? You mean that lots of Dutch people are religious? Fair enough. But I can’t imagine that you’re saying that the role of religion in (1) society and (2) politics in the Netherlands is similar to that in the U.S.

      On a completely different topic, what does “Ten” in a Dutch name mean? I’ve heard it in several names (Corrie Ten Boom being the more famous).

      My guess was that it was some term of nobility (like “von”). Am I anywhere close?

      • MNb

        “You mean that lots of Dutch people are religious?”
        Yes. Also the role of religion in Dutch society might be bigger than you think. The Netherlands have state sponsored religious schools (called “bijzonder onderwijs”). Another striking example is the Dutch television system. Public TV is for a large chunk religious: KRO, NCRV and the quite fundamentalist EO.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katholieke_Radio_Omroep
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCRV
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelische_Omroep

      • MNb

        Ten Boom means either Of the Tree or From the Tree. Unlike Germany it has nothing to do with nobility. Nobility hasn’t played an important role in Dutch society since the 17th Century, when The Netherlands were a republic and governed by the economical elite of the district of Holland.
        The correct spelling – we Dutch are very peculiar about it – is either Corrie ten Boom (without a capital) or Mrs. Ten Boom (with a capital).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks! The other is Sye ten Bruggencate who is behind http://www.proofthatgodexists.org. That site has a pointless quiz of how one sees absolute truth. The option “I see no evidence for absolute truth” is, unfortunately, not made available.

  • Dave8

    The establishment of christianity, directly contributed to the fall of The Roman Empire.

    • Castilliano

      Directly? How so?
      I thought the adoption of Christianity a power play by Constantine to better control the empire (both masses & leaders), and somewhat purge other factions. I’d think it gave it more unity, even if a final contributor to its fall.
      Thoughts?

      • Dave8

        Direct, as in a direct correlative factor…technically, an accelerator to its demise. The attempt for increased power, by streamlining “all” standards, et al. was in my estimation, like taking a risky-steroid—there may have been short-term performance gains, sacrificing the host in the long-term.

        Of course, political performance ebbed and flowed, it was not a constant over the empire’s history…a lot had to do with its leadership over time as well.

        How did it accelerate the demise? Well, firstly…a large populace within the empire was polytheistic, it was the de facto standard by tradition. Shifting to a monotheistic belief style, to streamline god-belief, increased tensions amongst the citizenry—that tension increased as the empire expanded and new dissidents were absorbed.

        There were many who hailed the Emperor as God…and many were expected to treat the emperor as such (theocracy). Christian tension increased, as they believed in only One God, and it wasn’t an emperor of Rome.

        One’s identity isn’t forged by the point of a blade; non-christians and christians alike never truly conformed to the sword of Rome…though, it may have looked good on paper.

        Thoughts?

        • Castilliano

          Jumbled. :) And that you’re argument sounds reasonable, but there’s much data to chew through, perhaps too much to develop past hypotheses.

          I’m thinking Constantine in taming one beast created a monster that future leaders would have a hard time contending with, both Roman & not. And, given the status of Christianity in the appointment of civil positions he fostered greater corruption both in the church & the government. And disenfranchised those who stood true to their original religions.
          The polytheistic nature was, by nature, more excepting of the existence of other gods (as long as you acknowledge Roman gods too), so I can see how a (semi)-monotheistic official religion that denied the existence of other gods would hurt diplomacy, internally & externally.
          Heck, that seems true today.

          But hastened…I don’t know. There’s a good chance the Empire made it past some bumps it otherwise wouldn’t have, or that the end was so distinct re: other factors that Christianity had little impact. (Then again, it may have sparked some very specific factors too, leading directly to war or rebellion for instance.)
          Chewy stuff.
          Thanks.

        • MNb

          “How did it accelerate the demise?”
          It didn’t – actually it postponed it because it helped to regain control of the Roman army. The huge problem was that the intelligentsia – those who were supposed to run the Empire – lost their interest in politics. A career within church was far more attractive.

        • Dave8

          Would that be regaining control of the Roman army, while it eviscerated and persecuted christians for three hundred years in the earliest years of the empire?

          Christians refused to assimilate to Roman law, hence persecution and unrest that depleted the empire of resources.

          Rome finally just gave up trying to rid itself of what it considered a scourge/plague upon itself by electing christian leaders into its ranks, who were charged with drafting and publishing an “official” Roman bible.

          Rome leveraged the bible and its legally charged followers, to persecute their enemies under the guise of “heresy”—accelerating citizen decay and dissent.

          At the end of the empire’s lifespan, you argue that the allure of christian power/clergy compelled the political elite to abandon their Imperial duties, ultimately depleting Rome’s political resources—and starving it from within.

          Your argument not only suggests that christianity accelerated the demise of the empire, it ended up becoming the single cause for Rome’s death.

    • $27334126

      Is the Roman Empire an ideal we should emulate?

      • Dave8

        Is it the charge of religion to undermine a sovereign nation if it doesn’t conform to its theological ideal(s)?

      • Niemand

        Medieval Europe, which was largely Christian, was highly nostalgic for the classic era and many people would have said yes in answer to your question. And US society is influenced by the Roman Empire. Where do you think the word “senator” comes from? Or the idea of the Pax Americana (though people don’t usually call it that any more)?

  • RichardSRussell

    I think George Bernard Shaw got to the heart of the matter when he wrote “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” And that was even granting the basic premise that a believer is happier than a skeptic, which apparently isn’t even close to true.

    • http://batman-news.com Anton

      It at least begs the question of what the point is. If a shared sense of meaning helps people or communities survive adversity, I’d say that’s something positive. Certainly the divisive, paranoid religious belief popular in the USA has done little to foster such a sense of community.

  • MNb

    OK, I have a question for American christians, especially those who are offended by the thought that the USA is not as healthy a society as The Netherlands. I suppose we can agree that being homeless is unhealthy; hence a society with more homeless people is less healthy in this respect. The Netherlands have 18 000 homeless people, which is slightly more than 0,1 % of the entire population. This is an increase over the last few years. The USA have 1 750 000 homeless inhabitants, which is about 0,5 % of the entire population.
    How do these numbers compute with the christian idea of social justice?

    Fun fact for John: fertility rate in the USA is lower than in France and the UK. Immigration rate is much higher though; according to his logic it’s the USA who is in danger of “losing its cultural identity”.

    • JohnH2

      I am aware of that fact and elsewhere pointed that out. New England and some other places have serious problems.

      • JohnH2
        • MNb

          Oh, so now you’re going to select convenient parts of a country? I’m sure we can find parts of Italy with very high fertility rates.

        • JohnH2

          MNb,

          The Netherlands is smaller in land area than the majority of US States and would place number 5 in terms of population. Greece would place number 8.

          Different regions of Italy would be entirely relevant, and a high fertility rate in one region would imply a much lower fertility rate in the others. New England in the US is as secular as most countries in Europe and the Intermountain West is the only part of the country where my faith has significant influence.

      • MNb

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      fertility rate in the USA is lower than in France and the UK

      That’s not how I read the charts. The US is easily above the UK, and it’s above France in 2 out of 3 surveys.

  • Y. A. Warren

    It is amazing to me that so many have accepted the “Christian” perversion of the real message of the revolutionary Jesus and continue to say that Jesus is their christ. Jesus was a humanist. Who cares that he was also a deist, in the minds of those that wrote about him? Jesus never called himself a god, nor did he say that he was the only son of what others refer to as “God.”

    I like the way Jesus rolled in his life; therefore, I often look to his example in my own life. I also happen to believe that humans are more awesome than ants, so I attempt to make my decisions on a more complex rubric than it seems that ants use.

    I am indeed a heretic because I continually use my power to make informed choices about each thing that I believe. To be an atheist is simply to adopt another dogmatic creed.

    I see mystery all around me that causes me to feel awe. This is what I call experiencing the “divine” or the “sacred” in our everyday existence.

    Build the bonfires. You can kill my body, but you can never kill the impact I’ve had on others.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      To be an atheist is simply to adopt another dogmatic creed.

      Is it? I don’t remember that in my atheism catechism classes.

      • Castilliano

        Dogma 1: There are no gods.
        Wait…that’s just the premise.
        Restart.
        Dogma 1:
        *whistles*
        *taps fingers*
        I got nothin’.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Dogma 1: There are no gods.
          Wait…that’s just the premise.

          Dogma is just what we call what someone else is sure of.

          As a progressive Christian, I don’t know which I like better: the condescension of fundamentalist Christians who tell me the Big Magic Guy has the final word on everything, or the condescension of atheists who tell me Big Shiny Science has the final word on everything. And both fundies and atheists will say they welcome questions and doubt, as long as the answers can be conveniently found in their respective worldviews.

          Totalizing constructs fill a similar need for certainty in believers and nonbelievers alike.

        • Castilliano

          “Dogma is just what we call what someone else is sure of.”
          Ummm, no? For example I wouldn’t say being sure there’s a god is a dogma. Dogma is the doctrinal baggage (like papal infallibility or evolution denial) tied to a greater authority or group norm. Atheism has no baggage, nor an authority to endorse dogma, and there’s no established norm. One doesn’t even need to trust science to be an atheist, though you love saying so. Some atheists are even New Agers who believe in lots of cosmic woo.

          “Totalizing constructs fill a similar need for certainty in believers and nonbelievers alike.”

          Certainly, but few atheists would argue you need to adopt such a construct to be an atheist while most theists would argue you must.

          My atheism didn’t arise from science having the answers, it arose from theism having blatantly false ones (having such internal inconsistencies and an abhorrent history). One might even argue it was the (obviously false) Christian dogma being requisite that drove me away. There isn’t a correlation for dogma on the atheist side, where if one doesn’t accept evolution they must therefore be a theist, or if one hates science they have to stop saying they’re an atheist.
          Nope. No dogma.

    • CottonBlimp

      I like the way Jesus rolled in his life

      I really don’t. He told countless people to stop worrying about the future and simply follow him as he went around performing exorcisms, promising that before they died, he’d return and whisk them all to heaven. That’s not a decent way to live at all.

      As CS Lewis said, you can’t separate Jesus from Christ, because the secular alternative interpretation is that he was a massive fraud who exploited the ignorance of his followers – or a madman.

      • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

        I believe CS Lewis offered that Christ was a massive fraud (a liar), a madman, or exactly what he claimed to be.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Lewis’s analysis was pretty childlike. He missed the obvious possibility that it was just story/myth/legend, like the other religions.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          He may have written books for children, but CS Lewis was far from childlike.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          In this situation, his analysis is poor. That’s my point.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          CS Lewis, from ‘Myth Became Fact:’

          “But Christians also need to be reminded… that what became fact was a myth, that it carries with it into the world of fact all the properties of a myth. God is more than a god, not less; Christ is more than Balder, not less.

          “We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about “parallels” and “pagan Christs”: they ought to be there-it would be a stumbling block if they weren’t. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. If God chooses to be mythopoeic-and is not the sky itself a myth-shall we refuse to be mythopathic?

          “For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: perfect myth and perfect fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So he celebrates the legend and myth. Great. How does that strengthen the Christian’s hand?

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          I believe Lewis is saying that Christ is both the subject and the fulfillment of myth.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK. I’m still looking for a strong evidence-based argument that the Jesus story is true. And I keep coming up empty.

        • CottonBlimp

          Yes, but, like CS Lewis, I’m responding to a person who doesn’t believe in Jesus’ divinity.

          Without the divine component, you have to conclude he was performing fraudulent exorcisms, making fraudulent prophesies, and dispensing fraudulent salvation.

        • Surprise123

          Or, that later self-designated Christians embellished his actual teachings, which may very well have been collected in “The Gospel of Thomas,” a non-canonical text from the 1st or 2nd century found in the Middle East in the 1940’s, to include divinity and miracles.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          I stumble at the idea of ‘later followers’ who ’embellished his actual teachings,’ because it just does not fit into any model I have that answers the question, ‘Why would they do that?’

        • Baby_Raptor

          To make the teachings more palatable to the people they were trying to convert (like what they did to Christmas.) Power hungry people who wanted to use the religion to nefarious ends. Thinking they were hearing from god when they weren’t.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          Yet history tells us that the first three centuries of Christians were terribly persecuted – which goes against the idea that there was gain to be had in perpetuating the story.

        • Baby_Raptor

          At least some of these people honestly thought that eternal salvation was on the line. It’s the same kind of fanaticism you see in the people at the bottom of the pyramid in the pro-forced birther fight: They honestly think that a pile of cells is a person, and they’re going to delude themselves into thinking that standing around yelling outside a clinic, or killing people by outlawing abortion, is actually helping, because “saving people.”

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          I think that today we see very little of the selflessness that typified ‘classic’ Christianity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I suggest that we focus on the selflessness and ignore whether Christianity or conscience was behind it.

        • Baby_Raptor

          I agree. A lot of today’s Christians would say that the money sharing in the church in Acts, or things like Jubilee from the Old Testament, are evil Socialism. How they make that cognitive dissonance work I have no idea.

        • Castilliano

          Some history says that, some says otherwise.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_Persecution

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          Anyone who would jettison centuries of accumulated knowledge and accepted history to embrace a highly conjectural, biased tirade by a single author does little to advance the cause of critical thinking.

        • Castilliano

          Way to attack an extreme position nobody took.
          Hopefully you at least read it to warrant your histrionics, perhaps even checked sources.

          Of course if you had, you’d have noticed your three centuries of terrible persecution is pushing the other way a bit strong, as there were several emperors quite content with leaving Christians be. The situation oscillated between neutrality & persecution.
          Horrible at times, certainly, but not always.

          It’s also notable that in many cases it wasn’t their Christianity so much as their refusal to also acknowledge Roman gods which led to their punishment. (Which would be a non-Christian thing to do, but does suggest Romans would’ve allowed Yahweh into the tapestry. Wouldn’t that be an interesting alternative history…)
          There are even several mentions of Christians asking for martyrdom. (Ewww.)

          Anyway…
          Cheers.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          I am sorry. Posting a link to support an argument is usually indicating agreement with that position, even if only in general terms.

          Please note that I did not say that the first three centuries were continuous persecution, and that you are correct in saying that there were periods of relative calm punctuated by persecution.

        • Castilliano

          Fair enough, given internet culture.
          I argue to explore, not conquer.

        • http://www.revelation4radicals.com/ radicalrevelation

          A succinct summary of Christianity minus a divine Christ, although you could add performing fraudulent miracles to the list.

        • Niemand

          There’s at least one further category: Fictional character.

    • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

      I have no idea of what books, if any, accurately reflected Jesus words, which is assuming he actually existed. However, many points in the Gospels make clear reference to him being divine or semi-divine at least, such as: “I and my Father are one”; “No one comes to the Father but through me”; “before Abraham was, I am” etc. Yes, I agree all of these may be false attributions, but then how do you know what he really said either, or if he even said anything?

  • Surprise123

    “Does Christianity Lead to a Better Society?”
    “Connerwood,” the moderator over at the “Science of Religion” blog had a VERY interesting article, an article that suggested that atheism might be the PRODUCT of wealthier communities because religion, seemingly a common human phenomena, was needed to focus human energies and signal important precepts when resources were low. Religion is a phenomena of Daniel Kahnerman’s System 1 reasoning – emotional, automatic, instinctual, which makes very clear what human roles are under duress, and conserves certain energies; whereas atheism is a phenomena of System 2, rational, and requiring more mental energy to negotiate social roles, a phenomena that might arise when humans are comfortable and not under attack. Connerwood stated it far better than I.
    Bob, others, if you have a chance to read the article. I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.
    Does religion (including Christianity) lead to a better society, or does a better society make atheism possible?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      That article is here.

      I’ll try to get to it.

  • Castilliano

    And here’s the aforesaid Zuckerman in a lopsided debate on the topic:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_QDJ7DOD_Y

    Attended it. He does a great job of tying secularism, democracy, & flourishing into a Christian-targeted message.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      That’s a long video. I probably won’t watch it. If any other high-level ideas come to mind, please share.

      • Castilliano

        Yeah, it is a bit long for what you get.
        Summary:
        Democracy is agreed upon “best case” society.

        Christianity does not support democracy. (Bible citations.)
        The USA is not Christian. (Compare/contrast American values with Christian values/biblical values + Treaty of Tripoli)
        USA led modern democratic movement through secular example.
        Post-Christian countries flourish best, succeeding at “Christian” (read: universal) values better than countries with more Christianity. (Landslide of data at all levels confirming that.)

        Other guy: Well, Christianity’s had some successes throughout history. Anecdote, anecdote, emotional appeals, blah, blah, blah.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Helpful, thanks.

        • Castilliano

          :)

  • $27334126

    Look at how wealthy Episcopalians are. If we want a society where everyone is rich, we should encourage conversions to Episcopalianism.

  • $27334126

    Modern medicine is always accessible regardless of income here in the US, it’s strange he believes otherwise.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      If you’re saying that people can present themselves at the ER and get treated, sure, that happens. Doesn’t sound like the best that a compassionate society can do, however.

      • Niemand

        If they have something that can be effectively treated in the ER. If they have something like diabetes or hypertension that needs chronic care or something like lymphoma that needs extended outpatient care, not so much.

      • $27334126

        Then we agree Paul is being dishonest when he says medical care is inaccessible.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Dishonest? So he’s lying? That surprises me.

          But then a lot of what you say surprises me.

        • Castilliano

          Yeah, that’s pretty trollish to equate an error with a lie.
          Plus, going to an ER for basic medicine is a loophole, not a feature.

        • smrnda

          They also won’t treat some things they deem non-emergencies, so there are many conditions that you can’t get treatment for until it’s about ready to kill you. Like CANCER>

    • Niemand

      Um…what? There is quite a lot of documentation of worse outcomes in people with low incomes and without insurance. Emergency care is available in the US regardless of income, but long term care and preventative medicine…not so much. Though I know a number of people who have gotten insurance through Obamacare recently so maybe that’s changing…

    • Surprise123

      Does this belief actually correlate with evidence, or, are you just maintaining this opinion to ensure solidarity within your own in-group?
      Pre ObamaCare, the state I live in, California, had a program called MRMIP, which helped people with catastrophic illnesses and no medical insurance gain access to medical care. Unfortunately, however, there were few slots and the wait to get on the program was very long. I knew one guy who earned minimum wage, but racked up over $50,000 credit card debt so that his cancer-riddled sister could get treatment. She was on the waiting list for MRMIP for a very long time.
      Is this what you mean in saying that “Modern medicine is always accessible regardless of income?”

      • $27334126

        It’s not my opinion, it’s a fact. Illegal aliens don’t get turned away from our hospitals.

        • Niemand

          Wrong. Or, rather, very unsophisticated as a statement. True, there are laws that prevent people from being turned away from EDs. That’s great, but not every condition can be treated in the emergency department. Try looking at, for example, what happens to a person from another country in the US–documented or not–who needs a bone marrow transplant.

          Not to mention little issues like that a hospital will not turn people away but they will send a bill. Quite a lot of the bankruptcies in the US occur due to medical expenses.

        • $27334126

          Not that many bankruptcies are from medical expenses. People are not being denied bone marrow transplants.

        • Niemand

          Not that many bankruptcies are from medical expenses.

          Oh, so wrong.

        • $27334126

          Those numbers are not that high, and those figures are for “medically related bankruptcies”. Even single payer countries have medically related bankruptcies.

        • Niemand

          “Not that high”? It’s true that most people in the US are not in bankruptcy, but of those that are, medical expenses are the most common reason.

        • $27334126

          You’re confusing medical expenses with medical related.

        • Niemand

          What distinction are you trying to draw?

        • $27334126

          Someone whose medical bills are covered 100% can have a medically related bankruptcy.

        • Niemand

          So…

        • Surprise123

          Is this what this is about? Your concern that undocumented workers, poor people who do not share your ethnicity or culture, are getting access to our E.R.’s and maternity wards? If so, say so. It’s another topic, of course. But, at least I’ll know where you’re coming from.
          And, you did not address my MRMIPP example above. If a poor working AMERICAN, an American who earns minimum wage had to rack up $50,0000 in credit card debt to save the life of his cancer-riddled sister, how can you possibly say that “the poor don’t pay for healthcare?”

        • $27334126

          It’s dishonest to claim there is a lack of access to medical care when even people here illegally receive it.

        • smrnda

          Depends on the quantities, and would depend on comparisons elsewhere.

          It would be like saying ‘there is no shortage of Java programmers in this town because one firm has just laid off 10.’

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Define “receive.” You’re saying that all people, even those illegals, get excellent health care?

          You seem to be saying the equivalent of “even homeless people have shelter.” True but unhelpful.

        • $27334126

          You can find the definition of receive in a dictionary.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Useless

        • $27334126

          Dictionaries are quite useful.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Especially when they can be used as a smokescreen so that you can slip away and not address the actual question.

          Useless.

        • $27334126

          I can’t imagine dictionaries making an effective smokescreen.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Agreed. Didn’t help you much.

        • $27334126

          It’s a fact poor people don’t pay for healthcare. They can’t, they are too poor.

        • smrnda

          Are you suggesting they then get it for free? (Always?) Or that they don’t get it, so aren’t figured in or something?

        • $27334126

          Are you suggesting they don’t?

        • smrnda

          Yes. I know of many people who have been unable to access health care owing to cost. By my standards (I’m a software developer) they were poor. I mean, I’ve never had to put off any medical care owing to cost. I’ve never had to postpone treatment of anything. I’ve never gone home with a problem that I passed on the treatment for because of cost. I’ve never strained to comply with a regimen of treatment because of cost.

          Poor people don’t get the same level of health care as those with more money. They may get *emergency care* but they often end up stuck with untreated chronic conditions which have a serious impact on quality of life. You seem to be ignoring the fact that there are many *non-emergency conditions* that are still quite serious, and that, in the long run, will have an impact on heath. Whether or not you are able to see a dentist regularly is going to impact your health.

        • $27334126

          People who live in countries where there is socialized medicine don’t get the same level of care as people with more money.

        • smrnda

          I’d have to see lots of data. I think a problem with healthcare is that we aren’t often making meaningful comparisons.

          Let’s take something like a hip replacement. I’ve *heard* that the wait times in some countries are longer than in the US. However, I’m not sure if this is taking into account people who don’t get them or postpone them owing to cost – I mean, yeah, in the US as sure at the $$ is there you get treatment.

          So, we can make everybody wait a little longer, nobody doesn’t get one, and nobody has to wait *longer than some particular time* nor is anyone not checking out their pain at the doctor’s office.

          The comparisons aren’t taking enough of these things into account to persuade me that the US system has any advantage. When deciding what system works, I’m most concerned with worse outcome within a system, then the average ones. The fact that, for a tiny # of people the US system delivers excellent care is meaningless to me, even if I’m aware that an improvement in health care for others might come at some loss to me. It’s the price one pays for civilization.

        • $27334126

          Medicare and Medicaid cover hip replacements.

    • KeithCollyer

      I think you are confusing access to healthcare when you are sick with access to a lawyer when you are arrested. It’s always struck me as weird that in the US you pay for healthcare but get a public defender for nothing

      • $27334126

        The poor don’t pay for healthcare.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And they don’t get much, either.

        • Niemand

          Wrong. If you go to the ED, doctor, or hospital and are treated, you will get a bill. If you or your insurance don’t pay the bill, the hospital will send debt collectors after you. True, most of the bills are eventually written off, but only after the person’s credit is destroyed and they have lost all their assets. There’s a reason poor people don’t go to the doctor in the US.

    • smrnda

      Actually, you do have to pay for medical care that’s non emergency. There is a reason why my partner was limping around on a painful foot for several years before we got together – she could not pay to have it operated on, and it wasn’t considered *an emergency.* Then, we get together, and thanks to my insurance she got it fixed and is now much more mobile.

      The ‘the ER will give you care’ only works if you have a condition they will treat. To say that ‘modern medicine is always available regardless of the ability to pay’ ignores the fact that obviously some people get problems fixed because they have money (me) and other people are told tough shit, go out and suffer (her.)

      • $27334126

        You should become an Episcopalian. Then you would be rich enough to afford the best health care.

        • smrnda

          Actually, I was in a union. I think union members still have better medical care than Episcopalians.

  • $27334126

    Racial differences in crime rates explains the differences in rape rates between the US and Canada better than religion does.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I don’t even know what that means.

      • JohnH2

        Pretty sure it means this:

        http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet
        and
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_crime_in_the_United_States

        Combined with there being fewer African Americans in Canada than in the US.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If we’re talking racial homogeneity, I imagine that the U.S. is one of the most diverse.

          So what does this explain? That Americans can’t figure out how to live in harmony? Even that could point to strife caused by religion.

          And how would this explain non-strife stats where the U.S. does poorly?

        • JohnH2

          You should write a paper on the disparity of the crime rate among the races in the US being due to religion as I am sure you have once and for all solved the problem. Religion is apparently the cause of all societies ills and if there wasn’t religion then human nature would be completely different (which would actually seem to be strong evidence in favor of there being something to religion, you should convert to certain forms of Gnosticism).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I interpret your whining and stamping your little feet to mean that I’ve hit pay dirt? That this argument is just too tough to respond to directly?

        • JohnH2

          Wait, you actually do think religion is the cause of all societies problems including the differences in crime rates among the races in America?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No.

        • JohnH2

          Ok, then this:

          That Americans can’t figure out how to live in harmony? Even that could point to strife caused by religion.

          gets thrown out as idiotic.

          And this:

          So what does this explain?

          has the obvious answer of explaining what f_galton said.

          Making this:

          how would this explain non-strife stats where the U.S. does poorly?

          To be outside of the scope of what I was trying to respond to.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          ??

          Let’s recap. I presented a study that tries to quantitatively compare the US and similar countries. What I hear you saying is, “yeah, but Europe has problems, too.” Which I agree with. Which I already knew.

          Instead of flailing your arms and complaining, give me something that I can use. Are you agreeing with the survey conclusions or not? Are you saying that the numbers are wrong? Or incomplete? Or what?

          No more, “Europe has problems, too.” We’re already beyond that.

        • JohnH2

          That wasn’t what this particular comment was on?
          Which part of the conclusion? That the US has very serious problems not experienced by other countries, that is impossible to argue with. That the US is more religious and less efficient with our resources, also can’t be argued with. That prosperity tends to decrease religiosity is also something that can’t be argued with. That religion is the cause of the US’s problems, that I do argue with and suggest that he split the US into component regions and then look for outliers.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That wasn’t what this particular comment was on?

          I couldn’t figure out what that comment was on. I was trying to (in my mind) get the conversation onto something more substantial.

          That religion is the cause of the US’s problems, that I do argue with and suggest that he split the US into component regions and then look for outliers.

          OK, thanks for focusing the conversation.

          Neither I nor the authors of the articles mentioned above think that religion is the sole cause of all problems in the US.

          What are you saying? What role does religion play in the problems in the US?

        • JohnH2

          “What are you saying?”

          That there are outliers in terms of religiosity and social health.

          “What role does religion play in the problems in the US?”

          I think it is complicated, the problems cause more people to be religious than otherwise, and religion probably does have a reinforcing effect for some religions and some problems. However, that isn’t always the case, and there are very real, highly statistically significant benefits to religion (which in some part does depend on the religion).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Religion can do good, and religion can cause harm. Sounds like we’re on the same page.

          The studies cited try to look at the big picture to see if the overall effect (as measured by unambiguous social metrics) is a net positive or negative. It concludes that it’s a negative. If you’re disputing this, I don’t see how.

        • JohnH2

          ” If you’re disputing this, I don’t see how.”

          I don’t think I am in a position to justify my dispute without giving the appearance of special pleading. Rather than rely on additional demographic information to argue my case, I will only suggest again that he split the US into states or regions are try his analysis using that additional level of detail and see what shows up.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like you’re saying that Mormonism leads to better social conditions.

          Don’t be shy–make your point. If that’s a fact, that’s interesting. Doesn’t say that it’s true. And it doesn’t even say that it’s useful, since all we would have is a correlation. But it would be interesting.

        • JohnH2

          I also think that more factors should be controlled for, the Scandinavian countries are hardly independent data points and there are correlations between other sets of countries used as well. There can be a huge difference between what it means to be religious in various cultures, regions, and countries. It doesn’t appear that autocorrelation was accounted for.

          Also, I think you have taken the causation the other direction from the obvious. Income inequality can cause people to be more religious and cause people to commit crime: I think it isn’t shown that religion causes income inequality and crime.

        • Surprise123

          “I think it isn’t shown that religion causes income inequality and crime.” One of religion’s primary functions is impulse control toward members of the in-group (sometimes that’s just the males within the in-group, sometimes that includes the females), which under normal circumstances, SHOULD mean that those who are religious commit less crime. But, of course, if members of the religion feel persecuted, they may be tempted to harm apostates or others outside their own religion.
          Regarding income inequality: THAT is very complicated. Religions do not come in one size or shape. Some prioritize revelation, a feeling of transcendence, and individuality (as in the right to have a personal relationship to God, the right to interpret the Bible on one’s own, without intervention from clerics) above all else (Baptists); some value analytic thinking (Mormonism, Orthodox Judaism, Episcopalianism); some emphasize ascetic living and retreat from the materialist world (Catholic, Buddhist monasticism). These and other factors (including the religion’s relationship to the State) are going to determine whether a particular religion contributes to income inequality.

        • smrnda

          I think what you are trying to say is that it’s very possible that the religiosity can be a symptom of social dysfunction, and not a cause?

          I agree. I don’t think if a functioning society suddenly had a bunch of religious conversions things would decay, nor do I think if people in a dysfunctional society became atheists would things improve. I think things improving or declining would affect conversion/deconversion rates, but not so much the other way round.

        • JohnH2

          I wouldn’t use the word symptom. There are examples of nearly equal societies with differing religions where one has prospered greatly and the other is essentially in the same condition it was in fifty years ago. So religion itself can be both hurtful and helpful in the functioning of society, is benefited by a dysfunctional society, and loses adherents in wealthy societies.

        • smrnda

          I only used symptom since I wanted to make it clear that I don’t think it was a cause. Your last sentence pretty much says what I think perfectly.

        • Surprise123

          I’m not surprised that societies with a large number of people whose in-group was horrifically oppressed in the recent past (African Americans in the U.S., Indigenous people in Mexico, for example) are more violent than those without. It’s not easy overcoming the trauma of chattel slavery, ethnic cleansing, and even genocide, in some instances.

        • $27334126

          You’re saying it’s the victim’s fault when blacks rape them.

        • Surprise123

          Wow. THAT is quite a stretch. I was NOT saying that. I am saying, however, that when a particular in-group has been horrifically enslaved or persecuted over hundreds of years (as African Americans have been in the U.S., and indigenous people have been in Mexico), it’s natural that its members might be traumatized, that that trauma may affect future generations, and that it may also cause them to be less trusting of the existing system of justice. Particularly when evidence of ongoing injustice continues (prison sentences for powder cocaine versus crack cocaine, 20-year prison sentences for possession of marijuana anyone?).
          And, why the focus on black male rapists? Has there been a plague recently of black males raping people?

        • $27334126

          Blacks don’t trust the justice system, so they commit lots of crimes which makes them subject to the justice system. Great logic.

        • Surprise123

          I’ll leave you to your “black males are raping a lot” bubble: I’m not the one to convince you that focusing on that particular piccadillo is a waste of your time.

        • $27334126

          It’s not a “bubble”, whatever that means, it’s a fact. Rape is not a “piccadillo”, either.

        • $27334126

          Black males rape a lot, don’t try to trivialize it.

        • Surprise123

          “Black males rape a lot.” I said that I was going to remain very still, and sit in the corner for a while. But, that statement roused my ire.
          1) What does it mean to say that “black males rape a lot?” Are we talking about U.S. society alone? Are we talking about in comparison to other violent crimes of black males? Yes, rape is bad, but murder is worse, so why are we focusing on rape? Are we talking about in comparison to the rape rates of Asian males, Caucasian males?
          2) Yes, a high rape rate is bad. I don’t mean to trivialize it. Although, probably not too surprising when a particular group (“group” based upon color of skin, not necessarily on common language, common culture) of people has been extracted from their homeland, forced into chattel slavery for hundreds of years, not been permitted a voice in their own governance, and terrorized for much of their residence here. People act out in not very nice ways when they’re terrorized, you know.
          3) And, even assuming that the rate of rape among black males in the U.S. is pretty high, how do we know that they actually committed the crimes? In some areas of the country, black men of few resources and standing are conveniently charged with crimes they did not commit. Meanwhile, the actual criminal, black, white or otherwise, goes free.
          And, when white men of privilege commit rape, and especially against women of little status, are they always prosecuted and sent to prison?

        • $27334126

          Blacks rape a lot in other countries as well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your point? I’m stupid. Spell it out.

        • $27334126

          I agree.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You here to annoy without making an actual, y’know, argument? You’re doin’ good.

          Start becoming useful or get banned.

        • $27334126

          I’ve pointed out multiple problems with Paul’s shoddy theory. You should take your own advice, your comments are devoid of content.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No

        • $27334126

          It’s funny how quick “freethinkers” are to ban people who challenge their faith.

        • Castilliano

          Dude, it’s your rudeness and personal attacks. Your points have been allowed to continue (with poor support) through dozens of iterations, but when called to spell out your racism you resort to insult.
          We’re a nice community, full of conflicting viewpoints.
          No trolls allowed applies equally to all.
          Cheers.
          (And good riddance because I can’t help but think you can’t stop trolling and will earn that ban.)

        • $27334126

          Rape statistics are not racist.

        • JohnH2

          f_galton,

          You need to provide a large amount of links to the statistics backing up your claim in regards to rapes by Blacks in other countries.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wrong again.

          Having a hard time understanding what I actually said? I’ll type slower.

        • $27334126

          Blacks in Sweden rape a lot. Is that because slavery once existed in America too?

        • Castilliano

          My troll-dar is pinging.
          Low reading comprehension coupled with racism, fractured sense of history, and links to studies that actually conflict with his points.
          Yep, I’m tagging this troll.

        • $27334126

          Nothing I’ve said is racist, and none of my links are contradictory.

        • Castilliano

          Blind trolls are still trolls.

        • $27334126

          I’m not the person who can’t read a chart or the text in a linked publication.

        • JohnH2
        • Castilliano

          I never doubted your ability, JH2, to link to relevant data. :)
          But that’s not the game he’s playing. He’s throwing in personal jabs too, and dodging other people’s arguments with ‘uh-uh’ all too often.

        • JohnH2

          I agree, f_galton isn’t behaving very well and I am not entirely sure what point he is trying to make, but he is doing it poorly.

          He certainly does appear to racists against blacks with asserting not that these blacks under these conditions from these societies commit more crime, but that all blacks everywhere regardless of upbringing commit more crime.

        • Surprise123

          I know I shouldn’t bite, but here goes anyway. So, your contention is that black males are really rape-y. In comparison to males of other races, they are the rap-i- est of the lot. Do, I have that right?

          Okay, I’m going to take your charge and modify it a little bit so that it’s more empirical, more accurate: more black males (males of sub-Saharan African ancestry) are CHARGED, PROSECUTED, and CONVICTED for rape in the U.S. and in Sweden than are males of other races (which, of course, doesn’t automatically assume that they committed the crime?)

          And, then, ask why do YOU think that is? It is because of their inherent genetic makeup? Is it because of their status in these societies, societies in which the color “white” is inherently correlated with goodness, and the color “black” inherently correlated with evil, making black males natural targets when needing to identify someone for punishment? Is it because they come from horrifically oppressed and traumatized backgrounds – chattel slavery in the U.S., and war and oppression in Africa (I suppose that most black males in Sweden are there as refugees). Is it because males of other races get away with rape more often because of their status in society?

          Why do YOU think more black males (males of sub-Saharan African ancestry) are CHARGED, PROSECUTED, and CONVICTED for rape in the U.S. and in Sweden than are males of other races, assuming that your assertion is correct?

        • $27334126

          It’s not a contention, it’s a fact. Conviction rates correlate with the data in the NCVS, indicating blacks are not being overcharged and over-prosecuted.

        • Surprise123

          “Conviction rates correlate with the date in the NCVS,” What does that even mean? What is NCVS? What “date” are you talking about? And, of course, correlation does not prove causation.

        • $27334126

          The National Crime Victims Survey. Look it up.

        • $27334126

          You keep going out of your way to invent excuses for rape. It’s disgusting.

        • Surprise123

          Why do YOU think more black males (males of sub-Saharan African ancestry) are CHARGED, PROSECUTED, and CONVICTED for rape in the U.S. and in Sweden than are males of other races, assuming that your assertion is correct?
          And, as a woman who has been sexually assaulted three times by strangers (never by a black male, mind you), I find your prim fixation on the rap-i-ness of males of Sub Saharan African ancestry bizarre.

        • $27334126

          Because they rape more.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks for advancing the conversation.

          Remind me: what’s your point?

        • purr

          Is that a properly basic belief?

        • smrnda

          Just one thing – are we looking at rates of conviction or are we looking at rates that are reported? As I pointed out earlier in the thread, access to a competent defense (not an overworked public defender) could be a big deal in whether or not someone is convicted of rape, especially given that it’s a crime with a relatively low conviction rate as is.

        • $27334126

          Look at either one, they tell the same story.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What’s the story?

        • $27334126

          The story of rape.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why bring it up here? Just passing the time?

        • $27334126

          I didn’t bring it up, Paul did. Try reading the papers you link to.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So nothing to say about the overall argument, then? Just sniffing around the edges, tossing out humorous non-sequiturs?

          Thanks for playing. A tip for next time: you get more points if you engage the argument more completely.

        • $27334126

          There’s nothing substantial to engage with, it’s all statistical fallacy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Then you’re wasting your time here.

          What a sad person you are to hang out where your powerful intellect isn’t engaged.

        • $27334126

          Have you read the paper you linked to yet?

        • Surprise123

          I knew I shouldn’t ever have bitten…I just knew it.
          Time to stop honoring the troll, time to start ignoring the troll.
          Adios, f_galton
          And, may nightmares of thine imaginary rape-y black males sing thee to thy rest.

        • $27334126

          There’s nothing imaginary about all the rapes perpetrated by black men, something you can verify with the Department of Justice.

        • Linda

          You are a bigot.

        • $27334126

          Just stating the facts.

        • Surprise123

          I’ve bitten again, damn it. There is something imaginary about YOUR black males, however: 1st, to you, they are mere black data points devoid of humanity – they have no history, no background, nothing that might allow people to understand why the rapes occur; and 2), the data that you rely on to create THEM, the really rape-y black males, might not be providing an accurate picture of rape in our society – a concession that your mind is not able to comprehend.
          It’s quite possible that when males of other races, males of higher status, males of more resources, rape, THOSE rapes go unreported.

        • $27334126

          There’s no evidence for that. Quit trying to make excuses for black rapists.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Make a point. Your random factoids show what, exactly?

        • $27334126

          They contradict the narrative presented in the paper you linked to. Now you make a point.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          They don’t.

        • $27334126

          Your response to contradictory facts is amusing.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your inability to actually make an argument is pathetic.

        • $27334126

          Your inability to read is laughable.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I need more than a sentence to rebut an entire paper.

          Useless.

        • $27334126

          Actually I don’t.

        • $27334126

          If you have any substantive points to make, go ahead.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Snap! You’ve turned my own wicked arguments on me!

          Oh–wait a minute. My bad. I’ve written a long post summarizing much longer papers. And you’re replied with not-so-clever one-liners.

          You lose. Try again?

        • $27334126

          You act like evidence that contradicts the hypothesis is invalid because you wrote a long post.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wait–what evidence?!

          Oh–you got me! I actually thought you were referring to real evidence. Nice one, bro! You had me going.

        • $27334126

          I see the paper you linked to isn’t the only thing you haven’t read.

      • $27334126

        Blacks commit crimes at much higher rates than other races.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Does religion play a role? (That’s the topic here.)

        • $27334126

          No, which is why it’s truly stupid to attribute differences in crime rates between countries to differences in religiosity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yep, that was the point of the article.

          Many Christians say that Christianity improves society (or that taking it away hurts society). And the statistics prove them wrong. Sounds like we agree.

        • Surprise123

          It is POSSIBLE that conservative, insular religions (and conservative, insular secular ideologies, for that matter) help communities with few resources or communities suffering from persecution to transmit values, to transmit impulse control ACROSS GENERATIONS, and generate long term communal wealth.
          The Mormon religion, the Chinese Confucian tradition, and the Orthodox Jewish faith may all be examples of such ideologies / religions. The important point here is, though, that they do not JUST transmit impulse control vis-à-vis sexuality, social behavior, and dedication to hard work, they transmit impulse control across generations vis-à-vis COGNITIVE behavior as well. All of these ideological traditions transmit valuing of education, valuing of academics, valuing of System 2 analytic thinking. And, of course, Mormon Americans, Americans of Chinese ancestry, and orthodox Jewish Americans are, on average, more wealthy than Americans from other backgrounds.

        • smrnda

          Just wondering though as to whether Orthodox Jews are actually wealthier than other Jews. I only ask since my family were Reform Jews and we’ve done fairly well for a few generations. But if we went to a nation full of Jews (Israel) it’s quite likely that the Orthodox faction is not the most prosperous.

        • Surprise123

          Good point. I didn’t say ULTRA Orthodox Jews: I was trying to get at the Jewish Americans (perhaps the “Conservative” branch?) who do set themselves apart to some degree, perhaps those who remain kosher, attend synagogue regularly, and send their children to private Hebrew schools, but who still engage with the broader culture in, perhaps, employment and higher education as adults.

          “But if we went to a nation full of Jews (Israel) it’s quite likely that the Orthodox faction is not the most prosperous.” Again, good point. But, the situation of the Orthodox in Israel is unique: for a long time, their families have been subsidized by the State, and the men have been able to study the Torah almost every day, without expectation of extra-societal obligations. Most of their System 2 analytic thinking is channeled into studying the Torah, not in wealth – generating activities in the broader society.
          My overall point, however, is that there are a few conservative religious / secular traditions that, in addition to other types of impulse control, transmit valuing education, academics, System 2 analytic thinking across generations, while still engaging with the broader society. This allows them to better compete against other groups for societal resources across generations, as long as their System 2 analytic thinking isn’t used to demolish the non-empirical beliefs their values are based on. How many generations before that happens? I suspect that that entirely depends on the way such religious / secular traditions train their young people in general, and young women in particular, in system 2 analytic thinking.
          How do they successfully promote System 2 analytic thinking in their teenagers and young adults, while ensuring that that skill is not ultimately used to weaken commitment to their in-group values as they work, study in the world among outsiders?

        • James

          Good point.

        • Plutosdad

          Having a Jim Crow system of laws deliberately set up to maximize the number of black men in jail tends to do that.

        • $27334126

          You’re saying rape laws are racist? Blacks were less criminal when Jim Crow laws existed.

        • busterggi

          You’re one of the Ducks aren’t you?

    • smrnda

      Could an issue be a difference in access to an adequate legal defense? I do know that in many cases, Black defendants are convicted of crimes more often than white ones, and that Black defendants get harsher sentences, but this could be attributed to whether or not being Black correlated with being poor, and whether this means you get an overworked public defender.

      • $27334126

        It’s not necessary to look at convictions.

        • smrnda

          Can you explain why not? Are you actually assuming that our criminal justice system *is perfect?* I mean, I’d like to see stats on both prevalence of reported rate and convictions. I’d be horribly naive to assume that the justice system actually always works correctly.

        • $27334126

          I’m not assuming that at all. Look up the UCR and the NCVS data.

  • $27334126

    When the UK was more religious it had far less crime and social dysfunction than it does now.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You mean like 200 years ago? I bet the UK had lots worse crime then than now.

      • $27334126

        You would be wrong.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s surprising. Show me.

        • Castilliano

          Death by violence has had a HUGE drop since 200 years ago. I’m beginning to mistrust your sources.

        • $27334126

          Medical care has improved, no one is saying it hasn’t.

        • busterggi

          I think his source is somewhere at the end of his digestive tract.

        • Niemand

          He seems to have stopped citing sources. Given that the two that he did cite demonstrated the opposite of what he thought they did, he’s probably wise to stop trying to refer to external reality and refer only to his imagination from now on.

        • $27334126

          The sources cited supported everything I’ve said.

        • Niemand

          Nope. Your citation on crime in the UK said, in as many words, that the unreported crime rate had decreased over the years and that differences in unreported crime likely accounted for some or all of the differences in crime rate between 1900 and the late 1990s. Your link from the US, pared with modern data from the FBI, demonstrated that, even taken at face value, the homicide rate in the 1950s was no better than, and probably worse than, that in 2012. Even without taking unreported crimes into account.

          Your links failed to support your thesis. Twice. And you don’t even seem to be able to read the data you cited well enough to realize it.

        • $27334126

          The links support what I’ve been saying.

        • $27334126

          The homicide rate in the 1950’s was lower than in 2012. Learn how to read.

        • Niemand

          Again, what do you believe the homicide rate was in the 1950s, based on your reading of the link you provided? Or even in 1950 alone?

        • $27334126

          Again, read the linked material.

        • Castilliano

          He did.
          It doesn’t support your point.
          So he’s checking to see if you can process it yourself.

        • $27334126

          It does.

        • Castilliano

          That doesn’t cut it.
          He ably demonstrated how it conflicted.
          You have to pull out the data and show us how it doesn’t.

        • James

          Blind faith that the data supports your convictions doesn’t make it so.

        • $27334126

          It’s not faith, it’s facts.

        • James

          Only if one redefines “facts” to mean something other than what it conventionally means 😉

        • $27334126

          Nothing has been redefined.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Got a larger point here? Or do you do just cranky one-liners? This isn’t Twitter.

          My guess is that you’re saying that statistics reject the idea that Christianity leads to a healthier society.

        • busterggi

          You don’t believe in citing sources do you?

        • $27334126

          I’ve cited multiple sources.

    • Castilliano

      Citation needed.
      No, really, that flies against all the trends so I’d like to see your source.

      Edit to add: For example, the USA has had violent crime drop 70% in the last 30 or so years, while Christianity’s diminished (though grown more vocal).

      • $27334126

        The US had much lower crime in the 1950’s than it does now.

        • Niemand

          Again, are you sure it’s fewer crimes and not less reporting? Plus, can you provide a source for this claim?

        • $27334126

          More crimes were reported in the 1950’s than now, today we tolerate all sorts of things they wouldn’t.

        • Castilliano

          Totally disagree.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ah, the good old days! “Ozzie and Harriett.” “Leave it to Beaver.”

          When the blacks knew their place. When the gays stayed in the closet. When women stayed in the kitchen. When an honest Christian man could beat the crap out of a “gay” and not get a second glance. Or slap some sense into his wife.

          Of course, we all had nightmares about World War III and nuclear Armageddon, but that’s incidental.

          You said it, brother. Bring back the good ol’ days!

        • $27334126

          There was much less crime then, the foreign policy situation is irrelevant. You’re not rational at all.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wait–so you do or don’t want to return to the good old days? I’m confused.

        • $27334126

          I agree, you are confused.

        • Niemand

          Bob alluded to a number of crimes that weren’t counted as crimes in 1950: Blacks knew their place and didn’t complain when someone got lynched. Presto-lower crime (by not recording murders if the victim happened to be black). Women stayed in the kitchen and didn’t complain if their husbands beat or raped them. Lower crime (by not counting domestic violence). A person who was or just appeared gay couldn’t report being assaulted because the police were as likely to beat him up again as to record the assault as a crime. Once again, lower crime (though not admitting to crimes against gays.)

        • $27334126

          In 1950 there were two lynchings, one black and one white. Murders were recorded. Your fantasies do not alter reality.

        • James

          And you’re just a straight up troll who contributes nothing of value to the conversation.

        • Niemand

          Where do you get that claim? Your own link said otherwise (admittedly, for the UK not the US.)

        • smrnda

          Then you should be clear what types of crimes we are comparing. I mean, there were probably a bunch of unjust laws on the books in the 50s. Things that we’ve argued are not crimes, just the product of a repressive society. Therefore, to compare the eras we should throw those ‘crimes’ out when we look at data from the 50s and say, just look at things most people agree are bad like homicide.

        • $27334126

          Even with those unjust laws crime rates were lower.

        • smrnda

          I will be back later to check data, both on the 50s and before.

          Quick graph on the homicide rates I found. We seem close with the 50s, but the 20s and 30s appear worse, as well as the 70s and 80s. this is homicide alone, which I looked for since it’s hard to argue a homicide didn’t happen, and because it’s a crime most of us agree is bad, and reporting rates are less problematic than for rape, where many instances of rape do not get reported.

          Scratch the link. Looking for better data. All said, crime seems neither in uniform ascent nor decline.

        • $27334126

          To put things in perspective you should also compare incarceration rates.

        • smrnda

          Yes, our incarceration rates have exploded, thanks to nonviolent drug offenders being in jail, mandatory minimum sentencing and ‘three strikes’ laws. Thanks to the need to put drug offenders in jail for the prescribed amount of time, murders and sex offenders need to get early release.

          Our incarceration rates and policies do say something about irrational public policy, I agree.

        • $27334126

          The share of drug and non-violent offenders has declined. Even if all of them were let out the incarceration rate today would be way higher than in the 1950’s. People were less criminal then.

        • smrnda

          You seem to focus on just the 50s. I seem to recall that during the 50s, violent crime had declined from a higher period during the 20s and 30s.

          I mean, I think a case can be made that certain policies of the 50s (mostly the economic ones) probably had a stabilizing effect on society, but it isn’t like crime has been one steady line going up since some golden age.

        • $27334126

          The examples that don’t fit the narrative indicate the narrative is wrong.

        • $27334126
        • Castilliano

          Where does that mention changes in unreported crimes?

        • Niemand

          Why are you showing statistics through 1998 in 2014? There are stats available from the FBI up through 2012. In 2012 the homicide rate was 4.7. It’s a bit hard to tell from your table, but probably similar to or lower than that reported in 1950. And it includes people who, in 1950, wouldn’t dare report crimes committed against them. How many lynchings were not included in the 1950 statistics?

        • $27334126

          It’s not hard to see it was much lower in 1950, and that despite recent declines we have not returned to that level. There were two lynchings in 1950, one white and one black.

        • Niemand

          What do you think the homicide rate was in the 1950s according to the publication you linked to? And where do you get that ridiculous claim about lynching in the 1950s?

        • $27334126

          The Tuskeegee Institute. Where do you get your delusions about these things? I’m guessing TV and movies.

        • Niemand

          Not bad. Could be much worse. The Tuskeegee Institute is a legitimate source. Unfortunately for you, the database is simply documenting known lynchings, not claiming to have definitive numbers. I’ll grant you that things appear to have significantly settled down by the 1950s and (assuming equal or better reporting in the later time period) the number of lynchings in the 1950s does appear to be less than in the–more religious–early 20th century.

        • Castilliano

          Decent evidence, but an incomplete look. I’m beginning to think you’re only looking at facts that support you rather than the whole.

          The 50s is a messy time to go back to, especially when post-war nationalism & idealism was such a huge influence on civility.
          I’ll even suggest that many crimes went under-reported like rape, racist hate crimes, spousal abuse, & child abuse. Many things were tolerated then that are more likely to get reported now.

          Plus, that’s cherry-picking one era, when many eras (and areas for that matter) had equally high levels of Christianity, but more crime than today, or more crime than their less Christian neighboring areas.
          And then one has to contend with the fact that, in the U.S., Christianity is rampant among the incarcerated, while atheism is barely represented.

          Which is to say, you are nowhere near proving your point.

        • $27334126

          More crimes are tolerated and unreported now than then. It’s not “cherry picking” to point to a period which directly contradicts Paul’s argument.

        • busterggi

          You mean back when lynching blacks was considered legal in many states and rapes went almost completely unreported due to stigmatization of the victims?

        • $27334126

          More blacks were murdered by other blacks in Chicago last month than were lynched in all of the South from 1950 to 1968.

        • busterggi

          Maybe, but it wasn’t considered murder when whites killed blacks back then.

      • $27334126
        • Castilliano

          The statistics show an increase, but during most of that time Christian belief was consistent. The strongest shift away from Christianity occurs when the crime rates drop at the end, doesn’t it?

        • $27334126

          Today there are more people in prison, there are surveillance cameras everywhere, and people avoid going to certain areas.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          5% of the population, and we have 25% of the incarcerated people. That took a bite out of crime!

          (Or did it?)

        • $27334126

          Incarceration rates were much lower in the 1950’s.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Uh … there’s crime and there’s incarceration. You double the punishment, and the incarceration will go way up without necessarily much of a drop in crime.

        • James

          The population was much lower and crime rates were higher in the 50’s, so what’s your point? The so-called War on Drugs, mandatory sentencing guidelines and so-forth as well as much increased access to drugs are the major reasons for today’s higher rates of incarceration; back in the 50’s, people didn’t go to prison for getting caught with a joint, and police were far less likely back then to search one’s car or person following a routine stop. The violent crime rate, meanwhile, has plumeted. And again, over 99% of all the people who are in prision describe themselves as believers – not as unbelievers.

          If belief made people more moral. law-abiding and ethical, as is often claimed from the pulpit, apparently with little self-imposed need to actually prove it, then where is the proof? Atheists, by and large, don’t claim their lack of belief makes them more ethical than believers, but believers do makes such claims for belief. The burden of proof is on believers to substantiate their claims.

        • $27334126

          Crime rates were lower in the 1950’s, learn how to read. Also in the 50’s a first-offense marijuana possession carried a minimum sentence of 2-10 years and a fine of up to $20,000.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I pray to God that you will eventually make clear your point. And my prayers keep not getting answered.

          Maybe there’s a conclusion to be drawn there … or maybe two conclusions.

        • $27334126

          You should ask God to grant you the ability to make an intelligent comment, because none of yours are.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re the expert.

        • James

          How about you learn to follow the narrative of a thesis and learn to respond to the points that are raised in said thesis?
          The fact is violent crime peaked decades ago and have been in steady decline since then; the fact is average sentences for non-violent crimes (i.e. drug crimes) is much higher today than prior to the “war on drugs.” The facts are the great majority of today’s prison population are non-violent offenders and the vast majority of them are self-described believers. All of which hardly fits the narrative that our nation is going to hell in a handbasket due to a general decline in belief.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nicely summarized. Thanks.

        • $27334126

          It hasn’t declined to 1950’s levels. The majority of today’s prison population is not non-violent offenders.

        • Castilliano

          More people in prison means more caught & detained, possibly longer. It’s a factor, but crime itself is more indicative of crime rates. And they’ve dropped.

          Surveillance technology gets cheaper & better, so more people (who are also more tech savvy) use it. Surprised?

          Avoiding certain areas has been true forever.
          I can’t believe you can suggest this is a trend tied to Christianity faltering.

        • $27334126

          There was less crime in the past and they didn’t have to wharehouse millions of people in prisons or constantly watch everyone with cameras.

        • busterggi

          Citation please. And they didn’t have surveillance cameras until only a few decades ago.

        • Iramohs

          99% of the prison population in the U.S. is religious. Your argument is moot.

        • Niemand

          From your link: “The graph records
          offences that are reported to the police and recorded by them. The British Crime Survey estimates unreported crime; in 1997 56% of crimes were not reported to the police. In earlier years, this figure was probably higher and accounts for some of the increase.” In other words, it’s not clear whether crime or reported crime is increasing. A more secular society may simply make it easier for people to report crimes.

          It is also notable that the crime rate is going down, at much the same time as society continues to be more secular.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is this just a random correlation? Or are you saying that atheism causes crime? Or what?

    • Surprise123

      Charles Dickens might have disagreed with you. :)

    • Sophia Sadek

      Would you not consider the British Empire to be the embodiment of crime and social dysfunction on a global scale?

      • $27334126

        No, the British Empire did a tremendous amount of good.

        • Sophia Sadek

          Not from the perspective of its victims.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Bazinga!

  • $27334126

    Many of these less religious countries have higher unemployment rates than the US does. Would you say atheism causes unemployment?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Your point is … ?

    • Surprise123

      It would be helpful if you could expand on that premise. How would a lack of belief in gods lead to unemployment? For all their faults, Marxist – Leninists in the former Soviet Union, who claimed a lack of belief in gods, ensured almost full employment. Of course, that full employment did not create a vibrant, nimble economy that met people’s aspirations.

      • $27334126

        Using Paul’s logic it does.

        • Surprise123

          Sorry…who is Paul? Paul, the apostle from the Bible?
          And, what WAS his logic vis-à-vis atheism and unemployment?
          And, how does his logic square with the fact that full employment, regardless of how well it met consumers’ demands, was a characteristic of self-designated atheist Marxist-Leninist societies?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          He’s referring to Paul and Zuckerman, the authors of the study cited above.

          Yes, I was confused for a bit, too.

        • $27334126

          The author of the study being discussed. Get a clue.

        • Surprise123

          My bad. I didn’t associate “Paul” with the the name of the author of the study. I’m just going to be very still and sit in the corner of my room for a while. :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Golly! How do you get to be so winsome? Must be inner peace that only Jesus can bring. I’m sitting at the feet of the master. Can I join, too?

    • indorri

      The point of the article is that causality is the other way: certain bad socio-economic situations cause religiosity, so a better question would be to ask whether unemployment causes atheism.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    I’m not suggesting a deliberate conspiracy, but perhaps this somewhat explains the religious right’s rapid (and arguably unchristian) opposition to any form of social welfare that isn’t solely provided by churches. Maybe they know such policies would reduce people’s dependence, and thus religiosity? From their perspective saving people’s souls is more important than their bodies anyway, thus if people are saved by remaining poor, all the better I suppose.

    • MNb

      That was my thought as well.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Perhaps I’m just rephrasing what you’ve said, but politics seems to be very much behind the pro-life movement, especially when you look back just 30 or 40 years in the aftermath of Roe and see churches having little problem with abortion.

      It’s not Christians honestly concluding that abortion is wrong as much as conservative politicians playing the Chicken Little game by which they pull Christians’ strings.

      • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

        Not rephrasing-you bring up a good point. The evangelical swing into total anti-abortion politics is well documented. People such as Jerry Falwell very deliberately made it happen.

        • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

          What surprises me more (because of my Non-Institutional Church of Christ background, I suppose) is not the anti-abortion movement (I heard those sermons as a child back in the 1960s), but the anti-birth-control movement. I have not yet heard a sermon on that topic, but larger families, foreign adoption, homeschooling, and a generally anti-intellectual attitude (with fear of education) are starting to catch on, so popular Christianity is definitely influencing the CoC (“ni” — I have no idea about the mainline CoC). The anti-birth-control beliefs may be the scariest, since to me that seems a sign of the most radical fundamentalism.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Well, I’ve argued it may have more to do with an opposition to social welfare. It’s been well documented that if women have control over reproduction, they can produce more, which leads to greater prosperity. Along with that comes less religiosity. Obviously religious conservatives of all stripes oppose that. So, opposition to abortion and contraception make perfect sense from that standpoint. Additionally, many have argued it’s also rooted in anti-sex attitudes, with abortion and contraception enabling sexual liberation. I’m sure that is a factor in opposition as well.

        • Surprise123

          “It’s been well documented that if women have control over reproduction, they can produce more, which leads to greater prosperity.” THAT surprises me. After all, women have only really had significant and reliable control over their own reproductive processes since the 1960’s.

          Besides, are you just looking at individual households during a single generation? It’s certainly makes sense that a household in which women educated in and having access to reliable birth control methods during a single generation may be more prosperous. But, is that always true across generations?

          What would happen if we compared the third generations of 3 households of differing ideologies? Let’s assume that the three households initially have equivalent wealth. The 1st original household is Mormon, well educated, and the women therein are discouraged from exercising control over their own reproductive processes; the 2nd household is secular, well educated, and the women therein are encouraged to use their own conscious in exercising control over their own reproductive processes; the 3rd household is conservative Evangelical, NOT well educated, and the women therein are discouraged from exercising control over their own reproductive processes.

          25 years pass. All the women in the original 3 household have had as many children as their circumstances, ideologies, and consciences allow, and those children are now adults. Another 25 years pass. All the women in households originating from the original 3 have had as many children as THEIR circumstances, ideologies, and consciences allow, and those children are now adults.

          What is the overall wealth of all grandchildren from household #1, household #2, and household #3? What is the mean individual household wealth of each grandchild from household #1, household #2, and household #3?

          I suspect that original household #1, the Mormon Household, will generate more overall wealth ACROSS GENERATIONS, AND, even more mean household wealth ACROSS GENERATIONS than household #2 and household #2.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You raise an interesting question. I hope others can weigh in.

          One issue: you ask about overall (I assume “total”) wealth. The metric should be per capita wealth.

        • Surprise123

          Bob, you’re absolutely right: mean per capita wealth is important. But, it should not be the only metric.
          Total wealth of third generation households (depending upon who controls it) is important if extended family ties are strong. Close extended families can loan or even donate money to family members for education, businesses, or to cover the costs of health care for catastrophic illness (as a rich — conservative Evangelical cousin of mine did for my nephew!)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m happy to consider any interesting metric, but I don’t see what can trump per capital wealth. It’s nice to have lots of relatives to tap if things are doing poorly, but better still to have a larger share of the total yourself so you don’t run into trouble.

        • Surprise123

          Yes, controlling your own capital wealth is best when societies (and, hence, the value of their currency) are secure, but that doesn’t mean it should be the only metric.
          But, when societies are NOT secure, social capital, which religion seems so very good at generating, becomes important.
          Of course, it’s far harder to measure social capital than capital wealth. and so we are far less likely to take it into consideration. But, again, that does not mean that it is not important.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Why would that be? If women have less children 1) they spend less on providing for children, obviously, plus 2) they can generate more income by working, since they do not have to take care of that many children nor spend as much on them. Getting an education to pursue a career also requires additional time and money that having more children interferes with. Large numbers of children is more of an asset for agricultural societies-parents moving in with their children when they grow old serves essentially as social welfare. This, along more hands to do farm work, makes it an asset. Before the invention of antibiotics and vaccines (a produce of industrial society) many more children would die in infancy as well, making having more babies a simple survival tactic.

        • Surprise123

          You ask great questions.
          I do want to clarify that I imagined the original households starting in the present. so that means the 3rd generation, the grandchildren, would reach adulthood 50 years into the future. That would mean that almost all children born in the various generations would reach adulthood (assuming that the undereducated Evangelical Christians don’t eschew modern medicine altogether).
          I base my conclusion on my understanding that even though Mormon women are encouraged to have as many children as possible, they are also highly educated, and are engaged with the larger culture (which means they are probably taking birth control to limit their pregnancies). On average, they are more educated than other American women, but they also continue to have more children (is it 3-4 children per family? I think that’s what the data show). So, although they’re achieving population replacement numbers, they’re not having nearly as many children as they did in their agricultural past.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          My analysis doesn’t apply to women who use birth control, which Mormons allow (although they discouraged it in the past). The point is that, while they may have more children, it’s presumably planned. An unplanned pregnancy is quite obviously disruptive to getting an education, pursuing a career, or just holding down a job. From what I recall, the LDS Church has a social welfare system of its own that probably helps their members, but many religious groups can’t or don’t have that. Religious groups which do not oppose birth control also don’t apply to this hypothesis.

        • Itarion

          I think it would be better to look more at the average wealth of the grandchildren, since [according to popular stereotypes] Mormon households will have more children and grandchildren. Because of that fact, the more people with less individual wealth could quite easily have more total wealth than fewer people with greater individual wealth.

  • smrnda

    This is why many religious people hate the welfare state, hate the regulation of the rich and powerful, hate social policies meant to improve life for your average person, and hate egalitarianism of any sort. The more miserable people, the more power they have to sell their opiates. They would *prefer* a nearly third world US to one with a better standard of living. They also want people desperate, so that when they have needs they an come crawling to the church for *conditional assistance.*

    I was once on disability. I got $ from the government and some food stamps. Help based on need with no strings attached and no conditions beyond that I had to actually see a specialist once a month to confirm my medical condition and to ensure that I was getting treatment. (Psychiatric problems.)

    Plenty of Christians want to take that away. Instead, they probably want to house me in some kind of compound where I’d be given Bible versus instead of medication, and where instead of being free to do as I wished provided I wasn’t being criminal or blatantly irresponsible, they could give me ‘housing’ or ‘food’ in exchange for coercive control over my life. I’ve seen how religious institutions for the homeless operate – like a vanity cult eager to find new members. I’m all for government aid, and wish we had a system more like the rest of the civilized world.

    • Surprise123

      I’m very glad that you received assistance from the State, and hope that your health has now improved.
      But, without concrete evidence, I have to disagree with your position that CONSERVATIVE Christians (need to make that distinction, as there are plenty of liberal Christians who are very comfortable with the State providing assistance to the poor) are intentionally setting out to impoverish Americans so that their Christian ranks can grow.
      Isn’t it true that conservative Christians believe that religion can inculcate moral character, performance character, impulse control, factors that figure predominately in one’s ability to “succeed in society” and to persevere when the going gets tough?
      I agree with them to a large degree on this point, but would hasten to add that religion is not the ONLY ideology or human phenomena capable of inculcating impulse control.
      Ironically, conservative Christians’ discomfort level with systemic, self-disciplined analytic thinking is itself an example of lack of impulse control (albeit in the area of cognition versus in the areas of sexuality, behavior toward others, and tenacity in overcoming obstacles).

      • smrnda

        True, I should be clear which groups I’m really looking at.

        I’m not really sure if conservative Christian religion has much of an effect. Divorce rates seem to indicate that it doesn’t work. I’d probably agree with you that a great deal is an aversion to the type of thinking that would allow people to make good choices.

        • Surprise123

          Yes, I would agree with you: conservative EVANGELICAL Christianity just doesn’t have the chops to help modern day poor Americans succeed. It was fine 50-60 years ago when hard physical labor under the unions promised a better future, and when the larger society discouraged divorce. But in today’s globalized permissive economy, an economy that awards those with top System 2 analytic skills in winner-take-all competitions, it’s a disaster. Some of its adherents are taking steps to make their culture more insular so that they can transmit values across generations (homeschooling, for example, is one of those steps), but many of the parents providing that homeschooling do not have high expectations for their children’s education (for football, yes; for Jesus, yes; for virginity before marriage, yes; for education, NO).

          That contrasts sharply with conservative MORMON Christianity, I believe, even if their children do attend secular public schools in childhood: It achieves insularity by placing heavy time demands upon its adherents, and by sanctifying each and every father as the sacerdotal priest of his own family. “Family night” in Mormonism is sacred space. And, then, of course you have the missions abroad that the young men participate in: what better way to tie young males to your value system than having them travel abroad, learn another language, and attempt to proselytize to people who think they might be insane? THAT would really keep you committed.
          Not to mention the fact Mormons value education, and even Mormon women often get Bachelor’s degrees.
          It’s almost as if the early Mormons anticipated the alienating, atomizing global world economy when they first determined the tenets of their faith. In competing against most other American groups for resources, religious or otherwise, they have a real leg up.

        • smrnda

          Odd point about Mormons. I know that at Brigham Young, they DO teach evolution in biology. I know this is some cause for discussion/surprise among students, but it demonstrates that the Mormons at least know that you need to know real science – it might involve a bit of cognitive dissonance, but it probably puts them in a better position than your fundamentalist kid getting taught a literal 6 day creation at an unaccredited Bible college.

          The home-schooling Christian patriarchy set seem to be content to accept standards of living of a few hundred years ago in some cases, and they’ve also decided to engage in an experiment of attempting to create an entire culture in a very short time, and I don’t think their experiments will end well. Large families, lack of social connection, kids from families of 12 who grew up without going to school, it’s a formula for a lot of people ending up without the ability to get ahead. The insularity won’t help people handle a diverse world, and the high birth rate, given the economic conditions, is not going to work out well financially.

        • Surprise123

          Interesting to learn that evolution is taught in biology at Brigham Young: I didn’t know that.
          I believe that evolution is also taught at conservative Catholic Christian colleges, at least in the relevant biological sciences departments.
          It’s only conservative evangelical Christians (and possibly conservative Eastern Orthodox Christians) that are dead set against the teaching of evolution, much to their detriment.
          Also interesting is that there is a movement among more liberal evangelical Christians, led by the Biologos Foundation, to engage their more conservative brethren in discussions about evolution, about how to integrate an understanding of evolution into a life of evangelical Christian faith.
          THIS is very important. As we’re growing to understand more and more, you don’t enable conservative Christian ideologues to open up to the idea of evolution by directing them to the arguments of Richard Dawkins. You direct them to messengers they’re more likely to trust, messengers with whom they share significant cultural signifiers.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I agree that people change their mind most reliably when given new information by people they can trust rather than by outsiders.

          But you’ve got Francis Collins, Ken Miller, and other Christians who make it clear that the science is irrefutable. If evangelicals refuse to accept reality, I see no easy answer.

        • Surprise123

          I don’t know the names you mentioned. I wonder if they’re part of the Biologos Institute? Do you know if they’re EVANGELICAL Christians?
          If you’re a conservative Christian ideologue, incorporating evolution into your worldview threatens the very foundation of your biblical worldview and faith. If it’s going to happen, it may be a very long, slow process. And, it may take repeated and intimate exposure to people you trust who have successfully done so themselves.
          Biologos tries to set up meetings and projects with influential fundamentalists – pastors, pundits, etc.. Their approach is to try to connect with fundamentalist leaders repeatedly, and in different settings.
          I wish them well. I’m sure it’s not easy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t know. Francis Collins is now head if the NIH and former head of the Human Genome Project–rather a big deal within biology. Ken Miller was an important witness for evolution in the Dover trial.

          Yes, perhaps some evangelicals will find reason compelling given enough time. I dunno.

          You’ve heard about the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate coming up?

        • Surprise123

          Oh that’s right! Doh! I should have recalled that Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project was an evangelical Christian.

          ” You’ve heard about the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate coming up?” I have. And, what showmen. At first I was somewhat leery of Nye’s attempt to debate Ken Ham in order to change the mind of fundamentalist Creationists. But, then I remembered my own, ongoing changing attitude toward Bill O’Reilly of Fox News fame. At first, I simply hated him and his bloviating, bullying conservatism. But, then he started to debate on TV with the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, whose character and views I REALLY like. It was obvious that they both liked and respected each other, and, eventually, I came to be more open toward A FEW of Bill O’Reilly’s views.
          So, Perhaps, based upon how Ham and Nye interact and treat each other, perhaps a few Creationist minds might open a bit?

        • Surprise123

          Oh, I would hasten to add that for the employees of Biologos, it’s not a question of making it clear that “the science is irrefutable,” its about showing how it’s possible to sustain faith in Evangelical Christianity while incorporating evolution into one’s worldview.
          The first principle isn’t “Empirical reality is the most important consideration, hence, get with the program,” it’s “The Bible matters, your Christian faith (upon which your individual identity and sense of community rest) matters: there are other ways of revering and studying the Bible (via metaphor, via history, via cultural analysis), without determining that everything within is the literal truth, that allow you to incorporate knowledge of evolution, so important to your success in the modern world, into your faith.”

        • Surprise123

          “an aversion to the type of thinking that would allow people to make good choices.” THAT is an interesting statement.
          Are you familiar with Daniel Kahnerman’s theories of System 1 automatic, instinctual thinking that is influenced through direct experience (fast thinking), and System 2 learned, systemic, analytical thinking, thinking that seeks to create rules for estimating outcomes (slow thinking)?
          It’s quite possible that someone quite skilled in System 2, slow thinking, might lack common sense or a high emotional IQ (think of the absent – minded professor, who has poor social skills, and is unable or unwilling to read people’s emotional states). The absent-minded, nerdy professor can make poor choices in his personal life or even in navigating career politics, in spite of excellent System 2 skills.
          There may even be an inverse correlation between excellent System 1 thinking and excellent System 2 thinking.
          Excellent System 1 thinking might be preferable in some environments, and excellent System 2 thinking might be preferable in others.
          The Amish are an interesting case: they, with only an 8th grade education, probably have excellent System 1 thinking skills (and, undoubtedly, their culture, which rejects intoxicants of any kind, helps keep their thinking clear), and may, on average, be currently wealthier with all the land they own than at least their Evangelical co-religionists (and possibly many other Americans in this atomizing, hyper-competitive globalized economy).

  • Bob the Lunatic

    It’s BEEN tested, it was called “The Dark Ages”, and we never wanted it again-that’s why ours was the first Constitution to exclude him.

    • Surprise123

      Don’t know that Christianity caused the Dark Ages. I guess the question rests upon whether the adoption of Christianity by Constantine strengthened or weakened the Roman Empire. And, even then, we’d have to ask whether belief in the supernatural entities of the Christian Church (God, Jesus, Holy Ghost, Mary, saints) negatively or positively affected the empire versus other causal factors. Way above my pay grade. :)
      Max Weber, I believe, makes the case that Calvinist Christianity (belief in pre-destiny, belief that wealth showed God’s favor) led to modern – day Capitalism (you REALLY wanted to become wealthy to ensure your eternal place in heaven). But, that just goes to show you how complex the whole question is: it’s not even whether you believe in a God or gods, but the nature of that God (for instance, in the afterlife, does he reward the poor, those who turn away from the world in monastic living, or does he reward the wealthy?)
      And, of course, for Christians, God’s nature is as varied as the many Christian sects that worship him.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        You raise an interesting question: was Christianity more a force for good or bad over the last 1000 years?

        • Surprise123

          Wow. Where to begin? I guess first we have to determine what we all mean by Christianity (belief in the Trinity, Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, etc.; or belief in the specific tenets of the Catholic faith; or belief in the specific tenets common to most Protestant sects; or the Catholic Church as the overarching and primary institution of Christianity; or?
          And, then we’d have to define “good” and “bad”: numbers of people killed; numbers of people saved; population growth; influence (positive and negative) on art, music, dance, architecture, literature, and, of course, science; its ability to generate wealth; the status of women; the status of homosexuals; its ability to unify the diverse cultures of Europe; and provide a bulwark against the Muslims, the Mongols, the Ottomans (is that good? Not good if you think Muslim, Mongol and Ottoman culture better); its particular (and, in my opinion, very nasty) ability to demonize Jews; and?
          In “The Origins of Political Order” Francis Fukayama claims that that the Catholic Church AS INSTITUTION enabled the establishment of the rule of law, and separation of religion and secular state. Under Pope Gregory VII (1073 – 1085), priests and bishops were forbidden to marry and have children: this, in effect, created a less corrupt, less nepotistic bureaucracy. He also, for the 1st time, declared independence from the Holy Roman Empire, insisting on the right to designate bishops himself (the same right Pope Frances holds today, except in the PRC, where the Communist Party must approve “official” Catholic bishops). This “Declaration of Independence,” in effect, separated religious bureaucracy from secular bureaucracy.
          Fukayama also makes the case that the Catholic Church AS INSTITUTION broke up patriarchal extended families, agnatic clans (clans in which only patrilineal lineage is valued), etc. In order to enhance its own power, it severely limited marriage/inheritance/adoption rights, and granted women the right to own and bequeath property (usually to the Church, itself), even as early as 1000 CE, a phenomena which substantially reduced the ability of agnatic clans to transfer wealth across generations, and ultimately led to their demise.
          So, I guess, if your definition of Christianity is the Catholic Church AS INSTITUTION, then I’d have to say most Western culture – the high status and relative freedom of women; the rule of law; an independent, secular judiciary; individuality; science; the renaissance in art, music, and thought; capitalism are all rooted in its original “Declaration of Independence” and professionalization of its own bureaucracy. And, if all those things are, for the most part, overall good, then you’ll think Christianity (as I define it) was a force for good over the last 1000 years. But if not…..
          I’m on the side of Christianity (defined as Catholic Church AS INSTITUTION) as, overall, a force for good (I am enamored of my own culture – its art, its music, its architecture, its science), with 2 “minor” exceptions: its horrific treatment of Jews over the centuries based upon their false status as so-called “Christ Killers; and the possibility that the rule of law, individuality, technology, and pursuit for profits under capitalism might someday soon endanger the biosphere.

        • purr

          Have a gander at this site:

          http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/

          You’ll see how the church was a destructive force, and humanity was worse off for it.

        • Surprise123

          I’ll take a look at the site – thanks. But, I would say that, Christianity, as I define it in my post – the Catholic Church AS INSTITUTION over the past 1000 years has been, quite possibly, the most destructive CREATIVE force in the world.

        • Surprise123

          I took a look at the site, but it wasn’t what I expected at all: I expected a list of horrors (the witch trials, the pogroms against the Jews, atrocities conducted during the crusades, etc.) and an approximate number of deaths associated with them, but what I got was “Here are all the reasons Christianity is false, and, oh by the way, here are some of the evil things the Church had done.
          Yes, I agree with you: the Christian Church (as embodied as the institution of the Catholic hierarchy) has done some pretty bad things. But this is not news. What WOULD be news was if a scholar had extrapolated what would Europe be like if Christianity never existed?

        • purr

          The pursuit of knowledge would probably not have been stifled, for one thing.

          And I will add that women actually had *more* rights under the Roman Empire than they did under Christianity. In fact, Rome was pretty good when it came to accepting all races and religions into the empire. Everyone was welcome. And I will point out that Christianity did *not* make any attempts, for over a thousand years, to put an end to slavery. So in many regards, it wasn’t that different. It just put a pretty new face on the same old totalitarianism and added some new restrictions of it’s own, and then justified atrocities by pointing to the bible.

        • Surprise123

          I won’t refute you except to direct you to my comments of 7-8 posts above: in it, I outline Francis Fukayama’s theories about how the Catholic Church’s actions as an institution, requiring that all clerics never marry; allowing women to inherit property, and declaring itself independent from the orders of the Holy Roman Empire and Emperor circa 1,000 CE, allowed the rise of an INDEPENENT very able, very literate, very sophisticated bureaucratic class, whose centers of learning, monasteries and universities, achieved wonders in scholarship and innovation. That doesn’t mean that once those wonders were known, the Church didn’t try to stop, them, however.

          I’d never heard that the Roman matron was any more free than the Christian matron that followed her, but if you can refer me to a good source on the subject, I’d be much obliged. I do know that Christianity provided new roles for women in the Roman Empire, and freed her from her need to procreate in some cases: whereas, before, her primary, legitimate roles were wife, mother, in Christianity, she also had nun (and all the various roles that could encompass) up to and including Abbess, a very demanding, administrative position.

          “Everyone was welcome.” Hmmm. That’s a pretty simplistic evaluation of the Roman empire vis-à-vis its immigrant population and its long term residents of non-Roman ancestry, even if you hold its history just to the years leading up to Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.

          It just put a pretty new face on the same old totalitarianism and added some new restrictions of it’s own, and then justified atrocities by pointing to the bible.”
          I do wish you’d be more specific about what you mean when you say “Christianity.” It’s a VERY different institution, very different social movement, and very different faith in every age and in ever society it enters. Christianity under Constantine was very different from Christianity of the high medieval ages.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Kinda hard to know what to compare it against. We don’t have a bunch of other versions of the last 1000 years with different starting assumptions to compare our past against.

        • Surprise123

          “Kinda hard to know what to compare it against.” True. Very true. Would Europe have been better off without Christianity ever arriving on its shores via Roman conquest? Would invasions of Vikings, of Huns, of Muslims, of Mongols, of Ottoman Turks throughout Europe, unimpeded first by the Romans, and then unimpeded by the Christian societies that arose from that Roman conquest and their literate, free-from-family demands, bureaucratic class of bishops, priests, monks (and even the odd nun from time to time) have led to better civilizations? VERY hard to say.

          My understanding is that Christianity, the Catholic Church as institution, sometime between the years 1073 and 1085, extracted the male clerical class, the most educated members of society, from the rights and responsibilities associated with human reproduction, from the need to support a family. This freed up the most literate members of society from familial duties, and allowed some of them to pursue scholarship and exploration of ideas without the heavy burden of mouths to feed, or the worries of an ambitious wife concerned about social status.

          And, at about the same time, the Church also limited the ability to keep great wealth in a single agnatic family lineage: that wealth was transferred, instead, to the Church, via bequests (often made by widows of means, after the Church granted women property rights), and used to support the expansion of the clerical class even further….leading eventually to great centers of learning…monastaries, universities…throughout the continent.

          I don’t know of any other major world civilization of the past 1000 years in which so many members of the elite bureaucratic class were freed from responsibilities associated with raising the next generation WITHOUT THE USE OF CASTRATION. The bureaucracies of the Ottoman Empire and the Chinese civilization certainly employed eunuchs in key posts, but I don’t believe they ever held up celibacy as the ideal, channeling the energetic capacities of unmarried, but fertile men into scholarship, exploration, and solving the needs of the bureaucracy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We agree that it’s hard to say. About the Romans, however, no one is imagining no Romans, just no Christianity.

          I’m not sure what the benefit of pulling men out of conventional society. That reminds me of Mongolia when the Communists came in in 1922–1/4 of the men went into the Buddhist priesthood. The Communist response wasn’t good (destroying temples and killing priests), but they were right that that’s no way to run a country.

        • Surprise123

          Well, of course, the great monasteries of Christianity became great centers of learning….that eventually lead to great religious universities, which eventually became secular universities….which eventually lead to secularization of society.

          I really don’t know enough about Buddhism and Buddhist monasticism to comment on why Buddhist monks and clerics own escape from reproductive life didn’t result in a strong tradition of critical thinking, except to say that the Christianity of 1,000 CE was oriented outward to a sky deity and the physical earthly and spiritual heavenly realms that that sky deity created and ruled over, whereas, I believe, Buddhism of the same era was oriented inward, toward contemplation, meditation and overcoming one’s own passions. Not a seeking to understand and control external realms (as is the case in Christianity), but a seeking to understand and control internal emotions and consciousness.

          “but they were right that that’s no way to run a country.” But, of course, the Communist way of running a country, at least under Mao — creating an economy that did not reward INDIVIDUAL hard work and planning , and was misaligned with people’s aspirations, was also, disastrously a bad way to run a country.
          Moreover, for how many centuries before the Communist invasion had 1/4 of the men entered the Buddhist priesthood? Perhaps, what is important to “running a country” changes with circumstances, external and internal, and is always in a state of flux. A nation such as Mongolia, once secure in its remoteness, may have been able to, in the past, have the luxury of 1/4 of its men pre-occupied in meditation and in learning to control their own interiority. Israel struggles with this today vis-à-vis its State-supported class of ultra – orthodox men, who spend hours upon hours using their excellent System 2 analytical skills developed first to study the Torah, ONLY to study the Torah, and not in overcoming society’s problems. Our own society, too, undoubtedly, has a large percentage of its male population that spends hours upon hours in digital gaming realms, supported largely by parents or unemployment checks from the State.

  • Henk Um

    Faith: from the people that brought you pretending to know what they don’t know.

    • http://batman-news.com Anton

      Scientists in the 50s “knew” it was impossible for a drug to pass the placental barrier between a pregnant woman and her child. The drug companies sold lots of thalidomide until people “knew” better.

      Ignorance is bad enough in a priest’s habit, but it has also been known to wear a lab coat.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        And they thought that cigarettes gave you TB.

        Yes, scientists have been wrong. We already get it.

      • smrnda

        It’s also worth noting that scientific research isn’t necessary totally unbiased, particularly not when there are profits to be made. Of course, research like that isn’t real research, but with the funds, a bunch of shoddy studies can be publicized to create confusion about an issue for which the real experts are more or less in agreement.

        • Surprise123

          It’s also important to note that birth defects from thalidomide in the United States were very rare: a reviewer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Frances Oldham Kelsey, a pharmacologist, rejected private drug companies’ repeated attempts to have the medicine approved and admitted to the American market, due to her suspicions that it was dangerous. Some “people” (including Kelsey, an American scientist) “knew” better, even before the drug was released.

        • Niemand

          Though Kelsey was (correctly) worried about a different side effect, namely neuropathy, rather than birth defects per se. And she thought (also correctly) that the medication hadn’t been proven well enough overall. Given her gender and stereotypes about her gender, I think it’s important to emphasize that she was concerned based on data (and lack of data), not intuition or faith.

      • TheLump

        And science found the fault and corrected it. Religions have their unchanging holy book.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          And science found the fault and corrected it. Religions have their unchanging holy book.

          As even Sam Harris notes, science is a method, not an entity. Science doesn’t think things or do things. The entirety of empirical research has to be filtered through educational materials and pop-science for us to understand and relate to a general industry consensus. What we know hopefully gets less and less incorrect as more research is done, but this is a method that’s defined by a philosophy, with limits to its applicability, and regulated by the material interests of those who fund the research.

          By anthropomorphizing the concept of Science and making it sound like a Manga hero in a cartoon culture war, you’re oversimplifying a very complex process and making it sound exactly like the kind of religious construct you think appeals only to the delusional.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why are you always riding this horse? I think we all understand science’s limitations.

        • TheLump

          At no point did I anthropomorphize anything. Your reply is non sequitur to my post.

        • Elihu

          “If atheists are correct, they are no better off and I am no worse off. If I am correct, I am better off they are worse off.”
          -G.K. Chesterton

          If the most ardent believer in moral relativism denies absolute truth, they have snared their own logic: if it is absolutely true there is no absolute truth, there MUST be at least one absolute truth: that there is no absolute truth.

          FYI: The university system, scientific method were originated by minds within the Roman Catholic Church.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If the most ardent believer in moral relativism denies absolute truth, they have snared their own logic: if it is absolutely true there is no absolute truth, there MUST be at least one absolute truth: that there is no absolute truth.

          We could be hoist by our own petard or, with a moment’s thought, we could say: “I see no evidence for objective moral truth.”

          FYI: The university system, scientific method were originated by minds within the Roman Catholic Church.

          Let’s no overdo the contribution to science made by Christianity. It has blossomed within other domains as well (Islam and China come to mind). And remember that universities weren’t initially the respected secular institutions that they are now. They were more extensions of the church.

      • Areid

        If you are suggesting that religious faith is on equal footing with science, I have a suggestion:

        Don’t use your scientifically developed computer and just get god to send us your message.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Areid, I never made any such suggestion. And I never claimed that the corporate tech industry hasn’t provided us with useful gadgets. I only pointed out that if we resent the ignorance that religious leaders peddle, we should look at the wisdom of our scientific research industry leaders with the same skepticism.

          If the history books have taught us anything, it’s that today’s knowledge, like its cutting-edge gadgetry, is obsolete tomorrow.

        • Niemand

          If the history books have taught us anything, it’s that today’s knowledge, like its cutting-edge gadgetry, is obsolete tomorrow.

          That’s a feature, not a bug, from the point of view of science. We learn more and can therefore do more. As opposed to religion or pseudoscience where data that doesn’t fit the world view is regarded as heresy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I only pointed out that if we resent the ignorance that religious leaders peddle, we should look at the wisdom of our scientific research industry leaders with the same skepticism.

          And if we dislike the poisonous effects of cyanide, we should look at the benefits of apples with the same skepticism. Or something.

          If the history books have taught us anything, it’s that today’s knowledge, like its cutting-edge gadgetry, is obsolete tomorrow.

          And yet the earth is still round.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I only pointed out that if we resent the ignorance that religious leaders peddle, we should look at the wisdom of our scientific research industry leaders with the same skepticism.

          And if we dislike the poisonous effects of cyanide, we should look at the benefits of apples with the same skepticism. Or something.

          I know I’m not supposed to question the fundie-crushing power of the reductio ad absurdam, but do I empirically detect a big difference between the ostensibly fair-minded sentence I wrote and the Bizarro-world parody that you made of it? Just asking for skepticism invites scorn?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You caution us to avoid following scientists, zombie-like. Yes, that’s a good point. I get it. In fact, I was already on board before you made the suggestion. Over and over and over again.

          No, flogging a dead horse is what invites scorn–well, not scorn actually, since I agree with your point. Maybe it’s just an appeal that you declare victory and move on.

        • R Vogel

          Doesn’t this entire blog exist for the purpose of flogging a dead horse? The Christianity has no scientific evidence is a revelation to exactly no one who regularly read this blog. If you agree with his position then why have I never seen you challenge someone even once when they make over-reaching pronouncements about the efficacy of science? If you have, I will stand corrected, but I have been following you relatively regularly for awhile now and have yet to see it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t remember any egregious over-reaching pronouncements about science. There could’ve been and I just didn’t think they were a big enough issue to correct them.

          I hope the posts here have a lot more substance than, “Christianity still doesn’t have any scientific evidence behind it!”

      • Niemand

        Actually, some scientists believed that thalidomide would be harmless based on tests in rodents that showed no teratogenic damage in the offspring of the rodents fed thalidomide during pregnancy. In short, on evidence. Insufficient evidence as it turned out, but evidence. Not just, as you seem to be implying, some sort of faith in their knowledge of placental transfer. Later, they changed their views on the safety of thalidomide based on evidence, i.e. seeing more frequent congenital anomalies in newborns of mothers who took thalidomide. How is that similar to religion?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Actually, some scientists believed that thalidomide would be harmless based on tests in rodents that showed no teratogenic damage in the offspring of the rodents fed thalidomide during pregnancy. In short, on evidence.

          I never said they based their knowledge on faith. They claimed to have good reason to believe the drug was harmless to fetuses. New information strongly suggested it wasn’t.

          That doesn’t change the fact that their knowledge was incorrect. And the knowledge we pretend to have in general just goes from more incorrect to (we hope) less incorrect.

        • Niemand

          Sorry, I think I may simply not understand your point then. We don’t have all the knowledge? Ok. Not a controversial statement. For example, we don’t have a theory of quantum gravity (or theory that makes it unnecessary), we don’t know why Jak2 mutations produce P vera sometimes and ET others, we don’t know what dark energy really is…And, no, there’s no guarantee that new medications won’t have unexpected side effects. Or side benefits. The problem with thalidomide? We were using it in the wrong disease! It’s a horrible med for PIN, but it’s changed the expected course of myeloma on the population level.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Those statistics were crafted by Satan in order to deceive you into failing to praise the material Creator of the flat and immobile Earth.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Hmm. you may be onto something. After all, Justin Martyr said that all those dying-and-rising gods in history were retroactively put there by the Dark Lord Himself to confuse honest Christians.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Gee, that sounds like the prototype for the dinosaur delusion.

    • ORAXX

      Dwelling happily at the center of the universe.

  • unsavage

    And where did God come from? From nowhere, but the concept of an all everything creator came from the human brain a long, long time ago. The rest is myth and superstition and thousand of years of brainwashing. The number Bill Nye did on Ken Ham (2-4-14) was poetry in motion and the world needs more of it.

  • Asmondius

    ‘God is furious about our acceptance of homosexuals or abortion or whatever, so he allows the 9/11 attack or Hurricane Katrina or the latest school shootings.’

    This is not a Christian theological belief, thus you are preparing to do battle with a windmill.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      Popular Christian pundits have and continue to make such claims.

      Pompous asses, yes; windmills, no.

  • Bo Diddly

    Wow, you have a lot of anti Christian energy to exert. Where to start. The USA reeks of Christian principles being the underpinnings of a great society. Christian principles are the reason the United States experiment has done so well, by a bullet I might add! The fact we can openly discuss this topic is obvious proof. In a society that is devoid of belief in God such as Marxism spinoffs, have historically not fared well for free speech.
    Unless of course, you’re one of those arguing that despite the wording of our founding fathers that they were all closet atheists.
    I also believe the inverse is easily provable: The removal of nearly all vestiges of Christianity, from public property, and ceremony coincides with the new heights of corruption in our government, poor financial leadership, and the moral climate as well. You may argue that things are great, but murdering 1,000,000 babies a year (by your own stats) and redefining marriage and the family nucleus is not a recipe for improvement historically. I am comfortable with my arguments as history recounts nations and societies that have entered into decline due to these same problems. God does not mince words about His wrath on cultures that openly practice willful disobedience and sin. I believe our nation is in the process of being judged right now.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      The USA reeks of Christian principles being the underpinnings of a great society.

      The republic that the U.S. Constitution creates is quite different from anything that you find in the Bible. Democracy? Free speech rights? Civil rights for all? Not in the Bible.

      Christian principles are the reason the United States experiment has done so well, by a bullet I might add! The fact we can openly discuss this topic is obvious proof.

      The fact that we can openly discuss this topic is thanks to the Constitution (I’ve written more—search “Constitution”).

      In the U.S., the Christianity exists at the pleasure of the Constitution. It calls the shots.

      In a society that is devoid of belief in God such as Marxism spinoffs, have historically not fared well for free speech.

      Unless of course, you’re one of those arguing that despite the wording of our founding fathers that they were all closet atheists. I also believe the inverse is easily provable: The removal of nearly all vestiges of Christianity, from public property, and ceremony coincides with the new heights of corruption in our go vernment , poor financial leadership, and the moral climate as well. You may argue that things are great, but murdering 1,000,000 babies a year (by your own stats) and redefining marriage and the family nucleus is not a recipe for improvement historically. I am comfortable with my arguments as history recounts nations and societies that have entered into decline due to these same problems. God does not mince words about His wrath on cultures that openly practice willful disobedience and sin. I believe our nation is in the process of being judged right now.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      The USA reeks of Christian principles being the underpinnings of a great society.

      The republic that the U.S. Constitution creates is quite different from anything that you find in the Bible. Democracy? Free speech rights? Civil rights for all? Not in the Bible.

      Christian principles are the reason the United States experiment has done so well, by a bullet I might add! The fact we can openly discuss this topic is obvious proof.

      The fact that we can openly discuss this topic is thanks to the Constitution (I’ve written more—search “Constitution”).

      In the U.S., the Christianity exists at the pleasure of the Constitution. It calls the shots.

      In a society that is devoid of belief in God such as Marxism spinoffs, have historically not fared well for free speech.

      Your point is “Stalin was bad; Stalin was an atheist; therefore atheists are bad?” Doesn’t follow. Stalin had no one killed in the name of atheism. He was an atheist because he was a dictator, not the other way around.

      Unless of course, you’re one of those arguing that despite the wording of our founding fathers that they were all closet atheists.

      Some, perhaps, but not most. And what did this mostly Christian group give us? A secular Constitution.

      Thank you, Founding Fathers.

      The removal of nearly all vestiges of Christianity, from public property, and ceremony coincides with the new heights of corruption in our go vernment , poor financial leadership, and the moral climate as well.

      (1) The Constitution demands a secular state-supported public square (that is, government, schools, courts, etc.).

      (2) You’re confusing correlation (and I’m not sure there’s even a correlation here) and causation.

      You may argue that things are great, but murdering 1,000,000 babies a year (by your own stats)

      Not murdering; not babies.

      Does abortion concern you? Stop unwanted pregnancies—that’s the problem.

      Adjusting for population size, the rate has gone down:

      http://www.guttmacher.org/graphics/USAbortionRate-Graph.png

      and redefining marriage and the family nucleus is not a recipe for improvement historically.

      Quiz: when was marriage last redefined?

      Answer: 1967. It’s not the rock that you imagine. Look up some of these topics in the search bar. I’ve touched on all of them in more depth than I’ll give you in a comment.

      God does not mince words about His wrath

      God is pretend. You disagree? Then show me.

  • The_Wretched

    I just re-read this post. It seems so clear when the case is made that one of the better ways to increase secularism is to improve the governance and quality of life for everyone in the country. We need to draft and push for laws that will unwind the structures that funnel wealth to the richest and leave out the vast majority of the population from wealth gains the country, makes.